Should the government fund research?

L.A. Times 2012/12/27 18:58:40
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Can government play a positive role in economic development? To understand who built what in the construction of the American economy from its pre-industrial origins, a look at one of the drivers of U.S. innovation — venture capital — is instructive.

For more than three decades American venture capitalists have concentrated their activities and earned their returns in a very small number of industrial domains. In booms and in slumps, in bull markets and in bear markets, the information and communications technology and biomedical sectors together have consistently accounted for 80% of venture capital investment.

Why has it been in the world of information technology and, secondarily, biomedicine that venture capitalists have been successful? In brief: Only in these sectors did the state invest at sufficient scale in scientific research and in its translation to working technology.

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  • Fef 2012/12/27 20:06:29
    Everyone likes the government helping people, but at what cost?

    Government-funded research competes with private industry, which creates barriers for private jobs and investments.

    Government-funded research bows to political pressure.

    Government-funded research takes tax payer money from one group of people and gives it to another group -- largely based on the lobbying efforts of special interest groups.

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  • Stix 2013/01/04 21:05:43
    The govermment does a lousy job of picking winners and losers and should not be involved in the private sector....
  • Arel 2013/01/04 17:58:47
    This is part of the reason we have corruption in government. If they want to help the private sector in research and development put a tax break incentive out there for those who meet a certain criteria set by the government. For example Solindra should have gotten a 2% tax break if they achieved affordable solar panels or GM should have gotten a 2% tax break for building a truck that gets a set mpg but no free handouts.
  • firelooker 2013/01/04 17:40:43
    The gov't needs to get out of business period. We can't keep on spending money like drunken sailors & expect to never have to sober up. Private individuals have helped pay for research at a much higher rate than gov't. When private funds are used the research is done with less fraud and better results. Everytime the gov't get's involved they screw it up w/ all their red tape..
  • juanito 2013/01/04 17:34:45
    Governement will founding research, corporations will take profit. How much has USA profit from seling patents to corporations? There should be some from the past.
    Governemnt even does not have facility for research as universities etc.

    And yes. But as joint venture only= share expenses, share profit.

    This is very clear what 1% wants. Public expenses their profit.
  • chichifroglegs 2013/01/04 12:21:40
    They keep all the most important research/inventions for themselves anyway.
  • Independent Thinker 2013/01/04 02:02:05
    Independent Thinker
    Research is best benefited from the private sector.

    The government (either side) has shown over and over again that when they want they can (and will tweak) the data.

    Facts should be a stand alone. A third party (someone who can be trusted) should gather and analyze.Then collaborate with a small pool of people to come up with an accurate pictoral.

    I deal with data. It can be done so success is the outcome but govt input is mostly a waste of time and money (in almost every case).

    I can't believe the vote - amazing!
  • firelooker Indepen... 2013/01/04 17:46:06
    I can't believe that so many think the gov't is so great at funding research. The gov't screws everything up w/ it's red tape and excessive rules & agencies like the EPA. The EPA just lost a case in court where they wanted to be able to control water by claiming it a major pollutant. They were created for the exact purpose of protecting our water & now they want to label it a pollutant so they can control it?
  • Indepen... firelooker 2013/01/05 02:29:37
    Independent Thinker
    EPA regulation is about control, not helping the enviornment. I know that for a fact; family member is an enviornmental engineer and deals with the EPA on so many levels.

    On A Side Note....I know of a case where a family whose pool (above ground) brust in a storm. They were fined for creating a wetland. The EPA is out of control.

