SMOKE, FIRE and MIRRORS

Bert Gold bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu
Wed May 1 17:26:55 EST 1996


Greg Harriman,

IF we were working in an honest Meritocracy, I would agree with you.

We are not!!!!!

In January, I attempted to apply for a grant which had been awarded
BEFORE it was ANNOUNCED.

Dr. Varmus knew all about it.

WE ARE NOT WORKING IN ANY SORT OF A JUST SYSTEM; Just a greedy,
corrupt, nepotistic one.

Bert Gold
San Francisco

Gregory R. Harriman (gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu) wrote:
: In article
: <Pine.SOL.3.91.960430221738.18365A-100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>,
: berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:

: > Consequently, it is clear that even such an up-front simplistic 
: > funding model as 'all professors [ in a given area ] get equal
: > grants' [ no peer review, no NIH/NSF/NSERC: just couple of
: > filing secretaries ] will actually do a MUCH BETTER overall 
: > job because:
: > 
: > top 20 % will be (slightly) undefunded    [ so what ? ]
: > bottom 20 % will be (slightly) overfunded  [ so what ? ]
: > middle 60 % will be funded just fairly

: Everyone, including administrators at the NIH admit that a lot of
: excellent grant proposals are not getting funded.  The question is whether
: the right solution is to 1) provide more money for research or 2)
: reallocate the existing funds among researchers.  Dr. Berezin has
: previously argued that too much money is already spent on research and the
: solution is to reallocate the funds.  While some reallocation of funds is
: probably justified, an arbitrary and across the board equal distribution
: of funds to all grant applicants would be a mistake.  First of all, few
: (except perhaps Dr. Berezin) would argue that "everyone" who applies for a
: grant should get funded.  When a limited resource (eg. research funds)
: exists, some mechanism for distributing it efficiently must exist.

: Dr. Berezin's "modest proposal" above might seem reasonable on the surface
: until one looks at it more closely.  In the case of the NIAID, the payline
: for the last 12 months was approximately 10% (ie. only 1 in 10 grants got
: funded).  That means under Dr. Berezin's scenario, the 10% who get full
: funding under the current system would only get 10% of the funds they
: receive now.  This would be the "(slightly) underfunded" category referred
: to above.  Presumably, Dr. Berezin would argue that since "all" of these
: currently funded researchers are "fat cats" with bloated research budgets,
: they could easily get by with a 90% cut in their budgets.

: Along the same lines, I'd like to make another modest proposal.  It's
: obvious that professional basketball players make too much money and that
: arbitrary (and probably anonymous) criteria are used to exclude other
: deserving athletes from playing professional basketball.  This is patently
: unfair.  Who's to say that someone who played basketball in college but
: did not get drafted by a professional team is not a good basketball
: player.  There might be another Michael Jordan out there who was denied a
: chance to play by some selfish professional team owner.  Solution: take
: all the money currently made by professional basketball players and
: distribute it equally to everyone who wants to play professional
: basketball.  If this leads to a ten-fold increase in the number of
: basketball players, all the better.  It will give us more games to watch. 
: The fact that the current players will only get 10% of the salaries they
: currently get is of no concern since these guys are overpaid now.  If the
: quality of the competition decreases, so what?  We should be more
: concerned about making sure that everyone who wants to play has a chance,
: rather than being concerned about the quality of the game.   Striving for
: excellence, competition, free enterprise ... who needs it.

: Greg Harriman



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