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Obama Says 3% of GDP Should Fund Science Research And Development

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the that's-a-lot-of-test-tubes dept.

United States 753

tritonman writes "Obama wants to set a goal that the US spend 3% of its GDP on scientific research and development. 'I believe it is not in our character, American character, to follow — but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development,' Obama said in a speech at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences."

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What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (-1, Troll)

zifr (1467429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734519)

I hope those get funded. In all seriousness, I've thought we have been lagging. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. But then again.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734615)

I dunno, in light of everything going on, I'd think the #1 thing they'd want to concentrate on, is how to in fact, make money grow on trees!!

Otherwise, I just dunno how we're gonna pay for everything here in the very recent past.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (5, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734719)

I would like to think they are making this decision because someone finally realized that money doesn't actually grow on trees.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734783)

The question I have for Obama is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

And as far as animal hybrids go, I'm sure B. Hussein Obama doesn't give a rat's ass. For my part, I give animal hybrids two thumbs up.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734807)

fat colored?

Beige?

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (4, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734811)

I would like to think they are making this decision because someone finally realized that money doesn't actually grow on trees.

And that's what the research is for: Money Trees.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735003)

Gold farming is more lucrative than money trees.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27735053)

I can corroborate this claim - I have seen the unredacted original scope statements for this funding.

The 'money trees' utilize new gene-therapy techniques in combination with a hybrid eucalyptus seed to allow germination when the seed is implanted in living human brain tissue.

The money trees grow best out the tops of soft skulls, so the guv' will begin rolling out the program as a welfare alternative marketed to unwed mothers in possession of excess juvenile units.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (2, Flamebait)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735079)

It will be paid for the same way everything is paid for elsewhere... taxes.

You will see the tax burden in the US raised to 75% or so, but healthcare will be free. And the taxes will be justified based on "now you have free healthcare". And since the taxes will only affect the top earners in the country, nobody in Alabama will notice, much.

Except there will be no more small businesses, because they can't pay the taxes. Big businesses? No problem.

They can't get away from this eventuality. It is really the only way to go, at least short term. And we have seen it coming for a while now.

Well - Joe Dumbass will object (5, Insightful)

spineboy (22918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734705)

They don't understand the future value of sending someone to the moon, or studying basic science of bird mating habits, or increasing blue laser efficiency 10% and how it eventually becomes useful. He just wants a job he can report to, and won't think about the future. Nevermind that his job might become outdated in 5 years...

It would be nice if the media would stop glorifying athletes, and stop portraying scientists/engineers/academics as nerds or evil.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (5, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734779)

stop portraying scientists/engineers/academics as nerds or evil.

You mean lie? :)

Seriously, we are pretty nerdy.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (5, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734863)

The problem isn't so much the portrayal of scientists as nerdy. The problem is that such a portrayal is considered derogatory or negative. We really despise the men of ideas in this county. Smart, successful people are seen as slaves to the public's interests - what they produce is nice, but if they benefit from their ingenuity, to hell with them.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735097)

We despise intellectuals. We kiss the feet of 'smart, successful people' like captains of industry and Wall street bankers. And we see ourselves as slaves to their interests,thus all of the 'tea-party' fools who will be getting tax cuts protesting on behalf of the poor beleaguered CEOs who will see their taxes increase.

No, it is the scientist, who does NOT generally benefit much from their own ingenuity, that we distrust.

The problem with basic scientific research is that, more often than not, it will be worthless for decades. No one wants to fund a gamble that might, if we are lucky, pay off in 30-40 years. Thus, basic scientific research is a kind of externality, a public good, and the free market is incapable of allotting the optimal amount of funding for public goods such as transportation, public education, and public health. That is econ 101.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735051)

Seriously, we are pretty nerdy.

And evil, too, don't forget that part.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734819)

If you understand the value of such programs, you should donate whatever time, money, effort you can toward such causes, and personally persuade your friends, family, neighbors, etc, to do the same. What you should not do is persuade politicians to pass laws forcing everyone to fund your pet projects.

Imagine if other personal interests were run that way. "FOSS is good, therefore everyone should be required to fund it!"

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735015)

"[...]and stop portraying scientists/engineers/academics as nerds or evil."

Speak for yourself. After 8 years in school, I'm sure I'll find a way to make mathematics into an evil enterprise. With a little noncommutative algebra on my side, I could become a right annihilator.

