As this year is drawing to a close, there are still many big issues Congress is grappling with – healthcare, the war in Afghanistan,… But what I am hearing in meeting after meeting I attend is that there is going to be a big focus on job creation next year. This Administration and Congress are generally very supportive of science, but the jobless rate is a big issue. And next year is an election year – so, its going to be all about jobs.
Its hard to equate R&D funding for basic research with immediate numbers of jobs created in a way that would make the bean counters happy. But one of the things I am learning in this role is reinforcement of an axiom I learned in grad school – you don’t ask, you don’t get. These are tough economic times and there are always tons of competing priorities. So we need to make our case standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those who are asking for funding to cure childhood leukemia (for example). We aren’t entitled to funding just because we do really cool stuff. We must sharpen our arguments for why what we do is relevant to society and deserves tax-payer funding – and then we need to share that with policymakers. Fact – if Congress doesn’t hear from you, they assume you are happy and don’t need anything.
We need to participate in order to be heard. Build support for funding basic research – innovation drives the economic engine! Write letters to newspapers, opinion pieces, letters to Congress. Check out the AAS’s Contacting Congress page to see how to contact your Congressperson.The Science Works website was launched a few weeks ago. Take a look at the site and see if any of the funding you have received should be on there and highlighted.Tags: congress, economy, jobs, Science funding