Washington is such a fun town, replete as it is with smoke and mirrors. It appears that despite my earlier protests about the mixed-up priorities where NIH spending are concerned, our elected officials are aware of the coming deluge of costs associated with Alzheimer's disease, but the latest legislation to address this disease, the National Alzheimer's Project Act (which goes by the cheery acronym of NAPA for you fans of wine and/or auto parts stores) seems to do little other than coordinate federal and state resources.
According to a fact sheet posted at the website for the Alzheimer's Association (AA; Chicago) the legislation, which President Obama signed into law in January, won a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate. A cynic's guide to Capitol Hill tells you two things about a vote like that. One is that Congress has yet to wean itself off the mother's milk of feel-good votes for patient groups, and two is that the bill demands little or nothing (nothing, a.k.a, diddlysquat, squadoosh and so on) in the way of resources. Had the bill cost a single thin dime, it would have drawn at least one nay vote, especially in this economic climate.
But as I stated in my two posts (here and here) to the MDD Perspectives blog on NIH's finances, spending on heart disease and Alzheimer's relative to NIH spending on cancer is strangely low when you consider the relative burdens these diseases impose on society. Consider that and then read the undated statement at the AA website about NAPA. The legislation “will create a coordinated national plan to overcome the Alzheimer crisis and will ensure the coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer research, clinical care, institutional, and home- and community-based programs and their outcomes,” the statement claims.
The absence of any meaningful commitment by our government (by which I mean our tax dollars) is just a wee bit conspicuous. I can just hear the legendary Clara Peller hollering “where's the beef?” Her feigned outrage over the skimpy portions of beef on burgers was hilarious, but I can just imagine what a member of our nation's electoral elite would say in response.“We're sorry Mrs. Peller, what on earth makes you think a hamburger has to have beef to be a burger? It's called a HAMburger, not a beefburger!”
It's too bad both Mrs. Peller and Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, the fast-food chain that made the dear lady famous, aren't around to ask our elected officials where in heck the money is (Mrs. Peller) and to do something about the absence of any meaningful additional resources for Alzheimer's (Mr. Thomas). This would be funny as screwball comedy but for one thing: Human lives and our nation's economy are at stake. That's not funny, not even a little bit.
It's another example of why the process of making policy, like the process of making sausage, is simply horrible to behold. But as we all know, there's often little or no digestible beef in sausage.