Re:Well - Joe Dumbass will object (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735119)

Nevermind that his job might become outdated in 5 years...

See that's the problem. If we don't invest in science, his job will not become outdated.

Re:What about animal hybrids in Louisiana? (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734859)

You're a furry aren't you? ;)

Administration (4, Interesting)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734531)

I'm for this if they can keep administration costs below 1 billion.

Re:Administration (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734643)

I'm for this if they can keep administration costs below 1 billion.

Not a chance in hell. He's talking about 360 BILLION dollars here. They're not going to keep admin costs down to 0.3%

Personally, I'm in favour of it. But I'm wondering where he's going to get the money to make this something other than a nice speech. We don't take in enough in taxes to pay the bills now, adding another $360 billion to expenditures just means raising the deficit by another $360 billion per year.

Re:Administration (2, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735091)

Not a chance in hell. He's talking about 360 BILLION dollars here.

$420 billion. The estimated US GDP for 2008 was $14.23 trillion.

But I'm wondering where he's going to get the money to make this something other than a nice speech.

One or both of two places: either taxing the GDP at a higher rate, removing money from the economy that would be invested by the people who earned it in things that are productive and worth investment, making everything cost more to cover the increased taxation, or printing it, thus making every dollar already in the GDP worth less and driving inflation so everything costs everyone more.

Raising taxes to spend more money to spur the economy is a losing game, since the biggest waste of money is the administration of the programs that tax and spend. Every dollar spent on administration is a loss to the GDP.

Re:Administration (1)

lessthanpi (1333061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735135)

It's called deficit spending. It's all George W did

Re:Administration (3, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734675)

Let me be the first to say... WTF?

How about we stop runnaway spending and reduce the national debt. All five of the last presidents have had this idea that we can just spend to our hearts content. We are dangerously close to the point that the rest of the world will say enough is enough and stop buying our debt. When this happens, we as Americans will be in a world of Sh!t. I know that people are going to say this is one of Obama's greatest plans, however, we allready spend billions on R&D through DARPA. That technology does make it to the civilian sector, so we don't need this extra 3% tax on America.

Re:Administration (4, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734841)

all five?

clinton had the budget balanced and in a yearly surplus by the end of his two terms

also to everyone: nowhere in that entire article did he propose that it be a government taxing to spend that money - sounds like he means "the government and private entities combined should".

Re:Administration (0, Troll)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735007)

Seeing as the government does not make a damn thing, the only way they're getting that money is from taxes. Either by increasing our taxes now, or by increasing taxes on future generations.

Re:Administration (2, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735035)

clinton had the budget balanced and in a yearly surplus by the end of his two terms

That doesn't mean he didn't spend too much. I will give Clinton this... he more than anything else a "do nothing" president. Everyone else gets into office and thinks they have to make all these radical changes.

Clinton, though, was helped by the dot-com boom, which was entirely NOT his doing (it's one of those things that just evolved, IMO, and Clinton was in office at the right time), and he was forced into a balanced budget by a republican congress. Of course, all that went right out the window when republicans had both legislative and executive branches... especially seeing as how Bush was the biggest liberal spender ever until Obama took office. I'm convinced, at worst, there should always be opposing parties in the legislative and executive branches. ... sounds like he means "the government and private entities combined should".

Well he should just "bail out" some more companies so that he can tell them what to do, too... even if they don't want to be bailed out. That would solve everything.

Re:Administration (1, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735057)

clinton had the budget balanced and in a yearly surplus by the end of his two terms

Now, now... be fair. Clinton and the Repubs were so tied up fighting that no serious new spending could occur. The economy outgrew the federal government. Not to mention, much of the surge in revenue came from the dot-com bubble.

Don't forget that one of Clinton's first acts was an attempt to socialize healthcare. Put his wife in charge :)

Re:Administration (2, Informative)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735059)

Clinton had a "balanced budget" but a Republican congress.

Guess which drafts the budget?

Also notice how little difference party allegiance makes - Republicans were in congress during the Bush years as well.

More on topic... "the government and private entities combined should" as opposed to "a government taxing to spend that money" - the implications of that are absolutely scary.

Re:Administration (2, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734853)

All five of the last presidents have had this idea that we can just spend to our hearts content.

Does this include that one guy who balanced the budget?

