$85 billion in federal spending cuts hit last week. In an attempt to gain the nation’s attention, a lot of the politicians and media outlets over-dramatized the short-term impact of these cuts. There will be some jobs lost, there will be some pay cuts, but in general the majority of the negative consequences will be in the long term.
I said it before many times, so I’ll just quote a recent Reuters article by Gabriel Debenedetti and Peter Rudegeair:
Federally funded, university research has long been a major engine of scientific advancement, spurring innovations from cancer treatments to the seeds of technology companies like Google.
Somehow investing into the future by starting a bunch of research projects that pursue some wild ideas doesn’t seem to be something that’s easy to sell to the general public. In fact, any kind of long term investment seems to be a hard sell, because it’s basically asking people to pay now for stuff they won’t get sooner than a decade from now.
We are $511 billion behind China in research investment. That might not mean much today, but in 10, 20 years, it will mean a huge shift in technological and economic power from the west to the east.