EDITORIAL

Am I Wrong?

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Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1252
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237434

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Summary

I have seven grandchildren, and I worry about their future. The nation that I was raised in, the United States, has clearly lost its way at a time when the world badly needs wise leadership. Nations with a long-term view are making huge investments in their infrastructure—transportation, water, energy, waste, and recreation. And they have a laserlike focus on supporting science and engineering research with government resources. As examples, Germany, China, and South Korea come to mind. Meanwhile, the United States is living off its past. Not only do we face a crumbling infrastructure* but our federal investments in fundamental long-term R&D have been stagnant, dropping from 1.25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1985 to 0.87% in 2013.† Now, on top of that comes a mindless budget "sequester" that will make the situation considerably worse, causing the U.S. National Science Foundation to announce last week that it may award 1000 fewer research grants in 2013 than it did in 2012.