Thursday, June 15, 2017

What Can Be Done By The Government

This is a repeat of something I wrote five years ago. It's worth remembering, given Trump's intent to cut the budget.

The Center for American Progress has looked at some of the results of successful investments by the federal government. It is truly astounding.

Department of Energy labs: 1943–present The optical digital recording technology behind all music, video, and data storage; fluorescent lights; communications and observation satellites; advanced batteries now used in electric cars; modern water-purification techniques that make drinking water safe for millions; supercomputers used by government, industry, and consumers every day; more resilient passenger jets; better cancer therapies; and the confirmation that it was an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

National Science Foundation: 1950–present Google, which was started by a couple of students working on a research project supported by the National Science Foundation, is today worth an estimated $250 billion and employs 54,000 people. This alone would pay for nearly all the program’s costs reaching back to its inception, but funding has also been instrumental in the development of new technologies and companies in nearly every major industry, including advanced electronics, computing, digital communications, environmental resource management, lasers, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and higher education.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA: 1958–present The team that would go on to pioneer technologies that brought us the Internet, the Global Positioning System, and Siri.

The Apollo Space Program: 1961–1969 Massive technological advancement and the start of huge opportunities for technology transfer, leading to more than 1,500 successful spinoffs related to areas as disparate as heart monitors, solar panels, and cordless innovation. More recently, we’ve seen a fledgling private-sector American space industry with real growth potential, which in 2012 completed its first cargo delivery to the international space station.

Human Genome Project: 1988–2003 Critical tools to help identify, treat, and prevent causes of disease—and huge opportunities for the high-growth American biotechnology industry, which accounts for more than three-quarters of $1 trillion in economic output, or 5.4 percent of GDP, in 2010, and now depends heavily on these advances in genetics.

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