Science Gets Cut

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US Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are proposing to cut the stimulus/spending package by roughly 10%. Their staff have identified several “useless” programs included in the bill, and it appears that they consider science funding to be one of those useless pursuits.

Over the last 50 years, much of our economic development has been driven by science, and at a time when the US is faced with losing its scientific dominance to China and the EU, the US needs increased science funding. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. Fund fishing research, and your children all eat for a lifetime.

From the list of stimulus projects that are on the cutting block:

  • NSF 100% cut ($1,402,000,000)
  • NASA exploration 50% cut ($750,000,000)
  • NOAA 34.94% cut ($427,000,000)
  • NIST 37.91% cut ($218,000,000)
  • DOE energy efficiency & renewable energy 38% cut ($1,000,000,000)
  • DOE office of science 100% cut ($100,000,000)

While this blog takes no opinion on a stimulus package, most of its readers probably do. If you have an opinion about these cuts or the stimulus in general, you should make it known to your Senators because they will soon be voting on this proposal.

List of Senators and Contact Information

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Read this: wherever Obama has proposed stimulus spending for science, conservative senators propose chopping back massively. The increase in support for NSF? Gone completely. NASA's boost? Cut in half. And on and on. These cuts have not passed yet, but... Read More

57 Comments

American science and technology have obvious national security implications. Eight years of neglect and active opposition to science by the Republicans has damaged our security, as it has allowed nations like China to surge forward. The key is money. Money buys laboratories, and libraries, and most importantly it trains and retains scientists.

As a concerned citizen, and a voter I urge that the anti-science cuts to science funding be blocked, and full science funding be restored if not increased.

This is not quite as bad as it looked at first glance. NSF, for example, will not be zeroed out. Its proposed budget for FY 2009 was around $7 billion. The increase in their budget over last year’s would evidently be $0 rather than $1.4 billion under the Nelson-Collins proposal. That’s bad enough.

The Republican war funding and tax cuts for the rich drove us into bankruptcy. As Paul Krugman’s Feb. 5th Op-Ed “On the Edge” concluded, “The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.”

Your are correct, Matt. But years of neglect need to be made up somehow.

How to help (this is particularly important for those who live in Maine and Nebraska):

1. WHAT TO DO: call and email the two U.S. senators. Contact from a constituent on a wonky issue like this will have enormous influence. Calling is better than email, but do both if possible.

Go here to find your Senator, and select their state in the drop down box in the upper right hand corner: http://www.senate.gov/

The key statement to make is, in your own words, to reject the reduction effort in the stimulus bill led by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) when it comes to science.

Note that most Senator’s web pages contain a form (e.g. - “CONTACT ME”) that you can fill out to contact the Senator. Also, make sure to use your own words since identical messages get rejected by the Senators’ staff.

2. TALKING POINTS:

A) Science & technology have produced half of the economic growth of the United States since WWII.

B) Spending on basic research is the single greatest economic engine this country has ever known. Every dollar spent on science produces at least $2.5 dollars in economic growth.

C) Funding to federal granting agencies is about as “shovel-ready” a stimulus as you can get. If the granting agencies lower their score thresholds for awards across the board the money will be flowing within months, leading to rapid hiring and increased purchasing from technical service and supply companies that are largely American, and creating thousands of the kinds of high-quality jobs the country needs.

If this were a budget bill, and the numbers you cite were final, I’d agree that it was a complete outrage. However, this is a large stimulus package, and all large bills attract lots of amendments. If all they’re doing is the equivalent of trimming amendments, it’s at least understandable.

Having said that, the rhetoric coming out of Congress sounds like more of the same. Remember the three priorities of politicians:

1: Raise campaign funds for re-election
2: Elevate your status within the party, usually by bashing the other party
3: Server constituents when time permits

This all looks like good ol’ #2 (in the above list, that is).

Excellent suggestions, Doug.

Call or write the Republican Senators!!!!

They need to know what we think!

Who needs NASA? They went to the moon - it was just rock. No interesting creatures. (Wdn’t that be great?!!!) Mars - maybe a few microbes.

What about spending it on families with little children being evicted? Or health care for US’s legion of obese diabetics.

Doug - nice bullet points. Do you happen to have references? I’ve seen these figures before, but can’t recall an actual study carrying out the calculations.

