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Scientists Stage Funerals To Protest Against Cuts — a New Trend?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the sweet-zombie-einstein dept.

Canada 263

ananyo writes "Physicists, chemists and mathematicians in the UK are campaigning against their chief public funder (EPSRC) over reforms that they say threaten blue-skies research, kicking off their protest by toting a coffin to the Prime Minister in Downing Street. The reforms are a response to declining budgets and political pressure to focus science on areas that will produce economic benefits for the UK. Last month, over 2000 Canadian scientists marched to Parliament Hill with a coffin to protest against the Harper government's cuts to basic research and scientific facilities, which they believe undermine the quality of scientific evidence in government. With budget cuts to science expected in the U.S., is it time for scientists in U.S. — and perhaps elsewhere — to think about getting their retaliation in first and ready their coffins?"

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How about the USA? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847415)

In the USA, where we have "free speech", I bet holding a mock funeral for Barack Obama (or, previously, George W Bush) would be considered a death threat and get the Secret Service knocking at your door. If not, it would at least get you on a list.

Re:How about the USA? (4, Informative)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847515)

RTFA much? The coffin is not a mock funeral for the respective prime ministers, but rather for the 'death of science'.

Re:How about the USA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847607)

That's why I always post anonymously when posting First Posts without RTFA.

Re:How about the USA? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847707)

Man. I didn't RTFA, and I thought it was about staging scientists funerals, or funereal scientists stooges! Why can't the articles be about what I think they're about?

Re:How about the USA? (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847711)

If you don't have anything informed to say, you could try saying nothing at all.

Re:How about the USA? (1)

miltonw (892065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848287)

Don't be silly, this is /.

Re:How about the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847709)

Would be much better if it was though.

Re:How about the USA? (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847779)

Not even the article was needed or even the summary. Protesting cuts led me to the obvious conclusion that they were cutting their funding. OP is just a grasping troll.

Walmart sells coffins (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848163)

You can order them online and get them delivered. I'm guessing they're priced reasonably, but I can't say that I've done a comparison.

dang, is this really the first post? (0)

neminem (561346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847423)

Never done that before. Well, if so, let me not be that guy who just posts "first post" and gets everyone annoyed at the lack of actual information, and instead be the guy who posts the obligatory link to Betteridge's Law of Headlines, and then says, "no" to the topic title.

No [wikipedia.org] .

Re:dang, is this really the first post? (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847445)

In response to your Subject, which is the comment version of a headline, "No".

Re:dang, is this really the first post? (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847479)

Do you have a reference for that claim?

Re:dang, is this really the first post? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847499)

Yea, the fact that the actual first post is first. You know.... this one [slashdot.org] ?

AWWW YEAH, surely I got it this time!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847619)

firstus postus, beeeeeotchae!

Yes, it is the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847433)

Yes, it is the time.

Let me guess (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847463)

The trend will be studied until we know the exact k-factor, or p series value, or whatever bullshit it is that scientists throw in all those nonsense papers.

And then they whine that their money is going away. LAFF

Who cares? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847485)

There is an educated minority who does obviously but big business that can't make use of curiosity based research in the immediate quarter doesn't care, Joe Sixpack who is fearing unemployment due to a massive recession doesn't care. Political powers that are trying to "stabilize" the middle east by shooting at it don't care.

So who, with power, cares?

Re:Who cares? (3, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847529)

You outline the real problem: so many big businesses don't seem to care beyond the next quarter. Extreme nearsightedness, it seems.

You don't ever seem to see them taking a hit for the NOW, looking towards a payoff on the LATER. Always it's now now now.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847577)

There is a reason for that. Next quarter you may not be in business. The government however is suppose to look to the future. Canals weren't built to be used "today", nor was the highway system, or nasa.

Re:Who cares? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848305)

but big business that can't make use of curiosity based research in the immediate quarter doesn't care

oh right, Intel and IBM and all the others do not do "curiosity based research" at all ... that was typed on a computer with a processor made in a factory that will become obsolete in 3 years

can't do applied research without doing fundamental research too ... unless you research a new model of bouncy balls, and even then you might need to find better rubber once in a while

most of the research is done and paid for by businesses, they just don't advertise so much when they fail

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848369)

And that applies to government funded science how?

