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Accountability of the Scientific Stimulus Funding 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-blew-it-on-bubblegum dept.
eldavojohn writes "A blog tipped me off to a government site that allows me to see where my tax dollars went when the nebulous 'scientific stimulus' was granted. You might be able to find this information in a bill, but you can click on your state in this interactive site to see what has happened locally to you. Perhaps it's a sign of more government transparency in regards to spending or just more propaganda."
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Accountability of the Scientific Stimulus Funding

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  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:12PM (#30144722) Homepage
    The primary problem with the science stimulus funding is not it going to non-science issues. The real issue is that much of the funding is going to projects which aren't going to be completed before the funding runs out. Many if not most of those projects will then be scrambling for funding and a lot of good science will likely get lost because they can't complete them. The stimulus funding should have been directed to more shorter term studies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:16PM (#30144790)

    They bitch about the stimulus money, but the trillion in corporate welfare that Bush 43 handed out is JUST FINE.

    Seriously, these people are represented by Palin and Beck now. That Psalms 109:8 paraphernalia they wear around? That's a veiled threat of violence against Obama (hint : read Psalms 109:9) ... when are we going to wake up to the danger that the right wing represents?

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:21PM (#30144858)

    You are absolutely correct.

    But the sad reality is that a) scientific spending has the highest return of any government policy (most of which has a negative return), and b) the alternative is not to get science funded through a R&D bill, but to release the funds to other frivolous projects that lobbyists like, and leave nothing for pure, long-term-oriented scientific research.

    So I'm going to have to cynically label this "it shouldn't be in the stimulus, but something else" as a low-priority issue.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:24PM (#30144910) Homepage Journal

    is very transparent. Most of it is published. Budgets are public.

    While we always need more transparency, I am surprised how many people don't even know that budgets are published and kept in libraries.

    What is better is letting people know where this data is, and also getting it online.

  • But without the stimulus those projects wouldn't have got started at all and have no chance at getting funding when the money stops.

    Its a 'stimulus package', not a 'do it all package'.

  • by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:42PM (#30145180)
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, especially when it comes to the government.
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:45PM (#30145200) Homepage Journal

    The real problem with the stimulus as a whole was that it was too short term. That's why we see economic growth picking up, but not employment. Employers scramble to get their share of the dough, but they don't hire people because they know the dough is going to be gone in a few months.

    The very idea of a short term science or technology stimulus is silly. If you have something that will be worth doing in the short term, that should be easy funding -- especially in technology. A real stimulus needs to give people the confidence to make long term decisions -- like where to direct their careers, or to start up companies to develop technologies that won't be market ready for two or three years.

  • Biased much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:48PM (#30145248) Journal

    Sorry, I can't trust any web site with that much obvious bias. hotair.com has obviously decided that Obama sucks, and they will do anything to prove it. I've yet to see anything logical or factual from the Obama haters. Not that I've had any high expectations for Obama, but these loons seem to think he kills old people by throwing babies at them, holds seances to talk to Lenin's ghost, and farts demons. It's hilarious to watch loons like you writhe about in abject terror over the coming End of America.

  • by ideonexus (1257332) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:57PM (#30145410) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the problem with science-specific funding in the stimulus bill is not that these projects will require additional funding, but that the funding won't be spent quickly. The NYT and other papers have been covering the fact that many projects have gotten the funding they desperately need from the stimulus bill to complete their research, but will be spending that funding over the next decade. Researchers are under political pressure to spend the funding quickly, but the research intrinsically takes time to perform and they are not required to spend now or lose it later.

    The main problem is with public perceptions over what the science-specific portion of the spending was meant to achieve. It was not intended to create jobs immediately, but rather serve the long-term goal of putting America back in the lead for the world's research and development. The website referenced in this post does a great job of stressing this fact, and a survey of the impressive list of projects being funded by the stimulus bill further illustrates the surge in innovation we should be experiencing from this work a few years down the road.

    Science funding isn’t the "stimulus" part of the bill, it's the "reinvestment" part.

