Friday, October 17, 2008

Rating McCain and Obama on Scientific/Technological Innovation

The New York Times had an in-depth analysis of McCain and Obama's proposed policy on the US high-tech innovation.

Both presidential candidates, in their careers and in their campaigns, have made detailed arguments for how the nation should deal with technology rivals, sharpen its competitive edge and improve what experts call its “ecology of innovation.”

Yet their visions are strikingly different. They diverge mainly on the appropriate role for the federal government in education, in spending on research, and in building, maintaining and regulating the complex infrastructure on which innovation depends. The visions both face tough questions on their viability amid the nation’s deepening financial crisis.

You can read the news article on the major differences, and some similarities, of their respective platforms.

However, one of my major concerns appear to be coming true. I wrote a while back on the question on who are the people responsible for each candidate in drawing up their science/technology policy. Who are the people influencing these candiates on making up their science/technology platform? In fact, I even stated this:

If, for example, they instead rely on some "economist" to help them make a decision, then I already know that they simply have very low respect to getting accurate advice from people who should know the subject matter, and that they are more interested in the political aspect of the decision rather than being technically/scientifically sound.

Well, read towards the end of the NYT article and tell me that I'm not psychic. :)

Mr. McCain’s campaign did not respond to repeated requests for information. According to the journal Science, he has “no formal structure” for seeking science advice. It reports that Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former economic adviser and head of the Congressional Budget Office under Mr. Bush, serves as Mr. McCain’s “point man” on science, having been in touch with experts on climate, space and “science in general.”

On the other hand, Mr. Obama established a science advisory committee led by Dr. Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate who is president of the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Varmus said the group’s leaders communicated almost daily with the campaign’s policy leaders. And this month, the campaign announced that 61 American Nobel laureates in science had endorsed Mr. Obama. (When Martin Chalfie, a Columbia biologist, learned last week that he had won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, he said one of the first things he did was to call one of the 61 to ask how to add his name to the list.)

Now you can read and think for yourself. You figure out if there's something that you should be concerned here about McCain's neglect of science.


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