Because these scientists are Special (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847495)

And they shouldn't be subject to economic downturns eh?

Self important blowhards.

Re:Because these scientists are Special (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847731)

And they shouldn't be subject to economic downturns eh?

Absoloutely, the best way out of an economic downturn is to make sure you don't develop anything new.

Also, you and the idiots who modded you up are idiots.

The real think that's pissing off all the victims of the EPSRC incompetence is that the EPSRC fucked up its advocacy efforts and got much heavier funding cuts than the other members of RCUK.

So, basically, you and the mods have no idea what you're talking about and decided to mod up inflammatory crap anyway.

Re:Because these scientists are Special (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847973)

I doubt anything "new" will come out of "blue sky" research efforts in a time frame that will help the current economic downturn.

While they should be concerned about funding cuts and should do what they can to minimize them and their impacts, parading down the street with a coffin is stupid and melodramatic.

Buck up and do the best you can, as will everyone else.

Re:Because these scientists are Special (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847857)

Even if te government spent $10 trllion on research, but then announced "cuts" to a more-reasonable level, these guys would still protest. It's human nature never to be satisfied. You will never hear them say, "Oh well 10 trllion was outrageously high. Cuts to 7 trillion would be reasonable."

Re:Because these scientists are Special (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848139)

Nice strawman! Not only do you put words in the mouths of your perceived 'opponents,' you present a situation that will never realistically exist to ensure it can't be tested!

9/10!

--Jeremy

Re:Because these scientists are Special (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848249)

It does exist. Look at the Pentagon. They get close to a trllion dollars a year but the moment someone says, "The war is almost over. Let's lower that 100 billion," then they and their military supporters have a fit about how cuts will hurt them.

(shrug). Can YOU cite a single example where teachers or military or old people or students or some other group said, "Yeah we're okay if you cut our budget 10%." It doesn't exist.

Re:Because these scientists are Special (2, Informative)

jpate (1356395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848345)

(shrug). Can YOU cite a single example where teachers or military or old people or students or some other group said, "Yeah we're okay if you cut our budget 10%." It doesn't exist.

well [lmgtfy.com] , yeah [lmgtfy.com] .

Re:Because these scientists are Special (2)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847991)

"Score:0, Inciteful"

Actually it's cheaper to do research (and build infrastructure, and re-tool, and hire) during an economic downturn. That's kinda the point. Funding cuts tend to have very little to do with the economy, rather being a result of personal vindictiveness. Or as you so nicely illustrate, sheer slackjawed rightwing cluelessness as to how the economy works.

Re:Because these scientists are Special (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848175)

And they shouldn't be subject to economic downturns eh?

Self important blowhards.

Of course scientists are not saying that. Budgets have to be tightened for everyone if they are going to be balanced. What's being argued is that the cuts are disproportionate and clearly politically-motivated. This is especially apparent when you see what's being cut (a lot of environment-related research) and when you see the unreasonable excesses that continue for other government budget items. Two that come to mind are the ridiculously exorbitant pensions that MPs get after only a few years of public service, and the current government is quite happy to keep on funding the multi-billion-dollar F-35 stealth fighter acquisition, even as the costs for it have almost doubled. If the government truly wanted to balance the budget at all costs, then they'd re-open the fighter contract to have proper competitive bids, and consider settling for cheaper, proven aircraft such as the Super Hornet (F-18E/F). Sure, it wouldn't be cutting-edge, but it would be an upgrade over the current fighter fleet (mostly F-18s), it would be twin-engine (safer for remote operations), and a hell of a lot cheaper. The Super Hornet is the approach that Australia took while waiting for the F-35 to get into production. Sounds like a decent "austerity" approach to me. But, no, our supposedly budget-conscious government didn't even have a competitive bid process and is sticking to the expensive, unproven "Cadillac" model based on what they saw in the showroom.

It can also be argued that if you are going to cut back, cutting government and educational science is a bad idea because it is akin to "eating the seed grain". You're cutting into your future prospects for growth. That might help a little with balancing the budget, but it's going to cost big down the line. Not necessarily a good tradeoff.

