TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Arthur E. Sowers arthures at access.digex.net
Thu Apr 18 21:36:40 EST 1996



On 18 Apr 1996, Herman Rubin wrote:

> In article <4l3cf6$t3d at gazette.bcm.tmc.edu>,
> Jim Smolen <jsmolen at bcm.tmc.edu> wrote:
> >Bert Gold <bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu> wrote:
> 
> >>from Nature, 28 March 1996, page 271:
> >>(Editorial Page)
> 
> 
> >>...If the United States moves to balance its budget without tackling
> >>the areas where it actually spends three-quarters of the money
> >>-- defence and manditory health and social security programmes
> >>-- then science spending will be crushed, along with much else of
> >>value that the federal government does.  
> 
> >Nice to see some straight talking on the subject.
> 
> We need to get the government to ease out of both funding and control
> of research, and to encourage private funding by both for-profit and
> non-profit voluntary organizations.  
> 
> The government should never have gotten into it in the first place.
> 
> -- 
> Herman Rubin, Dept. of Statistics, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette IN47907-1399
> hrubin at stat.purdue.edu	 Phone: (317)494-6054	FAX: (317)494-0558
> 

Herman gives absolutely no rationale for why the government should get 
out of funding research and have only private (he calls "for-profit" and 
"non-profit voluntary organizations") or non-govt sources. 

Certainly there are a number of themes and rationales for what he 
proposes, but I am quite sure that a very large amount of good work would 
never be done because no collection of no-government sources would ever 
be able to justify the expenditures needed. A large number of good things 
came out of basic research that was government funded. Most 
non-government (i.e. industry) can't see more than a couple of years into 
the future and usually much less (thats why they hire MBAs that run 
spreadsheets to see if they make ROI within 6 months, and thats the first 
and only question industry asks).

I keep thinking that Christopher Columbus could never get funding from 
today's industry for the "project" that led to, among other "things", the 
USA. 

And, someday, down the road, all that spending on NASA and space 
exploration, will end up becoming a 20th-21st century equivalent of 
Columbus' discovery of what we know today as the USA.

An analysis of government spending, and its ideology, is a more complex 
issue, but I favor more government spending on science, and in 
particular, basic research. If I could see the government getting out of 
something, its the programatically controlled spending, not the spending, 
per se.

Art Sowers



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