(I'm not saying you don't make good points; I agree we need to get things under control.)

Re:Administration (5, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734925)

How about we stop runnaway spending and reduce the national debt. All five of the last presidents have had this idea that we can just spend to our hearts content. We are dangerously close to the point that the rest of the world will say enough is enough and stop buying our debt. When this happens, we as Americans will be in a world of Sh!t.

Agreed. Let's start with the biggest tax drain of all: military budget.

Re:Administration (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735143)

Not in our life time.

Re:Administration (3, Insightful)

loteck (533317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734935)

We are dangerously close to the point that the rest of the world will say enough is enough and stop buying our debt.

[citation needed]

Re:Administration (4, Insightful)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734987)

DARPA isn't enough. If we had a broader mission for R&D than "defense" initiatives, we would be in a position to licence government owned IP to the corporate world without having to wait out our licenses in the name of national security. Having such a commodity reduces the tax burden on on the citizen (from license fees), reduces the corporate need for an R&D dept (lower cost to consumer) and increases quality of publicly available tech (from not being forced to design for maximum profit).

Unfortunately, I don't think this is what anyone has in mind, so get ready for more suck.

Re:Administration (0, Troll)

chartreuse (16508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735009)

Didn't Bill Clinton in fact cut the deficit instead of tripling it like Reagan and Bush II? You must only be counting Republican presidents.

Describing the distinction between microeconomics and macroeconomics, which you also seem to be confused about, I will leave for others better-qualified than I.

Incidentally, use of a sig about Orwell when consigning whole Administrations to the Memory Hole is pretty darn gutsy, if foolish.

Re:Administration (3, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735023)

How about we stop runnaway spending and reduce the national debt.

Spending on R&D should be expected to have a substantial return on investment. That is, it makes money. This is about reinvesting in ourselves in a way that maintains and enhances US technical and scientific leadership, which has both economic and political implications and benefits. Industry, by design, doesn't have the attention span for basic research or even for a lot of really useful applied work.

You misspelled "billion"... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734963)

I'm for this if they can keep administration costs below 1 billion.

I'm sorry. You must have accidentally woken up in 1974 this morning. We haven't used the singular form of "billion" in reference to any form of Government spending in years.

So... (3, Insightful)

SwabTheDeck (1030520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734549)

...how much were we spending before? This doesn't seem like a tremendously large number.

Re:So... (2, Informative)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734607)

Not sure on previous numbers, but the article says that 3% equals about 420 billion dollars. Not too shabby, and should be taken into consideration that this is for government spending and will only seek to compliment the money spent privately. I'd love to know if this includes other science based programs such as NASA or if it will be in addition to some of that. Either way, it gets a thumbs up from me!

Re:So... (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734915)

Actually, I don't believe he mentioned NASA as being in line for increases at all.

Re:So... (5, Informative)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734709)

...how much were we spending before? This doesn't seem like a tremendously large number.

2.6% [bbc.co.uk] The EU's goal is 3%, too.

5% world record (1)

juletre (739996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734939)

If I remember correctly from Simon Singh's Big Bang, the world record for scientific funding is 5% of GDP.

Tycho Brahe got 5% of Denmark's GDP at his height.

But wait... (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734551)

We already spend more than 3% of GDP on Science R&D....

Oh, he means the government should spend 3% of GDP on R&D. Of course. Can't trust that shifty-eyed private industry. You know... The ones generating the GDP.

Re:But wait... (5, Insightful)

zifr (1467429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734581)

You mean like Merck? I agree, we can't trust them. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/25/1626200&from=rss [slashdot.org]

Re:But wait... (1)

JPortal (857107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734897)

Luckily, in this modern age, government corruption is totally under control! I'm glad that lobbyists don't have influence any more.

Re:But wait... (1)

sunami (751539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734585)

They can both do R&D at the same time you know.

Re:But wait... (2, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734649)

I do know. However there is a clear implication here that this R&D won't happen unless the government funds it. There is also no evidence (especially without a list of exactly what the money is going to be spent on) that the things the government would fund research into wouldn't get funding without government involvement.

Apparently, according to the moderators, pointing that out is trolling.

Re:But wait... (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734757)

There is also no evidence (especially without a list of exactly what the money is going to be spent on) that the things the government would fund research into wouldn't get funding without government involvement.

