No More Czars: Sorry, Livestrong
I’m going out on a limb with this one. Lance Armstrong is doubly beloved in today’s culture where we worship heroes and victims. And, of course, no rational person is a fan of cancer (though Armstrong, paradoxically, credits cancer with his winning the Tour de France seven times).
Tim Russert asked Armstrong what he’d do if he were made cancer czar and could wave a wand (it’s actually called a scepter, Tim. Wizards have wands. Czars have scepters. But I digress.) what he would do:
MR. ARMSTRONG: Ooh. I do think we need a cancer czar…
Wrong! We don’t need a cancer czar. We need a cancer czar like we need more tobacco subsidies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, No More Czars!
That we don’t need anymore czars is especially true in a field like scientific research where innovation, creativity, intelligence and intellectual entrepreneurship are so important. The last thing we need in such a critical field of human endeavor is more bureaucracy modeled on Russian aristocracy. I don’t have a victim to offer, but I’ll counter a hero with a hero here. Fortunately I don’t engage in victim worship. When it comes to the Cancer Czar I’ll call this transparent bluff; I’ll see a Lance Armstrong and raise a Howard Roark:
If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit?
So what would Czar Livestrong I do? Well, first he’d ban tobacco, the environment and the sun:
So you have to start at prevention. So let’s just make sure that nobody gets cancer. So we have to control the things that give people cancer. So if that’s the environment, if that’s tobacco, if that’s the sun, if—all these things, let’s not, let’s not let anybody get the disease. [Emphasis mine]
Actually, the first thing Czar Livestrong needs to do is pick an advisor to handle budgeting. He thinks he can screen 300 million people for colon cancer at a cost of $10 million. That’s about 3 cents per screening by my math and I just don’t think that’s going to happen. If he thinks colon cancer screenings are that cheap, maybe that’s why he thinks we can afford to ban the sun.
If we have to have a Czar, I’m not sure whether I want one who can do math, but if budgeting for colonoscopies distracts him from banning the sun, it’s a price we may have to pay. I’m not sure I see the relationship between sunshine and colon cancer, but it kind of gives me an idea of where I’d like the whole idea of a Cancer Czar to end up, though…