Wednesday, March 5, 2008

If McCain wins, science loses.

I'm a post-doctoral fellow at a large medical school in the U.S. I'm looking for a 'permanent' position for me to conduct research. These positions largely don't exist.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the largest organization for funding basic biomedical research in the United States. If you want basic research done, these are the folks who pay for it. The NIH budget hasn't been keeping up with inflation over the last few years. The purchasing power of the NIH has decreased every year. That said, funding rates for new grants are going down. My wife's advisor, who is one of the top 3 scientists in his field, failed to get a grant renewed that he has had for nearly 20 years. It's a tough funding situation, and basic scientists are the first to feel the crunch.

Here's the way getting a job as an assistant professor usually works: After successfully interviewing for a position, the department offers you a startup package. This startup package is money that belongs to the department, and in my field, ranges from $500,000 to $1 million. For the department, this represents a fairly substantial investment in you (for which they will expect returns). The money is used to buy new equipment and hire people to work for you while you try to get grant support from the NIH (or any other organization that is hiring). The department will get a cut from your grant, so this is why it is an investment for them.

Currently, many universities see this as too big a gamble. The funding situation is so bad, that many new investigators will fail to get a grant, and the departments know it. So to hedge their bets, many new research positions are requiring that you have a grant before you apply for the position. But, the NIH doesn't allow temporary trainees (post-docs) to apply for grant money. But universities are mostly only hiring people who have a grant. But you need a permanent position to get a grant.

That's some catch, that Catch-22.
Here's where things get even trickier. I'm currently paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They will only pay post-docs for 6 years. So in January, I'm out of a job. I need to find a permanent position in the next 10 months. Anyone who is nearing the end of a post-doc position is this funding era will have a *very* hard time finding an academic job.

So, what does this have to do with McCain? Clinton and Obama both have explicit science policies that they describe on their web pages. Here's the first three of Clinton's science points:
1. Establish a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund.

2. Increase the basic research budgets 50% over 10 years at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the Defense Department.


3. Increase the NIH budget by 50% over 5 years and aim to double it over 10 years.
Here's a short excerpt of Obama's:
Double federal science and research funding for clean energy projects, relying on the resources and ability of our national laboratories, universities and land grant colleges.

Barack Obama supports doubling federal funding for basic research, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology.
Here's McCain's:








Oh. He doesn't have one.

If John McCain wins, and we continue starving the NIH, there will be a whole generation of post-docs who will complete their training to find no jobs available for them. And all of their ideas, and all of the science they would have done will be moved elsewhere (either to other countries, or into industry). All of the biotech companies that would have been started, all of the basic science that could be done, and all of the young, fresh ideas that could be hatched will be moved elsewhere.

Digg!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Vioxx. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of which concentrate the world’s wealth and resources and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘ good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

The Factician said...

Paragraph breaks are your friend.

> <
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alien appreciator said...

ditto on the utility of paragraph breaks to really get ones ideas across clearly...
also, calling folks "filthy pigs" and other childish namecalling takes away from the educating that i presume you are trying to achieve.