The proposed budget that the president recently sent to Congress contains potentially devastating cuts to science and technology in the United States—and the long-term economic health and security of the nation as a consquence. Among other things, the budget would cut 20 percent from the Energy Department’s Office of Science, which is the chief funding agency for fundamental physical science research at US national laboratories and universities. It would also entirely eliminate any funds for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, while saving only a few hundredths of a single percentage point from the national debt in the process of gutting those two institutions. (Or, as the Washington Post put it: “If you were at Thanksgiving and demanded a slice of pecan pie proportionate to 2016 NEA spending relative to the federal budget, you’d end up with a piece of pie that would need to be sliced off with a finely-tuned laser.”)
Such arbitrary and willful actions will only hurt the country in the long run, by damaging some of the underlying economic engines of our society, argues the Bulletin’s own Lawrence Krauss in this essay in Scientific American’s Guest Blog.
And in addition, such cuts to the nation’s scientific and cultural infrastructure cause another kind of damage as well, argues Krauss. “To place our society’s priorities so blatantly in favor of military defense while abandoning central features of what it is that makes our country worth defending reflects a fundamental antipathy toward science, the arts, and those features of our country that truly help make it great.”
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