What is the Sequester?
The exact definition is a general cut in government spending. But, what exactly is a “general” cut when the reason there are going to be “general” cuts is due to the government’s inability to make decisions on where to make cuts in the first place? “General” refers to cuts across the board where the bureaucrats are not allowed to decide where to make the cuts, causing cuts of the useless as well as the vital (CBSNews, 25Feb13).
I don’t typically like to get involved with politics because nothing good ever come of it. However, yesterday, word around campus was that today, March 1st, with the start of the sequester, congress is cutting funds to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, essentially killing the advancement of science in the United States. There are still private organizations which provide funds for science, but those are few and far between. NIH and NSF provide billions of dollars to scientific research annually. Billions of dollars is a lot of money so you may think, why can’t we take away just a few million from them and put it somewhere else? Well, because it actually doesn’t make that much of a difference in regards to the US budget but does make a HUGE impact on scientific discovery. The $37 billion annual budget of NIH is less than 1% of the US budget. The 10% cut to NIH from the sequester totals a savings of 0.08% in the US budget (Forbes, 14Jan13). 80-85% of projects submitted to NIH this year are going to have to be turned down because of this cut. One of those projects could be a life changing medical discovery. Is 0.08% worth it?
I tried looking up the Sequester without NIH as the focus and all I managed to find was that the failure to stop automatic spending cuts is a blame game. Republicans say it’s Obama’s fault while Obama points the finger at the Republican Congress. This isn’t junior high, guys. Get your heads out of your asses and start spitballing ideas as to how to get out of this mess.
In my opinion, the first thing that should be cut is the salaries of these politicians (like this whimsical meme suggests), not because we will get a lot of money from it, but because it will put a fire under their butts to do what they are being paid to do. You don’t get money unless you make some decisions. What are these politicians doing anyways? Raising money for their next campaign? Fraternizing with lobbyists? The budget seems to have been one of the biggest issues for quite some time, so, whatever they ARE doing, it's not what they should be doing. They need to set some priorities and start making some compromises, and those compromises shouldn’t be cuts to the sciences!
Without science there’s no innovation, discovery or progress. The US is already falling behind in the sciences.
Stop holding us back!
Click to go to www.mappinglife.org and try it out for yourself!
Have you ever wondered where on the planet you could find a particular animal? Ever wondered where an animal has historically been found? Where they are now? A collaborative project with such renowned organizations as Yale, University of Colorado Boulder, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the National Science Foundation and NASA have brought this information conveniently to your fingertips with the creation of an interactive map of the global distribution of every species of animal in the world! A demo version is available online. Simply put in the scientific name of your favorite animal and click “Go”. Depending on the species, you can get information from point observations, regional checklists, expert maps and local inventories layered on a map for your visual pleasure. It kept me entertained for a couple hours. Enjoy!