  • by brkello (642429) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:58PM (#30145428)
    Of course, the reality of that is if they didn't do something the stock market would be at 5000 now and we would all be storing our money in our mattress. There is a balance between doing too much and not doing enough. Your last sentence is a popular sentiment on /. and is easy to say. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is different. I think this is the main problem with the Libertarian movement in the U.S....the inability to be realistic about governing the nation. You remove welfare, stimulus, and bailouts and unemployment would be 30% and we would be living in a country like South Africa.
  • Re:Biased much? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DaHat (247651) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:03PM (#30145500) Homepage

    Sorry, I can't trust any web site with that much obvious bias.

    Citation?

    hotair.com has obviously decided that Obama sucks, and they will do anything to prove it.

    Citation?

    I've yet to see anything logical or factual from the Obama haters.

    So you only are listening to the Obama haters and not the Obama disagree-rs? That could explain why you haven't heard much.

    Not that I've had any high expectations for Obama,

    Oh how I love that style of preamble, claiming to lower expectations while a moment later towing the party line or worse

    but these loons seem to think he kills old people by throwing babies at them, holds seances to talk to Lenin's ghost, and farts demons.

    Citation?

    It's hilarious to watch loons like you writhe about in abject terror over the coming End of America.

    Do you by chance see the hilarity of all of this? I provide specific links to specific cases, cases that were simply republished by the site you questioned (which was not the only site I linked to)... and somehow you declare that I am a 'loon' who "writhe about in abject terror over the coming End of America"... all without providing a single example or bit of supporting evidence.

    If anything... the arguments you have made have revealed more about your own views than mine.

  • Re:Biased much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#30145634) Homepage

    Sorry, I can't trust any web site with that much obvious bias.

    Citation?

    How about the fact that it uses the word "Porkulus" as the name of the stimulus bill? Is it at all possible in that context to believe that they're reserving judgement and just reporting facts?

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:21PM (#30145728) Journal

    Don't assume that malice and stupidity are mutually exclusive.

    -jcr

  • by n0-0p (325773) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:23PM (#30145752)

    Nothing in your post does anything to contradict the original explanation. There are tens of thousands of projects receiving stimulus funding, and of course there will be some errors and oversights. Any large program will have that, but all that you've provided are a few barely sourced links that at most account for an infinitesimally small percentage of the spending. Given that this is all you have after months of public disclosure on stimulus spending, the only rational conclusion is that the program appears to be running very well. Percentage-wise, it's certainly running at a better loss ratio than any large project I've worked on at major private corporations.

    As for the rest of your comment, here's a few tips. Don't go running around spamming links from far right websites like Hotair.com. No objective reader would be any more inclined to believe them than they are to take articles from DailyKos.com as gospel truth. And please, don't make insultingly hyperbolic claims about things like "the amazing failure of the stimulus." We had 3.5% positive GDP growth in the last quarter, which every credible economist attributes primarily to the stimulus package. After all, it's the first positive GDP we've seen in over a year, the best we've seen in more than two, and has broken us out of one of the deepest recessions in our history.

    You can certainly argue that the effects of the stimulus are temporary and not worth the long term effects of an increased deficit and higher inflation in the future. I wouldn't agree with you (and I doubt most mainstream economists would) but you can certainly make the argument and provide some evidence to support your position. However, you cannot credibly claim that the stimulus hasn't worked to improve the current state of the economy. Making such claims in defiance of all facts to the contrary is just asinine.

  • Re:Biased much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:25PM (#30145786) Journal

    I think Brendan should take personal responsibility for his own loans and not look to others to bail him out.

  • Re:Biased much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:25PM (#30145788)

    The citation of hotair as a credible site is similar to the mistake of quoting wikipedia-- the sources may or may not be informed or unbiased in a journalistic or even scientific context.

