Preposterous Universe

Monday, February 07, 2005

So, the master plan is coming along nicely. First cut taxes down to the bone, turning a budget surplus into a truly alarming deficit. Then use that deficit as an excuse to slash goverment programs not directly tied to invading new countries. Science will not be spared. David Appell reports on the situation in high-energy physics:
Bush's budget is shaping up to be a real disaster. A friend writes that outlays for high-energy physics are due to be cut from $736M (2005 est.) to $714M (2006 est.), a 3% cut in before inflation terms and therefore about a 5% cut in inflation-adjusted terms. What ever happened to the rich (who've received the bulk of the tax cuts under this administration) subsidizing good science? Or, failing that, simply American's committment to cutting-edge and important research? Must all our money go to militaristic aims and tax cuts for the wealthy? How much more anti-science do we tolerate from this administration?
Meanwhile, in my email this morning I found an informational message from the American Astronomical Society about the House Science Committee Hearing on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Ranking member Bart Gordon echoed chairman Boehlert's remarks and at the end of the hearing stated, "It was clear from the testimony of the witnesses at today's hearing that there is consensus on the high scientific importance of Hubble. One had to come away impressed by the unambiguous consensus findings of a National Academies committee that included such noted space authorities from such diverse viewpoints. Hence, the burden of proof when it comes to saving Hubble must be placed on anyone who markedly disagrees with the National Academies' conclusions." [...]

The President's budget will be released on Monday and is rumored to contain no funding for any kind of Hubble servicing mission. As warranted, the AAS will release Informational Emails and Action Alerts on budgetary and policy issues of importance to our members.
I wonder if this is what it felt like in the final days of the Roman Empire. Bread and circuses, anyone?

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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