It must be true. I read it on the internet.
No, wait. It’s actually true for much better reasons than that.
The UK currently has an annual science research budget of around £6 billion. The coalition government plans to cut this back by £1 billion to save money.
It’s actually been estimated, by government research, that this particular cutback will cost us around £10 billion.
I haven’t studied the official documents of the government budgetary policy regarding reducing the deficit. But I’m still holding out hope that at least some of the people involved aren’t idiots, and can think in slightly more complex terms than “if we spend less money on this, we’ll have more money”.
I know I don’t understand the world of finance very well, but I’ve definitely heard politicians talking about a thing called “investment” before. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the context of “investing in things is bad and we should stop doing it”.
And yet investing means spending money on stuff now, so that we can have more money in the future. This is one reason I keep my savings in a bank, rather than under my bed. You might also, for instance, spend money on insulation for your house, so you don’t have to spend so much on heating later on.
If it sounds like I’m explaining basic economics to a six-year-old, that’s because a) this is just the level at which I understand economics, and b) I assume other people have already been talking to the politicians running this country as if they were grown-ups, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
Funding science will provide jobs, attract foreign investment in the British economy, and produce technological advancements of huge benefit to the country as a whole. There is lots of data on this. These results have been cleverly deduced by looking at times when it’s happened before.
And on Saturday a huge number of science supporters swarmed the streets of London protesting the cuts. Some other people’s reports on that event:
– The Pod Delusion was providing regular updates,
– Here’s Carmen’s take,
– Here’s a bunch of links,
– Here’s a video that gives you a taste of the action,
– Here’s a Guardian reporter’s summary of his experience,
– And here’s Dr Evan Harris excellently laying out the case as to why science funding is so important.