Correct me if I am wrong -

NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Admin) Responsible for collecting data on global warming, etc..

35% cut = Global warming deniers would be happy about this.

NSF (National Science Foundation) Education funding

100% cut!!!!!!! I bet these two senators are creationists.

DOE Office of Science - (Dept. of Energy) Biological and chemical research.

100% cut!!! Against progress completely.

novparl said:

What about spending it on families with little children being evicted? Or health care for US’s legion of obese diabetics.

Absolutely – no more idiotic crusades rooted in international hubris, let’s take care of people’s basic needs. Hey, wait a minute novparl, you’re starting to sound like a humanist! :) FYI, the fundamentalist brethren hate humanism.

Some info on Ben Nelson:

Strongly favors requiring companies to hire more minorities. (Sep 2000) Supports “Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws”. (Sep 2000) Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006) Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006) Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002) Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001) Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all. (Aug 2000) Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002) Rated 11% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006) Rated 57% by NAACP, indicating a mixed record on affirmative-action. (Dec 2006) Go here if you want more :

http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/ben_nelson.htm

He should not be labeled Democrat. He seems like a truly scary person. It’s also weird to me that Susan Collins regards herself a republican.

I cannot find anything terribly wrong w/ Susan Collins (again, IMO). It surprises me that she has proposed these cuts. She’s pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro universal health care, etc…

HE seems like a lost cause - SHE on the other hand IMO might be persuaded to do the right thing.

Budgets cannot be fillibustered. There is nothing preventing the Democrats from upping funding for the NSF in the standard budget, for which they only need majority vote. It is easier to pull it out standard budget items than it is to pull out state-directed funding that is not part of a normal operating budget.

I think you guys are reading way too much malice into incompetence.

This is not to say that the cuts are a good thing. Just that attempts to discern motive from the relative amounts cut or attempting to determine their view of NOAA based on their opinion on flag burning may be an exercise in seeing a pattern in noise.

It’s also weird to me that Susan Collins regards herself a republican.

She was actually pretty normal for a republican before Reagan became president and the traditional fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican types got driven out. Those were really the descendants of the “Lincoln republicans”, who at minimum opposed the spread of slavery outside the south, land grant colleges to provide nearly free education to subsistence farmers, massive infrastructure spending (transcontinental railroad), etc.

In much of the country, Republicans were once more liberal than Democrats. The most active conservation-oriented governor in the history of Oregon was Republican Tom McCall (who lived just long enough to see the party move far to the right of him).

Etc etc. Both parties had liberal and conservative wings in those days.

Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and a couple of others from smaller mostly NE states are about all that are left from that heritage.

They ought to switch parties but apparently are stlll holding on to the past, or perhaps hopes that in the future there will once again be a real place at the table within the Party for people like them.

Oops supported land grant colleges etc … things opposed by traditional conservatives at the time.

dhogaza said:

She was actually pretty normal for a republican before Reagan became president and the traditional fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican types got driven out.

I recall when Barry Goldwater was played up as the far-right troglodyte. From a modern perspective he was a right moderate, though not a centrist.

And in hindsight Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to play himself up as the “peace candidate” in the 1964 election was ironic since from the summer of the year the US was beginning the big ramp-up in Vietnam. Not that LBJ was ever really happy about the idea. A Bill Mauldin cartoon a year or two later had Barry watching TV somewhat glumly and saying: “Lyndon’s doing what I would have done – but I would have enjoyed it more.”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

War has historically been a great stimulator of science and innovation, as well as the general economy.

We should pump more of that stimulus money into the military.

chunkdz said:

War has historically been a great stimulator of science and innovation, as well as the general economy.

We should pump more of that stimulus money into the military.

So you advocate slaughter in order to save your job.

What ass.

novparl said:

Who needs NASA? They went to the moon - it was just rock. No interesting creatures. (Wdn’t that be great?!!!) Mars - maybe a few microbes.

What about spending it on families with little children being evicted? Or health care for US’s legion of obese diabetics.

If the Republicans have their way, the kids and so on won’t get any help anyway. The Repubs are focused on those sorely put-upon rich people and their exhorbitant tax bills, poor dears.

So you advocate slaughter in order to save your job.

What ass.

We’d only kill bad guys.

