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French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity 139

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 concealment ( 2447304 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:57AM (#41538411) Homepage Journal

    Social programs cost a lot of money, much of which seems to go to those administering the programs, and not to the intended recipients.

    Research is -- on the scale that government or really large corporations operate -- cheap. It is a relatively small portion of the budget and yet returns value over decades and centuries.

    Some unsung R&D programs like the military, NASA and our espionage programs are also worth spending on.

    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.

    Congratulations to the French on ducking this foolish trend and instead supplementing education and research.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:17AM (#41538651)

    France spends the same as UK on military, behind only US, China, and Russia.

    US spends vastly disproportionately, but that does not mean France free rides on US defense. What it means is that USA has taken it upon itself to be the global police man / bully, and other countries are behaving as completely rational actors.

    Also, the problem with USA is the terrible corporate corruption everywhere. Take healthcare expenditure for example. USA spends double per capita what any other developed country spends, for worse outcomes in most objective metrics. This is largely due to "inefficiency" (read: corruption) at all levels, much of it with the blessing (or even legislated) by the government. Health spending dwarfs even the bloated military budget, which gives you an idea of how much "budget freedom" USA would have if they could ever get their shit together.

    By the way, there is no reason to believe any other area of spending is more efficient. I can't believe military expenditure in USA produces results as efficiently as spending the same dollar in China or Russia. For hundreds of billions of dollars per year every year for more than 10 years, you would have hoped they'd have come up with the technology to beat a bunch of disorganized and poorly equipped tribes of religious fanatics in Afghanistan.

    And France may not be so strong in medical research at the moment, but this is all the more reason to increase investment in science and higher education programs. You're basically saying "oh, they're saving money by not investing in science and research, which gives them budget freedom to invest in science and research." Does not compute.

  • by ColMstrd ( 103170 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:34AM (#41538871) Homepage Journal

    yeh, the French know that sacking the public sector in times of crisis does not help the economy; quite the reverse in fact. M. Hollande is old school ENA (Ecole Nationale d'Administration) which turns out highly-educated senior French bureaucrats and politicians, who, whatever else they may be, are not daft.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:58AM (#41539165) Journal

    Who the fuck are you to tell me what I can and can't do?

    I disagreed with the 15% statement of the GP. However, if "what I can and can't do" involves taking money from others to pay for education, than the gov't surely has a stake in determining who gets the money. Right now, academic performance has no bearing in you getting an award for college, only economic need. This is insane. I would certainly expect that there be some type of demonstration of capability and desire before one gets aid. Other countries do it, and I wish the US did as well.

  • Fake Austerity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nova Express ( 100383 ) <> on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @12:03PM (#41539223) Homepage Journal

    So, France is going to cut (or at least pretend to cut) deficits from 4.5% of GDP to 3% of GDP, while hiking taxes.

    That is not real austerity. You know what real austerity is? Cutting spending until it matches the amount of revenue actually coming in. This is the hard discipline that the vast majority of private enterprises have to adhere to, but which no government with a European welfare state seems capable of.

    No Eurozone country [] (with the possible exception of Estonia) has actually practiced real austerity. You know that "Greek Austerity" measure, the one that had Greeks rioting in the streets? That reduced deficit spending from 9.0% of GDP to 7.5% of GDP. And even that amount was probably a lie.

    Politicians need deficit spending the way a junkie needs heroin because the cradle-to-grave welfare state is unsustainable, and no one is willing to face up to that fact. And the price of that delusion will be the destruction of our economy.

  • by grep_rocks ( 1182831 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @01:16PM (#41540225)
    Austerity in times of high unemployment and low interest rates is pointless and self defeating - unemployment means you have unused human capital, which could be used to make capital improvement and inprove the nations assets, not to use it is to throw that away and that is not even considering the human cost - second when interst rates are rock bottom, it means it is a good time to borrow, the US treasury can now borrow at 1% so if the US borrowed $1Trillion you would only pay $10Billion in interest/year, it is called buy low sell high - Finally in a macoeconomic sense, which is the level at which the US government operates since it can print money and consumes a good fraction of the nations GDP, you _cannot_ "borrow frrom the future" this is the stupidist statement have ever heard, who the fuck has a time machine? One person's borrowing is another person's savings - that is an identity, when the US government goes into debt, the private sector balance sheet improves (it is called deleveraging), if the private sector whiches to reduce its debt the money has to go somewhere, where it goes is US treasuries, which is US gov't debt - finally most of the US debt is not owned by foriegn counties, it is owned by US citizens.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @01:21PM (#41540271)

    Simply because the US spends more money on war industries does not mean that France is not getting a free ride. The reason for the tremendous spending doesn't negate the fact that the US and France are tied together in NATO and that France does benefit from the US excessive spending.

    De Gaulle kicked you fucking americans out of France in the 1960s precisely because we didn't want to free ride on american nuclear deterrance. We spent hundreds of billions on creating a national nuclear deterrance program which no other country in Europe has done. Not even the UK, which has to ask US permission to use the nuclear missiles it carries aboard its strategic submarines.
    So no free ride, we just spend better and of course we have higher taxes because of it (something that is anathema to americans). And we value education and welfare. No one is making you americans outspend everybody else in defense programs. No one at all. Yours is a choice, the choice to put weapons before the well being of your citizens.
    The time of the marshall plan is long over. Get over it.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson