Mike the Mad Biologist

This is why all the concern about the fake crisis of the U.S. budget deficit is so harmful–it has real effects on people’s lives, including scientists:

Both Republican and Democratic proposals would cut more than US$1 trillion in spending over a decade, amounting to a budget reduction of at least $100 billion per year. Nature examines how this might affect the scientific community….

Republicans have made it clear that they will not cut defence spending, and Democrats are keen to protect social security and health-care programmes such as Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, the cuts are likely to fall on the roughly $600-billion discretionary, domestic budget, which includes funding for scientific agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. A reduction of $100 billion, applied across the board, would result in a 17% cut to such agencies…

The least-favourable outcome is that a deal to cut $100 billion per year is reached, and that it starts in fiscal year 2012. In that case, it might be hard for legislators to re-evaluate the 2012 appropriations bills programme by programme, given that several have already been passed by the House of Representatives. It would be more likely that they would apply the reduction roughly equally to all programmes. That would result in cuts of more than $5 billion to the NIH, $1 billion to the NSF (which is already under stress because stimulus grants awarded in 2009 are about to run out) and $800 million to the Office of Science, enough to force the closure of one national lab or cuts in personnel at many.


Keep in mind that figure of $100 billion is based on a lower estimate of $1 trillion (unless a ‘clean bill’ with no stipulations is passed). Most of the proposals call for more money to be cut, although things are so confused right now, it’s hard to tell (e.g., some of the ‘cuts’ involve withdrawing or decrease our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan).

I realize my readership is ‘bifurcated’: some focus on the science, and some on the politics. But if you like science, this is the intersection of the two. And it’s pretty damn important.

Because across the board science cuts of 17% is not winning the future.

(and don’t even get me started on the macroeconomic effects of this stuff. Don’t).

Comments

  1. #1 george.w
    July 28, 2011

    I guess they’re just tired of all that pesky science. All we need to do is redouble our efforts to dig more stuff out of the ground and everything will be fine.

    Can we hope the next post will be about the macroeconomic effects?

  2. #2 coeruleus
    July 28, 2011

    Even the best case scenario the article outlines is pretty shitty.

    I came back to this country, the country I was born in, after a short stint in the country where my parents were from back in the late 90s because I believed in the US. I have lost faith. If my R01 gets a poor score and the jobs I’ve applied to don’t pan out, I’ll say fuck it and leave. Leave the country, leave science. With so many people believing the BS from the TEA party (including a scientist I work with!), things will be very bad here in the US for a very long time. I am so disgusted by this shit.

  3. #4 Scott
    July 28, 2011

    I’m at the point where I feel the average American is simply too stupid/ignorant(probably ignorant, they could be taught) to figure out how insane the far-right US policies are. They need to feel it and they need to realize that far-right economic policies benefit very few people.

    I’m a Canadian with the Conservative party in power basically as elected autocrats for the next 4 years. Due to our system of government acting like total lunatics isn’t in their best interest. I certainly didn’t vote for them, and I despise many of their ideas but at least they are sane in most regards.

  4. #5 Anonymous
    August 1, 2011

    This is the time to get rid of the deadwood faculty. The debt ceiling bill is just a cleaning, we don’t want bad apples among us.

    Here at Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC), the Molecular & Cellular Medicine department hired a tenure-track assistant professor along with her husband. She is the wife of an Associate Professor from Duke University who was brought here as a package deal. They BOTH were hired as husband and wife at the same time by the SAME DEPARTMENT, the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine; they both received tremendous amounts of start-up money, even her husband, who didn’t start the lab at TAMHSC and moved his lab from Duke University. By now, in her two years as a faculty at TAMHSC, she has been incapable of publishing any scientific paper from her own group, even if in a scientific journal with a very low impact factor. Taking into account her lack of research productivity so far, she should have been hired for a technical position instead.

    Unfortunately, this is the way of spending money and getting tenure in the Molecular & Cellular Medicine department. We should spend money wisely.
    Therefore, I strongly agree with this bill.

  5. #6 NJ
    August 1, 2011

    Anon @ 5:

    Methinks the we hear the sound of an ax being ground.

    Cuttlefish, I am not.