Government 1B Week 5 Government Funded Science and Foreign Aid Programs

Question 1: What are the arguments for and against government science funding?

The initial argument in favor of government funded science is rather simple: people assume that without backup from the government science will lose its funds. People rely on the government so insistingly that they have lost faith in the adequacy of their fellow man, and in doing so they forget the most fundamental truth of government. The truth that government is run and maintained by their fellow man, not by an all knowing inhuman force. People who insist on government funded science make the argument that since science does not wield immediate profit the public will lose interest, and because of this lack of interest we will be intellectually impoverished.

Lets disprove this theory by taking a look at history. In the 19th century the British spent hardly any government funding on science, while their competitors such as the German and French spent a substantial amount. Yet somehow, the British consistently remained dominant when it came to European scientific discovery. Lets move east and look at Japan, a country who holds some of the most privatized research and development in the world. It turns out their scientific discovery is extremely advanced, but instead of being done in tax funded universities Japan does its science in industrial laboratories. The agreement held between the government and the researchers seems both basic as well as efficient: the researchers are provided labs as long as they continue to research. Doesn’t that sound like the exact exchange we expect from this relationship? If so why, and more importantly what are our “essential” government funds going towards?

Question 2: What have been the effects of foreign aid programs, such that virtually everyone was describing them as failures by the 1990s?

Foreign aid programs at first glance seem extremely empathetic. We maintain a prosperous country, so when we see a poor country most peoples first instinct is to financially assist them. But if we look as history we see many examples where no matter how many trillions of dollars we send their way they remain financially lackluster. The initial popularity of foreign aid programs first appeared after the Marshal plan helped western Europe recover after World War II, but as it turns out the Marshal plan was not the main cause of Europe’s recovery and in fact played a very small role in their recovery. But none the less the idea gripped the minds of the public, and the theory of throwing money at countries to solve their problems became mainstream.

As it turns out many financially despaired countries became that way because of dictatorships and regimes, and giving these dictators a large amount of money was doing the exact opposite of helping the poor citizens. Giving the dictators money simply insulated them from their terrible economic decisions, it gave them a financial shield so they didn’t have to feel the consequences of their actions. With this shield these now rich dictators could continue their destructive behavior, overtaxing and ruining the lives of the poor citizens the money was initially sent to help. It was only after we threatened to cut off the foreign aid that the economic systems of these countries began to improve.

The foreign aid politicized the lives of many groups. It began splitting people apart and creating violence, since every group wanted to steal this free money from the other. It also took peoples focus away from what would actually solve their problems, that being reforming their economic systems. Now there was no reason to reform, since they could just continue receiving free foreign aid without having to improve themselves. Peter Bower predicted this back in the 50’s, saying that these foreign aid programs would only serve to divert peoples attention away from bettering themselves. He also predicted these foreign aid programs would help prop up rotten regimes, making us think we were helping the poor when really we were only helping the regimes milk the poor for all they were worth. The only way to actually help the poor is with strict protection of private property, fair and unbiased government, and an entrepreneurial spirit from the people. These three things are the backbone of a prosperous country, the answer is not simply throwing funds at those in power who created their countries problems to begin with.

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