In his latest, George Will argues for more federal spending on science, and higher state spending on university education:
America has been consuming its seed corn: From 1970 to 1995, federal support for research in the physical sciences, as a fraction of gross domestic product, declined 54 percent; in engineering, 51 percent. On a per-student basis, state support of public universities has declined for more than two decades and was at the lowest level in a quarter-century before the current economic unpleasantness. Annual federal spending on mathematics, the physical sciences and engineering now equals only the increase in health-care costs every nine weeks.
Republicans are rightly determined to be economizers. They must, however, make distinctions. Congressional conservatives can demonstrate that skill by defending research spending that sustains collaboration among complex institutions - corporations' research entities and research universities. Research, including in the biological sciences, that yields epoch-making advances requires time horizons that often are impossible for businesses, with their inescapable attention to quarterly results.
He even muses that conservatives may hurt America by targeting academia:
The last Congress's misbegotten stimulus legislation - an indulgent and incoherent jumble of pent-up political appetites - may have done large and lasting damage by provoking a comparably indiscriminate reaction against federal spending. This will be doubly dangerous if a curdled populism, eager to humble elites, targets a sphere of American supremacy and a basis of its revival - its premier research universities.
Fine on the last point - but, seriously, is Will retroactively proposing a better stimulus or none at all? Was he against the third of it that was tax cuts?
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