Thursday, April 20, 2006

Money

A very brief post. The new estimate for the cost of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is approaching $10B/month. For the foreseeable future. That's the entire NSF annual budget every 17 days. Remember that service on the national debt is also on the order of $20B/month. And the national debt is increasing at a rate of more than $2B/day. Some say to properly normalize those numbers you must remember that the GDP of the US is on the order of $12T/yr. Of course, it's also important to consider that 20% of all tax revenue in the US now goes to paying the debt service. How one can argue that this is all healthy is beyond me.

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The new estimate for the cost of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is approaching $10B/month. For the foreseeable future. That's the entire NSF annual budget every 17 days.

The trouble is that the supply of scientists is relatively inelastic so diverting all that extra money to science might not make much of a difference.

The supply of defense contractors and soldiers, on the other hand...

Douglas Natelson said...

You're right about the inelastic supply of scientists, but the issue right now is that funds are so scarce, the current supply is not sustainable. The (anecdotal, based on panelists I know) success rate on renewal proposals to the engineering side of NSF is around 10%. That means that successful, productive scientists are frequently unable to keep their funding b/c resources are so tight. Now, one could make an argument that we just have too many researchers out there, but I find that hard to believe. The US is spending something like 0.5% of its GDP on all federally supported science research, including NIH and DOD. This worries me, and not just because I've got (academic) mouths to feed.

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