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Government The Almighty Buck Science

US Scientific R&D Could Face Fiscal Cliff Doom 609

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
The tough economic times have had a huge effect on scientific research and development funding. The looming "fiscal cliff" may be the last straw for many programs. "The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress. American scientific research and development stands to lose thousands of jobs and face a starvation diet of reduced funding if politicians fail to compromise and halt the United States' march towards the fiscal cliff's sequestration of federal funds."
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US Scientific R&D Could Face Fiscal Cliff Doom

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  • into armed conflict by private banks, who, through their monetary policy are exerting undue political influence on the White House. It matters not which party sits in power, they have very little choice but to do what they are doing.
    • by c0lo (1497653) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:47AM (#42092427)

      into armed conflict by private banks, who, through their monetary policy are exerting undue political influence on the White House. It matters not which party sits in power, they have very little choice but to do what they are doing.

      Armed conflicts? You mean... like those toxic home loans offered to people that couldn't ever repay them?

      I'd rather say this is the victory of the "basic human right to credit" over the research. If this is the American dream, I'd say "Wake up, people. It's a nightmare".

  • Wow, 3% = doom? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bradley13 (1118935)

    From TFA: "1,082,370 U.S. citizens employed in the life sciences, such as biology and genetics, as well as physical and social sciences. Of these, approximately 31,000"

    Wow, those are some massive cuts. An entire whopping 3% of the people may lose their jobs!

    People just don't get it. The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely. It's not even about the $16 Trillion debt. If the government ran

    • Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mitreya (579078) <mitreyaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:27AM (#42092367)

      People just don't get it. The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more.

      It really isn't that simple, though. The process has to be gradual or everything will implode. Cut the budget by 50% and the economy will take such hit that US collected taxes will drop more than 50% (presumably necessitating further cuts, and so on). Not to mention how many people might starve without foodstamps while you are doing this.

      Anyway, a good start would be to force our politicians to keep all wars IN the budget. Iraq and Afganistan are staying outside of the budget in "emergency appropriations" or whatever they are called.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        I think everyone understands that. They big thing the economy needs is to know what to expect. So you don't cut the budget 50% in year one, but what you do is plan 50% cuts and say in year X buget A will be...

        That way everyone knows where they need to make adjustments.

      • Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:07AM (#42093071)
        Actually the budget needs to be cut by 0%. Austerity has failed horribly in Europe, and those pushing it here are insane or corrupt. What we need is an increase in revenue. Some of that will come from tax increases and closing loopholes, but most of it will come from generating jobs and investment. Cutting funding to research programs that lead to new economic activity down the line is poorly advised.
        • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

          Austerity measures are a failure because of implementation. The percentage of the GDP spent by the federal and state governments needs to be reduced over time, as does the percentage of the GDP spent on healthcare. (Two birds with one stone.) Without that happening, we will keep ending up with a system that at best just redistributes wealth.

          I am all for a safety net, and because of the nature of hiring and firing in the corporate world today I think much of that needs to be fortified. At the same time, I

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JWW (79176)

            Ironically the only reason your company is a certified "woman owned" business by the government(s) is so that you can do business with the government(s).

            In the private sector no one gives a shit who owns your company, they just care about what and how you provide your goods/services.
               

    • by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:33AM (#42092379)
      The problem is not the cut itself, but where the cut is being made. Remember news reports that the U.S. government spends more on air conditioning for troops in Afghanistan than the entire budget of NASA?

      Does not that then suggests that the government should cut back on military spending? But no, they prefer to cut NASA's budget. After the priority is to blow people and clog the banksters with money.
      • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreyaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:51AM (#42092439)

        Does not that then suggests that the government should cut back on military spending? But no, they prefer to cut NASA's budget. After the priority is to blow people and clog the banksters with money.

        Don't forget the TSA monstrosity that has done absolutely nothing to stop a single terrorist in 11 years (and counting). That's an easy place to start cutting.

        Also, much of the Iraq/Afganistan war spending was funded through "supplementary spending" bills, thus these expenses were never in the budget to begin with! Clever, n'est pas?

    • Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gallondr00nk (868673) on Monday November 26, 2012 @08:52AM (#42093005)

      The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely. It's not even about the $16 Trillion debt. If the government ran honest accounts, it's about the $200 Trillion debt.

      Or what? The sky will fall in and the US will go bankrupt? Civilisation will cease?

      You've been fed the biggest, most damaging lie of the last four years, which is government debt works the same as personal household debt. It doesn't.

      Deficits aren't the issue here. They go up, they go down, they have always been with us and always will be. That is the nature of the beast. Keynes taught us that deficits are structural, and more or less look after themselves. The key is to keep growth as high as possible. That means investment and government spending during bad runs. Eventually, the ratio of deficit to GDP stabalises. This happened here in the UK post 1945, where government spending hit something like 70% of GDP. The sky didn't fall in then, and it sure as hell won't now.

      The US is recovering a shedload faster than the Eurozone and the UK because so far it hasn't bought into the austerity argument. Austerity will do nothing except destroy the fragile recovery. The austerity idea that the private sector will bridge public sector spending cuts is an outright lie.

      The budget cut argument is nothing more than a mechanism to transfer wealth to the rich. It is their argument and their ideas that you are parroting, for their benefit. To the rest of us it causes nothing but harm.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        If you run a deficit during growth years then you are ignoring what "Keynes taught us", you can't just grab the one bit you happen to like.

        It is not inevitable that deficit to GDP stabilizes, numerous countries have collapsed in the past rather than stabilizing. With collapse meaning many things from people starving to standards of living plummeting to civil war.

        And somehow the country that was probably worst affected by that financial crisis and has best fixed things up - Iceland - went the austerity route

      • Can you cite a historical instance to support your position? Is there a civilization that has ever successfully borrowed themselves to prosperity?
    • It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely.

      The only programs that truly matter as far as the deficit is concerned are Medicare/Medicaid, Defense and Social Security. Those three together account for about two-thirds [wikipedia.org] of the US budget. Get those programs under control and the problem is solved. All other discretionary spending combined accounts for less than 20% of the budget. Either we need to raise taxes to fully fund the programs we seem to want or we need to cut those programs to a level of taxation we are willing to accept. Either way will w

    • by mellon (7048)

      Huh, I read that blog post. It states that the debt is $200 trillion, and does some hand-waving to justify that position, but no actual details. Just fear mongering. Who knows, maybe they are right, but they made no effort at all to prove to anyone except an innumerate conspiracy theorist that they are right.

  • by fnj (64210) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:35AM (#42092383)

    Vital, down-and-dirty national spending and revenue decisions have been put off for GENERATIONS. We are staring doom in the face. Can salvation be found solely in science spending? Of course not. But does every single budget item and all tax policies and rates need to be on the table and without any sacred cows? HELL YES. And then the specific choices should be wise ones.

    Without firm specifics at hand, I still feel very confident that there is 3% of utterly useless fat that could be trimmed from science funding. That's all we're talking about here.

    P.S. - I admit that I see no sign whatsoever that seriously addressing the general situation is anywhere near the radar of the fools leading the nation - fools that WE installed. Profound differences over what needs to be done exist. FINE. OF COURSE they exist. But these losers won't even engage. That represents the most disgusting, reprehensible behavior which is possible to imagine.

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:59AM (#42092461)

      But does every single budget item and all tax policies and rates need to be on the table and without any sacred cows? HELL YES. And then the specific choices should be wise ones.

      Without firm specifics at hand, I still feel very confident that there is 3% of utterly useless fat that could be trimmed from science funding. That's all we're talking about here.

      Well, if you are so confident on year after year budgets, please compute what percentage the US research budget will be after 10 years of 3%/pa "fat reduction".

      Then see how long 'til China overtakes US, given that 2011 saw China's R&D budget increasing 9.2% [china.org.cn] on a year-to-year basis.

  • Isn't it ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:44AM (#42092413)
    The financial parasites that don't actually do anything or produce anything useful have recovered their massive bonuses already, but we are cutting back on people who actually produce thins that improve the quality of life.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You add the productive folks in with the working poor who do all the distasteful, oftentimes dangerous jobs and you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

      • by Lisias (447563)

        you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

        Managing us, what else? =P

        Keep in mind, *we* made the managers the same way *we* made the politicians. They're not extra terrestrials invading our business, but people like us that managed to get results from us.

