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French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-clearly-in-the-mirror-universe dept.
ananyo writes "Bucking a trend of cutting science seen elsewhere, the French government has committed to increasing spending on research and development in its draft austerity budget for 2013. France's education and research ministry gets a 2.2% boost under the proposed budget, giving it a budget of just under €23 billion (US$29 billion). Most other ministries get a cut. The upshot of the cash increase is that 1,000 new university posts will be created, no publicly funded research jobs will be cut and funding for research grants will rise (albeit less than inflation) by 1.2% to €7.86 billion. The move to spend on science during a recession is notable and means that French politicians understand that a sustainable commitment to public spending on science is vital for long-term economic growth. The situation is in stark contrast to that in the U.S. and in the UK, where a recent policy to boost hi-tech industries, unveiled with much fanfare, failed to do much for science. Meanwhile, in Australia, there's alarm over proposals to freeze research grants— a step that could jeopardize 1700 jobs."
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French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:11AM (#41538579)

    "I don't understand austerity; is the idea "sacrifice tomorrow to pay for today"? I bet that will work about as well as it sounds."

    Well, yes. Yes, it is "sacrifice tomorrow to pay for today", because unfortunately for a few decades the idea has been "spend tomorrow's money today" or "borrow money from the future", and we've run out of credit. AKA "deficits don't matter" [wikiquote.org].

    Since 2008 we've been finding out what happens when you borrow too much money from the future. "Austerity" has become popular because there's no more that can be borrowed from future earnings. It's tapped out. It's at or near the limit, and beyond that is financial disaster. And you're right that failing to invest in the future (e.g., infrastructure, education and research) won't work out well either, but we should have clued into that before choosing to be backed into a corner by debt costs.

    It's like half the world has been partying and running up a huge bar tab, and now the bill has come due. The financial hangover is bad, and it will have long-term consequences for an entire generation. Hopefully people learn the lesson that persistently running countries on debt for long periods of time has long-term consequences that should be avoided by not implementing tax cuts and more spending in good times until debt is paid off (or at least reduced to manageable levels), so that you're ready for the next economic swing.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:17AM (#41538641) Journal

    Believe it or not, the US spends more per capita on student education than France. I tend to think part of the US problem is that we do not target our money well, instead spending a disproportionate amount on those who don't want to learn. I do think we need to help those in lower income brackets, but I think it would be better to spend the money inside of that bracket on those families clearly trying to improve their situation.

    My wife teaches in inner city schools and there are programs that focus on high achieving students. But programs for those with disciplinary problems, behavioral issues or developmental problems seem to get funded much better. One program, for example, for children with severe disabilities is really just a day care program with a teacher and an aide for 6 children. The ratio is so low because the kids need constant care to keep them from hurting themselves. Is this a role for an educational system or for a welfare program? I want these kids to be safe, but I also want our educational system focusing on those who will lead our future. Do we really need Master's degree teachers in a role that is probably better suited to nursing. These kids will never learn what four plus four is yet we spend money on a teacher that could be used elsewhere in the inner city.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:28AM (#41538767)

    I don't understand austerity; is the idea "sacrifice tomorrow to pay for today"? I bet that will work about as well as it sounds.

    Austerity in tough times is ass-backwards: it feeds the economic vicious cycle. The only sensible way to run a country is to set spending at a long-term sustainable level, borrow to maintain that level when times are tough, and pay the debt down when times are good.

    Unfortunately, most countries are run by politicians, so when times are good they cut taxes and go on a spending spree instead of paying down the public debt. Then when times are tough the find themselves in a real jam. (Cf. USA, 2001-present.)

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:32PM (#41544301)

    Yes, it is "sacrifice tomorrow to pay for today", because unfortunately for a few decades the idea has been "spend tomorrow's money today" or "borrow money from the future", and we've run out of credit. AKA "deficits don't matter".

    Deficits don't matter. Either you can produce enough to cover consumption, or you can't; money is just an abstraction over resources. But since resources can't be borrowed from future (assuming you don't have a time machine), if you're running a deficit but there aren't bread lines the problem is in your bookkeeping, not in your actual production/consumption ratio.

    Since 2008 we've been finding out what happens when you borrow too much money from the future.

    No, since 2008 we've been finding out what happens when you let a bunch of powerful sociopaths to act free of regulation.

    "Austerity" has become popular because there's no more that can be borrowed from future earnings.

    Austerity has become popular because it happens to be fashionable. It's all about pretending that you're an ascetic: you get the smug feeling of self-righteousness while others - the poor and the weak - pay the price. In that sense it's every bit as mindlessly self-indulging as the worst excesses of materialism. It's also just as insane, and will result in just as much damage, if not more - because a materialist wants everything no matter the cost, while an austerist wants to deny everything to everyone else no matter the cost, and the former position is merely selfish while the latter starts crossing over into scorpion [wikipedia.org] territory.

    It's like half the world has been partying and running up a huge bar tab, and now the bill has come due.

    And to whom is the bill due? Who has been supplying the beer of credit? Why, it's the very same half of the world that "owes" the debt to itself. Which is precisely why this is all so stupid: we are producing enough to cover our consumption, so the only thing this entire "crisis" consists of is a bunch of numbers going to one column or another. This is not an economical crisis, this is a financial crisis - and that's another way to say imaginary crisis.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren

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