Invest in Science for a Strong Economy

Posted on January 22, 2008  Comments (3)

From a consistent voice in favor of scientific investment comes a call to invest in basic scientific research. Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board at Intel, pens opinion piece – Flagging Economy Needs Science Investments

Legislation in the form of the America Competes Act was passed in the House and Senate in 2007, and it appeared the United States was finally going to move forward after years of neglect to increase investment in math, science and basic research. All parties agreed that our competitiveness in the 21st century was at stake and we needed to act.

So much for political will.

The recent budget deal between Republicans and Democrats effectively flat-funds or cuts funding for key science agencies. Excluding “earmarks,” the Department of Energy funding for fiscal year 2008 is up only 2.6 percent, thus losing ground to inflation. The National Science Foundation is up 2.5 percent, with the same result. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is up 11 percent, however the labs where research happens only get 2.3 percent, again losing ground to inflation.

What are they thinking? When will they wake up? It may already be too late; but I genuinely think the citizenry of this country wants the United States to compete. If only our elected leaders weren’t holding us back.

It is a shame that the leaders are doing such a bad job. I wrote about their failures recently in the Curious Cat Investing and Economic Blog, Politicians Again Raising Taxes On Your Children. But we keep electing people that think the way to improve the economy is to borrow some more money (and science and engineering investments seem very far down on their lists of what to spend money on) for someone to pay back in the future. So while our leaders are disappointing, society at large is getting what they ask for.

The appeal Craig Barrett is making seems to be one we have chose to reject by and large. We are choosing to cede scientific leadership to others and many others are happy to take the grab at the opportunity. We have enjoyed such a lead that we are coasting on our past success. I fear we are not going to realize how important science and engineering leadership have been to that economic success until we see others enjoying the benefits we thought of as our birthright (which of course they are not).

Related: Scientific and Economic LeadershipAuthors of Scientific Articles by CountryScience, Engineering and the Future of the American EconomyScience and Engineering in PoliticsEconomic Strength Through Technology Leadership

3 Responses to “Invest in Science for a Strong Economy”

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