Monday, October 13, 2014

Why We Need a New Deal: Ebola, the Underfunding of Science, and the Forbes 400

(New Deal policymakers understood the value of science. Policymakers today, less so. The description for this photo reads, "Atom Smasher (Cyclotron) being constructed at Ohio State University with WPA assistance. Photo shows WPA work on the atom-smasher at Ohio State University." Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

The following was reported on the Huffington Post today:

"Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has 'slowed down' research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
'NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here...Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.'" ("Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director")

(Also see "Budget Cuts 'Eroded Our Ability to Respond' to Ebola, Says Top Health Official" and "Cancer progress threatened by budget cuts in Congress, group says")

In other news, we learned that the wealthiest 400 Americans added--in just one year--$270 billion to their personal wealth. Now they're worth $2.29 trillion. To add insult to injury, these "job creators" aren't even creating good-paying jobs for us. It's been frequently highlighted that most of the jobs created during the "recovery" have been low-paying, stingy-benefit, no-future jobs. Of course, these facts don't change the eternal cry coming from the political right: "You can't tax the job creators!!!"

So, as the "job creators" keep sucking up all the gains from increased worker productivity, and keep enjoying their historically low tax rates, and keep utilizing sneaky tax loopholes & shelters, we are underfunding scientific research (and underfunding a lot of other social goods too, e.g., education & infrastructure) and thus putting ourselves in danger.

It's clear that we need a new and even stronger New Deal. We need a government geared more towards the people, and less towards millionaires & billionaires.

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