TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Herman Rubin hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu
Sat Apr 20 04:43:45 EST 1996


In article <4l9iqd$9cc at madeline.INS.CWRU.Edu>,
Jonathan Stott <jjs17 at po.cwru.edu> wrote:
>In article <4l879d$bbd at decius.ultra.net>,
>Marc Andelman  <drgonfly at biosource.ultranet.com> wrote:

>>	The other important issue;  some of us do not want
>>a command economy controlled by central burearocrats, an idea
>>that one would think has been thouroughly discredited.

>>Marc Andelman

>What makes you think a bunch of MBA petty central bureaucrats is going
>to do any better a job than a bunch of PolySci petty central
>bureaucrats? I may not trust government much, but I trust corporations
>to look out for my views even less.

>Just look at all the fine basic research on the health benefits of
>tobacco put out by RJR-Nabisco and friends.  Or all the wonderful work
>being done on global warming by Exxon.  Or all the prominent studies on
>acid rain in the 80's done by Alcoa.

Do you believe all the government and "environmentalist" propaganda?
As for health benefits of tobacco, it was known to be bad more than a
half-century ago.  Much of the government research consists of 
demographic studies; the case for megadoses of vitamin E is far
stronger than the case against tobacco, except for the carcinogenic
effects.  But what do you think the estimated increase in life
expenctancy would be if all cancer would be cured?

I have never smoked, and I do not like smoke.  But there are other
aspects to smoking; the smokers I have known derived benefit from it.
I do not expect a for-profit company to do research on the dangers of
their products, but as a libertarian, I would make the issuing of
false statements a cause for massive fines against the individuals
responsible, whether those individuals work for a corporation or for
a government.  Withholding relevant information would be included.
It should be noted that the oldest living person, whose age can be
reliably ascertained, is 120 and gave up smoking 6 years ago.  

It is time to get the research universities back on their independent
feet.  This will take a lot of doing; the availability of federal funding
caused the universities to not only drop their own funding of research,
but to rely on federal research funding for other purposes.  This tar
baby will take a lot of unsticking.

There is another source, which has been reduced by government action.
That is the field of non-profit foundations.  The government put in 
major restrictions on the formation of these, and on the ways in which
they can manage their funds.  There are many bad reasons for this; the
most notable of these is that the government wants control.  The next is
that the government would lose some tax revenue; it would rather take in
some of the money and allocate it for research, with massive overhead,
than allow foundations to give it away.

>Or, to take a [real this time] counter-example, look at all the
>projections in the 80's that really were published on how clean air
>standards now in place would ruin our gas mileage, put 10% of the
>country out of work, and would not accomplish anything since all
>pollution comes from natural sources like termites and cow.  Government
>is watched closely, because if they screw up there's always someone
>else who wants to fill [or eliminate] the job.  If AT&T screws up, they
>just fire 40000 people and rake in the stock options.

Government is not watched closely.  How much criticism have the 
Naderites piled on the government.  And AT&T was doing major amounts
of pure research in several fields before the government stepped in.
The clean air standards have reduced our gas mileage; one cannot get
gas for high compression engines, and there is a limit to how much one
can lighten the cars, which also increases the risk of accidents.
Another reason for the decrease in industry-funded research is that
they are spending the money in complying with government regulations.
This does not show up in the federal budget, but it diverts money
just the same.

The FDA has killed more people than the drug companies.  Even the
well funded (by the government) research universities do not have
the research attitude any more, as there is more competition for funds
than free discussion.  The emphasis is on gimmicks and "solutions", 
not on investigation.  
-- 
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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