Scientists aren't saying "Don't cut us, because we're privileged", they're saying "Wait a second. Why are you cutting us to the bone while these other programs have plenty of fat, and why are you cutting us when politicians need more information about scientific issues, not less?" There has been little public consultation to determine whether cutting science fits with the public's priorities too.

Death of evidence (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847545)

This is intentional. They deliberately impoverish the intellectual community so that few will be able to question what government does. If no one has hard data, the government can do what it wants. If hard data is available, the government has to take that into consideration. Behind every anti-intellectual is an authoritarian.

Just hard science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847833)

This is intentional. They deliberately impoverish the intellectual community so that few will be able to question what government does. If no one has hard data, the government can do what it wants. If hard data is available, the government has to take that into consideration. Behind every anti-intellectual is an authoritarian.

It's just for the sciences. The intellectuals in the coffee shops and pubs will still be able to think, analyze, pontificate, and question the government.

I can hear them now, screaming at the telly - "What a bloody wanker!" - at least that's what this American thinks it sounds like.

Re:Death of evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847837)

Really? Are you serious? There's an economic downturn. The government is having trouble funding programs. And the fact that they want to cut spending to a program that doesn't have immediate and clearly predictable economic benefit is because they're anti-intellectual?

It seems to me far more likely that the government just doesn't have the money. But then, I don't own a tinfoil hat, so I'm sure I'm just being brainwashed by their mind-control rays.

Re:Death of evidence (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847897)

There's an economic downturn. The government is having trouble funding programs. And the fact that they want to cut spending to a program that doesn't have immediate and clearly predictable economic benefit is because they're anti-intellectual?

Basic research provides the greatest ROI of any sort of investment anywhere ever. On top of that, government spending helps to stimulate economies. Creating solid middle class jobs filled by smart, motivated people is exactly the kind of thing that you want to do to get out of a recession.

Re:Death of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848331)

Assuming you're right, it still doesn't mean the government is anti-intellectual. They're just looking for a short-term solution to a short-term problem. No conspiracy theory needed to explain their actions.

Re:Death of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848339)

Says research from the very scientists whos funding is being cut!

Re:Death of evidence (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848381)

So what did we get out of the trillions of dollars spent on the moon landings & research? Velcro? That's a very very low ROI. Trillions spent for a few dollars worth of plastic.

>>>On top of that, government spending helps to stimulate economies.

Or it creates bubbles that go "pop" and make a crash. Like the government-backed mortgage bubble we experienced from 2002-to 2007. That was supposed to stimulate the economy but instead it wrecked it.

Re:Death of evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848153)

Under Canada's current government it's not tinfoil-hat worthy to wonder if the government is cutting back on sciences as research to further their agenda.

I hate to break it to you (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847895)

but the governments already do whatever they want. The one percent isn't the rich, its the politicians. The have deliberately impoverished us all to assert more control over our lives. Then through their near infinite channels of influence they set one group against another all the while offering laws to protect each for each other.

If those UK scientist want to see their budget, I think they can still get tickets. There appear to lots of empty seats

Re:Death of evidence (0, Flamebait)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847983)

This is intentional. They deliberately impoverish the intellectual community so that few will be able to question what government does. If no one has hard data, the government can do what it wants. If hard data is available, the government has to take that into consideration. Behind every anti-intellectual is an authoritarian.

Ah, the conspiracy theory. From the same people that brought you "Israelis flew remote controlled jets into the twin towers. Not a single Jew died there!".

And really? A scare speech on authoritarianism? From the same people that want Chick-Fil-A's closed down because of the owner's religious views? Tell me again about tolerance, Hatta.

Re:Death of evidence (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848077)

Or, you know, we could be in the middle of a worldwide financial meltdown where hard decisions have to be made.
Governments love to fund scientists, especially when those scientists come to conclusions that convienently give authoritarians the excuse to take more money and power.
Even considering that, however, sometimes, you just run out of other people's money to borrow and/or take.

Re:Death of evidence (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848213)

Or, you know, we could be in the middle of a worldwide financial meltdown where hard decisions have to be made.

