Much like the word “douchebag” doesn’t really have a positive meaning, neither does the word “sequester.” It’s bad enough when jury duty is involved, but when it comes to the government gutting science funding, it’s downright angering. Our president wants to spend $100 million on a brain-mapping program, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but seeing as how his own brain has long been overtaken by Washington D.C. and politics in general — and perhaps even before that, if his sci-fi knowledge is considered — I guess it’s no surprise he doesn’t see the immediate dangers of such cutbacks. Cutbacks which will see science funding drop from $140 billion to $130.5 billion.
The largest amount of damage will be dealt to the medical fields, where cancer and Alzheimer’s research will take an immediate hit. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose $31 billion is more than a fifth of the entire amount, is at its lowest funding now since 2002. NIH Director Francis Collins predicts the loss of around 20,000 jobs in the scientific community, which has gone through a cutback-filled decade already.
Much research will go unseen due to a lack of grant funding. The National Science Foundation will probably fund between 800 to 1,000 fewer grants in the next year. Since we’re talking about money and everything, how about the fact that research ends up making things easier and cheaper in the long run? The Department of Defense had a budget of around $700 billion, and while I’m not denying that the D.O.D. certainly deserves a sizable cut of the federal budget, that’s just fucking ridiculous. And they’re not making anything any cheaper for anybody. Probably. Maybe they’re making life cheaper by ending so many of them.
“I worry deeply that we are putting an entire generation of scientists at risk by the very significant difficulty they see in obtaining support,” said Collins. We will certainly see a shift in educational values, which have been shifting away from science at the teaching level for years now. It’s a step in the right direction that more research is going public, and that private sectors are getting into things, but a lot of those guys are interested in making space better, rather than helping our own planet out. While we may get a man on Mars quicker than China, the Chinese bio-medical field has seen nothing but increases in funding over the last few years, and they’re not alone. America has distanced itself horizontally from everyone instead of vertically, and taking away money from the only thing keeping us afloat will certainly knock us even farther on the pie graph. I’m guessing someone is going to start assuming possession of apples pies as we continue our descent.
Let Gil Scott-Heron and his “Bicentennial Blues” remind you of why being an American is a bummer, but something that we should still be proud of. We have a new era of blues on the way.