Talk about armchair politics! In a tax-saving initiative dubbed “YouCut,” Republican Majority Leader-Elect Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith invite the public to identify National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are wasteful or that they feel are not a good use of taxpayer dollars. The YouCut webpage includes a link to a list of NSF funded project and an online form that visitors can fill out with “wasteful” grant ID numbers.
The good news for the American Biotechnologist community is that congressman Smith’s message is clearly not directed at the biological sciences which he refers to as “worthy research in the hard sciences.” However, those engaged in social science or psychology beware! The House is out to get you!
In a thought provoking blog post, NewScientist points out that some of the “wasteful” grants cited by congressman Smith (such as $750,000 to develop computer models to analyze the on-field contributions of soccer players) are actually rooted in “hard science” and will become unfortunate casualties of this battle against wasteful spending.
While most of us would agree that scientists should be given the intellectual freedom to pursue their research as they see fit, I would argue that not all research projects are worthy of being funded by public tax dollars. Congress is now opening up the floor for public input into the matter. If you do vote, please be sure to do your homework and vote responsibly. Also, be sure to let us know which grants you’ve voted against or if there are any non-NSF funded research projects that you believe should never receive public funding.