This is nonsense and the old political games at a time when it really isn’t affordable. For this delay so far I would take all the tax cuts out. Any further delays? lower the cap on the bailed-out CEO comp, and eliminate bonuses.

And above all: I hope the House and Senate say “either sign or filibuster.” I really think it would help the long-term health of the nation if the GOP and its Democratic quislings were to have to read the phone book every day to keep children from being educated and research from being done, oh, and in the process, the banks are failing. I want that to BE the Republican and conservative BRAND.

chunkdz said:

So you advocate slaughter in order to save your job.

What ass.

We’d only kill bad guys.

Remember what always happened at the end of that show? “KNOWING is half the battle.” Ignorance gives Cobra Commander more ammo.

Although I am a big supporter of increased science funding, there is an appropriate place to fight this particular battle, and a “Stimulus” bill is not the place. The appropriate place is in during the regular budget process.

The goal of the stimulus bill is to increase consumer spending with as much bang for the buck and as much immediate impact as possible. It’s a deliberate spending beyond ones means, and under ordinary circumstances would be considered wasteful.

I’m not knowledgeable enough about how stimulatory the deleted items above would be (relative to other items) to judge whether they should (or should not) be in the bill, but any arguments about whether they should be included *have* to address *that* criteria.

chunkdz said:

So you advocate slaughter in order to save your job.

What ass.

We’d only kill bad guys.

You mean you’d start with Bush, Chaney, and Yoo?

Moron.

Divalent said:

Although I am a big supporter of increased science funding, there is an appropriate place to fight this particular battle, and a “Stimulus” bill is not the place. The appropriate place is in during the regular budget process.

I agree with that. However, it should be noted that they’re putting waaaay more into it then “stimulus” stuff anyway. So why’s science getting single out for cuts? Also, they cut renewable energy research. If anything DOES belong in a stimulus bill, it’s that. Energy is probably one of the largest industries, with huge potential for growth. If we are on the cutting edge of renewable energy as the world energy economy shifts away from fossil, we’ll make out like bandits. Cutting research there is probably one of the worst possible things to do for the economy. Unfortunately our leaders can only count to 4 :(

The goal of the stimulus bill is to increase consumer spending with as much bang for the buck and as much immediate impact as possible. It’s a deliberate spending beyond ones means, and under ordinary circumstances would be considered wasteful.

Actually the primary goal is to provide employment …

Sigh. My last NSF was cut by 30% and I am having to spend out of my own pocket to finish the work. My section no longer gets paid salary (I get NO COMPENSTATION to do the work that I do), and has had an effectively stagnant budget for something like 15 years. Science magazine a few months ago had a detailed break down of the impact of cuts in the NIH budget. They are funding fewer and fewer grants, and people are beginning to not submit. Funding rates are down dramatically. A friend of mine was relating to me a report by a collegue in her department on an NIH panel. They had enough money to fund 2 out of 150 + grants. Today, we had a talk by a colleague who served as program director at NSF in the 90’s. When he served, the funding rate was 25%. Now it is below 10%. Three weeks ago, I received the strangest letter I have ever had from an agency. The reviews were all excellent, but the agency (which is private) only had enough money to fund “emergency” programs. My grant was put back in the pile for the spring round. Read: they approved funding, but have no money and will try again later.

I just returned from Switzerland. They are so well supported that the department head – an old friend and collaborator of mine –said that when they get an idea, they have all the resources that they need. Meanwhile, I can’t get enough money to up the RAM in my computer to run the software necessary for my project.

The stimulus bill would only begin to scratch the surface.

I did a quick study on the role of science in our society. Basically, it explains why the USA is the USA.

We are the world’s last superpower, perhaps fading but still around. So what is our edge?

1. Is it natural resources? No, we have our share but that is it. The Arabs have more oil, for example.

2. It isn’t population size. India and China have 2 billion people to our 300 million.

3. It is our lead in science. Simple as that.

a. The USA with 5% of the world’s population spends somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the world’s R&D funds. This is an extraordinary asymetry.

b. Of the top 40 universities in the world, 30 are in the USA.

If one looks at number of Nobel prize winners, number of papers published, accomplishments such as the development of space travel, computers, biotech and so on, the USA is always a leader.

Coupled with our free wheeling entrepreneurial capitalist economy, we have a winner.

science + capitalism = prosperity.

