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Discussion: (5 comments)

  1. Joe Marinaro

    But this administration seems addicted to “investing” in start ups, providing at risk capital instead of providing a market (demand) for desirable products.

    Instead of throwing money at a Solyndra, why not provide a contract for solar panels – panels on government buildings throughout the country? With that type of contract in hand the company would be able to secure more traditional financing.

  2. Benjamin Cole

    I do not subscribe to any form of government R&D, military or otherwise. I think free markets will always do better.

    The military R&D budget now tops $70 billion. Does anyone really believe we get our money’s worth out of that?

  3. Rob Benton

    We (not just in the US) has benefited tremendously from government sponsored R&D. Almost nothing you can see when you look around has not in some way benefited from the initial dollars invested. For example, the internet began as a sort of party line for researchers in various government labs to use in communicating data and coordinating research. The smartphone would not have been possible without investments made by the US governments in education and basic R&D that led to most of the technological advances needed. The issue is who should be awarded this R&D money. Today, a lot of government investment is politically motivated and offers less benefit than it would have if it was distributed based on expected impact on society and the economy. Imagine if a major reduction in the cost of energy was possible due to government R&D in some sort of “clean” technology such as fusion or thorium. That $70 billion is a pittance compared to the $1 trillion plus spent on welfare in the US every year. Overall, I would have to say we get our money’s worth and then some.

  4. Benjamin Cole

    Rob Benton:

    Yes, but by your line of reasoning, then every federal department—agriculture, commerce, energy, labor, transportation, NASA—should have $10 billion+ R&D budgets.

    There are always sound arguments for spending more money at the federal level. One man’s waste is another man’s sacred cow.

    In the next 10 years we will spend $2 trillion on just the VA (FY 2014 is at $152 billion, and this department is growing gangbusters). And who wants to cut VA benefits?

    But we gotta cut.

    1. Rob Benton

      I still say that you get a lot more bang for the buck out of government sponsored basic research than, for instance, $100 billion in food stamps. Consider that a lot of tax dollars goes to support research in a university setting. Do you not believe the government should invest in education and training? Without government investment, basic research would be greatly reduced. Regarding VA spending, it is a direct result of 2 wars in the past decade. Not sure why the department needs to grow when we are pulling out of the last war zone. I have heard there are a number of vets who need help but can’t get it at the VA.

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