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.

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  1. identicon
    reed, 26 Apr 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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