TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Herman Rubin hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu
Sat Apr 20 03:06:02 EST 1996


In article <shinbrot-1904962221270001 at lucky115.nuts.nwu.edu>,
Troy Shinbrot <shinbrot at nwu1.edu> wrote:
>In article <4l8ubv$3l1c at b.stat.purdue.edu>, hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu
>(Herman Rubin) wrote:

>> >As I have said before, you first Dr. Rubin.  I'll be happy to see you turn
>> >back the money that was spent by the government on your education;
 
>> How much money do you think the government spent on my education?  I 
>> did take some advantage of the GI Bill, but my education would not have
>> been affected otherwise.  

>How much depends on what college you went to, but even if you had rich
>parents and paid full tuition, that would account for typically between
>30% (state schools) and 60% (private schools) of the actual costs.  The
>rest comes from external sources, including government support for
>education and research.  

At the time I went to college, I was mainly supported on scholarships,
which were not from the government.  The government had not yet got into
supporting these.  BTW, I doubt that the scholarship money amounted to
30% of the actual costs.  

>> As for elementary and secondary education,
>> I am of the opinion that it would have been better without the public
>> schools.

>Well I'm really interested to hear that you think members of Purdue's
>department of statistics would have been better off without learning to
>read or write.  I can see how those skills would interfere with your
>present opinions.

What gives you the impression that I did not know how to read and write
well before going to school?  That many children now can read is to a
considerable extent due to those outside the schools, partly by direct
teaching, and partly by managing to get the schools to reverse their
actions in teaching badly.  If the public schools did not exist now, 
far more would really be taught.

			.................

>>  No company paid to put a man
>> >on the moon; no company paid for basic cancer research; no company paid
>> >for research into the cause of asbestosis; no company paid for research
>> >into sources of lead poisoning of children, and no company paid for the
>> >development of the internet that you are happily using to lambaste public
>> >funding for research.

You seem to be ignoring university research.  This existed well before
the government got in, and eradicated its long-term base.  The government
could cripple university research now by one stroke of the pen.

>> You are assuming that "non-government" means "company".  

>And the alternative is?  Foundations are completely saturated with grant
>applications.  Shall we all ask Bill Gates?   Our relatives?  Who exactly
>do you have in mind??

Polio vaccines were developed by the March of Dimes, which was willing
to fund basic research in it.  At that time, the government did not do so.

>> The American
>> universities did not really get into research before the last quarter
>> of the 19th century, but was well established in it by the end of the
>> first quarter of this century.  There was little federal funding, and
>> the state funding was to keep the state universities competitive with
>> the private universities.

>I can't imagine what is going through your head.  First, the rest of us
>are not living still in, nor are we pining for, the period 1900-1925. 
>Second, are you really suggesting we look to the state of South Carolina
>to study the carcinogenic effects of tobacco?  Should we have 50 separate
>sets of NIH, NSF, and so forth?  When Ebola breaks out in Texas next time,
>shall we look to the state of Texas to halt its spread?  Heck, who needs
>the CDC?  Wait until TB hits MY state, and THEN we can fund studies into
>what to do about it.

Do you think the STATES were, as such, funding research?  If Texas wanted
to have a state university to compete academically with private universities,
it had to fund research.  During the period of mainly university funded
research, while much of the research came from the northeast, little of
it came from state funding.  New York and New England had many strong
research universities, but with little financing from any government source.

When did NSF and NIH start?  Do you think that there was no medical research
before?  Do you think that the cyclotron was funded by the government?  Do
you think that Hubble was funded by the government?


>> There has been darn little basic cancer research, and most of this is
>> the recent result of DNA study.  The first complete DNA structure of a
>> bacterium was done by someone who was defunded because the "experts"
>> believed his method would not work.  Polio research, other than the
>> attempt to tackle it by antique epidemiological methods, was carried
>> out by non-profit agencies; Salk also was considered to be barking up
>> the wrong tree.

>I don't know what you think the scientists at, and funded through, the NIH
>have been studying all this time.  Acne?  Kwashiorkor?  Scabies?  If you
>think there is 'darn little' basic cancer research going on, then you have
>shown pretty clearly that you know 'darn little' about the subject.

Research into treating a disease is rarely basic research.  Billions have
been spent in attempts to find cures for cancer; if 5% of that had gone into
basic research, we would probably have been farther along.  Basic researchers
cannot tell a government agency what they are going to be doing next year,
as they do not know.

			...................

>> Most of the good people now working for NASA would prefer to work for 
>> private attempts to really get out in space, but NASA is the only game
>> in town.  If the government removed its legal obstacles, we will have
>> major manned space in a few years with no government money.  

>WHAT LEGAL OBSTACLES for Chrissakes?  Do you get ALL of your information
>of the backs of cracker-jack boxes?  Do you think if Boeing saw fit to
>launch rockets on its own that "the government" would do ... what? 
>Confiscate the rockets?   Bring in troops to stop them?   Sue their pants
>off?   Get a grip.

That, and more.  An American cannot legally launch anywhere in the world
without explicit approval from the government.  Launch approval has been
revoked "at the last minute" from companies which have tried to do that.

Boeing is not big enough to do it.  Setting up an admittedly highly
speculative company to attempt real space activities would violate
government restrictions on selling stock; there is a group which so 
far is still operating, calling themselves an entertainment company.
But the real way to fund space activities at this time is to let the
tens of millions who believe in it to fund a non-profit corporation,
with the right to act.

Government regulations now prohibit such corporations; do you think 
that the government would willingly allow the existence of an organization
which can spend more money in a year on space than it now budgets for all
of its research and development?  Such an organization would spend more 
than many fair-sized countries.  This is the potential power of minorities
who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.  
-- 
Herman Rubin, Dept. of Statistics, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette IN47907-1399
hrubin at stat.purdue.edu	 Phone: (317)494-6054	FAX: (317)494-0558



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