The formula for generating wealth is real simple, we used it for generations. I wish those clowns in Washington would actually think for a few minutes here and there about the big picture.

NSF 100% cut ($1,402,000,000) NASA exploration 50% cut ($750,000,000) NOAA 34.94% cut ($427,000,000) NIST 37.91% cut ($218,000,000) DOE energy efficiency & renewable energy 38% cut ($1,000,000,000) DOE office of science 100% cut ($100,000,000)

If you look at the amounts of money for science, they are rather modest compared to what we spent on bailing out Wall Street and the Banks. We are talking a billion here and there.

For TARP 1, 350 billion bucks were tossed out of a helicopter. No one seems to know where that money went or if it did any good. Bank of American got 45 billion USD. AIG got huge amounts, maybe close to 100 billion. The feds also nationalized Fannie and Freddie at a huge cost that no one has admitted to tallying up yet.

We are now looking at TARP 2, another multi hundred billion dollar bailout. There is talk of maybe needing a TARP 3 or TARP 4.

So what did Bear Stearns, BofAmerica, Wachovia, Merrill, Lehman, AIG, etc. ever do for me and anyone I know? AFAIK, they just made rich people richer by shuffling paper around a lot while ultimately sticking the taxpayers for a huge bill.

At least the 30 billion/year spent at NIH has a tangible benefit. US lifespans increased 30 years in the last century. Nothing wrong with living long and healthy lives.

I would agree with some posters that the stimulus bill might not be an appropiate place to stick in more science money. But cutting science is a recipe for long term decline.

The other point that bothers me. We need (and have) an educated population. In my area, over half the people have a college degree, about 1/3 have an additional higher degree. But college has gotten too expensive and the percentage of kids going to college is dropping. Another recipe for long term decline and a subject for another day.

Thanks. I will write to Senators Specter and Casey. And I will copy Santorum to remind him of the other reason that he lost in ‘06.

In my “perfect world” science would be privately funded (and funded at least 10x more than it is). But people are people, whether in government or private sector, and will look for any excuse to make science the scapegoat, so I don’t expect the private sector to make up for govt. cuts, no matter how much their taxes are cut. To see how much our culture devalues science look no further than McCain’s outrageous “overhead projector” comment.

chunkdz said:

So you advocate slaughter in order to save your job.

What ass.

We’d only kill bad guys.

Ah… Right. There’ll be no innocents killed and no American Soldiers killed, just “Bad Guys”. I guess I’ll just have to tell those folks in my town who’ve lost their sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan that it’s “OK” because they were “Bad Guys” anyway.… You are much worse than an Ass and Moron, chunkdz, you’re the type of Right Wing Whack Job whose idiotic jingoism got us into the fiscal, educational, and political situation we are currently in and who is unable to move away from they’re own selfish interests to think beyond their own momentary self-gratification. Dumb-ass.

From: http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/ww[…]ex.php?id=60 February 6, 2009 update to supporters on the Senate stimulus package science restoration initiative. Well it’s been a long, long day with thousands of emails and phone calls, but we are happy to report that your efforts, and those of the rest of the U.S. science and technology community, have paid off in a big way - for the time being.

Senators Nelson, Collins, Lieberman and Specter held a press conference earlier this evening, also crediting Senator Snowe, and followed up by Senate Majority Leader Reid, declaring a compromise bill has been reached on the stimulus package. You can read the exact line items of the bill here in an xls document (http://bennelson.senate.gov/documen[…]n-Collins%20Stimulus%20Final.xls ), but the parts we focused on today are below:

Agency Original Senate bill budget amt Proposed cut this morning % prop cut Cut in final compromise % final cut Final compromise bill budget amt Science funding you preserved NASA $1,502,000,000 $750,000,000 50 $200,000,000 13.31 $1,302,000,000 $550,000,000 NSF $1,402,000,000 $1,402,000,000 100 $200,000,000 14.26 $1,202,000,000 $1,202,000,000 NOAA $1,222,000,000 $427,000,000 34.94 $200,000,000 16.37 $1,022,000,000 $227,000,000 NIST $575,000,000 $218,000,000 37.91 $100,000,000 17.39 $475,000,000 $118,000,000 DOE enrgy effy & renewbl energy $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000 38 0 0 $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000 DOE offc of science $100,000,000 $100,000,000 100 $100,000,000 100 0 0 Totals $7,449,000,000 $3,897,000,000 52.32 $800,000,000 10.74 $6,649,000,000 $3,097,000,000

This is a terrific $3 billion victory for U.S. Science - thank you!