All the more reason to keep these steady middle class jobs around so there's more demand for services in the economy. And we're not just talking about scientists. There's support staff, people who repair equipment, companies that manufacture reagents. If you're looking for a "shovel ready" project that will have positive ripple effects throughout the economy, basic research should be at the top of the list.

Governments love to fund scientists, especially when those scientists come to conclusions that convienently give authoritarians the excuse to take more money and power.

In the absence of scientific evidence, authoritarians can do whatever they want. See the War on Drug Users, the TSA. Very few authoritarian initiatives have any sort of scientific basis behind them. Authoritarians rule by fear, and people fear the unknown.

Re:Death of evidence (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848425)

I don't buy the authoritarian conspiracy theories. It's more about priorities and currently there is little to no interest in the general populace towards science and research. Just look at what is trending on facebook... People care about sports, taxes, gay marriage, gun laws, Beiber fever, religion, and about 16 other things before they care about scientific research (unless it's a "green" science, people are still somewhat excited about GW, nuclear power, and recycling because they have been so politicized recently). The general populace takes the things that science has provided to us for granted, and politicians/bureaucrats/whoever are either a) swept up in the same retarded things as almost everyone else, or b) aren't willing to risk their careers/family/livelyhood to stand up for the things that are truly important.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor [wikipedia.org]

Can't cut anything... (5, Insightful)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847549)

We can't cut social security because old people will starve in the streets.
We can't cut the drug benefits because old people can't afford their medication.
We can't cut the military, or our enemies will attack us.
We can't cut unemployment benefits, because people are unemployed.
We can't cut benefits to the poor because the poor need help.
We can't cut support to the bank industry because they need help to recover.
And apparently, we also can't cut science funding, or scientists will die.

The government is huge because people never want to give up ANYTHING. It's always "the other guy" who should pay.

Well when you have a massive debt, everyone has to give up something.. and that includes (unfortunately) scientists. Maybe those researching "blue skies" projects that have gone no where should be cut.

Re:Can't cut anything... (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847611)

Well across the board budget cuts are fine. But when science gets cut at the expense of the military(which ever keeps rising), it is not acceptable.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847969)

In Canada, where these protests occurred, the military's budget was one of the hardest cut.

Re:Can't cut anything... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847665)

We can't cut social security because old people will starve in the streets.
We can't cut the drug benefits because old people can't afford their medication.
We can't cut the military, or our enemies will attack us.
We can't cut unemployment benefits, because people are unemployed.
We can't cut benefits to the poor because the poor need help.
We can't cut support to the bank industry because they need help to recover.
And apparently, we also can't cut science funding, or scientists will die.

The government is huge because people never want to give up ANYTHING. It's always "the other guy" who should pay.

Well when you have a massive debt, everyone has to give up something.. and that includes (unfortunately) scientists. Maybe those researching "blue skies" projects that have gone no where should be cut.

This is exactly why the US will follow Spain, Italy, Greece, and others because the politicians are too afraid to lose their jobs instead of doing their jobs. Two things need to done in the US.
1) Amendment: A Representative or Senator cannot serve more than two consecutive terms (and yes I know they serve for different time periods).
2) Amendment: Corporations, Unions, Lobbyist groups, Not For Profit, any organization do not have the same First Amendment rights as an individual.

Re:Can't cut anything... (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847775)

I'm always curious as to why people think getting rid of professional politicians will help things. One of the great things that Britain has always had is a tradition of long-serving politicians who create a sort of central group of experienced men and women who have been in and out government. From these ranks you produce people like Gladstone, Churchill and Thatcher. It's ludicrous to force out your most experienced people in any profession simply because you think fresh air alone is enough to fix the problem.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848029)

The problem isn't long-term politicians, the problem is that long-term politicians become easy targets for large money interest groups. Capping their terms is often viewed as the easiest way to end that entrenched issue. But, as with most things, there is no silver bullet. . . . .

Re:Can't cut anything... (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848123)

But those politicians have districts and states. They are answerable to the voter. Rather than creating artificial barriers and basically throwing the baby (in this case the experienced lawmaker) out with the bathwater, it strikes me the better solution is try to encourage the voters to become part of the political process.