I disagree: $(3% GDP - whatever the government is spending now) extra worth of funding for projects would be available, and scientific research is one of those nifty fields that sometimes rewards giving grants in areas not likely to receive corporate grants.

Re:But wait... (1, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734831)

This is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to needless government waste.

Why would you trust the government to spend this on worthwhile things without being told what it was going to be spent on?

I don't deny that the types of things you describe exist. I don't even deny that it's worth the government funding them. But there's a big difference between that and just blowing a half a billion dollars 'cause you've decided you're going to spend that much. The correct way to do it is to decide what your priorities are, then decide how much to spend on them. Not to decide how much you're going to spend first, and what you're going to spend it on after.

Re:But wait... (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735137)

And why would you trust the government, or even the citizens, to select the right things to spend research money on?

Re:But wait... (4, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734825)

Gov can do R&D into things like cheap medicine made from easily found natural ingredients and things like that. Stuff that has tremendous use but little in the way of profit margin.

Even if a company like Merck were 100% ethically run they wouldn't do this sort of stuff because there is no profit margin.

Re:But wait... (1)

emocomputerjock (1099941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734871)

Indeed. This just means that companies receiving R&D money will adjust (lower) their own R&D budget accordingly to increase profits. This works for DHS money as well.

Re:But wait... (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735109)

To be honest, I know only one single corporation really spending money on basic research - IBM.

In other news.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734579)

The research will in fact be outsourced to global research and development partners across the globe.

BadAnalogyGuy says (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734591)

Well, as Time's Person of the Year 2006, I would like to just say that the percentage of GDP coming my way has been woefully below my expectations.

Do want (4, Insightful)

the4thdimension (1151939) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734599)

I am a big supporter of getting back into a R&D based funding operation. And I don't mean we should be R&Ding war tools, we should be developing better telecommunications tools, better healthcare tools, better computers for both business and consumer, better cars, better planes, better boats, better shipping technology... everything. There is no reason that America shouldn't be the world leader in all of these things.

Re:Do want (3, Interesting)

Churla (936633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734701)

Have you stopped to consider how many of the innovations America has given the world came from.. dare I say this... researching "war toys"?

Computers as we know them today? The Atomic Age?

The need to find newer, faster, and more efficient ways to kill people has always been a phenomenal "mother of invention"

Easiest way to get the country developing alternate energy technology? Declare that starting 2-4 years from now the US government won't buy any ground vehicles for the government or military that don't run on renewable fuels.

And that we won't build any new bases or government facilities that aren't solar or powered by renewable energy sources.

Re:Do want (5, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734837)

The need to find newer, faster, and more efficient ways to kill people has always been a phenomenal "mother of invention"

All very true, largely because the military has always had an extremely large budget with which to fund research related to its goals.

Now, imagine what our scientists and engineers could do with that same budget, but also with a directive to use it in the areas that will best help our country. I think we would likely get an even better return on our investment if we were actually trying for those benefits, as opposed to just developing weapons and occasionally finding that the same research happens to have constructive uses as well.

Re:Do want (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734857)

Have you stopped to consider how many of the innovations America has given the world came from.. dare I say this... researching "war toys"? ... Computers as we know them today? The Atomic Age?

It's indisputable that the war industry has brought about countless useful inventions and discoveries. It is, however, a poor excuse for war. Could computers or nuclear power not have been invented without the underlying goal of destroying human lives? On the other hand, if all those resources hadn't been put into waging wars, could they maybe have been put into even more purposeful research?

Re:Do want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734801)

I can name three reasons. Our education system, our culture, and our legal system. We don't manage to educate our children very well. We encourage too many of them to be athletes and/or entertainers. And then we imprison far too many of them for non violent offenses.

I'm sorry, but world leadership in any one category is hard enough. Being the leader in all of these things is a pipe dream even if we were willing to work at it. And too many of us are not.

sincerely hope.. (5, Interesting)

EvilToiletPaper (1226390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734621)

FTA:
In recent years, he said, "scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas." He then drew chuckles, commenting: "I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, not the other way around," Obama said.


hope none of the 420$ billion makes it's way towards the discovery institute.

Re:sincerely hope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27735055)

hope none of the 420$ billion makes it's way towards the discovery institute.

hopefully none of it gets diverted to the Differences Between It's and Its Institute either

ho ho ho. (0, Troll)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735151)

Any bets on which way the research comes out on any politically charged subject?