Heres’s an article in the NYT about Japan’s experience with economic stimulus spending, and their experience with what types of spending had the most impact (albiet, the uncertainty is in quantifying things: its not a hard science).

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/w[…]06japan.html

In reading that article I think a reasonably good argument might be possible for why an investment in science now would be beneficial *as a stimulus* investment. But if so, *that* is the argument that needs to be make now to support keeping these items.

I don’t think that it serves the long term interests of science funding to merely treat this bill as just a “goodies” bill. I think it is wise to avoid coming across as just another self-interested interest group trying to grab a piece of the spoils in any way possible. Science always does best when it makes the compelling argument that science funding has merit.

science + capitalism = prosperity

No. A better approximation is

science + regulated capitalism = prosperity

Doug Theobald I thought made it quite clear that science research funding is direct stimulus spending. Divalent doesn’t seem to understand this. Every research funding agency uses two rounds of proposal review; the first is to approve or disapprove, the second is to assign priority. This later review determines the order in which approved proposals are funded. They are funded top down until the annual budget is expended.

Every agency has dozens of unfunded, fully qualified proposals. Also, 30 to 50% of a proposal’s direct cost are added as “indirect costs.” This is the money that pays the maintainance and administrative staff, buys the paint, and light bulbs. It is all direct stimulus spending.

(Of course this is too late and too little now).

science + capitalism = prosperity

No. A better approximation is

science + regulated capitalism = prosperity

No problem with that. We gave up on laissez faire capitalism well over a century ago. It lead to boom bust cycles, vastly unequal concentrations of wealth, and awarded the spoils to those who cheated and manipulated the system.

science + modern capitalism = prosperity

It seems to me that the TARP is what washington is hiding under whilst doling out the big bucks to those that don’t deserve them. Trillion dollar “bailouts” without even GAAP rules being followed? Sounds like a bigger ponzi scheme than madoff tried.

We gave up on laissez faire capitalism well over a century ago.

Like hell we did. We began to bring it back in 1981 or thereabouts, and it has just now caught up with us. What we have just seen is a boom-and-bust cycle and increasing concentrations of wealth awarded to those who cheated and manipulated the system.

Rhetorical question: How many major airline companies went bankrupt before deregulation?

I apologize if this seems self serving - I work in the biology dept. at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), and my paycheck is largely through DOE Office of Science. But I felt this needed to be said:

Clearly, renewable energy and energy efficiency research are critical for the country right now, and are well within the mission of the DOE. We can celebrate that that part of the budget was not touched. But the DOE Office of Science budget - which funds basic research - is still zeroed out.

Why should Panda’s Thumb readers care about that? After all, isn’t DOE research all just nuclear and high energy physics? accelerators and all that? Well, a number of the DOE national laboratories are multidisciplinary and there’s a long history of biology and medical research at several of them.

I can’t rightly do justice to a full list of accomplishments, but a couple of highlights off the top of my head: The Human Genome Project started under DOE. The Protein Data Bank (PDB) originated at BNL, as did the pET expression system. BNL, and Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national labs developed and operate the larger and more productive synchrotron light sources where, among other things, protein structures are determined in enormous numbers. The Joint Genome Institute has performed an enormous amount of DNA sequencing of organisms (bacterial, fungal, largely environmental), which are not of interest to NIH. I think the National Labs are good places for basic science and should be supported.

dhogaza said:

Actually the primary goal is to provide employment …

Really? How much employment do you think $300 billion in tax cuts will provide? Most of which won’t be felt until next year.

Seriously, how far would they have to cut capital gains taxes to make you want to go out and buy AIG shares or invest in bonds backed by the “full faith and credit” of California - a state which just last week helpfully sent me an “IOU” for a tax refund it owes me, redeemable “at some future date as yet unknown”.

Bad guys: the people you want to kill (and for those people, it’s YOU). The winners write the history, so naturally the bad guys were whomever you just killed.

