Stand With Science: Graduate Students Uniting for Protection of Science Funding

November 8, 2011 | Alex Trembath,

Cumulative R&D Investment Deficit

Stand With Science, a new advocacy group founded by graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is rallying support for public science/engineering funding. In a video released this week, grad students in biology, chemistry, engineering, and other advanced fields of study warn of the coming collapse of federal support caused by impending budget cuts by the Congressional supercommittee. From their website:

Congress and the debt supercommittee are currently looking to reduce projected deficits by more than 1.2 trillion dollars over the next decade. While this will help secure America's finances, these measures will be painful and must be chosen with forethought. We are reaching out to Congress via the letter to demonstrate how federal science funding is an essential source of American prosperity that cannot afford to be cut.However, if Congress and the debt supercommittee do not agree on deficit reduction before November 23rd, there will be mandatory cuts of roughly 9% across the board.

Time is of the essence! Be heard, and improve America's future.

Stand for Science highlights the history of federal investments in technology, from lasers and genomics to cell phones and the Internet. As the Breakthrough Institute documented in our 2010 report "Where Good Technologies Come From," the US government has proved an essential source of groundbreaking technological innovation for over two centuries.

The federal investment deficit is also the topic of the brand new report "Taking on the Three Deficits," released this week by Breakthrough and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The report calculates the dangerous shortfall in federal investment in science, technology, education, and infrastructure, and warns of the combined threat of America's investment, trade, and budget deficits.

As we wrote in "Three Deficits," if post-war federal R&D had been sustained at 1960-1980 levels, these investments would be approaching $230 billion annually today--instead, they are currently at about $150 billion. Since 1980, the United States has accrued a nearly $1.5 trillion R&D investment deficit (see figure below). If current investments continue with no change, that R&D investment deficit will grow to $2.6 trillion by 2021.

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Public funding for American higher education and technological innovation has been a cornerstone of American success and prosperity for decades. Widening the investment deficit in the name of reducing the budget deficit is a foolish and dangerously short-sighted non-solution to endemic national challenges.

The students at Stand With Science clearly understand how valuable these national investments are. To learn more about Stand With Science, visit their website or watch their video below.