Like, say, "global warming"? (Or is that "climate change" this week?) Or how sonar affects sea lions? Or the risks for the endangered North American Wombat? Or how many birds are chopped up by windmills - especially when they're visible from the Kennedy compound?

$ 200 billion + / year for R&D ? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734629)

I believe that this works out to over $ 200 billion per year. I suspect we spend almost this much already; the trouble is it is mostly for the military, which doesn't always do much for the rest of us.

Re:$ 200 billion + / year for R&D ? (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734763)

I believe that this works out to over $ 200 billion per year. I suspect we spend almost this much already; the trouble is it is mostly for the military, which doesn't always do much for the rest of us.

Lets see... DARPA invented the internet, made huge contributions to medicine, GPS and much, much more. Yes, DARPA is designed to keep America safe by finding new technologies for the military, but that doesn't mean that it isn't used to help the civilian sector as well.

Re:$ 200 billion + / year for R&D ? (1)

HasselhoffThePaladin (1191269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735043)

which doesn't always do much for the rest of us...

in an obvious and immediate way.

maybe he can fund research (-1, Troll)

j1mmy (43634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734703)

on how to create money out of thin air. stop spending, mister president. the national debt is at an obscene level.

Re:maybe he can fund research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734765)

on how to create money out of thin air. stop spending, mister president. the national debt is at an obscene level.

You have to spend money to earn money.

Private Enterprise (1)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734731)

Hopefully these go the way of support R&D by American private enterprise, and don't end up being dumped into government think-tank projects that simply feed the political morass that is Washington.

Sez who? (3, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734735)

How about we let individuals and businesses decide where they're going to put their R&D money, not some ivory-tower bureaucrats who are firmly removed from reality?

Really: when it comes to deciding what to do with 3% of your income, don't you want YOU making that decision, instead of total strangers you don't know and who know you less and who are operating on non-sequitor ulterior motives?

Re:Sez who? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734877)

no.

Corporations only research things that will potentially make them money. Therefore, some things, like rare diseases, will never be researched. Individuals in academics will research it, but they need grant money in order to do so.

Re:Sez who? (1)

hhallahh (1378697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734971)

So the problem is that the private market only does research which actually has a positive expected return? Gee, you'd think that'd be the point..

Re:Sez who? (4, Insightful)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735077)

Seeing you partially brought this up, let's take the drug companies. Currently, their strategy is to create the same drug which is coming out of patent protection and can start being made by generics, tweak the formula slightly, whip up an ad campaign and start pushing the drug on doctors to prescribe this so-called "new and better" drug over the generic drug you can get for 1/10th the cost. Rinse and repeat. They already have their money tree and it's not doing us a fat-lot of good.

Honestly, I wish we could write the whole profit motive out of research and development. We might actually get somewhere without having to come up with profit to justify it's existence.

Re:Sez who? (4, Insightful)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734975)

How about we let individuals and businesses decide where they're going to put their R&D money, not some ivory-tower bureaucrats who are firmly removed from reality?

Because individuals and business don't really have any reason (or the means) to do a lot of basic research. Think of CERN or the Manhattan Project. Do you think those kind of research would be done if it wasn't paid for by the government?

Re:Sez who? (1)

hhallahh (1378697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735105)

You're conflating "basic research" with "huge, focused projects on particular ends". If you think there are a lot of good Manhattan Project-style R&D projects that we should be working on that the private sector couldn't fund, I'd be interested to hear of them. Bonus points if you can show evidence that they'd be remotely cost-efficient (ie. no space elevators.)

Re:Sez who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27735033)

Not realistic really, because you as individual have no resources to define what exactly is scientifically viable or not should be financed or not. I see your point about government being wasteful and all but other way around would be more wastefull by an order of magnitude, for example 20% of that 3% would go to "intelligent design" research, another 20% to some other quasi science thing and the rest would be dispersed among thousands of other projects, so there would actually be no cncentration of resurces on any significant issue. All in all more waste.
 

Re:Sez who? (3, Insightful)

ZirbMonkey (999495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735049)

Because microwave ovens, lasers, LEDs, solar cells, and satellites wouldn't be around if it weren't for pure research in the fields of physics, chemistry, and material science. Businesses will decide what research is profitable once theren't enough solid knowledge and know how to make the efficient and effective. Businesses don't invent things from scratch, they rework what's already known into a commercial product.

