Thursday, 17 December 2009

Science funding cut

I was watching the idiot lantern yesterday after PMQ's and immediately after the shit-shower there was a brief slot where some po-faced scientist fuckwit went hammering on about the cuts to science funding and how science funding had to be not just ringfenced, but boosted.

Just like education and defence and welfare and healthcare and ...

He went on to say that research led to get enormous and disproportionate benefits to business in the UK.

I was kind of bemused. Why do taxpayers fund scientific research if companies benefit? Is this the usual thing of the taxpayer sucking up the costs while big business makes a killing on successful research? Why don't businesses fund their own fucking research?

Well, obviously it's because the simple-minded government got soaked by business. Would you pay for your own research if you knew that for the cost of a few agreeable lunches you could convince some woolly-headed minister or, even better, some puffed-up, unaccountable civil servant that it was in the country's interest for them to pay your costs?

Only, it turns out that contrary to what Professor Fuckwit was implying, private companies do fund their own research:

The genetic code of two of the most deadly cancers has been cracked by British scientists in a world first that opens up a whole new era in the treatment for the disease

So, why are we funding research at all? I guess because we fund all higher education, and that's where the research takes place.

Well, fuck that, I say. Let universities charge to accept students, seek donations and bursaries and corporate funding from those who benefit from their work. The taxpayer is funding other people's profits. Do you really think it's vital to suck up the costs of some giant pharma or corporate conglomerate? How is this different (except in scale) to the bank bail-out?

And my soul withered just a little when that jug-eared fuckwit called Charles (Clarke) said that the state should stop funding all science research and just focus on the winners. A decade in government plus all the rest of human history hasn't taught him that the government has an appalling track record in picking winners.

The claret-faced cunt.


SaltedSlug said...

Well fuck, as long as someone pays me, I'm not fussed.
I will point out that there is not a single private equivalent -that I'm aware of, anyway- to the likes of my place or Cern (based in Switzerland, where stuff is mostly privatised) in the world.

Now this could be because the public sector has utterly crowded them out of the whole game, but it's also to do with the fact that much of what is studied has no obvious commercial application in order to justify the investment to shareholders.

I'll use the example -again- of Bell labs who were bought by Alcatel-Lucent and whose speculative research was essentially shutdown in order to focus on stuff which is more immediately marketable. Bearing in mind Bell labs pretty much invented data networking, the transistor, solar cells, mobile phone technology, lasers, comms satellites and DSP whilst doing 'pure' science.

So whilst privatised research/tertiary education could very well be the best way to go about things -and I'm all for trying it out- there aren't many examples to point to for reference. as least with regard to the 'big science' stuff which makes up so much of our science budget.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. Without the swearing, that makes for an admirable Higher Education/Science policy, to wit, preferably none whatsoever. Slash the funding, cut taxes a bit and it will all sort itself out.

Joe Public said...

Someone has to fund CRU @ UEA

Mitch said...

simple really

Socialise the risk and expense while privatising the profits for when they leave government "service" and can collect on the favors thus owed.

Tomrat said...

Having recently read about the concept of Public Goods I think this provides one answer; not the one that explains why the government do it, but more why they think they must do it, particularly with a kumbaya, socialist mindset.

A few days ago I did think of an alternative means of supplying benefits to the masses particularly via this method; treating your tax free income like a tradeable commodity - what's to stop university student funding to be achieved this way? Sell your tax credit to a company who then subsidise your time at college/university/home study.