    While you replied to someone that's a bit over the top, hotair isn't known for their objectivity-- indeed they're known for their bias. Nonetheless, you might have found supportive data from a more credible source, and I don't necessarily mean the US Gov at all.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:27PM (#30145808)
    Unless it's the Bush administration, in which case all were evil genius's that knew everything. Obama and his administration, on the other hand, are well-intentioned never-lying non-politician politicians. From Chicago. Infinitely more trustworthy.
  • Re:Biased much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:32PM (#30145900)

    And yet, I presume you listened to mainstream media (CNN, ABC, etc) when they all decided that they didn't like Bush.

    So in other words, your argument: I like Obama, and hotair (and similar journalists) doesn't. Therefore, hotair (etc.) are wrong and I won't listen to them, because they obviously don't know the truth.

    I am not so sure that the mainstream media who obviously like Obama are "fair" and "unbiased" in their "reporting" of things. And it actually shocks me that CNN and ABC ran stories about the "jobs" created/saved not really being created/saved ... on a large-scale, I might add, not just a few here and there. It got very, very, VERY little reporting though. In fact, Sarah Palin is getting far more [bad] publicity from the media than the false job reports. Hmmmmmm. A former governor that lost as a VP candidate is getting more coverage than the Obama administration's recovery.gov apparently lying about jobs created/saved by the much-debated stimulus package? I'm sure it's because the media likes Palin and just wants to be nice to her.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:42PM (#30146058) Homepage

    Yeah, the thing about the bank bailouts is that pretty much everyone who understands the issue agrees that they were more or less necessary. Whether they were handled properly is still a question, and we arguably never should have gotten into that kind of situation, but once we were there, the bailouts were necessary.

    If you don't understand why, here's the deal (just a simplified overview as I understand it): Many banks were apparently not solvent. If the government did nothing and your bank went under, you may have essentially showed up at your bank one day to find your checking and savings accounts no longer existed. To this, many people respond, "But my money is FDIC insured!" However, the whole "FDIC insured" thing means that if the bank goes under, the government will take control of the bank, effectively socializing it completely, bail it out, and then sell it off. That's not really any better. To make matters worse, these large banks are fairly interconnected, which means if even a couple major banks were to go under, it would have caused problems for anyone who it owed money to, including all the other banks. Letting a company like CitiGroup go under would cause a chain reaction that would cause lots of other banks to go under.

    So ultimately, there were only two options here. Either (a) do some kind of bailout and keep our financial system going; or (b) let our entire financial system collapse, taking everyone's investments and bank accounts with it. Does anyone other than revolutionary anarchists really wish that we'd done option B?

    This isn't a partisan issue. Both the Bush administration and the Obama administration were involved in bailing the banks out, and it was because both recognized that it just needed to be done. No one really wanted to do it.

  • by n0-0p (325773) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:46PM (#30146116)

    That's why we see economic growth picking up, but not employment.

    Please provide at least one citation of an economic recovery in which employment did not lag behind all other major indicators by at least 6 to 18 months. Because, based on all historical data, employment is always a lagging indicator of a recovery. And the current trends show employment improving by February 2010, which is right on schedule given that the other indicators picked up around July 2009.

  • by bonch (38532) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:12PM (#30146502)

    Well, if Obama didn't lie when he got information telling him a certain number of jobs were created, then Bush didn't lie when his intelligence departments told him there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Stop being biased toward one side just because you're a member of that side's political party. Learn to step outside the bubble.

  • by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:21PM (#30146618) Homepage Journal

    I was always amused by that portrayal of the Bush administration.

    On the one hand they were evil and perpetrated some horrific things with amazing efficiency. They pulled off an intricate and vast conspiracy that any rational thinking human should immediately realize could never happen. To do so he would have to be a diabolical genius.

    On the other hand he was portrayed as this completely incompetent idiot who shouldn't be trusted to do anything.

    Kind of like the amusing portrayal of Florida voters in the Gore/Bush election. They were easily confused (read: stupid) because they obviously couldn't understand the butterfly ballot. They would have voted for Gore if they were not so hopelessly confused. Rather than ask for help in their state of confusion, they just punched the ballot. If they did realize they made a mistake, they didn't say anything about it to get a new ballot, they just cast their ballot. Taking the "they meant to vote for Gore" thought to its conclusion, they thought their constituents are idiots.

