Science and technology have been the backbone of the American economy and the driver of its position as a world power, both economically and militarily since the turn of the last century. Innovation combined with the entrepreneurial spirit put us on the moon a mere 66 years after first flight, against the backdrop of the birth and revolution of both the airlines and travel industries. In medicine, it has allowed vaccines to eradicate once deadly diseases, map the human genome resulting in genetically targeted cancer treatments, and has introduced prosthetics which bring ability and mobility back to those who lack or have lost it. Militarily it has brought us better weapons, armor, equipment, and vehicles, and continues to insure our dominance into the digital age. And, of course, there’s the internet: A giant engine of commerce that finally made the computer a necessity in every home. Because, of course, who can live without a regular dose of arguing with complete strangers and watching cat videos?
But all of this progress is threatened. It is threatened by politicians and powerful corporate interests that seek to suppress scientific findings and misinform the public. It is threatened by science denialism, whether it comes from those very corporate interests regarding global warming, pseudo-scientific anti-vaccine campaigns, or Religious interests denying Evolution. It comes in the form of reduced funding for basic research; Research that is often mocked and made to sound superfluous by politicians more interested in negligible budget reductions, but which is the breeding ground for the very information and discoveries that regularly blossom into new technologies.
It is also under threat by the increasing cost of secondary education, resulting in a work force that increasingly lacks the necessary skills to compete, and an immigration policy which hampers companies’ ability to hire those skills from abroad in the meantime. If we are going to continue to lead the world in technological advancement, and to have both the knowledge and tools necessary to address any future challenges we face we must address both of these issues. We must END the politicization of Science and we must encourage and better support our students in the STEM fields.
To these ends, oversight of the distribution of Scientific funding must be taken away from the Congress and given over to an apolitical body of Scientists, Engineers, and Researchers so that funding goes to support all levels of research, without undue influence by Congress. Federal Grant programs must be expanded to cover a far greater percentage of the cost of obtaining STEM degrees, and to cover a far greater range of students. The Federal Government must work with States to restore funding to higher education in order to bring costs down across the board for everyone. Education is neither a Right nor a Privilege. Rather, it is an OBLIGATION, both on the part of society, to educate its populace, and on the part of the people to educate themselves, in order that they reach their fullest potential, both for their own personal well-being and for the well-being of all of society.