Arts and state funding Watch

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Report 10 years ago
(Original post by ChemistBoy)
Under what measure? I've been to dozens of talks all around the country and europe on research funding and I've never seen any figures that even remotely demonstrate what you are suggesting. Even in the states government funding is larger than private funding and has been since the second world war. We live in a time when many major multinationals are actually scaling down R&D spending (just look at IBM's closure or many of its research facilities) - hardly a ringing endorsement for business to take up the slack. It seems that libertarian hopes are rested on returning or turning countries back into pre-war america with the legacy of Edison and Tesla, the great entrepreneur-scientists, I can't see how that is possibly realistic.
Not at all, there are several major private sector 'organised' research facilities that have been operating for decades inventing, among other things, the transistor, without which there would be no IBM (at least, not on anywhere near present scale). I agree that the private sector cannot compete with the government handing out free money (often to its proprietary state universities), but this is true of any industry. Is the dominance of British Leyland 'proof' that cars can only be made by state monopoly, and indicate that all other examples of cars actually being produced by private enterprise should be disregarded? That essentially what you are trying to claim for research.

So you are happy with research avenues not being funding because they do not fit into a 5-year business plan or a particular philathropic cause?
I can't justify not provide an environment where disinterested scientific research can be undertaken to lower taxes.
Yes. Are you happy with violently extorting money for your preferred pursuits? Again, yes. I do not believe that the ends justify the means, nor do I believe that the ends are necessarily better in your world. Why is a hundred pounds someone could spend on a television worth more to them as a slice of funding for a particle accelerator if they are not interested in particle physics? You propose to take that choice away from them entirely, when it is their money, not yours.

Surely history has told us that we can't predict the fruits of all researches into our world. J. J. Thompson is a classic example of this as his discovery of the electron was considered nothing more than a curio at the time but is now of vital importance to our economy.
JJ Thompson discovered the electron while working at a (at that time) private university, so I don't see your point.

Take particle physics, for example, this area of research takes millions, even billions, of dollars to run and seemingly to answer rather intangible questions about the universe, but out of this research has dropped, unpredictably, many things that benefit society at large such as more effective cancer treatments (and that is directly from particle physics, most people are suprised when they are told that most major western hospitals have at least one particle accelerator in their basement).
Accelerators on this sort of scale were built privately (occassionally even by self-funded individuals in their spare time). You don't need to build a monolithic LHC in order to be able to build a small accelerator you could fit in a basement anymore than you need to build a Saturn V in order to be able to build a sounding rocket.

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