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I really hate the growing tendency across the political spectrum to label ideological opponents as “stupid,” or something similar, but all too often, the shoe really does fit – as the Fox Business Network helpfully reminded us yesterday.

Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney decided to get worked up over a statement by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren arguing that “Drug companies make great contributions but so do taxpayers….In other words, we built those medical innovations together.” His objection? Warren’s position shows that she’s “a collectivist. She’s saying there’s no such thing as individual liberty and the pursuit of ideas on an individual basis. No, we’re collectivists.” And ostensibly for confirmation, he interviewed Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore. You decide who came off worse.

Was it Varney, who seemed totally incapable of processing Warren’s acknowledgment that “Drug companies make great contributions” to medical innovation? I’m not sure how else to explain his accusation that her position revealed that “Senator Warren is a collectivist. She’s saying there’s no such thing as individual liberty and the pursuit of ideas on an individual basis. No, we’re collectivists.”

Or did Moore give his mindless libertarianism more than a good run for its money? He responded that “It tells you a lot about the modern day Democratic Party that a nutcase like Elizabeth Warren is in first or second place in the early polling for these Democratic primaries. I mean, Elizabeth Warren is a member of the Sandinista wing of the Democratic party, right? She doesn’t believe in the free enterprise system.”

But since Varney is simply a journalist and, according to recent decades’ standards, doesn’t need to know what he’s talking about, I give the ignorance award here to Moore. The Heritage maven actually acknowledged that “the NIH [National Institute of Health] does participate in” the drug discovery process. But, he explained, “they do the basic research. The real blockbusters are developed by private pharmaceutical companies and bio-engineering companies that do incredible work.”

Moore’s clear implication: The basic research performed by NIH is not “incredible work.” Or at least not nearly so incredible. Apparently he has managed to climb the conservative think tank career ladder – and the Wall Street Journal editorial page ladder before – without learning that without enough basic research, the blockbuster flow, and those similar breakthroughs in other fields, dries up.

At one point, though, Moore suggested a less laughable argument. As he put it, “It costs sometimes a half a billion dollars in investment capital – private investment capital, Stewart – to develop these drugs. And for then Elizabeth Warren to come along and say oh, by the way, you know, if you hit a winner, we’re going to take the profits away from you – I think that’s not just bad economics. This is even more important, Stewart. It’s terrible for our our health, because if you delay or disrupt the development of these new drugs, you’re basically, you know, a death sentence for people who have Alzheimers or cancer or heart disease or others.”

Moore continued: “…If you tax something, you get less of it. It’s a very simple economic message. And by the way, the research that goes into these drugs – when I mention it costs half a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, you know only one out of ten of these even succeeds. So the amount of risk capital that goes into these is gigantic. If you don’t give those investors a return, we’re not going to get any more medical progress in this country.”

In other words, Moore’s great fear is that the Warren (and presumably many other) Democrats so hate the private sector and so idolize government that they want to tax the vitality out of the American pharmaceutical industry to finance the (marginally important) NIH. Stripped of unconscionable exaggeration, it seems as if Moore is at least advancing a reasonable proposition here – that the U.S. political system hasn’t yet found the right tax policy balance between adequately fostering private sector medical innovation and adequately funding the kind of basic medical-related research that’s almost never undertaken by free enterprise.

If that’s the case, though, why didn’t Moore say so openly? Because he’s totally desperate to get TV time from a government-hating know-nothing like Stuart Varney?