Why Now Is the Time to Invest in Science

By Chris Mooney | February 18, 2011 1:52 pm

From the text of John Holdren’s recent congressional testimony on the science budget (also available here):

All told, this Budget proposes $66.8 billion for civilian research and development, an increase of $4.1 billion or 6.5 percent over the 2010 funding level in this category. But the Administration is committed to reducing the deficit even as we prime the pump of discovery and innovation. Accordingly, our proposed investments in R&D, STEM education, and infrastructure fit within an overall non-security discretionary budget that would be frozen at 2010 levels for the second year in a row. The Budget reflects strategic decisions to focus resources on those areas where the payoff for the American people is likely to be highest.

This is similar to what I argued with Meryl Comer in the Los Angeles Times in December–tough economic times are the times to invest in science, not cut it.

Holdren concludes:

Let me reiterate, in closing, the guiding principle underlying this Budget: America’s strength, prosperity, and global leadership depend directly on the investments we’re willing to make in R&D, in STEM education, and in infrastructure.

Investments in these domains are the ultimate act of hope, the source of the most important legacy we can leave. Only by sustaining them can we assure future generations of Americans a society and place in the world worthy of the history of this great Nation, which has been building its prosperity and global leadership on a foundation of science, technology, and innovation since the days of Jefferson and Franklin.

In hard times, you don’t give up on vision. You knuckle down, sure, but you also look ahead. (Meanwhile, Paul Krugman reminds us today that the budget debate is deeply mis-aligned because we’re so focused on cutting the smallest part of the budget, when the real issues are healthcare costs and tax revenue.)


Comments (4)

  1. dirk

    “Tough economic times are the times to invest in [[[whatever field I work in or support]]] , not cut it.”


  2. Dave

    Scientifically illiterate Americans elect scientifically illiterate congressmen and -women. Cuts in science is absolutely no surprise, and such illiteracy over the long term will be what undermines this country: it won’t be the economy that does it.

  3. Government funded energy research with big business (OIL) and private interest (greedy bureaucrats) in control and dictating the rate in which technology is released and what is made available is why so little is being done with so much funding.
    Shame on the bureaucrats that have known about natural ventilation drag reduction for saving fuel and have intentionally withheld this information and blocked the progress of true fuel savings free market technologies.
    Greed has held technology back but truth and knowledge can’t be stopped, these things will always prevail.
    Shame on those individuals in office who have been mandated by the President to move sustainable energy forward, as they continue to ignore and fail to acknowledge free market innovators and technology. The longer they hesitate and diametrically oppose scientific progress and the welfare of the citizens of this country the worse they will look in the eyes of history.
    See more at http://www.truckitservices.com or Douglas Fairburn on face book.
    Thank you for your time, Doug

  4. Matt B.

    “Lately, we’ve stumbled. And when you stumble you tend to look down at your feet. But we need to lift our eyes back to the horizon.”
    –Capt. John Sheridan, Babylon 5


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


See More

Collapse bottom bar