The View From 1776
Saturday, January 21, 2006
How Government Intervention Retards The Advance Of Knowledge
Most great advances in scientific knowledge have been in the private sphere, by lone individuals or scientists doing basic research in iconic institutions like Bell Labs or IBM’s Watson Labs. Government funding brings the scoundrels out of the woodwork and tends to promote liberal-progressive political agendas.
Kartik Ariyur, who has contributed postings to this website in the past, called my attention to an excellent article contrasting the singular contributions of physicist Richard Feynman with the mediocre results produced by scientists bathing in a shower of NSF money.
“Federal money does not produce Feynmans. It points them in unproductive directions. Today the NSF pays out $5.5 billion a year, which is one-fifth of what the Federal government pays to colleges and universities. Total federal research spending runs upwards of $75 billion, perhaps 20?30 percent of the total throughout the U.S.
“Decades after Feynman?s talk, the NSF and many government agencies have dug their claws deeply into nanotechnology and science. Conventional wisdom makes this support out to be critical for the economy. A Rand report reads: “The positive impact of research and development (?R&D?) investments of the federal government on the U.S. economy is widely recognized by experts and is credited with underpinning much of the nation?s economic growth during the 20th century.” The Soviet Union made the same false claim. GNP grew and people stayed poor.”
The full article can be accessed here.
Much the same point was made earlier by Frank Madarasz in Liberal-socialist Micromanagement vs Science.