Universities have essentially been nationalized, like the banks. For years, government research grants have been pork grants: between 30 and 50 percent of all grant money is for “overhead,” which is spent at the discretion of university administrators. Surprise, surprise: administrators always decide that more administrators are needed, and administrator salaries increase. Over the last 50 years — the period of increasing government grant money — the administrator-student ratio at universities has increased more than 100 percent, while the faculty-student ratio has stayed the same or decreased. Today, a science professor cannot get tenure unless he has a government grant. A scientist’s teaching skills, her contributions to scientific knowledge, are irrelevant.
The hallmark of a nationalized industry is degraded production, and we can already see this happening in physics. In his book The Trouble with Physics, the physicist Lee Smolin divided up the past two centuries into 25-year intervals, and listed the great breakthroughs in physics that occurred in each. Rather, in all intervals but one: the past 25 years, within which there have been no physics breakthroughs.
Nationalization of medical research has slowed the advance of medicine. The U.S. cancer death rate is actually higher today than it was decades ago, before Nixon launched his War on Cancer. NIH cancer researchers are given grants to “make progress toward curing cancer,” not curing cancer. If someone found a cure for cancer, there would be no more grants for making progress toward a cure for cancer. Gary Taubes, in his most recent book Good Calories, Bad Calories, has shown how the American obesity epidemic is a consequence of government control of nutrition research, which has lead to poorer nutrition standards and guidelines than we had in the 1950s.
The great classical liberal economist Milton Friedman pointed out that, “Einstein didn’t construct his theory on order from a bureaucrat.” If this Wreak-America Bill becomes law, the only theories created will be those created on order from a bureaucrat. And the theories will be wrong. Scientific truth cannot be established by government degree.