“Instead of using its resources to fight life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer, the CDC has instead spent money on needless luxury items and nongovernment functions,” Ryan said in introducing his amendment to a spending bill. CDC had spent “over $1.7 million on a ‘Hollywood liaison’ to advise TV shows like ‘E.R.’ and ‘House’ on medical information included in their programming, clearly an expense that should have been covered by the successful for-profit television shows, not by our hard-earned tax dollars. … In a time when we are facing increasing risk of bioterrorism and disease, these are hardly the best use of taxpayer dollars.”
“E.R” and “House” are surely seen by vastly more Americans than all federal science education programming put together. Doesn’t $1.7m sound pretty cheap for ensuring that the medical information coming through those giant megaphones is correct? In Ryan’s world, what’s the mechanism under which TV producers would spend their own money doing this? Their own goodwill? Or will scientifically sloppy doctor shows inevitably be rejected by the wise aggregate consumer, so that the market does the job for free?
I also think it’s not fair to ask that every US-funded program be the best use of taxpayer dollars. I mean, do we really want a federal government that consists entirely of my NSF grant?