Rant Baby Rant

Over the last several weeks we have written several posts about the 2013 budget sequestration. The sequester is expected to cut billions of dollars from American science funding and will set research back by at least two years if not more. While many of us wish to scream from the rooftops, we may have difficulty finding a forum that allows us to express ourselves appropriately.

As such, I invite you, our dear readers, to use the comment section below to let the rest of the scientific world know exactly how you feel about the sequester. How do you think it will impact your research? What can we do to help ourselves? What would you like to say to your government?

All posts are moderated, however, barring any offensive comments, we will liberally post your comments giving you public space for your thoughts. Please share and let the world know what you think!

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22 Responses to “Rant Baby Rant”

  1. James says:

    Biotechnology should be made available to the public as well as students at cheaper costs, a trade and loan system would allow the tools and knowledge of this great field to progress in ways we have never seen before.

    Biotechnology is defined as the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use” (UN convention on Biological Diversity). A free market is defined as a market in which the distribution and costs of goods and services, along with the structure and hierarchy between capital and consumer goods, are coordinated by supply and demand unhindered by external regulation or control by government or monopolies. The merging of biotechnology and a free market opens doors to an unprecedented amount of new technologies and tools. This great marriage of freedom and technology offers the world a place of opportunity and growth.

  2. Mike Ward says:

    I’m not yet sure how sequestration will affect me, but I am worried. My lab has plans to embark on several important experiments that require the use of core facilities and the budget cuts threaten to put back that work by several years. If the cuts do indeed kick in, my samples may not survive until the next round of funding!

  3. Maureen McCall says:

    It is too bad that research doesn’t have the same immediate inconvenience to Congress and business as the air traffic control issue.
    If it did, there would be a bill passed immediately to restore funding. If only the sequester made them or their family members have to wait for immediate treatments for diseases.

  4. Dennis says:

    My lab is one of those closing later this summer. The lab next to mine is on life support and an additional one has already shuttered in this building. The head of contracts and grants at my University has told all of faculty that next year will be the first year where the dollar amount of grants coming in has dropped. The recommendation is to drastically cut the number of graduate student and post-doc slots. NIH has been going for at least 8 years now on a flat or declining budget.

  5. Barb says:

    We started to see the effects this past winter when a decision was made not to hire someone on a grant that had been cut 15%. The same aims, but fewer people. Technicians who leave are not being replaced. Fewer people means less analysis. Not a pleasant future. Long hours, low pay and much stress with the pressure for results. Scientific research is no longer a field that I can recommend to teenagers.

    The university president has suggested that technicians be shared between researchers. Doing that is not easy unless the two researchers are working on either the same field or using a common technique. Technicians frequently have specialized skills that don’t readily transfer to the lab next door. For example, we do genomic research and the lab across the hall is doing proteomics. We share little in either methodology or area of focus in the research.

    While a temporary hold on hiring may not have long-term effects on some labs, others will be drastically affected.

  6. Irene Park says:

    What on earth are you talking about? Obama is not committed to investing in science, he is committed to destroy the infrastructure of this country. He is committed to marginalize this country. You are all in denial! Why blame congress who is trying to do the right thing for this country.

  7. Dennis says:

    Irene go troll somewhere else. Point out exactly how the President has done what you say or keep quiet. Reagan cut NIH, Clinton restored funding, Bush cut once then kept funding flat, Obama tried but if Congress is unwilling to compromise on any financial matters there is nothing the President can do.

  8. Aaron says:

    Science research funding has been getting progressively harder to get for quite some time. Now that we have a name to put to it, however, the “sequestration” seems to be a lot worse. If anything, this is a study in psychology. The sequester is not actually a cut, but is a reduction in projected growth. Naming it and then telling everyone about how awful it will be has introduced a general malaise into the mood of the country that will be even more damaging to the economy than the budgetary changes. I wish it were possible to do some sort of experiment where we could do all the same budgetary changes but without all the doom and gloom.

    There is no numerical reason that labs should close or people should lose their jobs as a result, just as there is no real reason that there should be longer lines at the airport. The only reason these things happen is because our leaders are trying to make it as painful as possible to punish us for not going along with their rampant irresponsible spending.

  9. John says:

    I was co-PI on two grants that were developed in response to an RFA from the NIH and that succeeding in getting top scores from study-sections last summer. Massive effort went into preparing these, especially one of them that was submitted four different times over the course of several years in response to several related RFAs. My co-PI on this grant needed the funding to come through to keep his lab from shutting down, so there was a celebration when its score came through last summer. However, in February, we received a one-sentence e-mail from NIH telling us that the related program was being cancelled due to sequestration and that no funding would be awarded for either grant. We devoted a major fraction of our professional effort to developing these projects in response to an RFA from NIH. Reviewers devoted major effort to scoring the grants. And all of this effort ended in futility for all concerned thanks to sequestration. No sensible young person would pursue a career in science under these circumstances. They should all take the message that our politicians and our society are sending to them and pursue a career in finance, which seems to be the only profession valued in the US these days.

  10. Julie says:

    It’s unfortunate that Bio-Rad has chosen to wade in on politics by sponsoring this site. We all know how high our Federal debt is, and a 2.6% across-the-board-cut in planned INCREASED spending is hardly a cut at all. If we, in science, are unable to scrutinize our spending we should be ashamed. Perhaps fewer Federal Grants for studies of the mating habits of trans-gendered robotic squirrels, or for zombie apocalypse training would be a good start.

