Serendipity is crucial to scientific discovery. Researchers often stumble on breakthroughs when they are working on entirely different problems. That’s why it’s vital for government to cast a wide net in funding scientific research.
Unfortunately, government-funded research will be on the chopping block unless Congress acts to avert a budget “sequester” by the end of the year. The sequester would cut discretionary domestic spending, for science and everything else, by over 8 percent, or nearly $39 billion in 2013 alone.
This is the wrong way to solve America’s debt problem. Washington’s investment in science is critical to preserving our country’s comparative advantage in technological and economic innovation. PPI has stressed the need to boost investment in knowledge production, as well as our physical and human capital.
That’s why PPI is proud to join Rep. Jim Cooper, the Association of American Universities and other pro-innovation organizations in today’s unveiling of the “Golden Goose” award.
The award’s purpose is to show how public support for seemingly odd or obscure research projects – say, on how jellyfish grow in the dark — has led to breakthroughs that have had a large impact on society. In today’s ceremony, a bipartisan group of lawmakers will honor eight scientists, including four Nobel Prize winners.
“We should honor, not mock, scientists,” Cooper explains. “Like the fabled golden goose, today’s awardees gave unexpected gifts to mankind. Budget cutbacks must be made, but science should be spared.”
This is another good argument for why Congress must stop the sequester, and do the hard work of distinguishing high value public spending that benefits everyone – as scientific research does – from special interest subsidies that benefit some at the expense of others.