Grab a pen and paper, or your keyboard...

Feb 15 2011 Published by under Blogging, CongressCritter, LinkLove, NIH Budget

Hat tip to Dr. Isis, for her post on the letter from FASEB asking for scientists to contact their congressional representatives to oppose the proposed $1.2 billion dollar budget cut to the NIH budget in HR1.  Paylines are already tight, and between the potential 5% cut in the budget proposed in HR1 and the ever increasing cost of doing science, this would put many people out of work.  I've already broken out pen and paper and am writing a handwritten letter to my congressman.

This is go time people and if you ever complain about people not getting into the fight to advocate for science, this is your chance to make a difference.  Pass this on to a colleague or better yet bring it up in your lab or faculty meeting and have folks in your lab or department write letters to their representatives.  Tell them what you do, how it will make a difference, how it will make the human condition a much better one.  Also tell them the detrimental effects to you and those personally around you if this funding cut goes through.  People laid off, studies left undone, patients left untreated.  Make them see that this would be more than cutting a line item on a budget, this is about cutting the careers of many who have worked so hard to see that our lives are improved.  Please take the time to communicate the importance of science funding with your congressional representative.  I fear that if we do not advocate for science, and quite strongly for this manner, this will be the first of many cuts to come our way in the future.

Also check out PiT, GertyZ, Thomas Joseph, and JuniorProf take on HR1.

See the contents of the letter below:

"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"

9 responses so far

  • 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.

    • I've previously written them about science funding in general and especially proposed budget cuts to important regulator agencies like EPA and FDA. Science and technology is the future of this country, the quicker they get that, the better off we will be.

  • Katharine says:

    This opinion's not going to be a popular one, but.

    I am increasingly unconvinced about the impact of these sorts of letters on people who don't know what reason is. In fact, I will admit I have a major fear of people who do the exact opposite of what is indicated when presented with scientific evidence, and the majority in the House is precisely these people.

    It is very hard to change the opinion of people with no scientific training who are strongly committed to an ideology, especially when they have money invested in it. MANY of the people who are our enemies in Congress have money invested in it.

    We can push for better science education for future generations, but the unfortunate reality is that stuff such as this ultimately rests in the hands of those who dole out the money, which is a combination of state and federal governments (state moreso when it comes to education, federal when it comes to research grants. Please, please correct me if I'm wrong, and I probably am in part.)

    I don't really trust the voters to do the right thing when it comes to this.

    I agree with you completely on what needs to be done, but I have significantly more despair about what Congress will do about anything, and these days my inclination is to bail after I finish grad school and go somewhere that respects us more.

    I have no particular love for America or most of its people. I'm jaded and bitter. I will admit it. Wherever you optimists get your energy from, I salute you and would like to know how the hell you do it, but I will probably be over the pond ready to help pick up the pieces after the probably unstoppable degradation of science in America.

    Thankfully, I suspect the degradation will be only temporary.

    • Katharine says:

      I should probably note two things:

      1) I am sending a letter to my congresscritters anyway because I might as well do so

      2) I used to be more optimistic about this, but it quickly became apparent to me that optimism was not worth my energy

    • I'm totally with you comrade, I'll go wherever the job and better quality of life take me. I love this country, but grow tired everyday of ideological warring. We should care about what people say and whether or not they had a D or R next to their name. This political posturing is bullshit and both sides are slowly killing this country.

      However, that being said, its definitely the asshole republicans that are coming after science and regulatory-related government spending because they believe technology is the job of the private sector and regulation is evil.

      However, our national scientific organizations (NIH, NSF, NIST, DOE, etc.) work hand in hand to help further private sector in a way that they could never do on their own. They just don't get that.

      • Katharine says:

        "However, that being said, its definitely the asshole republicans that are coming after science and regulatory-related government spending because they believe technology is the job of the private sector and regulation is evil."

        I have to say that I'm thinking it's time for some of the 're-education' the Republicans fear. 😛 Just not the kind they think we're going to give them.

        I should probably note that my congresspeople are all Democrats - Jim Webb, Mark Warner, and Gerald Connolly. As far as I know, they're fairly reliable, but maybe I can get one of them to get up and give me a shout-out.

  • Katharine says:

    Here are mah letter:

    Dear Representative Connolly:

    I am writing to request you oppose HR1, the resolution that would cut the Office of Science and Technology, NIH, DOE, and NSF funding by amounts significant enough to cause a major impact on this nation’s research.

    (Small blurb about who I am, where I'm going, and my research interests)

    I mention my own interests because this is only one example of how studies in wide-ranging areas can have fascinating and sometimes unexpected influences on more mundane-seeming areas of concern to humanity.

    Cutting this much money from the federal budget will make it infinitely harder for us in science to do these things:
    - Investigate new sources of drugs. We have recently discovered, for example, a compound that certain mussels secrete to adhere to rocks that may give us an option to repair thin membranes, such as the fluid-filled sacs that envelop a developing embryo, that may be important for developing new surgeries.
    - Learn more about how our planet is warming. I find it quite funny, actually, that the Department of Defense considers global warming a massive threat to American security while a large proportion of your colleagues in Congress (mostly Republicans) deny it happens at all.
    - Develop new treatments for the ailments Americans suffer from daily
    - Delve deeper into how our planet and universe work and keep us safe from environmental threats (I assume you remember the foofaraw about Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and the volcano warning system and how much that angered people who live in the shadow of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, for a recent example)
    - Investigate new sources of energy that could be far cheaper and much safer for the environment than the oil we use (and perhaps we could investigate safer and equally profitable uses for the petroleum that produces it, which would make the oil companies happy)
    - Investigate new materials to build safer buildings
    - Help for businesses small and large to translate our discoveries into new technologies. Yes, that’s right; we have a bigger hand in the private sector than many think.
    - Train new scientists to continue doing these things in the future and maintaining America’s status as one of the major players in science and technology. You cannot maintain America’s status if you do not continue to discover and invent.

    The money that goes to the Office of Science, NIH, DOE, and NSF goes toward research and development that permeates the fabric of our society, from the bottles of water you drink from every day to the chair you sit on to the medicine you take every morning to the surgery a sick child needs to live.

    There are supposedly complaints about translational research – that is, using discoveries to make technology that directly impacts lives. Among other things, NIH is founding a new translational research institute to address precisely this problem, and to remove funding from them at this stage would be counterproductive, to say the least. Suffice to say that it would be a huge step backward.

    It should be, frankly, obvious to the vast majority of Congress how vital these funds are for the continued success of the country. We can survive without some teeny-tiny programs and we can survive without the massive bloat of funds that the Department of Defense demands beyond what is probably actually needed for national defense (my opinion, don’t quote me on it), but without resources for the science and technological development that takes place in this country, our country will no longer maintain its status as a superpower, the economy will suffer, and the possible result from all this is something that I do not want to imagine.



  • Katharine says:

    ...y'know, if I were feeling slightly more heartless, I'd say we should round up the whole research community and deliver a statement saying 'We know your medical conditions, sponsors of the bill, and we're stopping all research on your conditions until you pay up'.

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