TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Herman Rubin hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu
Fri Apr 26 16:57:30 EST 1996


In article <4lo808$821 at news.orst.edu>,
John Edstrom <edstrom at slugo.hmsc.orst.edu> wrote:
>In article <4lgj62$2ue8 at b.stat.purdue.edu>,
>	hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu (Herman Rubin) writes:
>>In article <4ledds$nj4 at news.orst.edu>,
>>John Edstrom <edstrom at slugo.hmsc.orst.edu> wrote:
>>>In article <4labkh$3l68 at b.stat.purdue.edu>,
>>>	hrubin at b.stat.purdue.edu (Herman Rubin) writes:



>>>>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.
>>>...

>>>But how will anyone know if the statements are false unless there is
>>>independent research and knowledge?

>>Are you asking for perfection?  It does not exist.

>>The best protection is the threat of massive civil damages to those
>>who violate the laws.  In a libertarian society, they would not be
>>able to hide behind their corporations.  Under real fraud laws, most
>>of the current advertising is such that any consumer should be able
>>to sue the manufacturer or advertiser.


>But what information will inform the construction of the law?  Also, there is
>no point in writing laws unless they can be enforced and there is no way to
>enforce a law unless there is a way to detect if it has been violated.  They
>won't need to hide behind corporations if there is no alternative research
>that can challenge false or misleading claims.

Do you not think that there will be monitoring of the use of procedures?
I doubt that there will be little of the current wrangling on tobacco if
both sides, the government and the companies, had to be honest.  All it
would have taken to prove in a civil case that tobacco was addictive would
be to have the people hooked testify.  This would not prevent them from
making and selling cigarettes, and openly advertising them on billboards
and in magazines, but the government could not do other than enforce 
honesty.  The FDA, may their tribe decrease, wants to regulate tobacco.
The government should not be able to regulate anything of the sort.

BTW, the bad effects of tobacco were known a century ago, with the 
exception of the carcinogenic effects, and some others for which the
demographic data is as yet unclear.  Also, the question is not whether
tobacco is carcinogenic; with enough data, almost anything is; but
how much.  It is a balancing of risks and benefits, and different 
people will have different balances.  I do not smoke, and do not like
the odor of smoke.

>>>>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.

>>>Might there not be a reason why the universities abandoned alternative sources
>>>of funding to support research when federal funds became available?  Like
>>>maybe its easier and cheaper to deal with a few buearocracies rather than
>>>several hundred buearocracies?

>>It is not a problem of dealing with bureaucracies.  It is only those with
>>totalitarian moral agendas who will berate an individual for accepting
>>"tainted" money, if it is legal at all.  If the only game in town is 
>>dealing with the mob, one deals with the mob.

>"Totalitarian moral agendas?" Huh?  

Look at the process carefully.

>> Nothing precludes non-federal funding and
>>>organizations like the Musclar Dystrophy Association, Diabetes Foundations and
>>>others provide funds for research.  There is nothing to prevent them from
>>>doing what you suggest beyond the difficulties inherrent in the piecemeal
>>>raising of funds from millions of independent sources (people and businesses)
>>>by thousands of organizations.

>>The major funding of basic research before WWII was from university
>>endowments.  Consider that a many major private  universities would have
>>to add several BILLION to their endowments to fund what the federal
>>government provides, although the actual amount could be reduced by
>>about a factor of three to remove the administrative costs.


>How do you figure this?  Much of the overhead costs come from the schools now
>as it is.

Huh?  Grant proposals in the mathematical sciences typically have an 
overhead charge which is more than half of the salary charge.  

 If the schools want more research per dollar why don't they reduce
>their admistration costs now?  These costs are common to funds from government
>agencies and non-government sources so the same "inefficiencies" will afflict
>research no matter who funds it.

They cannot reduce their administrative costs.  Much of this is mandated
by the government.  There are endless reports, proposals, audits, etc.
There has to be so many accountant types for so much research activity.
There was essentially none of this before WWII.  There was no "time
accounting" for 30 years afterward.  If there was a chemist on the faculty,
it was assumed that he or she would be using equipment, needing graduate
assistants, chemicals, etc.; there was no grant process.  Now, everything
has to come from a rigid account.  There is a separate account for every
research grant, and an investigator is violating the law if a piece of
equipment on one project is used for another without approval.  Switching
of funds from computing to travel is easy, but between pay and equipment
is a major hassle.

>...


>>This is not the problem; the government hucksters and bureaucrats are
>>every bit as bad.  Even when they are more honest, they still take out
>>more due to being bureaucrats.

>Unless they are paid starvation wages and work in cardboard boxes I fail to
>see how a thousand independent bureaucracies can be cheaper than a few.

With most of the money coming from internal funds, without having to
meet government regulations, there would not be the problem with 
bureaucracies.  When industry supported research, it dealt with the
researchers, and used simple funding channels.  Likewise many foundations.
Now they use the government procedures.  But again, most research was 
internally funded.

>And if that wasn't the problem, just what massive administrative
>inefficiencies are you complaining about?  Where exactly do you think the
>money is being wasted?

There would not be a "research office", with its staff.  There would not
be all the accounting we now have.  Every grant proposal has to be approved
by several administrators, and its budget has to satisfy several legal
requirements, which keep changing.  There was a recent situation in which
NSF changed their page limitations after proposals went in; there was a
fight to allow the universities to resubmit.


-- 
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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