March 5, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lubell: Smart, Not Fat, Cats Fuel Economic Growth

But the budget follow-through fell through. Confronted with an array of competing needs, unforeseen emergencies and partisan jousting over deficits, debt and revenues, appropriators were unable to make good on the financial goods.

With last years budgetary battle scars still stinging, its hard to see how lawmakers this year will have the will to provide the financial fuel the innovation engine desperately requires. In an election year, its hard to see how they will put pernicious partisanship aside and strike a chord of compromise to afford research laboratories with the financial certainty they require. With dysfunction becoming ingrained in the Congressional consciousness, its hard to see how they will avoid deferring difficult decisions until after the public has rendered its electoral judgment.

But if policymakers dont get serious about innovation soon, they will foreclose our nations ability to compete in the global marketplace of the 21st century. Our competitors wont take a siesta if we take a pass on science.

As Apple demonstrated with the iPhone and the iPad, creative industrialists, such as Steve Jobs, can turn federally funded scientific discoveries into marketable products, creating jobs, rewarding investors and transforming the lives of tens of millions of people.

But in todays world of instant financial gratification, industry cannot provide the patient capital science needs. That capital must come from the American taxpayer. And its not at all inappropriate because, in the end, the American taxpayer is the beneficiary.

Michael S. Lubell is a professor of physics at the City College of the City University of New York and director of public affairs of the American Physical Society.

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