US Science Funding Alert - Your Immediate Action Is Requested

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  • #1
ZapperZ
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If you are not aware of this yet, the proposed 2011 Budget by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives includes a 30-percent cut to the budget at the Dept. of Energy Office of Science. This is the office that is responsible for funding physical sciences and chemistry, and the running of all of the US National Laboratories. A 30% cut will be devastating not only to the workforce at these places, but also will put a severe halt on all scientific programs.

You may go to the APS website to see the http://www.aps.org/policy/tools/alerts/index.cfm" [Broken]. If you are a US Citizen, the link will also provide you ways to contact your representatives to voice your opinion on this matter. Please know that each and every messages sent will make an impact.

Thank you for your corporation.

Zz.
 
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  • #2
D H
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I dunno. My representative just won the CPAC presidential straw poll, and his son recently proposed a rather more severe 100% reduction in the DOE budget. I doubt that my own pleas to overturn this proposal will fall on anything but deaf ears.

But other PF members, do give it a go.
 
  • #3
Evo
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I dunno. My representative just won the CPAC presidential straw poll, and his son recently proposed a rather more severe 100% reduction in the DOE budget. I doubt that my own pleas to overturn this proposal will fall on anything but deaf ears.

But other PF members, do give it a go.
Ron and Rand Paul are a blight on America, IMO. Not to mention they're nuts, IMO. It's scary that people like that get elected, IMO.
 
  • #4
G01
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So, the plan is to cut money from science funding, thereby distracting people from the real problems with our budget, like exploding medicare/aid and social security costs?
 
  • #5
D H
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The plan is to make huge cuts in the tiny 12% of the budget that comprises non-defense discretionary spending and pretend that this somehow will solve the problem that the government is spending 49% more than it takes in.

Congresscritters can do math. The math here is that going after the real problem will result in them returning home as non-congresscritters in 2012.
 
  • #6
humanino
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This system is really broken. I do not think I want to stay here anymore, and it makes me sad.
 
  • #7
D H
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Where will you go? Things are just as grim elsewhere. It's always easier to cut things whose effect won't be felt by the public at large for years than it is to cut the things that are the true cause of the problem. Cutting spending on R&D, and on bridge repairs, won't affect the general public for quite some time.
 
  • #8
Evo
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This system is really broken. I do not think I want to stay here anymore, and it makes me sad.
Very sad considering how often you spoke of living and working in the US. I wonder how many brilliant minds we will lose?
 
  • #9
ZapperZ
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Actually, the "reverse brain drain" has already occurred. It used to be that many excellent scientists from China would be drawn to work in the US and eventually become US citizens. Not so anymore. I know of 5 Chinese scientists, whose work I'm very familiar of, that have been lured back to China with lucrative offers and large research grants. They all left University tenure-track positions or staff positions at various labs.

These things just didn't happen a few years ago. The US is no longer as attractive of a place to do science as it was before.

Zz.
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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Maybe we should just sell the US DOE to China for $100 billion. :rolleyes:

I see more foreign than native graduate students. They may now be more inclined to return home with their knowledge and better opportunities.
 
  • #11
humanino
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Where will you go?
Another continent, I do not wish to talk a lot about it yet as nothing is settled. At least now, this other country supports its research and education. I hope I get the grant. The team I would join has 6 post-docs for instance. It is not a very common workforce for the US university groups in the field I work.

It is indeed a hard decision, as I love the lab. Besides, we have to arrange things for my wife to join as well. We will make our final decision after the dust as completely settled on this year budget.
 
  • #12
ZapperZ
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P.S. What is also freaking annoying is that this spending bill included something that even the Military didn't want!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_congress_spending;_ylt=AsAM9_zqjGsBp2NuemQ1RiESq594;_ylu=X3oDMTM4am91b2hzBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMjE2L3VzX2NvbmdyZXNzX3NwZW5kaW5nBGNjb2RlA21wX2VjXzhfMTAEY3BvcwMzBHBvcwMzBHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcmllcwRzbGsDb2JhbWFnb3BidWRn [Broken]

The money for the engine was included in a $1.2 trillion spending bill that would make deep cuts while wrapping up the unfinished business lawmakers inherited after last year's collapse of the budget process. That includes $1.03 trillion for agency operating budgets that need annual approval by Congress and $158 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And to add salt to the wound, the Pentagon budget, which is humongous, would, get this, INCREASE!

