Posts tagged ‘David Alberts’

Subsidies Beget Subsidies

For years in Arizona we have been told by the state government that we need to subsidize science.  I have never really figured out why my life would be better if scientists lived in Arizona instead of California, but apparently when governors get together and compare their states' penis lengths, this is one of the key topics that come up.  Why we need to subsidize, for example, bio-science in Arizona to keep up with California but folks in Kansas don't need to subsidize, say, awesome golf resorts to keep up with Arizona has always escaped me.  I have always felt that if we just keep taxes low and wait long enough, California is going to blow up and we will collect a lot of the best and brightest with no extra effort.

Well, I am starting to understand why we needed to subsidize bio-science with our Arizona taxes.  We apparently need to do so to ... attract large grants for Federal tax money.  So by subsidizing this sector locally, we built it up enough to attract Federal subsidies.  Great.  Actually we probably did not build up the sector per se, we just built a quality private bureaucracy that had the skills and incentives to write lots of successful grant applications.  Apparently there is still work left to do, though, as other states have invested in even larger grant-magnets:

States with strong science bases such as California, Massachusetts and New York, each landed more than 1,000 grants.

Twenty states secured fewer grants than Arizona's haul of 101 awards.

Arizona scientists will study things such as predicting asthma in babies, prostate cancer and the behavioral responses of kissing bugs, which are blood-sucking insects linked to a blood-borne disease that afflicts 11 million to 13 million people in Mexico and Latin America.

Arizona scientists say the batch of stimulus dollars through the NIH is a welcome change from years of stagnant federal funding for scientific research.

"There was no increase in federal funding for cancer research for five years - that was devastating," said Dr. David Alberts, director of the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson. "Now, I'm encouraged."

Wow - thus we see why government spending grows so much faster than inflation.  Flat spending = devastating.

If I were in academia, the study I would like to do is to try to assess the total value destroyed by state and local governments merely in trying to move businesses and facilities from one part of the country to another.