The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 10 No. 2 • May 2007

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
— Will Rogers

Or Why There Can Never Be “Enough” Money in the NIH Budget

“The doubling of the NIH budget between 1998 and 2003 was intended to increase success rates in obtaining NIH grants, which have been declining since the mid-1970’s. Yet, the budget rise did not have its intended effect, and by 2003, grant application success rates were slightly worse than before. What happened? The budgetary increases were swamped by an equally large escalation in the number of applicants and applications. In 1998, there were about 19,000 scientists applying for competitive awards; in 2006 there were approximately 34,000.”

D&S comment: Surprise! Surprise! When the government made more “free” money available, more people chased after the extra money. This is an incontrovertible law of economic behavior called the rule of supply and demand. There can never be enough “free” government grant money to satisfy all demand for “free” money.

“There are insufficient ‘feedback loops’ linking the production of biomedical researchers to the availability of resources to support them.”

D&S comment: Correct! In a free and private system, the feedback loop linking the numbers of researchers and the availability of resources is the willingness of people with money to invest in more research, either for profits or for other forms of payback (including nonmonetary ones). In a government system, that feedback loop is destroyed, as taxpayers have no real control over what the government does with their tax money. The only limit on government spending is how much they can gouge out of taxpayers, and when they have exhausted that source (i.e., taxes have reached the point where tax increases result in reduced revenues to government), they print more dollars, increasing their capacity to spend by depreciating the value of your money. When you hear the constant complaints and whining from certain journals, such as Science, about how there isn’t “enough” money in their hands, remember that there can never be enough money. These government money-chasers think what they are doing is so much more important than what you are doing that you shouldn’t have the opportunity to spend your money on what you want, rather than what they want.

The quotes above are from Brian C. Martinson, “Universities and the money fix,” Nature Sept. 2007;449:141-2. The interpretations are those of D&S, not those of Mr. Martinson.

Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perennially rejuvenated illusions.
— Albert Einstein

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