The measure is sweeping in its scope, cutting spending from literally hundreds of domestic budget accounts and eliminating many others. At the same time, the Pentagon budget would be increased by almost 2 percent from current levels.

Just the money that was unaccounted for from the Iraq/Afganistan war would have funded DOE Office of Science for YEARS!

Zz.
 
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  • #13
Pattonias
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I seem to recall a piece on NPR discussing the "engine nobody wants". I'm glad they cut it, this is an example of the kind of cuts that are good to take out of the defense budget. Cuts need to be made and if they do it right everyone and their mother is going to be ticked off about it.

I just don't think they should cut research and development because these hurt us in the long run. Investing in R&D is what put the US on top. We'll realize that when China out developes us technologically.

I will point out though that we can't look too enviously at China because if we want to run things the way they do be prepared to give up most of our civil liberties. It may be good to be a Chinese scientist, but it isn't good to be a Chinese citizen.
 
  • #14
Astronuc
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Chinese corporations are paying good money to retired US engineers to reverse engineer US technology. These engineers are collecting pensions from their previous employer, and probably SS, as well as getting paid comparable salary as before + their expenses paid. It's a great deal!

Of course, that the Chinese don't need to pay full price for imported technology from the US. And they can then turn around and compete with the US in the global market, because in addition to getting the technology for very low cost, the Chinese government will subsidize Chinese corporations.

Some Korean companies have done much the same.
 
  • #15
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NASA, too, has an engine nobody wants. Ares I is dead. The President said so, and so did Congress. Yet one senatorial congresscritter managed to sneak in an amendment to the current continuing resolution (the one that is about to die in a couple weeks or so) a statement that prohibits NASA from stopping work on Ares I.

End result: NASA has to waste money, a lot of money, on a project that everyone knows is not only merely dead, it is really most sincerely dead.
 
  • #16
Evo
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End result: NASA has to waste money, a lot of money, on a project that everyone knows is not only merely dead, it is really most sincerely dead.
LOL, que the munchkins.

But this really is serious. We have idiot polticians meddling in areas they know nothing about. And citizens that are equally clueless electing them and spurring them on.
 
  • #17
waht
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Obama in his recent State of the Union speech made it clear that science and R&D is one of his top priorities. He won't let this bill pass without putting up a good fight. But which side of the checks and balances will win remains to be seen.
 
  • #18
nismaratwork
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If you are not aware of this yet, the proposed 2011 Budget by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives includes a 30-percent cut to the budget at the Dept. of Energy Office of Science. This is the office that is responsible for funding physical sciences and chemistry, and the running of all of the US National Laboratories. A 30% cut will be devastating not only to the workforce at these places, but also will put a severe halt on all scientific programs.

You may go to the APS website to see the http://www.aps.org/policy/tools/alerts/index.cfm" [Broken]. If you are a US Citizen, the link will also provide you ways to contact your representatives to voice your opinion on this matter. Please know that each and every messages sent will make an impact.

Thank you for your corporation.

Zz.

My response is a series of words I can't say here in several languages. I'll make that contact, and I'm not counting on this not being passed. For reasons that still baffle me, I have at least one senator who DOES need to listen to his constituancy on this and other issues. I'll be sure that family and friends are made aware of this.

You may want to consider a form letter that PF users could send to friends/family/colleagues... it could make it easier for some and more likely for others. A brief forward outlining the benefits that these programs have had in the past couldn't hurt, but again, just a thought. Please ignore the source in favor of the message, if you catch my drift.
 
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  • #19
ZapperZ
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Actually, the "reverse brain drain" has already occurred. It used to be that many excellent scientists from China would be drawn to work in the US and eventually become US citizens. Not so anymore. I know of 5 Chinese scientists, whose work I'm very familiar of, that have been lured back to China with lucrative offers and large research grants. They all left University tenure-track positions or staff positions at various labs.

These things just didn't happen a few years ago. The US is no longer as attractive of a place to do science as it was before.

Zz.

It's just an amazing coincidence that after I said this, ScienceInsider today cited Steven Chu who basically said the same thing.

http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/02/does-chu-says-proposed-house-cut.html [Broken]

"We are in a global competition for the best scientists and engineers," said Chu in comments to reporters about the 2011 continuing resolution being debated this week on the floor of the House after he defended the president's 2012 budget to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this morning. "China is very aggressively trying to recruit back those students who have done graduate work and are postdocs in the United States. They are saying, 'Come to us. We have opportunities for you. We can give you jobs.' We don't want to lose those people."

