Posted by | January 2, 2011 18:07 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I think spending could stand to go up in a number of areas but there is one that George Will notes as a priority, and I agree:

U.S. undergraduate institutions award 16 percent of their degrees in the natural sciences or engineering; South Korea and China award 38 percent and 47 percent, respectively. America ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.

America has been consuming its seed corn: From 1970 to 1995, federal support for research in the physical sciences, as a fraction of gross domestic product, declined 54 percent; in engineering, 51 percent. On a per-student basis, state support of public universities has declined for more than two decades and was at the lowest level in a quarter-century before the current economic unpleasantness. Annual federal spending on mathematics, the physical sciences and engineering now equals only the increase in health-care costs every nine weeks.

Spending on education and on research is an investment.  No matter the extent of the concern with the deficit, spending wisely on investments must continue.  Investments in capital, whether they be in physical capital or intellectual capital, is cut back only in societies without a concern about the future.  Investments in science and in education have always paid huge dividends in America.  Now is not the time to stop those cutbacks.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.