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The journal Science struggles to find the harm done from NIH’s 5% cuts from sequestration.

The journal Science struggles to find the harm done to NIH from sequestration’s 5% cut.

Given that sequestration lopped off a staggering $1.55 billion from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) budget this year, it shouldn’t be hard to find examples of how the cut is harming research labs. Although sequestration “has already dealt a devastating blow,” said NIH Director Francis Collins at a Senate hearing last week, it turns out it’s not that easy to spell out the damage.

First of all, this cut was hardly “staggering.” All it did was bring NIH’s budget down to $29.15 billion, which is almost exactly the budget the agency had in 2008. Somehow, NIH managed quite well with this amount of money in 2008, and in fact probably wasted quite a bit of cash even then.

Second, this fact — that the cut wasn’t really that “devastating” — might explain why Science can’t find any obvious damage to any program. In its budget articles the journal routinely makes it a point to lobby for more money for scientists. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when it tries to spin any cut — or even a small reduction in the rate of growth — as a disaster. The fact that Science still has trouble making that spin seem believable in this case is solid evidence that sequestration was a good idea, and that there was a great deal of fat that could be trimmed from the budget.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3 comments

  • If you’re looking for the last vestiges of central planning, you’ll find them in national science funding. Almost everyone else in the world has finally agreed that markets are better than bureaucrats at allocating scarce resources, but Big Science continues to imagine that their version of “peer review” is superior.

  • Publius 2

    Only in politics (and compliant media) can a slowdown in the rate of budget increase be called a “cut,” and only in an entrenched bureaucracy — scientific or not — and its protective specialized media can a funding increase slowdown be called “devastating.” I once heard John Holdren, the president’s current science adviser, speak before a very large audience of scientists and science media where he decried the Bush administration’s neglect of science funding. As an illustration, he presented a graph showing the pace of science funding under previous administrations. Except that the graph clearly showed funding increases under Bush, where they had been flat or slightly declining under Clinton. Perhaps the most shocking facet of the presentation was that no one in the audience (myself excepted) showed any sign of confusion or astonishment. Such is the state of the American scientific community.

  • Publius 2

    I neglected to mention that Holdren was president of AAAS (the journal Science’s parent organization) at the time.

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