  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:00PM (#30147146)

    However, the whole "FDIC insured" thing means that if the bank goes under, the government will take control of the bank, effectively socializing it completely, bail it out, and then sell it off. That's not really any better. To make matters worse, these large banks are fairly interconnected, which means if even a couple major banks were to go under, it would have caused problems for anyone who it owed money to, including all the other banks. Letting a company like CitiGroup go under would cause a chain reaction that would cause lots of other banks to go under.

    So if I understand you correctly, the government putting a large bank into receivership, taking it over with full tax-payer backing, and selling it off for parts in a systematic way would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the entire financial system of the world.

    Sweden--a far more capitalist nation than the US, apparently--did exactly this in the '90's without the world ending. The only counter argument I've heard to that is, "Well but the US is SO MUCH BIGGER and we have SO MANY BANKS."

    But it isn't the thousands of mom-and-pop banks that were in trouble: it was a handful of big banks, and AIG. Rather than socialize the risk while leaving the profits in private hands, which is what the Bush/Obama administration did, putting them into receivership was clearly the right thing to do.

    It's been clear that as American imperial power grows, the US becomes a more "conservative" place, in the sense of being afraid to try anything outside the envelope of "business as usual". This is a common effect of imperial power, which is jealous of its reputation and therefore afraid to try anything that might fail.

    But we need to call a spade a spade, and not pretend that the fearful fantasies of world-wide collapse were remotely realistic, when clearly putting a small handful of big banks into receivership would be just a minor variant on what actually happened--which was banks continuing to operate with taxpayer backing, except that the taxpayer would have actually been the owner rather than simply absorbing all the risk.

  • by ozborn (161426) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:02PM (#30147164)

    Yeah, the thing about the bank bailouts is that pretty much everyone who understands the issue agrees that they were more or less necessary.
    I think there is a lot of disagreement on the issue, actually outright nationalization of the banks is probably the more common solution globally to the problem.
    If you don't understand why, here's the deal (just a simplified overview as I understand it): Many banks were apparently not solvent. If the government did nothing and your bank went under, you may have essentially showed up at your bank one day to find your checking and savings accounts no longer existed. To this, many people respond, "But my money is FDIC insured!" However, the whole "FDIC insured" thing means that if the bank goes under, the government will take control of the bank, effectively socializing it completely, bail it out, and then sell it off. That's not really any better.
    It's much better. Small people (deposit holders) keep their money up to FDIC limits and investors and counter-parties are wiped out, as they should be for their stupid investment decisions thus avoiding moral hazard. Even better, bankruptcy cleans the slate so that losses are recognized immediately instead of put off indefinitely, like Japan did after its crash. There would be no need for changes in accounting rules (mark to fantasy) and quantitative easing. In any case, the bailout hasn't worked. Obama explicitly stated he was giving money to banks because they could use the multiplier effect to generate more money than they were given. However banks aren't making those loans, they are hoarding money to absorb future loses and because they can't find enough credit worthy people to loan to. So even though the money supply is going up, credit is going down which is why we are not seeing inflation. If Obama wants to stimulate the economy, he is better off spending the money on science R&D (to lay the ground for future industries) than in saving big banks.
    The only price to be paid for this approach is the loss of some large banks and a nastier (but shorter) crash. However Obama (like his predecessor) is tied tightly to big Wall Street banks and won't do what is required, preferring to take bank lobbyist money and to surround himself with former members of Goldman Sachs.
    The problem is going to get worse once the stimulus money runs out and banks are forced to deal with losses, particularly since government on all levels is now so hugely indebted. The only plus is that it exposed to a lot of people who the government takes care of first.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:05PM (#30147200)

    Cue Hitchhiker's Guide & its part on published governmental plans in 5, 4, 3, 2...

