Romney’s energy policy proposal announced today would redirect science funding towards basic research.

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Mitt Romney’s energy policy proposal, announced today, would redirect science funding towards basic research, according to this mostly positive analysis from the generally liberal journal Science.

Personally I’d like to get the federal government out of all this. Let the private market decide where the money should be spent for research. Moreover, we still have that federal debt to pay off. Where will Romney get the money?



  • Tom Billings

    Indeed, the worst problem that science has today is not its level of funding, but that it is under monopsony/oligopsony funding. As a result, resources needed to follow up a breakthrough don’t get allocated ,because pre-experiment peer reviewers of funding in one or a few funding sources so often decide that a project is unworthy of funding, …because it is “Outside the main lines of research in the field”. Making sure that there can be *many* places to easily ask for funding would be a boon to actual progress in many fields of science, as opposed to the “publish or perish” mills that grind so long and so often fruitlessly today.

  • I’m OK with government doing basic research. Sure, you have your Bell Labs and IBM Fellows, but in the business world, basic research is almost a luxury. The NACA/NASA model has worked well, not only for aerospace, but a myriad of other industries. There’s something to be said for public funding of labs where scientists can pursue ideas without the pressure to turn a profit. Private industry can then choose among the findings for the most potential profit. I would say that public expenditure in research has been returned many, many times through private capital exploiting publicly-funded basic research.

  • Tom Billings

    “The NACA/NASA model has worked well, not only for aerospace, but a myriad of other industries.”

    Uhhhh, …Blair, there exists today *no* NACA/NASA model. There *was* a NACA model, and then NACA was swept into NASA, and within 5 years NACA’s model for research and cooperation with commercial industry was nearly submerged completely. What has dominated since 1961 is the Apollo model, which has left us high and dry, as far as the needed technology development in areas that would really grow both aviation and spaceflight. This continuing attempt to use NASA money to recreate “excitement” about a huge project has caused the monstrosities like the SLS for which there are neither funds nor programs to justify it.

    Compare this Multi-billions boondoggle not only with the lack of funding for developing orbital propellant depots, reusable landers, In Situ Resource Utilization and new spacecraft propulsion technology, but with the lack of development funding to advance non-piloted UAV-style civilian-carrying aircraft, and other aviation market expanders. NACA kept looking to expand capabilities to fill new markets, while NASA has continually looked for new “excitement”. Note that “excitement” primarily benefits the pols on the NASA committees in Congress

    In addition, the idea that there must be some large pot of money, distributed by a hierarchy, whether governmental or corporate, is not as valid as it used to be. Not only are aerospace projects being inserted into the “Kickstarter” style of website, but “crowdfunding” of new commercial start-ups is now a passed law, …if the regulating groups can keep their control freaks away from the computer long enough to get the regs reflecting that law actually published. They just blew another deadline on this effort last week.

    *Many* sources of funding, as opposed to one, or a few sources, that squeeze their funds through peer review groups of exactly those people with an interest in sending money to the sort of projects that will support their own “mainline” research, are what will be needed to exploit multiple breakthroughs. In the last 20 years such breakthroughs have been starved by peer review for years after the initial work is published, in fields from angiogenesis drugs to diabetes cures, to …….

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