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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama: Swine Flu Shows Science Matters

President Obama's reassurances about the swine flu have been playing frequently on the news. Those comments came in an address to the National Academy of Sciences, where the President made a broader point about the importance of investing in science and education:

At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science, that support for research is somehow a luxury at moments defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before.

And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it's today. We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. And this is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it's not a cause for alarm. The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively. And I'm getting regular updates on the situation from the responsible agencies. And the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control will be offering regular updates to the American people. And Secretary Napolitano will be offering regular updates to the American people, as well, so that they know what steps are being taken and what steps they may need to take.

But one thing is clear -- our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community. And this is one more example of why we can't allow our nation to fall behind.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happened.

Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century. Time and again we've allowed the research and experimentation tax credit, which helps businesses grow and innovate, to lapse.

Our schools continue to trail other developed countries and, in some cases, developing countries. Our students are outperformed in math and science by their peers in Singapore, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Korea, among others. Another assessment shows American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world. And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas [President Barack Obama, remarks at the National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., 2009.04.27].

Truth and flu shots both hurt. But now more than ever, we need science.

We could also use a Health and Human Services Secretary. But in the face of a public health alert, the Palin wing of the GOP is still trying to derail the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius. Priorities, anyone?


  1. Well if investing in the future is the important thing then perhaps we shouldn't be killing our future generations, hmm?

  2. Again, there's the problem, Anon, putting ideological debates above science.

  3. It doesn't have to be ideological at all:
    abortion -> fewer children -> top-heavy population pyramid

    thusly burdening the generations of the future with a more massive older generation to support, causing their standard of living to decrease, making it more likely for them to utilize 'family planning' as well, exacerbating the problem even more and causing the generation after them to have to deal with the same problem.

    Generations of the future would be better off if people didn't abort their babies.

  4. I'm uneasy with that: by the same reasoning, you can say my wife and I are putting an undue burden on future generations by only having one child and thus have an obligation to conceive again and again and again....

  5. If China can institute a one-child policy, why can't we institute a multiple-child policy?

    But you're right. The ideological side of the debate is where it's at.

  6. "If China can institute a one-child policy, why can't we institute a multiple-child policy?"

    You have to ask? Really?? OK, before I start my rant...you are kidding, right?


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