Paul Tonko

Opinion: Where Science Goes, So Goes Our Nation
Investing in research and innovation pays off big

A recent opinion column “Science That Leads” by my colleague, House Science Chairman Lamar Smith, argued that certain kinds of science, especially social and behavioral sciences, are not worth public investment. As an engineer, I take special care when I say: The facts disagree.

In 2014, the world’s foremost doctors and medical experts were working furiously to manage the rapidly growing threat of Ebola. Anthropologists, representing a field of behavioral science, understood the funeral practices in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and were able to act as mediators to intervene in ways that slowed the spread of the illness and saved countless lives. The full economic and public health value of this contribution is impossible to quantify but the lives and resources they saved are very real.

Tonko: Truckers Need Safe Places to Stop

Picture this: You are a hardworking mother with a 2-year-old son in upstate New York, and you are pregnant with twins. One late winter morning you say goodbye to your husband as he heads out the door on another truck run. This particular run finds the rig filled with milk, and the destination is South Carolina. You have said goodbye to him hundreds of times before. Only this time, he doesn't come back.

On March 5, 2009, that is exactly what happened to Hope Rivenburg. Her husband, Jason, was foolishly murdered in South Carolina while sleeping at an abandoned gas station along the highway. His murderer stole a meager $7 from Jason's wallet after shooting him in the cab of his truck.