Bert Gold bgold at
Wed May 1 17:29:34 EST 1996

Oh, Greg, I have one other comment on your basketball analogy:

If the NBA had been as foolish as to fix prices the way NIH

and NSF has fixed grants, they would be defending themselves

against Janet Reno in Federal Court.

Bert Gold
San Francisco

Bert Gold (bgold at wrote:
: 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

: Dr. Varmus knew all about it.

: corrupt, nepotistic one.

: Bert Gold
: San Francisco

: Gregory R. Harriman (gregoryh at 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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