  11. Tom Goreth says:

    Solution is very simple. First everyone pays a minimum tax no matter what your station in life. There is no government program or individual that is unimportant (or else it would not have come into existence to begin with). So every government person, every department, every program takes a 1% cut (not a cut from the new increased budget – a cut from last year’s actual number) until the budget is balanced. Won’t work? Of course it will because government income increases every year without new taxes as the population grows and business expands (they never tell you they are getting 5-10% more every year without any tax increase. And there after any year that spends over budget – 1% cut immediately. People that must take an immediate cut or balance the budget will soon learn not to over spend. To simple? It has to be simple to work. The complexity of the system is why is doesn’t work now.

  12. Erik says:

    Aaron, that is not true. the sequestration basically requires every part of every government organization, with a few exceptions, to cut something like 5% from their budgets. You can look at this as a growth reduction but it is not. It is a cut. Consider also that most of the government actions since Obama has been in office is to cut programs. So already reduced funding is getting lower. This is not cutting if branch x grows to much it is remove x dollars from your budget.

    So yes, it will close labs. Money was already hard to get going into sequestration. The funding situation kept getting worse, both due to government budget worries, more people in fields and general competiveness with grant funding funds not growing with the population as it should. Labs not getting grants because of this issue, a higher cut off to get funding, results in people getting let go. It also discourages the next generation of up and coming scientist from wanting to take a career in science.

    It is the leaders acting stupid on all levels with not investing in the future. But the rampant irresponsible spending argument is largely bunk. Unless you are taking from the general ideology that all government spending is bad. It is not.

  13. maria says:

    Finally the ULTRA WEALTHY can do some good! Contribute to Science funding in a big way, those pockets are deeper than any one can imagine! Russian revolution happened because of 20000 short sighted people ( the ULTRA WEALTHY) would not reform the government, how far are we from that moment?? Very sad………..

  14. Gary says:

    Folks, this is exactly what Republicans want – a reduction in Govt. spending and NOT having to deal with “factual science” by limiting or abolishing the ‘threat’. Watching what’s happening in DC, a lot of folks are wondering if we even need a Congress at all. We can correct this course, but do not seem to have the resolve or plain ole guts to do so, and it’s your bank account.

  15. Kent says:

    If nothing else, this might turn out to be the turning point in how science is funded in the future. The government has not always been the primary funding support for basic research. The U.S. government did not largely invest in science until World War I. I foresee industry restoring their research sectors out of necessity. Why buy the cow if the NIH is funding the grunt work?

  16. Azzy says:

    I worked at top labs across the country and had grants at every step. I got sick of these rich PIs blaming Bush and saying how much better things would get under obama. How’s that working out fer ya? Sequestration is a disaster of Obama’s making aimed at hurting the military and other despised by the left activities, like intellectual pursuit. they don’t need new research when they know it all. The cuts amount to 30 cents off 200 dollars.
    I got out as my last grant was running out. I am now teaching and coaching and it is much more enjoyable than begging the govt for money to feed my family. We do need basic science but the fact is that America has turned into a nation where 1/2 are taking from the other half and despite idiots like krugman saying it can go on forever, as long as we print more money, there is a tipping point. Things will get worse not better for science in the near future and there may not be a long run for public science. A pity since we are on the verge of so many breakthroughs. Hopefully the private sector will step up but it is doubtful with the no publication without approval agreements most PIs gladly sign.

  17. Azzy says:

    For those ranting at Irene and defending Obama, remember it was a republican who kept him from cutting the NIH budget in his 1st term. He seems to issue presidential orders and appoint czars for all his pet projects so don’t pretend his hands are tied by congress. Obama does not care about you and never did. He has spent his whole time campaigning and is not caught in 3 different scandals IRS, Benghazi and Press spying. He deserves the blame for it is his watch and he made the promises.

  18. Azzy says:

    Sorry typo: NOW caught in 3 different scandals

  19. Catalina says:

    I am a strong believer in science and I really believe that progress is achieved by scientific development. I think this is a really bad idea that only shows poor governamental interests in scientific development and in education as well as a vehicle for this development. In the last years scientific development has been one of the majors achievements of USA and have been directed industrial progress and created new ideas in different fields as biology, biochemistry, biomedical sciences etc. I strongly think that without science a society remains without ideas. In this way they are not just cutting the budget they are just cutting our creativity and our thoughts.

  20. K Collins says:

    Whiners! Stop feeding out of the public trough. Get some real & productive jobs instead of ones that produce nothing but publications. You live in a false and delusional world. How does it feel to be “welfare Scientists”?

  21. Lab Goddess says:

    Why do I bother? I prepare students to go out there and make a difference doing research, but will there be ANY jobs for them after graduation? How can I encourage them to attend graduate school with a clear conscience? Maybe I should advise them to become plumbers!

  22. Ginger Hoffner says:

    This I beleive will affect my son and our family. My son has a rare genetic disease called Alstrom Syndrome and if this happens how do we find a cure to this? We need to keep labs open and funding going because there are alot of us out there who depend on the science and research to help us find understandings and hope for the future of a cure to exist. So please help my son to still have hope that a cure will be found for him and others like him. Thank You!!

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