In their Huffington Post blog, Todd Palmer (University of Florida) and Rob Pringle (Stanford/Harvard Fellow) took on Paul Basken of the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, who was interviewed on NPR’s Marketplace. Palmer and Pringle say that Basken didn’t defend science’s place in the stimulus bill (formally the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), even going so far as to suggest that the money wouldn’t be spend wisely on jobs or American-made products. The two go on to list reasons why NIH and NSF deserve their collective $13.4 billion.
One of the pair’s best points is that most people don’t understand the granting process. When grants are made to a researcher, that scientist really only receives roughly half of the money they’re granted for their research; the other half goes directly to the university in the form of overhead. Many scientists begrudge this tax on their intellectual successes, but this money keeps institutions afloat. Just ask anyone who lives in a college town: If the university goes under, that local economy will tank. So granting money to researchers doesn’t just fund their work, but also funds an industry that keeps administrators, gardeners, construction workers, librarians and the like in their jobs.
Read the rest of their defense of stimulus money on The Huffington Post.