People need to understand here that, say, as little as 5 years ago, this would be unheard of. To say that it is a dramatic turn-around is an understatement.

Every advanced civilization throughout history appears to undergo a decline eventually. Some even disappears into obscurity. I wouldn't be surprised that, 100 or 200 years from now, historians will mark this period as the beginning of the decline of US civilization. I just wish we could put names to the people responsible for it.

Zz.
 
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  • #20
Pythagorean
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Hmmm... Wonder if China is taking USAmericans...
 
  • #21
dlgoff
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Maybe we should just sell the US DOE to China for $100 billion. :rolleyes:
Why? Isn't that the amount that they want to reduce Pell Grants?
 
  • #22
Pattonias
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I can just see it now, they will reduce all this spending and then in five years they will call the money they save a surplus and pump it into a stimulus package...
 
  • #23
nismaratwork
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Why? Isn't that the amount that they want to reduce Pell Grants?

Oh man... every time I think about that I get so angry...
 
  • #24
D H
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It's good to remember that for now this is just a bill in just one legislative branch. To become real this has to also get through the Democratic Senate and then get signed into law by Obama. This could just be a case of Republicans kowtowing to their base and creating a bill that they know will never see the light of day.

On the other hand, that 12% slice of the federal budget is the easiest target to attack. This means that that 12% slice is still going to take a big hit given the immense budget pressures and the the unwillingness of the far left and the far right to attack the real problems (entitlements at ~57% of the budget, DoD at ~19%, tax receipts at ~57% of total spending). No matter how it is sliced, the legislative sausage that will come out in the end will be rather ugly.
 
  • #25
nismaratwork
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It's good to remember that for now this is just a bill in just one legislative branch. To become real this has to also get through the Democratic Senate and then get signed into law by Obama. This could just be a case of Republicans kowtowing to their base and creating a bill that they know will never see the light of day.

On the other hand, that 12% slice of the federal budget is the easiest target to attack. This means that that 12% slice is still going to take a big hit given the immense budget pressures and the the unwillingness of the far left and the far right to attack the real problems (entitlements at ~57% of the budget, DoD at ~19%, tax receipts at ~57% of total spending). No matter how it is sliced, the legislative sausage that will come out in the end will be rather ugly.

Ugly... and I'm not seeing anyone here, ON ANY side of this issue, believe that this will truly help our budget, as you say. I also cannot see how cutting NIH funding and other key grant-yielding bodies has ANY positive effect on our economy.

Like walking (OK, running) away from nuclear power, we as a nation seem far more willing to live miserably, than to knock a few years of the old life-span and actually make life worth living.

Whether it goes through or not... this is purely self-destructive as a nation, even to float and try and sell this chimera.
 
  • #26
Topher925
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If by some chance this bill does end up passing, I'm leaving this country after I get my PhD. Not that this is a deal maker, it would just be the last straw on the camel's back. It just makes absolutely no sense for someone like myself getting an education in engineering (focus on alternative energy) to live and work in a country which has a decreasing demand for people with such skills.

I'm thinking UK or maybe Australia.
 
  • #27
G01
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The whole situation is really disturbing. As someone who is at the beginning of their career, I don't see myself living and working in and science and in the US down the road. It just doesn't seem feasible. Decisions like this will make the US a very poor place for scientists to have careers. And it's sad, as I have many friends in the US and would like to remain within reasonable visiting distances.

What is even sadder, and scarier, is that if we keep ignoring the true problems, the US is not going to be a good place for anyone to have a career. I tend to agree with Zz on this. We are at the turning point. There aren't many, if any, chances left. People may look back on this decision and say, "This was their last chance to fix the real problems, but they ignored them, and that was that."

Most people I talk to seem to think that we'll bounce back out of this mess like we have before. The difference is that, in previous times, there were good decisions made that helped the system rebound. I really don't think we have that now, from either side of the aisle.
 
  • #28
nismaratwork
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If by some chance this bill does end up passing, I'm leaving this country after I get my PhD. Not that this is a deal maker, it would just be the last straw on the camel's back. It just makes absolutely no sense for someone like myself getting an education in engineering (focus on alternative energy) to live and work in a country which has a decreasing demand for people with such skills.

