TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Bert Gold bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu
Fri Apr 19 23:41:00 EST 1996


Herman Rubin's comments concerning government not needing to
spend money on science proves that he is a Luddite.

I have spoken with Dr. Rubin on the telephone and suggested to
him that he was not studious enough in what he told me were his
'Libertarian' arguments concerning THE PROBLEM WITH PATENTS.  I told him
that I considered the Libertarian philososphy a form of conservatism;
Dr. Rubin, preferring to obscure rather than provide clarity,
disagreed.

There is no question in my mind that Dr. Rubin would benefit from
a careful reading of C.P. Snow's lectures concerning The Two Cultures
and the Scientific Revolution and Science and Government, and a
detailed look at Dr. Jacob Bronowski's work on Science and Human
Values and The Common Sense of Science.

He prefers however to foist upon us ill informed opinions which
fly in the face of legions of economists I have spoken with in just
the last several months.  Each of these (including Nobel Laureates in
Economics) assures me that governmental R&D spending is the fundamental
motor behind America's economic vitality and that shutting it off
will have devastating effects upon the economy as a whole.

A careful reading of Robert Pear's article in the New York Times
detailing the meeting of Drs. Joe Davie, Ralph Bradshaw and others
with Mr. Newt Gingrich which convinced the Speaker to secure passage of
the current NIH budget in the light of the current government deadlock
would provide sober but enlightening reading for Dr. Rubin.

Or, in plain words, Dr. Rubin is absolutely WRONG in what he
says, and he cannot possibly produce convincing economic evidence
that all those funds which have been in the past spent on government
R&D, and which in the future will be spent on government R&D have
gone to nought. Dr. Rubin cannot provide such evidence because there
is none.  And his assertions are as hollow as the well of knowledge
which he draws from to make them.

Dr. Rubin should be ashamed at himself for taking such an
ill-informed, anti-intellectual stance after my telephone 
conversation with him.

Bert Gold
San Francisco

Arthur E. Sowers (arthures at access.digex.net) wrote:


: 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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