Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Supporter Submission -- Sequestration: What That Means For Us

As we push into the third month of 2013, concerns about the national budget still loom over our heads, and the dreaded fiscal cliff has not been taken care of.  As of March 1, the government automatically entered into sequestration of funding because a balanced budget failed to be reached.  On the outside, many people see this as a positive because of the enormous debt that has mounted over the years, but I want to talk about what and, more importantly, whom this term of sequestration really affects.

I will not try to get political, and I do not identify myself with a political party.  I would rather form my thoughts independently through research and an understanding of predominately economic issues.

One major recipient group of government funds that will be adversely affected by radical spending cuts are University Research Departments.  Many research programs in the private and public university sectors are funded through government grants and awards -- a form of government spending.  These grants and awards help fund researchers and their staff, including many undergraduate and graduate students alike, working for financial aid money as well as full or part time work to pay living expenses.

Without the funding for important health and technological research, we risk falling behind the rest of the world in areas such as HIV, Alzheimer's, obesity and cancer research.  We will also lose our spot towards the front of the line in terms of the plethora of new technology poised to boost any given economy.  Most innovation that hits the market and eventually becomes a source of private spending in the economy is, at one point, government funded university research that evolved into a marketable product used to generate millions and millions of dollars.

Let's look at MIT for a second.  For over 100 years, innovation at this university, fueled by government funding, has generated billions of dollars in national and personal defense, computer software engineering, architecture and hard technology fields.  Another group of largely government funded fields of study that will suffer is green, or environmentally-friendly, initiatives that, as is a theme, have the potential to generate huge amounts of money as well as a have a positive environmental impact as we transcend an age of waste and focus on corporate responsibility to build new socially responsible standards.

Finally, urban and mental health research, a hotbed of national controversy right now is largely funded through National Institution of Health grants.  Instead of addressing mental health and its causes, effects and treatments in lieu of tragedies of 2012, what we will be doing is detracting funds away from the people doing all of the crucial work in these areas.

Without the grants to support researchers and their work, we once again find ourselves in danger of having these sectors disappear altogether, and the problems that we have experienced as a nation will grow worse with no plan for the future and hope of help for those that truly need it.

What I am trying to say is that no matter what your political affiliation and views are on governmental spending and where money should or shouldn't be allocated, know that until a budget has been balanced and approved automatic spending cuts will be affecting everyone.  Contact your senators and representatives and let them know how important it is for this to get done because we as a country are suffering exponentially every day as result.


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