Friday, January 13, 2012

FRIB Might Be In Funding Jeopardy?

No one is saying it is, but this news article reads between the lines and is sounding an alarm that the Facility for Rare Isotope Beam that is to be built at Michigan State University might be in a funding jeopardy.

But yesterday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu came to Detroit and strongly hinted that the project was in jeopardy.

“We have to be careful,” about starting too many new things, he said, adding that when the project was approved in the waning days of the Bush Administration, quote, “we did not anticipate the depth of the recession, (and) the budget issues.”

If this was a trial balloon, it went over like lead. The Energy Secretary’s words threw Michigan’s U.S. Senators, both Democrats, into something like a tizzy. Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin, one of that body’s most powerful members, said “it would be unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments in meeting this critical national priority.” Debbie Stabenow, who is facing a tough reelection fight, noted that the state and the university have already begun investing in the new facility, adding, “it would be absolutely unacceptable if the rug was pulled out from under them now.” She is right, of course. This project is no “bridge to nowhere” but a spaceship, of sorts, to knowledge and, conceivably, a better and more prosperous future for mankind.
Welcome to science funding, ladies and gentlemen! I show you several study cases : the Superconducting Supercollider, the ITER, etc... etc. Many of these were approved and initial funding committed, only later to see funding completely shut down, or cut drastically.

Also note that the Obama Administration requested considerable increase for the DOE and NSF budgets for 2012. Guess who was responsible to chopping those down? You elected people who want to indiscriminately chop budgets left and right without thinking of the long-range effects to the country, much less, to science and its future economic impacts. But when the cuts are in YOUR backyard, and affects you directly, you cry foul and suddenly, the fate of knowledge and "future of mankind" come into play.


No comments: