Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, April 01, 2013

The "sequester" isn't just dumb . . .

It's catastrophic. Unfortunately, most of the catastrophe will go unnoticed by most people, most certainly including the corporate media. Janice Hopkins Tanne in BMJ reviews the impact on public health and health research.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, representing 100 000 members, said sequestration cuts “of this scale in a short timeframe will be calamitous. It will require arbitrary funding cuts that will prevent critical research projects from reaching completion. Other potentially lifesaving research projects will not even get off the ground. In anticipation of the possible cuts, NIH funding rates have sunk to an all time low . . . The number of research project grants funded by NIH [National Institutes of Health] has declined every year since 2004.”

The result of this is that entire programs of research are simply terminated before they come to fruition. Even before the sequester, only about 7% of research applications were being funded. This means that graduating Ph.D.s won't get fellowships, and post-docs will never get faculty jobs. The investment we have already made in their educations will be wasted. Scientific research will be set back by decades. Did you have hope for your loved one with MS, or a refractory cancer, or incipient dementia? Were you hoping that the health care system would start to deliver care that's more efficient, compassionate, and effective?

Well, the Congress has spoken. Drop dead.

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