State of the Union
February 11, 2006 § 4 Comments
Since Bush delivered his State of the Union address last week, I have had a chance to talk to my teachers about it, particularly the President’s promise to fund more scientific research. I realize that there are some who would not agree with me, but personally I think this is a good idea, though there are two heads to the coin.
First of all, the disadvantage to increasing federal funded research is wasted money. Yes, this is a big problem, particularly because it encourages laziness on the part of federal employees who would rather sit back, do nothing, and get a paycheck. But dedicated researchers and scientists are not going to react to increased funding in this fashion.
In this case I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of probably waste of taxpayers’ dollars:
(1) I have had experiences with both federally funded and privately funded research labs. VSL on the CUA campus is federally funded, has absolutely beautiful laboratories, a dedicated staff, state-of-the-art equipment, and only 2% of their chemicals in the annual report last year were more than three years old.
In contrast, you have our chemistry department, funded by private grants. Our labs are nearly 100 years old and as a result cold, making it impossible to perform any sensitive experiments. The staff is very very small. If we want analysis done on any products, it must be sent out to (federal funded!) labs all over the country on account of our lack of equipment.
(2) Federal grants pay for the graduate education of our future scientists. Both of my professors, Dr. and Mrs. Brewer, went to grad school free, and thanks to federal funding I am promised a free doctorate + living stipend at the school of my choice. After four years of hard work for a B.S. (where there is very little scholarship money available for science majors, unless you are a minority and apply to NIH), I think every science major who wishes to continue their education deserves a free ride in grad school. Without federal funding of research these opportunities disappear.
Anyway, that is my two cents for all it is worth, and the fruit of serious conversation with different researchers among my friends.