  • Re:Biased much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:07PM (#30147212)
    To be honest, I find it a bit disturbing that you could simply dismiss the OP's links because you don't like the website they came from. This really highlights the growing trend of the absolute polarization of American politics.

    Of course hotair is super conservative, but what does that have to do with what is said? There are facts, citations, and original documents in those posts that the OP put up, and that conservative hotair commentator uses those facts to try to illustrate a point. Maybe it is a dumb point. Maybe the hotair author cherry-picked his facts. But what is the harm in reading it?

    You should be able to read Paul Krugman, then read Charles Krauthammer, then read hotair, then read dailykos, and do so without dismissing any of them out of hand because they "have a bias". Of course they do. That is the whole point. That's why people read them.

    I think this trend of political polarization in current American politics is awful. Talk about closed-mindedness.
  • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:18PM (#30147374)

    So, what you're doing is presenting one side of a debate that started over 200 years ago. And you're reaching so far back because the the intervening centuries of law have almost consistently sided with the Federalist position, rather than the Antifederalist position you're espousing.

    After the Revolutionary War, each state was basically sovereign over itself with a loose Articles of Confederation bonding them in the most trivial manner. It became apparent that the Articles of Confederation couldn't last, so they began debating the formation of a stronger federal government, but with the primary power still being left to the people and the states. In fact, they went so far as to codify that the US government only has 18 powers and, through the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, that all powers not enumerated to the federal government remain solely to the people and the states.

    They inherently distrusted strong central governments and believed in the notion that the closer government is to the people, the more effectively it governs. The federal government would consist of officials elected from three distinct competing interests - the House would be elected to represent the people, the Senate would be picked by the states (hence the term "statesmen") and the President would be elected by a group of elected wisemen. The notion of states rights has long disappeared between the Senate becoming popularly elected and the continued erosion of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

    The founding fathers knew that, over time, too much power in one place would inevitably lead to corruption, so they deliberately tried to check that power. As early as the Alien and Sedition Acts, they already began violating the Constitution and it has only gotten progressively worse there. One only needs to look at FDR and the Judiciary Reorganization Bill [wikipedia.org] to see just how little the Constitution means anymore. If the President doesn't get his way, especially if he has a willing Congress, he'll simply stack the deck with people that will do his bidding.

    You can complain all you want about the document created to constrain our government and the people that created it... but one only needs to look to the Fifth Article to know that they understood that it wasn't a perfect document and that they gave us the power to tune it as time goes on. They fully anticipated the need, especially over the slavery issue. Alas, today, the federal government and statists that choose to ignore the perils of a strong central government, continue to ignore the Constitution and refuse to amend it to implement their illegal power grabs, largely because it's easier to just shit on the Constitution than it is to change it. Of course, when your guy shits on the Constitution, that's "good" and when my guy does it, it's "bad." We've ignored the Constitution for so long now, we're reverting from a type of democracy and more into an oligarchy. It won't be too long before we realize that we're just slaves to the government rather than the government being a slave to us.

  • 1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
    Yes

    2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work
    Yes

    3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection
    Yes

    4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal
    N/A

    5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries
    N/A

    6. The discoverer has worked in isolation
    No, but the group id becoming smaller and more isolated as motre data continues to show them wrong.

    7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation
    Yes.

    With that many warning signs, you need some really good data , or at least a good model that fits with what we currently know.
    Plasma cosmology as no data and there model has been show to be flawed. By flawed I man contradicting what we have shown to be true.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:11PM (#30152160) Homepage

    Bubbles are going to keep happening anyway. You have a bunch of free-floating money out there just waiting to jump onto the next fad of sure-thing investments. It was tech stocks, then real estate, and it's going to be something else. I think it's just what happens when you treat civilization as a big get-rich-quick scheme. It'd like to think it's possible to instill a culture of solid long-term investments including continual updating of necessary social services and infrastructure, but at least here in the US, it seems to be a foreign idea. We're looking to maximize our profits THIS QUARTER and don't care what happens in two years.

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis

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