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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stimulating Science

The stimulus package being shopped to congress by the Obama administration includes a considerable amount of science funding. The House passed a version that calls for an extra $2 billion dollars into core research at the NSF. The Senate is considering a bill that only gives an extra $1.2 billion for NSF core research. More details from AIP.

No doubt we need the additional funding. Scientific research has driven this nation's economy for many decades and we've let scientific research funding erode. The America Competes Act called for such funding but the full money has never been allocated. These funds, particulary the $2 billion, will put science funding back on track.

But does such increased science funding fulfill the main mission of the stimulus package, to get us out of the current recession and get people jobs now? Less clear.

Nevertheless the CRA is calling on us to contact our representatives in congress to push for the full science funding in the House stimulus bill. If we don't get science funding now, it will be very difficult to add it in the traditional budget process as the US faces a huge budget deficit.

6 comments:

  1. The people on the job market this year who do not find jobs will not be helped by this bill. Hopefully, people who have jobs will find a way to use some of this money to help the jobless, should the stimulus science funding get passed.

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  2. The people on the job market this year who do not find jobs will not be helped by this bill.

    Do I hear "postdoc"?

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  3. My understanding was that the goal of the stimulus is to give out money and make sure it is spent (and not saved). This puts the money in circulation and leads to job creation. Recall that the goal is to create jobs over the next two years. Not necessarily just today. I do not think the government is capable of creating jobs in every sector: they can create construction jobs by building bridges, but they cannot create cooking jobs by eating. The people have to do the eating and all the government can do is pump money into the economy to have the people eat. This is what tax cuts try to achieve as well, but are not efficient because a lot of people getting the money back would put it in the bank.

    With that understanding, NSF funding seems ideal to me. All the money gets spent almost by definition, and nearly all of it goes into the US economy.

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  4. Sorry to ask an unrelating question. Could you people suggest any info on postdoc positions in computation geometry or algorithms? It is very hard to find these info among a lot opennings on bioinformatics and network security and others. Many thanks!

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  5. "But does such increased science funding fulfill the main mission of the stimulus package, to get us out of the current recession and get people jobs now? Less clear."

    Why must we always sabotage our own efforts at getting more funding? I don't agree with the statement above, as I think more funding means support for more graduate students and post-docs, but even if it doesn't create new jobs, do we really have to mention it like we don't need the funding? We do need more funding - does it really matter why we're getting it?

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  6. Also, it's not even clear anymore if the NSF will get more funding.

    http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2009/02/science_funding_to_be_slashed.php

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