    Another example - Regulations for mom/pop community (business) landfills have so many regulations that are over the top. Common folk like myself would say (without detailed knowledge) that we want a clean enviornment but now I have become aware of specifics I am disguisted with the EPA's agenda.
  • Leslie Goudy 2013/01/03 23:25:49
    Leslie Goudy
    Wake up Liberals. The Government is a giant maw waiting to suck up all your money at any excuse. These are all numbered accounts anyway
  • Russ Byford 2013/01/03 21:53:59
    Russ Byford
    I think the requirement for Government funding of research proves largely that the often revered system of "the Free Market", advocated strongly amongst some on the Right for everything, quite literally, really does not fulfill the needs of a Nation as a whole. Research funded by everyone collectively, through taxation (and yes government is the arbitrator or the collaborator in the process) benefits the good of the Nation, particularly in pharmaceuticals, health, science, technology and infrastructure development.Some many different examples exist to prove this.
    A laissez-faire approach to research benefiting humanity has never worked, and is the cause of much poverty in developing nations today.
  • ddd 2013/01/03 21:19:51
    No. If you want funding go convince someone you have an idea. This will either be a huge entitlement program that will subsidize horrible ideas, or be a huge bureaucracy. If you have a genuine good idea go pitch it to investors who will fund it. This will be costly, unnecessary and will destroy wealth.
  • Trust Noone 2013/01/03 19:26:28
    Trust Noone
    For those who voted yes and don't know what funding from the Government is, it's Fascist. P.S. government steals money from it's people to fund their friends and themselves.
  • Kunschner 2013/01/03 18:58:07
    While the government still exists, when we have no need of it, that research can flourish regardless.
  • chas 2013/01/03 16:18:40
    It has NO obligation to do so. Individual "states" can choose to support with such spending, (I would oppose). 10th amendment
  • the spo... chas 2013/01/03 19:27:35
    the spoiler
    Right, let's fall behine even farther
  • John Wa... the spo... 2013/01/04 18:02:19
    John Walker II
    Then tell the members of your state gov't to get with the program?
  • M 2013/01/03 08:49:32
    If the funding is beneficial to the people, absolutely. The sad part is that most government funded research has no benefit whatsoever other than serving as a hedge fund for politicians.
  • John Wa... M 2013/01/04 18:02:42
    John Walker II
    NASA was one such 'hedge fund'.
  • Seeker of Truth - War Wizard 2013/01/02 23:29:22
    Seeker of Truth - War Wizard
    No, with a caveat... I'm fine with the government funding research in areas where the government has a Constitutional responsibility (such as national defense). But in other areas, research should be purely privately funded either by investors or donations.
  • Resp 2013/01/02 22:09:04
    The last thing the government should do is run a business.
  • firelooker Resp 2013/01/04 17:53:13
    They screw it up everytime.
  • Lerro DeHazel 2013/01/02 17:51:30
    Lerro DeHazel
    The Government is presently Funding a Study on The Appropriate Kind Of Food(s) that would be the most desirable for Americans Who Plan To Visit Mars in the future.
  • Derbyhat 2013/01/02 17:13:21
    With a dysfuctional Congress leaving and a dysfuctional Congress arriving they won't even be able with unborrowed dollars to fund Obama's golfing trips.
  • Bronar 2013/01/02 16:58:05
    Not when we are borrowing from China to pay for it. In better financial times, possibly.
  • Todd The Libertarian 2013/01/02 16:24:45
    Todd The Libertarian
    With the tea wacks in charge of congress?We will go back to out houses!lol
  • Universe 2013/01/02 14:57:19
  • Albert Rogers 2013/01/02 14:48:45
    Albert Rogers
    The most important freedom that governments in modern times can ensure for the people, is freedom from religious and corporate oppression.
    As for scientific research, whether in energy or medicine or anything equally difficult, the profit motive makes it inefficient by an order of magnitude to do it privately.

    The private pharmaceutical industry is committed to not sharing information among its members, assuming that they are not a secret cabal. This means that every useless research path is likely to be traversed by more than half of them, sending the costs of the research up. So pharmaceuticals are far more expensive than they would be if done publicly. The real scientists are more interested in science than in extravagant wealth. Indeed in the old days, much fundamental science was done at their own expense by wealthy men.

