Oakland-based lawyer and bioethics author Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and a special consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His latest book entitled Consumers Guide to a Brave New World, published by Encounter Books, is due out in October.

How would you describe Proposition 71, the California bond initiative?

It would pay for human cloning research and embryonic stem cell research with billions in borrowed money. In California if you have a big enough budget, you can basically buy a law. That's what's being attempted here. Proponents are asking Californians to borrow $6 billion (including interest) in a state that's already in financial ruin—where our senior citizens are having services cut, roads are not being repaired, schools are closing, children's health care needs of today are not being met—and we're supposed to go deeper into debt for this speculative biotechnological research.

Who is poised to benefit the most from this referendum?

Biotech corporations and research centers and universities that will be paid with borrowed money to conduct research into human cloning and embryonic stem cells. Moreover, Proposition 71 is a proposed constitutional amendment! If it passes, the biotech industry and affiliated researchers will have a constitutional right to receive borrowed money in the amount of $295 million per year for 10 years. This is one of the most audacious corporate welfare money grabs I have ever seen. Only another constitutional amendment could alter its terms.

What do you believe is at stake?

Much is at stake, actually. First, whether the State of California should borrow money to pay for biotechnological research at a time when essential services ...

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