Stimulus, science, and the Democrats

Nancy Pelosi wants to spend part of the stimulus money on science. Good!

Nancy Pelosi is pushing science spending as part of the stimulus package. I’m for it.

More generally, I think the Democrats have a chance now to mobilize what Don Price once called “the scientific estate” as part of a new coalition. That means, of course, respecting scientific analysis in making policy. But it also means keeping the flow of funds coming. This isn’t merely a question of pandering to an interest group (though of course it is partly that).

At any reasonable social discount rate, we’re way under-investing in new knowledge compared to our investments in physical capital. So spending more on science as part of the stimulus package is sensible microeconomically as well as macroeconomically.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com