It's not as if first or second term politicians are not vulnerable to interest groups. The political process is poisoned by money from the very start. The solution isn't getting rid of professional lawmakers, it's dealing with the underlying problem.

Re:Can't cut anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848203)

Based on California's experiments with term limits, term limits give even more power to lobbyists since they're the only ones with any experience.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848265)

Okay then, other than improved voter participation, how do you suggest that we remove the billions of dollars of special interest money from the process?

AND, further, how do you propose that we guarantee that big media and the like won't skew the stories to condition people to think a certain way about the candidate of their choice?

And as a side note, I didn't say that I agreed with it, I was simply explaining it as you asked,

I'm always curious as to why people think getting rid of professional politicians will help things.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848399)

Simple. Tax the living shit out of all political donations and disallow political advertising as an expense that can reduce net income.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848271)

From these ranks you produce people like ... Thatcher.

You're right! We could do with someone to destroy the last vestiges of industry which have managed to thrive despite the best efforts of successive governments.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848411)

Thatcher wasn't such a great example.

Re:Can't cut anything... (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847739)

If you start chipping at those things which represent future prosperity, all you're doing is pulling down the walls. Rome started going down the tubes when it began debasing its currency. It meant ultimately less artisans, tradesmen, a less professional army, less civil servants and in the end, complete collapse.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848403)

well you have to either do cuts or debase currency.

that's just math.

(alternatively, raise taxes)

Re:Can't cut anything... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847745)

Well when you have a massive debt, everyone has to give up something.. and that includes (unfortunately) scientists

Science is not a cost, it's an investment. You don't fix the economy by stopping spending money on things that will give a return.

Maybe those researching "blue skies" projects that have gone no where should be cut.

The departments where people only do research that is guaranteed to work are usually the weaker ones. Good research addresses problems where the solution isn't known, where there are only some approximate ideas about what it may be, and where failure is likely. A big problem in academia today is exactly the attitude in your post - that people who do research that may fail should be penalised.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847867)

Investments are voluntary. Taxes are not.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847751)

This contradicts "The Law of Budgetary Circumcision."

You can cut 5% off the top of ANYTHING.

Re:Can't cut anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847941)

You forgot the first correlary.

Every acts like it's the end of the world when you so much as reduce promised future increases in spending.

Re:Can't cut anything... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848085)

The problem is that there is a lack of empirical evidence in the general population that will point out that it's best to spend on social security, medicine, military, etc.

If we followed research, we would know where it is best to cut. But we don't. We follow our guts, because we're 'MERKINS DAMNIT.

But I digress. Realistically, the issue is that there are too many hands in the cookie jar, and too many people who know what's best for us. What do we need? Hitler. That's what we need.

Re:Can't cut anything... (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848113)

Well when you have a massive debt, everyone has to give up something

No you don't. You can increase revenue. The 1% own something like 75% of everything, they can afford it. FUCKING DOUBLE THEIR TAXES! History has shown that high taxes on the rich do NOT harm the economy.

Re:Can't cut anything... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848297)

History has shown that high taxes on the rich do NOT harm the economy.

They do when the rich arbitrarily make decisions to fuck the rest of us if we tax them more. Humans are one thing consistently: spiteful and greedy.

Re:Can't cut anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848301)

You need to double your knowledge of history. Also, don't confuse high taxes and high tax rates.

Re:Can't cut anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848205)

But... but... entitlement...

Re:Can't cut anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848431)

We can't cut programs, but we can cut taxes.

We're broke, you know (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847567)

Actually, (with the U.S. government at least) we're worse than broke. Broke would imply we at least had nothing. We would actually have to earn about $15 trillion to be broke.

So no, we DON'T have the money. We have these pieces of paper that SAY "money" on them. But they only work because no one has figured out yet that they're worthless.

Re:We're broke, you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847681)

that is actually not at all how economics or currencys work

Re:We're broke, you know (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847727)

On the plus side we only owe $15 trillion of those pieces of paper that SAY "money" on them. And like you said they are worthless. So we really owe nothing and are in fact broke.

Re:We're broke, you know (1, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847807)

Oh Christ, would you fucking Ron Paulites shut the fuck up. Jesus, none of you know a fucking thing about economics, just mouthing "fiat currency is baaaaad" like semi-retarded sheep.

