Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' warns of 'fiscal cliff' science program cuts and lost innovation

Bill Nye, also known as "The Science Guy," appeared on "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm" on Current TV on Monday night. The former TV mainstay, best known for his Disney/PBS children's science show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," which ran from 1993–1998, visited to discuss the ramifications of so-called "fiscal cliff" cuts to science and research programs.

Folks should be aware that if the Republicans and Democrats don't come to an agreement before the first of the year, not only will the Bush tax cuts end, a number of programs will receive automatic cuts. As many have said, though, this is not so much a fiscal clife as a fiscal slope, as the cuts are phased in.

Among the programs on the chopping block are NASA ($705 million), the National Institute of Health (NIH, $2.3 billion), the DoD ($6.7 billion), and the National Science Foundation (NSF, $400 million).

[It should be quickly noted that these cuts are a result of the sequestration agreed to by Congress in 2011 as a result of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling; they are not of U.S. President Barack Obama's own doing.]

Nye told host Jennifer Granholm:
What makes the U.S. economy what it is is innovation -- this tradition of doing new things or of ingenuity. The reason people still come to the U.S. to get educated, or they send their children to the U.S. to get educated, is because of our tradition of innovation and doing things new. Smartphones -- we wouldn’t have those without a space program. So if you cut this NASA budget it is very reasonable that somebody else, another agency, another organization will be the next mission to Mars. And by next I mean after the year 2018.

If that is allowed to happen, it will take the wind out of our sails both economically and spiritually. What space exploration really does for society is raise our expectations of what is possible, of what we can do.
Nye went further, discussing how jobs were created by innovation. This was something he had discussed in mid-October, when he asked "What are the three worship words this fall?"

He answered:
(They are) Jobs, jobs, jobs. If you want jobs in the United States, you have to have technological innovation. We are no longer the world's most economical manufacturer of certain goods. We are the technological leaders. Inventors who come from the United States understand science.
This is the third time in recent memory Nye has spoken up about science. In late August, Nye starred in a video for Big Think in which he warned parents not to teach their children creationism because, he said, it does them -- and the U.S. -- a disservice. He said that the U.S. needs "scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future" and "engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

Once again, innovation, and jobs, jobs, jobs.

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