I'm thinking UK or maybe Australia.

That says it all doesn't it? We lose talented and intelligent people educated here, for no good reason. I'm so tired of this endless whittling at the very core of what this economy and world needs to advance and survive.

Just like avoiding nuclear and renewable power, we're just kicking ourselves in the gut for no good reason. I guess we'll just destroy our economy, then privatize it... hello 'Snow Crash'... hello 'Low Glow'.
 
  • #29
DanP
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It just makes absolutely no sense for someone like myself getting an education in engineering (focus on alternative energy) to live and work in a country which has a decreasing demand for people with such skills.

I'm thinking UK or maybe Australia.

There are problems everywhere with the jobs. Not in USA alone. And USA is still one of the best places in the world to get a good paycheck. You may found out that living in UK presents even less good employment opportunities than USA. But whatever, thats just my 2 cents.
 
  • #30
G01
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There are problems everywhere with the jobs. Not in USA alone. And USA is still one of the best places in the world to get a good paycheck.

Will it stay that way? Yes, Europe and others are having problems as well, but will the US come out on top after the rebound? Scientists are trained to observe and notice trends, not just the current state of something. And the trends are disturbing. Bad decisions followed by bad decisions with the repercussions coming quicker and more painfully each time.

No one is arguing that the US isn't a good place to get a paycheck now, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily a good place to invest your career if you're just starting out.
 
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  • #31
DanP
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If you are not aware of this yet, the proposed 2011 Budget by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives includes a 30-percent cut to the budget at the Dept. of Energy Office of Science. This is the office that is responsible for funding physical sciences and chemistry, and the running of all of the US National Laboratories. A 30% cut will be devastating not only to the workforce at these places, but also will put a severe halt on all scientific programs.

You may go to the APS website to see the http://www.aps.org/policy/tools/alerts/index.cfm" [Broken]. If you are a US Citizen, the link will also provide you ways to contact your representatives to voice your opinion on this matter. Please know that each and every messages sent will make an impact.

Thank you for your corporation.

Zz.

Science is not the end of all. I guess the weighted very well politically the implications of this proposal, and it's impact on the state and the social situation. It is unlikely to result in a "severe halt on all scientific programs". But yeah, it might affect job security of some ppl. In the end, it will be a political decision, and rightly so.

If sacrifices must be made, then regardless from where you cut as an executive, you will always make someone unhappy.
 
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  • #32
DanP
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Will it stay that way? Yes, Europe and others are having problems as well, but will the US come out on top after the rebound? Scientists are trained to observe and notice trends, not just the current state of something. And the trends are disturbing. Bod decisions followed by bad decisions with the repercussions coming quicker and more painfully each time.

Cross that bridge when you will come to it. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a very good paycheck at home. I believe you'll be better off there than in EU , very frankly, at least for the time being.
 
  • #33
nismaratwork
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I don't know Dan... more people fighting for less grants means that some of our most qualified people spend MONTHS per year just fighting for funding and grant money. We can't move away from manufacturing and ALSO gut our intellectual capital... well, we are, but we shouldn't.
 
  • #34
G01
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Cross that bridge when you will come to it. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a very good paycheck at home. I believe you'll be better off there than in EU , very frankly, at least for the time being.

Well. I'm not leaving yet, but I think that ending this conversation with the US is fine now and let's not worry about it until later is like burying our heads in the sand. That is not good decision making especially when it affects your future.

For instance, am I going to want to make my future family move to a different country while my kids are young and in school? Much better if I try to find a place with the most stable job situation. Right now, that may be the US, but right now doesn't help me. I don't have a family now, but I may in the future, and where I settle and how stable my job is will affect us. So, do I make my decisions based off of the present, assuming that things won't change down the road?

Also, the attitude that the US will be on top, regardless of the policy decisions made is one of the reasons we have the current problems that we do.
 
  • #35
DanP
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I don't know Dan... more people fighting for less grants means that some of our most qualified people spend MONTHS per year just fighting for funding and grant money. We can't move away from manufacturing and ALSO gut our intellectual capital... well, we are, but we shouldn't.


If it comes to the worst, just cut drastically on the H-1B visas to protect your native highly skilled worker pool. The mere existence of a large number of such visas means that there exist an excellent of highly specialized positions which are unlikely to be occupied by the native workforce.
 

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