The value of a fiat currency isn't based on nothing, it's based on a huge number of factors, including net economic output, GDP and so forth. Much more sensible than basing it on how much fucking gold the government is sitting on, which is utterly arbitrary and has little or nothing to do with the actual economic life of the country.

Re:We're broke, you know (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848159)

How do you know that guy is a Ron Paulite? You don't know that, anymore than you know what color he is. You're just setting-up random strawmen and knocking them down, rather than addressing the man you responded to.

As for fiat currency:

The fact it has lost 97% of its value since 1913 is reason enough to seek something better. The gold-backed dollar the Founders created may not have been perfect but it was certainly better than that. It lost only 1% of its value from 1810 to 1910. A monetary supply that holds its purchasing power is far superior to one that holds virtually none (today's dollar is only 3% of a 1913 dollar). And yes I am a Paulite. Also a Jeffersonian. Madisonian. Liberal. Constitutionalist (the supreme law of the land).

Re:We're broke, you know (1)

SillyHamster (538384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848207)

The value of a fiat currency isn't based on nothing, it's based on a huge number of factors, including net economic output, GDP and so forth. Much more sensible than basing it on how much fucking gold the government is sitting on, which is utterly arbitrary and has little or nothing to do with the actual economic life of the country.

The value of a fiat currency is really one thing: Trust.

Lose that trust, and in an instant your paper money goes from being valuable to being no better than toilet paper.

Trust being immaterial, though, I'd see why people make the mistake of thinking it's based on "nothing".

Re:We're broke, you know (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848427)

More like $15.889T as the US spirals past the point of never being able to pay it back: http://usdebtclock.org/ [usdebtclock.org]

The Cult of Science (2)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847573)

Claims of arcane knowledge. Doomsday prophecies. Now they're ceremonially delivering coffins to world leaders!

I wonder how long before they start devouring human flesh?

Re:The Cult of Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848273)

I wonder how long before they start devouring human flesh?

If you have to wonder, you are clearly not a 15th published PhD.

Minions, downmod this know-nothing upstart!

scientists have it wrong. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847595)

So let me get this straight, cutting government funding for science reduces the amount of evidence supporting government policies? There is a slight correlation/causation problem with that.

It could be argued that by not funding research directly, research is no longer politically accountable, hence the government can no longer cherry pick from studies it has subsidized.

The real problem is that most scientists have been brought up in a government funded bubble, just as other public sector employees. You don't need government funding to do science. It was a private pursuit for centuries and the best work of scientists has been done in private institutions. The military-industrial complex produced some good work, but this was at least oligarchic, and not completely socialized.

YOUR fault, scientists! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847601)

When things were good, you lapped up that grant money.

When the private sector started moving in and working in "partnership" with you, you accepted those lavish rewards it offered - as long as your research made it money.

When the focus started to shift to "security" applications, you turned a blind eye, because you're so far away from the guy who gets the hole in his head.

When those below you in the academic hierarchy started to lose funding for teaching and more basic research, you ignored them, because it didn't affect you.

Anyway, if you rock the boat, it might harm your cosy position.

And now they're after you.

This has been coming for fifteen years.

Wouldn't a giant urn be more appropriate? (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847631)

Maybe they should use a giant urn instead of a coffin, to represent the result of the giant flaming failure of the future ahead of us under proposed budget cuts to basic scientific research? It would symbolically include the future economy as we fall further and further behind other countries in scientific knowledge and capability.

Re:Wouldn't a giant urn be more appropriate? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847873)

Less graphically iconic.

An urn is just a jar. Not as visually unique as a coffin. A coffin may be just a box, but it's a very particular box. An urn can really be any shape.

Not to mention the fact that, at least in the western world, coffin burials are far more common than cremation, and thus death is more strongly associated with coffins than urns.

Try being in humanities (1)

MartianTJ (634476) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847683)

Then complain about the cutting of research funding. Sciences are getting a tiny fraction of the cuts we're getting.

