Science and Engineering in Politics

Posted on December 3, 2007  Comments (4)

Politics of engineering by Patrick Mannion, EE Times:

Engineering interests historically haven’t been at the forefront of the political debate, at least not compared with those of, say, farming, law or health care. But given the importance of the technological advances that engineers help effect and the need to maintain our competitive edge in a rapidly changing global environment, that situation needs to change, and fast.

Then came word of the $25 billion being handed to farmers in yet another subsidy, loudly denounced by some as welfare for the wealthy. I’m not going to get into the right or wrong of the subsidies–but I am amazed at the ability of agribusiness to get them at all. It shows the power of the farm lobby. Ditto for pharmaceuticals, HMOs, lawyers, “big oil” and so on. It underscores the relative political weakness of the engineering community.

If the science and engineering community are not well represented to our representatives the interests of the science and engineering community will get short changed. Especially since so few politicians in the USA have even a basic understanding of science and the scientific method. And a very small percentage have any advanced degrees in science and engineering fields or work experience in them. That being said the political arena is much like a tar pit: that is it is difficult to interact with without becoming entangled in a big mess. And it is not as though the scientific and engineering community are even close to unified but still the impact of political decisions is very significant and science and engineering leaders need to be heard.

China’s Economic Science Experiment – China’s 9 most senior government official are all engineers (in 2006 – I am not sure now):

When China’s leaders meet with Hu each week in Beijing’s government district, Zhongnanhai, they could spend hours discussing cables, switches, tool-making machines and control devices. That’s because every one of them has a degree in engineering. The president himself, the son of a tea merchant from Jiangsu Province, trained to build hydroelectric power stations, while the others hold degrees in electrical engineering, metallurgy and geology.

Related: Larry Page on Marketing ScienceThe A to Z Guide to Political Interference in ScienceDiplomacy and Science ResearchOpen Access LegislationProposal to Triple NSF Graduate Research Fellowship AwardsScience Interview with John EdwardsProposed Legislation on Science and EducationHouse Testimony on Engineering EducationGermany’s Science ChancellorNanotechnology Investment as Strategic National Economic PolicySingapore Supporting Science ResearchersFarming Without Subsidies in New Zealand

4 Responses to “Science and Engineering in Politics”

  1. CuriousCat: Problems with Scientific Research Funding
    January 2nd, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

    at least raising two issues I have been raising a bit more lately: science funding (our newest category) and politics and science…

  2. CuriousCat: Scientists on Changing Their Minds
    February 11th, 2008 @ 9:57 am

    If the science and engineering community are not well represented to our representatives the interests of the science and engineering community will not get the sensible level of investment…

  3. CuriousCat: Why did China’s Scientific Innovation Stop?
    June 6th, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

    “Needham never fully worked out why China’s inventiveness dried up. Other academics have made their own suggestions: the stultifying pursuit of bureaucratic rank in the Middle Kingdom…”

  4. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
    April 28th, 2009 @ 8:28 am

    […] Science and Engineering in Politics – Scientists and Engineers in Congress – John Conyers Against Open Science – China’s […]

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