Re:Sez who? (4, Insightful)

deadboy2000 (739605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735101)

How about we let individuals and businesses decide where they're going to put their R&D money, not some ivory-tower bureaucrats who are firmly removed from reality?

?

Well, "individuals and business" seem to think that Baconnaise and Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick are the best way to spend R&D money, so . . . no.

Space or bust (1)

lessthanpi (1333061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734751)

What the American ppl need is another space race. Nothing instills national pride more than starting the first McDonalds on the moon before China, or beating the ESA in the construction of DisneyMars. We have gotten lazy, we haven't even been on the moon in decades.

I remember from history class there used to be a thing called manifest destiny, where America was ordered by God to spread from sea to shining see. Maybe it's time we spread from Supernova to shining black hole

In other words... (1, Flamebait)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734761)

In other words, our children and grandchildren should pay for technological advances that make our lives easier.

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." -- Thomas Jefferson

Re:In other words... (5, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734943)

In other words, our children and grandchildren should pay for technological advances that make our lives easier.

More like their lives easier. Research is slow process - it takes years, maybe decades for an idea to progress from the sketching board to store shelves.

Re:In other words... (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735111)

More like their lives easier. Research is slow process - it takes years, maybe decades for an idea to progress from the sketching board to store shelves.

For you to have any argument, you'll have to show two things:

1. Show that such endeavors could not be done through private enterprise alone.
2. More importantly, show that the ends justify the means - that the various violations of individual rights that are inherent in government interventions into the economy are justified by your good intentions.

Re:In other words... (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735155)

1 is easy. Unless there is a profit involved, private industry will NEVER get involved. Thats why other nations are blowing us out of the water in innovation right now, because their governments fund some or all of the research. But even in private sector, its next to impossible to show that the ends justify the means, so your second argument is totally bullshit.

Why pctg of GDP rather than federal budget? (2, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734771)

Rand Simberg asks why express it in terms of percentage of GDP rather than in terms of percentage of federal budget? [transterrestrial.com] . The budget is something that the president has some control over...

Re:Why pctg of GDP rather than federal budget? (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734997)

Because he doesn't want the federal government to be the only entity funding R&D.

This isn't a matter of the national budget. It's a matter of getting the entire country to start thinking of R&D as something important.

In 2007, research spending was $324 billion, out of a total GDP of $14 trillion, or 2.3%. Obama's calling for everybody (mostly big corporations) to spend 50% more on it, because it's research that grows the GDP as a whole. And if we're ever going to get out of the deeeeep economic hole we've drawn for ourselves (a national debt around 80% of GDP), the only way is to make a lot more GDP.

More science (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734791)

I'd be up for 10% if it meant we spent 0% on our two wars. I'm not against spending money on national defense, just our nation, not others.

What a way to flush 3% of GDP ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27734805)

While this sounds like a good idea, I worked for a while at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. It was the poster child of government waste. Most of the funding we received was from the DOE and the DOD. Back in its hay-day the INEL was a front runner in nuclear research. Now its a money-pit. 2/3rds of all grant money is skimmed off the top for "overhead" (pays for buildings, security, office space, etc). To make matters worse, each engineer/scientist has a billable rate. This billable rate is again 2/3rds overhead. Half of your time goes to writing grants to get more money. Very few people there were doing actual science. It was very sad for me to experience directly after getting my degree.

The INEL is not alone in its current state. People I worked with from other labs have similar or worse horror stories.

I understand the desire, I just don't have enough confidence in our government to not botch it up.

That's no way to run a Civilzation (5, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734829)

Unless you want to pit your galleys against Aztec ironclads you'll want an R&D of 20% until you get infantry and artillery. After that you can dial it down to 10% and focus on production.

Re:That's no way to run a Civilzation (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735129)

Actually, we already have infantry and artillery. Obama just wants to dump a bunch of money into researching Future Tech to run up the score. So boring... just build the damn ship to Alpha Centauri already so you can win and start a new game.

Spent by whom? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734845)

I'm assuming that this 3% GDP is intended to be in the form of government spending on research and development.

It would be nice if government spending was reduced by 3% of GDP somewhere else, to make up the difference. It would certainly be a shame if increased government R&D came at the expense of private R&D.