Re:Try being in humanities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847905)

boo hoo maybe if you did something useful other people would pay you for it, guess not huh

Re:Try being in humanities (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848267)

Learn to say 'do you want fries with that', same as your students.

Might be (1)

csubi (950112) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847757)

I have yet to see a developed western country where political leaders realize that cutting back on research will harm future competitiveness of their country.

Products and services made with cutting edge technology are harder to copy and less likely to have production delocalized to places where workers are cheap and relatively unskilled.

Without strong basic research you won't have discoveries that can be applied to problems and result in the new technology. Interestingly enough, China invests like crazy in research funding - maybe this will bring back jobs and we will be making T-shirts for the far east 40 years from now...

cut military spending (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847771)

no cuts to science funding needed. Problem solved.

Re:cut military spending (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847889)

The Liberals in Canada spent years gutting the military. To the point where it was putting the lives of the soldiers in direct jeopardy. I could fill the entire comment box full of stories with from friends and family who were or are in the military about the flying, riding, doomed death traps that we gave our servicemen and women up here. And to be honest? It got so bloody bad, we were renting military equipment from the US and UK because ours was so unsafe.

They're welcome to put on whatever song and dance that they want. But, in Canada there's no dearth of availability to funding if you can prove your research is viable.

Re:cut military spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847981)

To the point where it was putting the lives of the soldiers in direct jeopardy.

Why didn't Canada simply have less soldiers and go on fewer international adventures?

Re:cut military spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848423)

Canada cut its forces by 75% over 30 years. After the Cold War ended, the number of UN peacekeeping missions dramatically increased, which Canada typically participated in until 1995, when it was clearly stretched too thin. By then, UN missions were regularly failing, the int'l adventures did become fewer, and Canada emphasized use of its air assets until 2004 in Afghanistan.

Re:cut military spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848133)

To the point where it was putting the lives of the soldiers in direct jeopardy

Err, I'm sorry, but if you strap yourself into a tank or F-18, I'm sorry, but you are putting yourself in jeopardy regardless.

The problem is not spending on real stuff soldiers need, or on real science stuff, but the problem is spending tons of money on bullshit like "administration" and similar bureaucracy. When the cuts come, it is the bureaucracy that decides what to cut, and the first thing they do cut is,

    1. scientists
    2. equipment and maintenance for military
    3. hospital beds

Somehow, they rarely try to cut their own useless positions.

You have companies like IBM, or GE, and somehow they are not spending billions on administration. Maybe it is time to cut the red tape and bureaucracy instead of people that actually do work.

When administration costs exceed 5% of total operating cost (or something similarly sensible), then it is the administration that needs to be cut.

Re:cut military spending (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848141)

And there's the problem; it always comes down to morals and opinions. Is the life of a scientist or the life of a soldier more valuable?

Is it better to spend $10 trillion on guns, barracks, flak jackets, soldier pay and pensions, health care for vets and the like, or on chemicals, labs, lab-coats (I don't really know how scientists dress anymore. . . .), scientist pay and pensions, and health care and the like for people trying to do science? (does one 'do' science?)

One is not inherently more valuable than the other by any means - both have their appropriate place in society; our opinions dictate which we see as more valuable.

Re:cut military spending (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847971)

To some extent, these are one and the same. DOE, Darpa and DoD budgets are massive contributors to science funding in general, even in pure academia (aka outside national labs).

Not for life-control activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847783)

If there is not enough money to swim in, the motivation for STEM careers goes down the crapper (ant the Gooks, Jeeves and Terrorists will take over!). They need to be SHIELDED from market forces because they were not educated in those fields that MAKE MONEY like MBA's.

  Every sheepskin should have the following disclaimer: "This document and the skills and knowledge it represents is not intended to be used to diminish individual sovereignty, private property and voluntary contract rights of other individuals."

Death of evidence, not death of funding (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847801)

We Canadians weren't protesting because of general science funding cuts. Budgets get rearranged. The economy is in shambles. We accept that.

The "Death of evidence" protest formed because cuts were being very carefully targeted: If your research produced results that suggested the Harper Government (tm) might be making a dumb decision, your research was ignored, suppressed, and eventually canned.

