Instead of closing corporate tax loopholes or eliminating huge tax breaks for the wealthy, Congress is cutting vital programs -- and scientific research and development is on top of the list (along with funding for such things as programs that provide assistance to the poor). There are countless reasons why this is majorly problematic for the future well-being of the nation. Just talking green, we could see cuts to clean energy R&D;, battery development, energy efficiency research, and so on.
The proposed cuts -- and specifically the proposed termination of the successor to the Hubble telescope, the James Webb -- have renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson fed up. Above, he delivers an impassioned, eloquent diatribe on the importance of funding science to the nation. And for the most part, he's right on. Maintaining ample funding for scientific pursuits does more than just yield important new research and technology advancements -- as evidenced by the space race of the 70s, it can prove integral to forging a collective cultural vision for the future.
Today, clean energy is a great example. There are plenty of very smart folks who now believe that we could power the world primarily on renewable resources -- in a matter of decades. That's a beautiful vision for the future, and it's one that appeals to almost all Americans: the prospect of ending our reliance on fossil fuels, of doing away with emissions from coal plants, ending oil spills. It's nice stuff. And people would get a lot more excited about it if we were ever to get around to dedicating significant funding to such aims.
As a side note, one reason that Congress may be so cavalier about dispensing with science funding is that its members are very rarely scientists. Here's Alex Pasternack, writing for Motherboard:
In the midst of the debt debacle, [Tyson] responds to Bill Maher's question about Washington's possible assassination of the James Webb Space Telescope with a ranty explanation of how Congress is mortgaging the futuristic dreams Americans used to have. He ends with a good question: How far can science go in Washington when so few Congressmen are scientists?
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