The US government spending crisis has caused visible pain for research and innovation in America. Already this year, billions of dollars in federal cuts due to sequestration has affected federal grants for scientific research.

But this problem is only the tip of a much bigger problem facing the redundant superpower.

Two fundamental building blocks for any modern technological, progressive economy are discovery research and scientific investigation. By their nature, these two pursuits carry a much slower return on the investment. In the past, the US could afford to be patient because its thriving industrial sector was a magnet for the word’s talent and investment – which is why successive governments have routinely placed their dollars there. That engine which used to power the US juggernaut has been disassembled and shipped overseas.

Politicians will certainly blame the current crisis in academia on sequestration and partisan feuds over federal budgets, but that’s only part of the story. Cuts are not only consigned to federal budgets. According to a report by the National Science Foundation, States have also cut funds for public research universities by 20 percent, in constant dollars, between 2002 and 2010. If money is cut back, that means researchers are laid off, programs […]

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