Statistics Canada has never lost control of any personal information. Never. So the long-form census gets scrapped, citing "privacy concerns". Now we have huge holes in the data that used to guide policy decisions.

The Experimental Lakes Area costs nearly nothing (~$2m/yr). It taught us what damage various chemicals will do to aquatic ecosystems, how to clean that damage up, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place. So we're spending ~$50m, or 25 years of operating funding, to shut it down.

We have thousands of scientists employed in federal labs. They are now required, apparently under threat of dismissal, to obtain political approval from the Prime Minister's Office before they can talk to the media or release their findings.

There are many, many related examples from all over Canada.

So it's not that funding is being "cut". It's that scientific results are being systematically ignored, dismissed and suppressed, so our policy-making is now based on pure ideology with no evidence to back up decisions. And the institutions that could provide that evidence are quietly being muzzled and gutted.

(Posting AC for obvious reasons...)
ps. Captcha = "Losers".

Science is part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847813)

Scientists might be better advised to realize that the cuts are the product of a string of factors from national decline (the UK) to a morbid economy and the growing demands on federal budgets by entitlements such as welfare and Social Security (US and Canada). They're getting smaller slices of the pie because the pie is shrinking (technically not growing as fast as the population) and other slices that can't easily be cut are growing.

Scientists are themselves to blame for much of that. First, there are the wave of hysterias that sweep over the scientific community every couple of decades. The 'population bomb' hysteria of the late sixties has contributed to an aging population, particularly in Western Europe and Japan, that places increases demands on federal budgets. All those aborted babies, for whom the scientific community has done nothing, aren't around to be working and paying taxes that could be used for basic research. And more recently, the global warming/climate change hysteria is also grabbing money that otherwise would have gone to research. How much science could have been done with the over $500 million that the Obama administration blew on failed Solydra and the idiotic idea to make solar cells in California? A lot.

In addition, the hostility that science, particularly the social sciences display toward "traditional values" about sex and family life has an enormous cost. Single parent households, a relatively new phenomena in all our nation's racial and ethnic groups, place an enormous burden on society that didn't exist half-a-century ago. That takes takes money, tens of billions of dollars, that are then not available available for 'blue skies research." Why is science losing funding? Blame that bug scientists Alfred Kinsey.

It's time the scientific community admitted a few errors, starting with the population explosion hysteria (with its roots in eugenics) and the mockery it makes of the teachings of most religion. It needs to learn more and pontificate less.

Ironically, if we as a society had listened more to churches over the past half-century, we'd have fewer social ills and more resources to fund basic science. But in an environment where the choice is between feeding a kid in a one-parent ghetto household or funding research that's likely to never be of any value, I would hope that our society and our politicians would feed the child and tell that scientist to take a hike.

And there's nothing new about my argument about the misdeeds of science and their social impact. G. K. Chesterton was warning about these problems almost a century ago.

--Michael W. Perry, editor of Eugenics and Other Evils : An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State by G. K. Chesterton

Oh boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847863)

Westboro Baptist will have something new to protest!

Public science funding (1)

jimmy_dean (463322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847891)

Is this really a surprise at all? If these scientists had to raise their own funding via private means, this wouldn't be news at all. This is just wasted time, energy and smart minds rent seeking the government. Move along.

Next thing you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848019)

... it will be picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church.

Should be very very worried (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848053)

Piss off too many scientists and they will go back in time and step on the fish that eventually became your entire family tree. Then again this is government cutting back funding....

ivory tower looking out for itself (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848057)

Having been in academia, and then subsequently being out in the "real world", I really don't have a lot of respect for these guys. They have a propped-up lifestyle and worldview that only works when there's little to no accountability and a steady stream of cash that they don't have to generate (though grant-writing really does suck). I'll listen to those whose blue-sky research has actually translated into a real-life breakthrough (though usually those types have gotten guaranteed lifetime funding already), but for the others... welcome to reality, where we are currently in a recession. Also, their protesting methodology reminds me of undergrad activist groups, not professionals.

The Canadian government no longer funds research (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848165)

Research keeps coming up with global warming and other nasty ideas that get in the way of oil and gas exploitation. Canada's government holds Alberta's interests above everyone else's. That won't change until the next election.
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