We should understand that the goal is to save jobs and get banks loaning money and people spending money immediately - that is, within a few months. In the long run, science funding provides perhaps more return per dollar than anything else, but in the very short term that doesn’t save the patient. Kind of like if someone is bleeding profusely, recommending a balanced diet and regular exercise is best for long-run health, but a tourniquet might be more immediately useful.

Speaking as a historian, may I remark that “the winners write the history” is a useful, but not an exhaustive statement. History has a large component of contrarian voices always willing to point out weaknesses in evidence, and historians, generally, make their name by assailing a prevailing theory with success and forcing modifications. Rather like science in that regard, I think.

tomh said: Really? How much employment do you think $300 billion in tax cuts will provide? Most of which won’t be felt until next year.

Potentially a lot, depending on where the cuts are. First I’ve heard of it so I can’t say. Say, for example, it all goes to private citizens (it won’t, but as an example). That’s $300b in increased private revenue, and thus private spending, which can then turn into $300b in retail and industrial growth. Quick solution? No. Sound solution? Yep. Then when the bubble starts to inflate again raise taxes back up to mitigate the potential for crash.

The whole republican/democrat thing means it won’t happen though. Reps want low taxes and infinite growth (can’t happen). Dems want social services and economic stability (won’t happen either, since government expansion is both fueled by growth and impedes growth). Why oh why are we cursed with bouncing between the two?

Really? How much employment do you think $300 billion in tax cuts will provide? Most of which won’t be felt until next year.

This is less than 40% of the proposed bill. A secondary purpose of the bill is to put money into people’s pockets.

“primary purpose” != “sole purpose”.

Stacy S. said:

Here is the “cut list” .

I want to cry. :-( http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02[…]=mpstoryview

Ouch. Science, technology, the environment, and education.

What did they leave in?

Random Lurker wrote:

“Why oh why are we cursed with bouncing between the two?”

Because we only elect Democrats or Republicans.

I worked at PNL in the early 1990s. My job was an uncommon contract programming gig with the USAF. But I got to see many of the projects going on that were not directly related to the Hanford site.

One of those undertaken in the department I worked at was one of the original databases for collecting the data from the Human Genome Project. I recall sitting in a presentation where the programmers enthusiastically told us about the 24 chromosomes of the human genome. Of course, they simply assigned the “Y” chromosome its own bin, accounting for the difference between how the biologists and the programmers counted them up.

Yes, DOE gets a lot of stuff done that is not generally credited.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

Yes, DOE gets a lot of stuff done that is not generally credited.

The same can be said for DOD, DARPA, NASA and a number of other governmental organizations.

And it’s such a mixed bag with many of these departments. There is a lot of terrific research going on that has been classified for many years, yet despite this, there are still spin-offs that find their way into many areas of science and technology. Few people know about how some of the stuff they use was researched and developed.

Then there are the really stupid projects that survive on secrecy because they can’t be properly vetted.

Some here may remember William Proxmire’s “Golden Fleece Award”. One of the biggest problems with the budgeting process is the political mischaracterizations of perfectly good research being mixed in with appropriate critiques. Proxmire wasn’t always correct in his scathing criticisms.

These politicians are, in general, not capable judging the value and importance of research without extremely good advice from experts. The tendency to mischaracterize proposed research and development is little different from what the ID/Creationists do.

Eight years of anti-science government is not going to be easy to overcome. People forget or are prevented from knowing where the knowledge needed for getting along in this universe comes from.

Matt Young said:

We gave up on laissez faire capitalism well over a century ago.

Like hell we did. We began to bring it back in 1981 or thereabouts, and it has just now caught up with us. What we have just seen is a boom-and-bust cycle and increasing concentrations of wealth awarded to those who cheated and manipulated the system.

Rhetorical question: How many major airline companies went bankrupt before deregulation?

Yey for reaganomics?

DS said:

Because we only elect Democrats or Republicans.

Two-party system, like it or not. But though it may leave something to be desired, so does having hot and cold running parties – Israel being a great example, with small extreme splinter parties able to hold extortionate power by being the swing factor in a majority.

Churchill’s old saying comes to mind that democracy is the worst possible system of governance – except for all the others. I’m not sure how ironic he meant that, but there is the unpleasant realization: “You mean the others are an even BIGGER nightmare?!”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

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