Thursday, December 09, 2004

We have no money

This is old news by now, but Congress's final budget for fiscal year '05 includes a 2% budget cut for the National Science Foundation.

Obviously, I think this is an awful move. But beyond the obvious point, we should realize that the government just doesn't have any money anymore, after tax cuts and war. Our budget deficit now outweighs all non-defense discretionary spending (i.e., excluding Social Security, Medicare, etc. - this leaves "trivial" things like science, environmental protection, transportation, education...) Congress isn't cutting NSF because it hates science - it's cutting NSF because it has no money.

Bleeding the government dry through tax cuts and budget deficits has long been the strategy of conservatives and libertarians who want to reduce government size by "starving the beast." But it was always a lie that spending cuts could just get rid of "fraud, duplication, and waste" or just eliminate useless bureaucracies. The truth is that starving the beast forces cuts in valuable programs that truly benefit American society. Government can accomplish a lot of good - for example, in getting around the problem of how to fund research that has no commercial applications but that may in the long run immensely benefit the country. "Starving the beast" only results in indiscriminate and desperate attempts to cut spending, which end up then ruining perfectly good government programs.

3 Comments:

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Anonymous essayhere said...

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