    As for energy, does anybody imagine that the fundamental research underlying the 20% of the USA's electricity produced by nuclear power could have been done for a profit, privately?
  • firelooker Albert ... 2013/01/04 17:58:04
    Who do you tnink brought this nation into the industrial age, the gov't or people like Henry Ford & other industrialists who used private money to invest in their ideas that we all benefit from. Standard oil was founded by a private individual, the big steel companies that used to be in this country were founded w/ private money. The gov't would have screwed these things up everytime.
  • garyt212 2013/01/02 04:46:00
    Our government hasn't even passed a single budget in 4 years, our government is spending more than our GNP, haven't ever seen a government agency that was profitable or well managed, government corruption is obviously rampant and out of control and you have the stupidity and audacity to ask such an idiotic question?
    animated LOL
  • Trust N... garyt212 2013/01/03 19:36:35
    Trust Noone
    The last official act of any government is to loot the treasury."
    --George Washington
  • Sperry23 2013/01/02 02:50:55
    Private companies only fund applied research that makes a profit. They do not fund pure research which is where almost all of the breakthroughs come from.

    The so-called private sector worships money and nothing else. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that if it is not profitable, it is worthless.
  • Albert ... Sperry23 2013/01/02 15:14:58
    Albert Rogers
    Liked! But the last sentence should contain the phrase "useless to them".
    Real science is pursued by people more interested in a knowledge of Nature, than in money. Corporations have no such innate instincts. Humans are innately cooperative, like female elephants, but corporations, like very large, self-sufficient animals (bears, tigers, bull elephants probably) are innately selfish.
  • jack_kazim 2013/01/02 01:41:59
  • Albert ... jack_kazim 2013/01/02 15:08:51
    Albert Rogers
    True. No sensible person would fund the kind of research that discovered Americium, Californium, Berkelium, or Lawrencium, for expected private profit. The USA did so.

    The only alternative energy powerful enough to replace, or better still supplant, the fossil carbon that supplanted biofuels, sail, windmills, and even private water power, is the energy of the massive nuclei that supernovae created before the Solar System's gas cloud condensed.
    The USA already has government-funded scientific information on two technologies that get about 200 times as much energy out of a ton of uranium or thorium as the generation presently in commercial use. The same technologies produce waste that is a thousand times less persistent than what Light Water Reactors produce.
    I know of two companies that would like to build such reactors, and one country that has a very good chance of beating us at our own game. It is China, where their Academy of Science has already shown an interest in work that ought not to have been abandoned here. The private "energy industry" in the USA has to be bribed with tax breaks and subsidies even to consider solar and wind turbine technologies, which I compute are totally inadequate to threaten the fossil fuel business. Surprise, surprise!
  • s2k 2013/01/02 01:19:11
    It depends
  • Georgia50 2013/01/02 00:22:24
    It funds research through universities. That's about where it should end.
  • AM 2013/01/02 00:08:27
  • USAISME 2013/01/01 20:48:27
    But only if it is something that will benefit society as a whole.
  • andy15554 2013/01/01 20:22:25
    Our government has a knack for picking losers, it is the function of the free market to invest private money in new technologies. Look at the miserable failure of green energy and the billions wasted. Government does nothing well and should get out of the funding business all together, we are a pauper nation and don't have money for that.
  • Albert ... andy15554 2013/01/02 15:29:17
    Albert Rogers
    Hydropower from the Columbia and Colorado rivers, DARPA, geosynchronous satellites, atomic energy, nuclear-fueled ships -- these are projects originally funded by the US government. Every one of them is a winner, although the proponents of 18th century "green" technologies are deluded. The 75% of France's electrical power that is produced with negligible carbon footprint is another government's huge success. We would have a far better chance of saving the flora and fauna of this planet, if we had an international government development agency to pursue research in which the USA had the lead until, in 1994, my friends the environmentalists, liberals, and opponents of nuclear weapons lost their minds and cancelled the Integral Fast Reactor project.

    We are still a very wealthy nation, but we waste our money on the preposterous notion that there is any person "worth" a thousand times what people from Mexico will accept as agricultural workers, risking their lives to "illegally" enter the USA.
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