Various Lies

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ZOMG do something!

Hi Reader,

I know you love science and shit cos you read this blog right, and I am, nominally at least, a scientist. Right now science in the US is directly under attack from a deliberate and cold-blooded anti-science cadre in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The BadAstronomer has written a series of posts (for e.g. here and links within)  about how anti-science (and usually, pro-evangelical) business interests are damaging many of the important committees in Congress. Climate change is held to be a lie, teaching of evolution is attacked in public schools and now the National Institutes of Health budget is under seige too. Inspired by m'learned Collague the deliciously shoetastic Dr. Isis, I urge you to help in the fight.

Anti-science politicians want to cut the largest healthcare research budget in the nation, and at the same time ruin the careers and research of hundreds, if not thousands of hard working academic scientists. Most of the scientists affected will be younger and more junior academics, either just starting out their own independent careers after a decade or more of servitude, or else it will effect those still in servitude - postdocs.

The vast majority of postdocs in the US are paid from "R01" research grants, and it is these that will take a hit. if the NIH bugdet is cut then contuning funding amounts will be cut too. This means there will not be enough money to keep folks employed in many situations.

I'm not arguing about jobs though, I'm arguing about lives. the lives of these dedicated and exceptionally taltened young mena dn women and the invaluable research they perform. Most of the top quality biomedical research conducted in the US is performed by postdocs. Already over worked, under paid and in many cases without any benefits or even health insurance, these tens of thousands of dedicated scientists *do* the research that makes *your* world a better place.

This email arrived today from Dr. William Talman, a jolly nice chap and President of the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology (FASEB). Among many other things FASEB is an active and vigorous advocate on our behalf. I urge you to read Dr. Talman's email, then click the link and find out how to CALL your local representative.

Don't be scared. They work for us. We voted them in. Do it. As soon as you can. Please.

$1.6 Billion Cut Proposed for NIH: Call Your Representative TODAY!
Dear Colleague,
For months the new House leadership has been promising to cut billions in federal funding in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Later this week the House will try to make the rhetoric a reality by voting on HR 1, a “continuing resolution” (CR) that would cut NIH funding by $1.6 billion (5.2%) BELOW the current level – reducing the budget for medical research to $29.4 billion!
 We must rally everyone – researchers, trainees, lab personnel – in the scientific community to protest these draconian cuts.
Please go to [THIS LINK]  for instructions on how to call your Representative’s Washington, DC office today! Urge him/her to oppose the cuts to NIH and vote against HR 1. Once you’ve made the call, let us know how it went by sending a short email to the address provided in the call instructions and forward the alert link to your colleagues. We must explain to our Representatives how cuts to NIH will have a devastating impact on their constituents! 
William T. Talman, MD
FASEB President


Thomas Joseph said...

You think you have it bad? Think Again

While you're at it, let your Congresscritters know that not only will medical researchers be getting the shaft, but so will all the agricultural, applied, basic, and environmental science researchers as well.

tideliar said...

Excellent! Thanks for the additonal information TJ

Thomas Joseph said...

Why all of these societies aren't pooling resources and putting together a unified front is beyond me. Seems as if the Ag, Env, and Med communities all need to get together with a unified stance.

tideliar said...

Maybe time and infrastructure issues? I've received three seperate calls for action from FASEB, The Society for Neuroscience and the American Heart Association.

Does the infrastructure for cross-community interaction exist? A central listerve would mean access to private email accounts. Most people I doubt would sign up for that.

And therein lies the rub when combating anti-science lobbying movements. They're too well funded and too well organised compared to "us" right now.

Thomas Joseph said...

If anything, I would have thought that many of the administrative offices of the major societies would attempt to "keep in touch". For instance, why wouldn't the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) talk to the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) on science research policy issues?

I've got to admit, I'm a bit disappointed that we have no central strategy or lobbying power.

tideliar said...

That's an intreresting point. I'm going to email the lead e-advocate at the AHA and ask what their mechanism for inter-agency commiunication is.

I'll post it on this blog when I get a chance...

Thomas Joseph said...

I'll be interested to hear what they have to say. I think I'll contact the relevant people in the ASA and inquire about this as well.

Thomas Joseph said...

ASA is talking about joining FASEB. So there is a step in the right direction. Also, they are sending joint letters with ASM and FASEB opposing cuts to the USDA's AFRI (Agriculture and Food Research Initiative) budget. They are requesting at least "flat funding" of the program at 2010 levels.

tideliar said...

I emailed the AHA yesterday but have heard nothing back. I'll try calling them this afternoon...

tideliar said...

Got a nice email from the AHA which I'll follow up on then reporduce on the blog. Apparently they belong to a consortium of societies that coordinate their lobbying efforts.