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Research funding and economic stimulus

This is what I sent our Senator:

Please support the higher NSF research grant funding in the House stimulus bill. Scientific research has long-term benefits, but it may also have a higher multiplier effect than generic tax rebates for rapid stimulation of the US economy. Most grant money goes to pay poor graduate students, who will spend it all locally on food and rent. The remainder goes for scientific equipment and supplies which, unlike consumer products, are mostly made in the US.

Even if we get this burst of funding, it won't solve the long-term problem: the supply of well-qualified researchers with good ideas is increasing faster than research funding, and this trend seems likely to continue. I'm not sure this scientist surplus is a problem for society as a whole, though, unless it's causing people with great research potential to waste their lives as doctors (helping only a few people rather than the millions that benefit from each scientific advance) or Wall Street crooks.

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