        They're the right tool to do the right job. Blame your colleagues every time you boss screws you without consequences. He does it because this is the way that works with your team.

      • by ChristW (18232)

        ... and you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

        Put them on the B-ark!

  • Correction (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:55AM (#42092451)

    "The German science programs that landed the first man on the moon" - Corrected

  • A huge percentage of our spending is in maintaining the empire. Bring all of the troops home and cu all payments to foreign governments would solve this problem overnight.

    If we could give up the $1T+ empire we would be fine.

    If you then default in the debt we would be in great shape. You could even pass a law to make those bond losses count as earned income over the next 10 years to minimize the harm to citizens. Plus nobody would lend us money and we would automatically balance the budget.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rally2xs (1093023)

      We just kicked the president of Egypt in the teeth by threatening his pipeline of money via "Foreign Aid" into doing the right thing in this war between Israel and the Palestinians, resulting in the continued existence of our only really friendly country in the middle east, and in our not having to get involved militarily ourselves to achieve that. Without "foreign aid", we'd either have to abandon Israel to annihilation by the Muslim Hordes, or come to their aid with troops.

      IOW, we're getting a lot of ban

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > resulting in the continued existence of our only really friendly country in the middle east, and in our not having to
        > get involved militarily ourselves to achieve that. Without "foreign aid", we'd either have to abandon Israel to
        > annihilation by the Muslim Hordes, or come to their aid with troops.

        So lets cut them loose. Honestly, Isreal has done nearly everything they reasonably could to deserve it. They build settlements in areas that are internationally recognized as Palestinian, then, in the

    • by gtall (79522) on Monday November 26, 2012 @07:28AM (#42092587)

      Maybe it would help if you looked at the budget. Of about $3.5 trillion for 2012, approximately 2/3 is for social programs and entitlements. The other 1/3 is discretionary. The military is in the discretionary side. So "maintaining the empire" isn't the problem, it never was (and given how the rest of the world effects the U.S., having a strong military is likely worth the expense). Oh, and only about $700 billion is military, and much of that is spent in the U.S., so cutting it means less industry, less employed people, etc.

      • by Lisias (447563) on Monday November 26, 2012 @08:10AM (#42092789) Homepage Journal

        Oh, and only about $700 billion is military, and much of that is spent in the U.S., so cutting it means less industry, less employed people, etc.

        The GP is right. You must be blinded by "imperialism syndrome" to address 700 BILLIONS of Dollars with the adverb "just".

        A lot of the problems USA faces today is the result of the very same policy you're defending as if means "more industries, more employed people, etc".

        We must talking about efficiency. USA took 10 years and 2 TRILLION Dollars and something just to kill a single man [yahoo.com]. USA is clearly holding, I mean, doing something very wrong.

        Granted, I'm not saying everything is wrong, neither that all the military expenses are unnecessary...

      • by trout007 (975317)

        How does military spending on making weapons in the US help US citizens? The contractors bid up prices on all materials and capital that could be put to use building things people want is instead going to build weapons to blow up things an kill people overseas. We would be much better off with all of those employed in the MIC working in other industries.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday November 26, 2012 @07:21AM (#42092545)

    I don't know if it's even possible for most people to be rational on this issue but I'll make a stab at it.

    Is it scientific spending that is bankrupting the US government?

    No it is not.

    This is NOT where the cut should come. The cut should be everything else.

    I won't state what should be cut because things are so ideological and people are so irrational on the subject that their eyes will roll back into their heads and start foaming at the mouth. But I think we can all agree that it isn't scientific spending that is generating the US debt.

    Very well. Cut what is driving spending up.

  • by Going_Digital (1485615) on Monday November 26, 2012 @07:33AM (#42092605)
    How about withdrawing tax benefits given to religious groups and instead tax Churches like any other business and use the money to fund tax breaks for science. As far as I can see science has done many things to make our lives better in recent years where as religion has just stood in the way of the progress of science.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whoever makes the budget gets paid last.

