Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Science in the Union

From Bush's State of the Union address last night.
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people—and we are going to keep that edge.

Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

First: I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life—and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.

Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs.

If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

As part of the initiative the budget of several agencies including the National Science Foundation will double over ten years and be raised over 9% in the upcoming year.

There is a long road from SOTU to reality, but this looks like good news for science in America. More from the CRA and USACM.

Update 2/2: The NSF will have a 7.8% increase in the White House proposed budget for next year.


  1. Depends on if Bush and his friends think Creation Science is "rigorous enough."

    And the idea is funny that a Republican is talking about increasing spending, with no mention of decreasing spending anywhere else. Must be an election year.

  2. I don't understand this obsession of "leading" the world. Also lot of people I know have very less/no respect for this man. Its little disturbing to see Lance quoting him.

  3. What's wrong with quoting him??? Whether you have respect for him or not is irrelevant. The particular quote has the potential to have an impact on the funding of this community.

  4. I have to reiterate a point made in an earlier post:
    The most (intelectually) dominant (i.e., from *inside* the academic world) forces that try to delegitimize (exact) sciences come from the other side of the political spectrum (in the form of "post-modernism").

  5. "Its little disturbing to see Lance quoting him."

    I think it's a little disturbing that people are "little disturbed" by someone quoting somebody else.

  6. "Its little disturbing to see Lance quoting him."

    What I find disturbing is what Lance didn't quote:

    Bush: "Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale."

    Nice specious, "slippery slope" reasoning there.

    In the few times that Lance has touched on politics I've found his views on the Bush administration's impact on the scientific community to be quite short-sighted. He usually equates "being good to science" with money and funding.

    This administration's blatent disregard for scientific inquiry, whether it be fudging/altering numbers on scientific reports to suit their preconceived policies, advocating "Intelligent Design" initiatives or generallying embracing the politics of anti-intellectualism, this Administration is no friend of science. No matter how much they may placate the community with promises of funds, the fact of the matter is this administration has been one of the most hostile to the scientific community in memory.

  7. A few year ago, Bush promised to double NSF
    funding. I donot know
    what happened to his promise. Anybody knows?

  8. A more persuasive analysis: Show me the pony.

  9. Why not quote him? If we've learned anything these past six years, it's that W. is as good as his word.

    (Since there's been confusion on this point in the past, I should clarify that I am, indeed, being sarcastic.)

  10. You don't have to love GWB. I don't. But there's nothing wrong with quoting him and hoping he keeps his word. This isn't as bad a response as when some anon declared s/he won't read this blog again because Lance uses windows, but go on!
    It's actually interesting.The idea of a nation in general has been so eroded that someone can't quote the president of the US as the president of the US, just as an individual :-).

  11. The previous 'I'll double NSF' promise was made along with loads of other expensive promises before GWB and the congress pissed away the Clinton era surpluses with tax cuts, before 9/11, and before Iraq.

    The fact that a sizable increase resurfaces as one of a small number of proposals in light of all that (and Katrina), when everyone knows how big the budget hole is, suggests that maybe it is more a real reflection of priorities.

    Most likely, it seems to be one of the few things that GWB can do politically right now to make people positive about the future, something he is could certainly use given his current approval ratings.

  12. I guess Lance still believes that there is a positive correlation between what this President says and what he does, so that the speech actually contains some information worth relaying. Pfff.

  13. Cutting science funding and then undoing your cuts several years later does not a good science funding policy make.

  14. Let's see...if Bush says he'll decrease science funding (or says nothing), that's bad. But if he says he'll increase it, he must have an ulterior motive. And quoting something positive he says (assuming it is positive) is just wrong.

    I am not a Bush supporter (in fact, I disagree with almost everything he does), but given the above it is clear why Bush supporters can feel free to ignore us.

  15. I just hope he meant the stuff about supporting science "literally", unlike his vows about Mideast oil imports:

  16. I am as skeptical about Bush's talk as most people here. However, he seems to be reacting to pressure from science and tech. lobbyists -- which is a good thing. See the NYT article:

  17. Given the man's record of messing up everything he has touched---from the several businesses his dad bought him to the post-Katrina rebuilding, I almost wish he just didn't think about the subject of science funding.

  18. Quoting GWB might also be sarcastic. (There might be a confusion on that, too.) :)

    Though one could hope GWB does at least one thing right.

  19. *Complaining* about quoting Bush might also be sarcastic; as it seems that today these kind of complains are becoming more and more banal and tasteless.

  20. According to Paul Kruger:

    The US govt. is actually cutting spending on research - at least in some of the domains for which Bush has pledged funding. So maybe it's not a question of 'messing things up' as much as whether what he says can be considered true with probability > 1/2... (sometimes it's even with probability ~ 0, which is kind of useful in its own way I guess).