Wrong (2, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734849)

I want to support science, but at the same time I am reluctant to take other people's money by force and pass it on to the unelected government bureaucrats to decide which project is worthy (or in practice which scientists can beg the loudest) of getting a share of it. The whole process is inefficient, immoral and fraught with possibilities for waste and abuse. Eliminate income tax and replace it with voluntary program where people can donate a share of their income to be used for purposes of their choice and if they want to fund science fine, if they don't then they accept the risk that they and their children will be living in a country that is lagging behind in science. What is wrong with that?

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735005)

Eliminate income tax and replace it with voluntary program where people can donate a share of their income to be used for purposes of their choice and if they want to fund science fine, if they don't then they accept the risk that they and their children will be living in a country that is lagging behind in science. What is wrong with that?

If I pay for this research, then everyone gets the benefits. If someone else pays for it, then everyone still gets the benefits. But what if everyone waits for someone else to pay for it?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27735117)

What is wrong with that?

Its patently stupid. That's whats wrong with it.

How about we apply stuff we already know... (2, Interesting)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734865)

And use the 60's space tech to build us a massive orbital solar power station?

Solve all our power production pollution issues and start down the road of true weather control?

We could employ a LOT of people to crank out Saturn V rockets on a ginormous assembly line.

A LOT more people to design and build the damn orbital solar power stations and even more building the ground receiving stations.

Once done we could launch a few more satellites and start SELLING power to the rest of the world.

We could be energy sellers like a Saudis, only we won't treat our women like cattle. And we can tell the Saudis to go stuff it.

Re:How about we apply stuff we already know... (1)

lessthanpi (1333061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735025)

Amen, in a technological world the only way to stay competitive is to have the most advanced technology

3% if GDP for 480,000 people? (1, Interesting)

katorga (623930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734907)

What a complete and utter crock. 3% of GDP dedicated to 480,000 scientists.

Does the public get any payback if research develops the Next Big Thing? Nope, the scientist goes off, gets a patent and gets wildly personally wealthy.

Foreclosures are still rising. Unemployment is still increasing. Wages are still falling. This money would be better spent on the people.

Re:3% if GDP for 480,000 people? (1)

maugle (1369813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735153)

...of course, because we all know that society in general won't benefit at all from any new discovery/invention. And we also know that scientists have a long history of getting incredibly rich from their discoveries and inventions, instead of getting royally screwed by governments/corporations.

How does he intend to enforce this? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27734969)

People, he's saying 3% of our GDP, not tax revenues. The GDP is the Gross Domestic Product, the total market value of all goods and services that are produced within this country.

The CIA factbook claims the US GDP for 2008 was $14.13 trillion, with tax revenues of $2.5 trillion. Three percent of the GDP is $420 billion. The government has no right to decide how the results of the GDP are invested, but I have no doubt that we'll see another $420 billion porkulus bill spending tax revenues and newly printed money.

Head in the clouds (1, Troll)

Glass Goldfish (1492293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27735071)

It's not that I'm against scientific funding. But is he talking about private funding or public funding. It's seems that it's public funding. Ok, what is he willing to cut? Or will there be a science tax? Why didn't he spend the stimulus money on this? It doesn't just fund scientists, but engineers, technicians and the staff to support them. Obama seems to be full of fancy ill-formed ideas that go absolutely nowhere. I also think that George W. Bush's "Let's go to Mars" plan was ill-conceived.

Now if there is to be research done, I want fusion fully funded. There is too much of a drain on Western civilization's resources sending money to Saudi kleptocrats (who only remain in power by backing terrorists). It will also solve the energy to mass problem (enormous amounts of rocket fuel to put something in orbit) preventing a viable space program. I would rather money be spent on regenerating lost limbs with adult stem cells than focus on prosthetic replacements. I can guarantee that there are companies putting a lot of effort into reducing the cost of solar cells (think, a laptop which recharges by leaving it out in the sun because it has a cheap solar cover) and into educational software (or any software which has a market). These are all engineering projects as opposed to science projects.

Government spending? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27735113)

If by "spend 3% of GDP on R&D" he means "grant tax breaks equal to 3% of GDP to encourage companies to do more R&D" then maybe he's on to something. Economic stimulus and scientific research all in one neat little package.

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