He Blinded Me with Science: Barack Obama Talks Science & Technology Policy

If you haven’t checked out ScienceDebate2000.com, you probably should. A group of ordinary Americans got together last fall and called for a presidential debate about the future of science and technology. On September 5, Barack Obama answered the 14 questions that scientists collectively came up with. Although John McCain has not answered the questions yet, the Web site said he will.

I come away impressed with Obama’s policy positions, which was a bit of a surprise. I’m definitely ready for regime change in America, but when I listen to Obama it’s not clear to me that he understands the genius of the American economy–which is our entrepreneurial spirit.

Sometimes, Obama sounds so populist and anti-corporation that it worries me. I fear that he’ll fall back on the same old tired Democratic ideas of worrying more about redistributing wealth than creating new wealth. But having read Obama’s detailed answers to these important questions, I feel as if his real policies are more pro-growth and pro-entrepreneur than the change-centric rhetoric found in his spellbinding speeches.

Among the highlights in his answers:

* Ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration

* My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade.

* As president, I will launch a Service Scholarship program that pays undergraduate or graduate teaching education costs for those who commit to teaching in a high-need school, and I will prioritize math and science teachers. Additionally, my proposal to create Teacher Residency Academies will also add 30,000 new teachers to high-need schools – training thousands of science and math teachers.

* My proposals for providing broadband Internet connections for all Americans across the country will help ensure that more students are able to
bolster their STEM achievement.

* Specifically, I will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. I will start reducing emissions immediately by establishing strong annual reduction targets with an intermediate goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. A cap- and-trade program draws on the power of the marketplace to reduce emissions in a cost- effective and flexible way. I will require all pollution credits to be auctioned

* First, I have proposed programs that, taken together, will increase federal investment in the clean energy research, development, and deployment by $150 billion over ten years. This research will cover:
• Basic research to develop alternative fuels and chemicals;
• Equipment and designs that can greatly reduce energy use in residential and commercial buildings – both new and existing;
• New vehicle technologies capable of significantly reducing our oil consumption;
• Advanced energy storage and transmission that would greatly help the economics of new electric-generating technologies and plug-in hybrids;
• Technologies for capturing and sequestering greenhouse gases produced by coal plants; and
• A new generation of nuclear electric technologies that address cost, safety, waste disposal, and proliferation risks.

* Overseas, I will launch a Shared Security Partnership that invests $5 billion over 3 years to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks.

* I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight


Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “He Blinded Me with Science: Barack Obama Talks Science & Technology Policy”

  1. annsnewfriend Says:

    Blinded is a good metaphor.

    First item: “Ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration.”

    Is Senator Obama going to guarantee that scientists in other countries will have no insights? Intellect gathers where it will. Einstein wrote his discoveries in a rather humble setting. Moreover, “ensure” is a classic weasle word. Did you forget that Mr. Obama is a politician? Ensure. Fine, how? And frankly who cares? Einsteins’ having been German hasn’t hindered American science any, has it? “Leading” is more weasel talk.

    “Increase funding.” No surprise. It’s the hallmark of his party. Got a problem, throw money at it. (It sounds like he wants to buy your vote.)

    Service Scholarship: money generously taken from the tax payer’s pocket and put into someone else’s pocket. And to benefit whom? Teachers! The Dems favorite and very loyal constituency. The same people who give us our wonderful and highly praised public schools! Surprise again.

    These teachers will be trained. Wait a minute. Didn’t they go to college? When, pray tell, do the Dems ever plan to get around to teaching the children instead of training the teachers? (When global cooling extends to hell, I think.)

    Broadband for all! And a chicken in every basket. By the time it’s installed, of course, broadband will be yesterday’s tech.

    Cap and trade: favors those who can pay for their excesses. Shame on you.

    As to the remaining proposals: has the Senator from Illinois ever heard of theoretical science?

    Not impressed. (Or blinded either.)

  2. Scientists: Obama wants to buy your vote! « Annsnewfriend’s Weblog Says:

    […] found this over at Creative Capital, in a post titled “He Blinded Me with Science.”  It should be noted that the author of […]

  3. Spencer Ante Says:

    Hi Antiarianna! Love the url. And thanks for the comments and linking to my blog post.

    Listen, I agree that Obama needs to flesh out some of these policy proposals with more specifics–the call for ubiquitous broadband, for instance, begs the question: How much will this cost and who is going to pay for it?

    And per your point on Einstein, I am also concerned about the increasing anti-immigrant sentiment gathering force in our country and in the halls of Congress.

    But on the whole I think Obama gets technology and science more than McCain–look no further than his own campaign, which has used technology deftly to raise money, organize and spread his message. HIs strong call to beef up investment in basic research, science educaton and green technology are exactly what the country needs. At the same time, I’d like to know more about Obama’s views of the financial sector, which plays a very important if not equally important role in the entrepreneurial economy.

    And let’s face it, McCain himself I believe admtted that he doesn’t really use computers that much at all. That can’t be good for the country.

    What has McCain (or any other candidate) done with respect to science and technology that gives you comfort?

  4. annsnewfriend Says:

    It’s not so much whether or not McCain uses computers — or whether Obama gets technology, but which candidate will promote the culture in which science will best flourish.

    I am skeptical as to the idea that either of them will make much of a profound impact. But my reaction to Obama’s answers is cynicism — I think he’s just saying what people want to hear.

    A certain amount of over-emphasis on technology might work against theoretical science. Not all science — not even the best science — has practical applications. Some things matter for their own sakes, a kind of science that is a search for knowledge.

    What do presidential candidates do with respect to science and technology that provides me comfort?

  5. annsnewfriend Says:

    Sorry, my computer clicked before I was ready. I think that political leaders play a role in the region where science and morality meet. In that regard I’m very wary of Obama’s “not my pay grade” nonchalance about abortion.

    Stem cell research, recombinant gene science, all that sort of thing treads down a worrisome hubristic path. And humility is Obama’s act, but hubris is more his substance.

    Yes, I linked to your site. It’s a great site.

  6. joyann Says:

    i think not only that he is the first black presdient but he is a persident that want to chang the usa and i hope that the people that voted for him a truth his word that he would not let them down

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: