Politicians Seek Subsidies To Make US More Competitive

from the just-the-opposite dept

Concerned about the ability of the US to compete in the global economy, Senators on both sides of the aisle gave support to a bill that offers more funding for research, and more investments into science and technology education. On the face of it, a law supporting research and science education sounds like a good thing. But it should be noted at the outset that the alleged gap between the output of technical schools in China and India and the US has been overstated. Also, while much of this money will flow towards universities, it should also be seen as a business subsidy, since a lot of technical research that's done at universities goes into actual products. This might explain why a number of technology trade associations quickly praised the bill. What's funny is that there are plenty of political and intellectual leaders that would disparage things like agriculture subsidies (for distorting the market), but then have no problem supporting subsidies for R&D. The problem in both cases is that simply throwing money at a problem rarely solves it. If the US really thinks it has a problem in terms of competitiveness, which is debatable, then it needs to be serious about fostering competition. Unfortunately, some measures, like lifting trade barriers, are a lot less politically palatable than funding more R&D, which makes for a great soundbite.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Matt Bennett, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    No subsidies, ever! It is the mind killer!

     

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  2.  
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    Matt Bennett, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 12:54pm

    Actually, I don't really think that, or at least not in this case. (More precisely, this is not what I call a subsidy) Count me among those who disapproves of farm subsidies, but approves of basic research funding. It's just that businesses are often too short sighted to fund a lot of basic research.

     

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  3.  
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    Pro, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    Good

    I suggested a few weeks ago on here that if we, as a country, want to have more kids graduate in Math and Science then we have to find some way to make it worth doing. Tax breaks for engineers. Writeoffs for everything electronic. now we're talking.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    I'd like a string attached please...

    I'd like to see a string come attached to all government R&D funding stating that all inventions/discoveries/whatever done on the governments dime must not be patented.

    Do that, and I am all for pumping as much money into R&D as we can.

    Fail to do that, and we just have the government taking the risk out of R&D to the benefit of nobody but already big companies.

    (universities included)

     

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  5.  
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    Matt Bennett, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:07pm

    sure, I can get behind that

     

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  6.  
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    reed, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Isn't it ironic?

    I think it is pretty strange that politicians are seeking more money for corporations but at the same time slashing public programs. In 1996 the US Government gave out 440 Billion dollars in tax expenditures alone to US corporations. Compare this to programs like Food Stamps which costs around 32 billion or Child support which rings in at around 16 billion.

    Many critics have called this preference for big industry over the public Wealthfare. The US government gives out much more wealthfare than they give out welfare.

    To highlight this problem lets examine the tax revenue our government gets from corporations. In the 1950's approximately 1/3 of total tax revenue came from corporations. Nowadays it is less than 10% due to the many tax breaks and subsidies we give corporations.

    "Fail to do that, and we just have the government taking the risk out of R&D to the benefit of nobody but already big companies."

    Check out this from an article I read entitled Aid to Dependant Corporations, "The government also pays for scientific research and developemnt, then allows the benefits to be reaped by private firms. This occurs commonly in medical research. One product, the anti-cancer drug Taxol, cost the US government 32 million to develop as part of a joint venture with private industry. But in the end the government gave its share to Bristol-Nyers Squibb, which now charges cancer patients almost $1,00 for a three-week supply of the drug"

    Now we are paying taxes to support people who cannot pay for their own medications on top of the tax money that was given to help develop the drug to begin with. Do we see a conflict of interest here?

    I am growing tired of politicians who only cater to big business and I can't think of a reasonable way to get them to stop.

     

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  7.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 2:04pm

    Re: I'd like a string attached please...

    While we are adding strings I'd like to see some sort of stipulation that requires real results. That way it'll be a little harder to the corporate fat cats to treat the government like an ATM they can hit up anytime.

    And I would also like to see some public records. Put some of this "funding" under the public eye for scrutiny may make corporations think twice about being naughty about research funds.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: I'd like a string attached please...

    While we are adding strings I'd like to see some sort of stipulation that requires real results.

    True research cannot be guarenteed. There is risk in research, always will be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Mantus, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    Fear is the mind killer!!

    Sorry had to do it.

     

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  10.  
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    Charles Griswold, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 2:34pm

    Intelligent Federal Spending

    Here's a weird thought: why don't we try to get the federal deficit under control?

     

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  11.  
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    andy, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re:

    the tooth! remember the tooth!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    Stimulating Competitiveness

    Throwing money at it won't work. All that will do is generate a boatload more lawsuits over patent infringement. They need to change the patent/copyright system so a company can compete without having to spend millions on non-productive lawyers for patent defense over idiotic patents.

     

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    rEdEyEz, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Buyer Beware

    Before anyone runs hog wild handing out subsidies & grants, please consider that the "Mother of all scams/frauds/political agendas," aka "Global Warming," is the fruit of this type of funding, -"Gone Wild!"

    ...Give me a $100 million grant for the next 10 years, and I'd consider pimping any half-cocked hair-brained agenda you could imagine, as long as I can help create it, and live the good life, all the while subjugating the unknowing masses in a "Global Extortion" scheme. (not)

     

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  14.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: I'd like a string attached please...

    That is true. I just wish there was some method of accountability. It seems like the government just gives corporations billions of dollars then never check back.

     

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  15.  
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    Mr.English, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 4:35pm

    Make if FREE!!!

    If they truely want to build scientific careers within the future or short range, then make it free! Nursing schools in California were setup as free schools to those who would choose this career back in the 60's to build the numbers of nurses needed at that time.....you could throw your money into something like this and challenge youth to have well-rounded abilities and good grade to build the competition for them to get in so that the momentum would be there to continue to compete in the quest for knowledge etc, . . .

     

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  16.  
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    Politically Saavyyyyy, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Make if FREE!!!

    Cheeky bastard! Quit using . . .

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 6:59pm

    subsidy or gatekeeper?

    I work in the HMO industry. We take money from people than are gatekeepers on how it can be spent, pocketing a lot of it along the way. Maybe we should tell people when they see the doctor, that we are "giving" them a "subsidy" for their doctor visit. Perhaps some of them will be too sick to realize we took their money earlier and are only giving some of it back. Maybe we can expend from the HMO business and enter dental, vision, pharmacy too? Then agriculture, energy, ethanol, transportation, security... and well, you get the picture. Soon you will be praying to us to get some of your money back, or just to keep some of in in the first place. Eventually, you will check out www.lp.org and realize what is going on...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Politically Saavyyyyy, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 9:02am

    Re: Subsidy or Gatekeeper?

    Wow, I CHECKED OUT your lp.org and it really opened my eyes! I never knew that the Amish were getting into politics!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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