Spread the wealth

Over the last few weeks of the election season, there was a lot of talk about “spreading the wealth”, with the McCain/Palin campaign more than implying that this was a bad thing. While I agree that many government programs need serious overhauls, there is one use of tax dollars that should not be looked down upon. Spending on basic research benefits everyone.
The editors of Nature examined how spending on science is the best way to climb out of a recession and to set the stage for future growth in Danger and Opportunity. Science spending, in the form of international collaborations, may also be the best way to create better relationships between countries.

With an economic crisis of unknown proportions looming, more emphasis on science and innovation — not less — will be crucial to achieving a sustained recovery.

Let’s hope that the president elect is up to the task, able to convince Congress and the American people that science is worthy, not a waste.
Nature editors (2008). Danger and opportunity Nature, 456 (7219), 141-141 DOI: 10.1038/456141a

Anastasia Bodnar

Written by Anastasia Bodnar

Anastasia Bodnar serves as the Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. She is a science communicator and multidisciplinary risk analyst with a career in federal service. She has a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University.


  1. I think one of the first tasks will be to convince people that studying bear DNA, installing projectors at planetariums and studying fruit flies are not “pork spending.” My thought is that the NSF and other gov. entities should be funded properly so that studies can be funded based on the grant application and not the “largesse” of the Congressional representative in the district that the study is based in. I don’t like that science depends on earmarks.

  2. I don’t like the idea of earmarks period. Did you know that the VA is funded with discretionary funding too? Why are we funding such important things with discretionary rather than direct funding? If it is important, it deserves a place in the budget, and if it isn’t important (or if we can’t afford it) then we need to reconsider funding those things. I suppose there must be reasons why things are funded that way, but I for one can’t think of any.

  3. Unfortunately, the Federal government, after three-quarters of a century of unfunded programs, has indebted the taxpayers to more ten times the entire gross national product of the US of 10 trillion dollars. With the latest “crisis” adding another 7.7 trillion dollars. Hyper-inflation is a forgone conclusion. There will be little money left for science from the private sector also, because this government will not be intelligent with tax breaks. Redistribution or socialism is all about creating misery but spreading it equally.

  4. Dad, I’m not advocating bailouts for corporations (this whole thing confuses me since I thought Republicans were for the free market without regulation yet Bush is pushing all of these bailouts) but I do think we need to spend on science. I’m no economist but I bet spending on science has a better return for the country than anything else we could possibly spend on. This has nothing to do with socialism, since there are plenty of uncentralized corporations doing science – they just don’t happen to be doing everything that needs to be done, and what they do is not accessible by all.

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