TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Arthur E. Sowers arthures at access.digex.net
Sun Apr 21 20:49:20 EST 1996



On Fri, 19 Apr 1996, Jim Smolen wrote:

> "Arthur E. Sowers" <arthures at access.digex.net> wrote:
> 
> 
> >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.
> 
> Agreed. It is certain that the programatically controlled spending,
> which will continue to increase (under current policy), will
> eventually eat up everything else, including science. Truly tragic...
> 
> But I don't think that the issues are all that complex. The trends
> leading to this situation, and to which the Nature editorial allude,
> have been obvious for at least two decades now. It just takes time for
> exponential growth to reach fruition.
> 
> Jim
> 
> 

Jim, I can see some validity in lots of "viewpoints" on this topic, but
one phrase in what you said prompts me to add a footnote to my own
comment: The  "exponential growth to fruition...." sometime ends actually
in an "S"-shaped curve as whatever plotted on the Y axis becomes
saturated. It sure looks to me like, for example, the NIH and NSF budgets,
considering that inflation (plus the institutional surcharge "tax" known
as overhead [to me a ripoff]) is running ahead of budget increases, are,
in real dollars, actually shrinking slightly.

Jumping back a couple of decades (when I was young and naive and twice as
idealistic as now), I had this dumb notion that the world was actually
getting smarter and wiser. I thought is was intuitively obvious, for
example, that everyone would "discover", through education and expansion
of science, that war really was senseless and that defense budgets would
decline and the money saved would be available for another intuitively
obvious worthy goal, research. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was
a little talk of the peace dividend (so some component of my prediction
came true), but it wasn't long before that got blown to smitherines (Jeez,
I wanted for a long time to use that word) with all this concern, by
members primarily but not entirely of one political party, now for
government deficits and cutting taxes (goofy, considering that companies
are making record profits and, as usuall, the rich are getting richer, but
at record rates of increase, too).

So, what bugs me? Seeing that the tobbacco industry is three times larger
than the entire NIH budget. The defense budget is about 20 times bigger
than the entire NIH budget (not counting the bomb production budget which
is in DOE). Etc.

Eh?

Art Sowers
 





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