Monday, March 17, 2014

Handwringing over the private funding of science

Interesting discussion over at ASI:

For the basic problem here is that scientific research, or at least the results from it, is a public good. It's non-rivalrous and non-excludeable meaning that it's very difficult indeed to make a profit from it. Thus there will be too little private investment in this sphere. This is the argument in favour of government funding of science, that scientific results are a public good. But if we can gain private finance, despite the public good problem, then we've solved that public good problem, haven't we? And therefore private funding, to the extent that it happens, is indeed entirely and actually a substitute for government funding.

To the extent that science is getting private funding this is indeed the perfect argument in favour of cutting public funding. And given the increased efficiency coming from not having to worry about race and gender perhaps cutting by more than is donated.
NYT's article "Billionaires with big ideas are privatizing American science" that started the discussion. But more from the Cato Institute advocating the "End of government science funding" (1997), the Scientific American asking "Are we entering a Golden era of private science funding?" and an article at Berkeley - "Who pays for science?".

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