    It's just that simple.

    If there's no money left, then Congress should get no pay until the situation is fixed.

  • Good programs can always be rebuilt, if not by us, then by someone else. At least the fiscal cliff will cut military programs...and cutting them is far more important to me than any science program. Other countries can have science programs and educate their people....we need to stop being such warmongers first.

  • Personally, I'd rather see Financial Crisis Quake.

  • The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress

    Wow, human progress is becoming a relic of human progress. Those humans must be a bunch of oxymorons!

  • I mean, we're the electorate, and we consistently vote for representatives who are short-sighted, self-interested, and frankly, stupid.

    I don't care WHICH side of the political fence you're on. Both parties have full rosters of idiots, and we seem to be listening more and more to the histrionic extremists and punishing the moderate centrists.

    BOTH parties seem entirely focused on maintaining their own partisan grip on power and enriching their supporters, rather than actually doing their jobs.

    Instead of havi

    • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:00AM (#42093357) Journal

      BTW, the first mistake is assuming you are in the center.
      We - and by this I mean everyone, including myself - need to depart from this simplistic, Ptolemaic political universe where we assume we each are at the middle, and everything swirls around us. The first point in figuring out where you're going is understanding where you are to start with.

      Don't be Pauline Kael.

      Try to understand that there is a broad spectrum of political opinion - even our idiom tends to betray us here as it's rarely as simple as a spectrum, although we tend to distill political issues down to (at best) a collection of 1-dimensional lines. You are somewhere on that spectrum and probably NOT in the center.

      (Further, politically indecisive also is not ipso facto 'centrist'.)

      This is incredibly difficult, because we naturally tend to circulate with friends of common opinion. It's very easy to say "I'm moderate" when in fact making such a statement is meaningless in any broader objective sense as it rarely means more than the implied "...among my friends."

      Of course, all of this takes thought, personal candor, intellectual integrity, and hard thinking. Usually, one will find that at least a few of our gut-derived political positions turn out to be logically inconsistent and it requires courage to take those ideas apart and reassemble them. You might even change your mind.

  • We already fell off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday November 26, 2012 @08:59AM (#42093035)
    We jumped off this cliff in 1971 in order to pay for the the Vietnam war. We've been falling ever since. It just hasn't looked like we're falling because we're all boxed up inside a Fiat currency. Now that we're nearing the bottom and bouncing off a few jagged boulders, people are starting to realize we might be screwed. I love how this "Fiscal cliff" they've invented is designed to scare everyone, even scientists, into letting them raise taxes and reduce services even more. Hilarious.
  • Suicide Pacts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:08AM (#42093085)
    The problem with the sequestration deal is that it was essentially a suicide pact: if Congress can't agree to a more-balanced budget, then savage austerity measures take effect, crippling government functioning across the board.

    That's great as a motivator, except that one party is motivated by an ideology that actually wants that kind of austerity. In short: it's not a very good suicide pact if one side already has a death wish.

    Also, don't worry about it being a mutual self-immolation: the Republicans will demand that only social spending (and not military) gets cut, and the Democrats will cave at the last minute in the name of compromise.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:40AM (#42093257)
    Despite the rhetoric on both sides, there is no cut in federal spending coming any time soon. Even if Congress and the President do not come to an agreement (a not unlikely possibility) all that will happen is that spending will not increase by as much as projected. That is the situation at it stands is this. The law as passed last summer says that if Congress does not pass and the President sign (or Congress pass over the President's veto) some law changing things the amount that all parts of the Federal government will be allowed to spend next year will be 10% less than the amount that was projected to be spent in the last set of comprehensive "budget" documents passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. That is, they are not going to take how much Congress approved to be spent this year and reduce it by 10%. They are going to take the amount that Congress guesstimated they were going to spend next year (which includes a sizable increase from this year) and cut that by 10%.
    Most people think that when they talk about cutting spending by 10% it means that if they spent $3 million this year on a program, next year they are going to spend $2.7 million. It doesn't. It means that they are going to spend $3.6 million rather than $4 million next year (numbers chosen for ease of calculation).

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