If you’re a Libertarian like me, there are many predictable objections you’ll hear repeatedly from critics on why government MUST exist. As I’ve written previously, I don’t have a concrete plan for the world which is exactly WHY I favor Liberty vs. Coercion. However, allowing people to make decisions free from Government control makes some people nervous or others downright crazy.
To be sure, there are different flavors of Libertarianism from Anarchy, Minarchism, Voluntaryism, and Anarcho-Capitalism to name a few.
Aside from roads, schools, and bigger global police forces, one area of concern from some fence-sitters is Science. There are pockets of people out there that want smaller, less intrusive government, but one of their hang ups is the idea that without government, who would fund scientific research? Without the government taking, aggregating and distributing tax payer money to funnel billions of dollars into medical, astrophysical, climatic, or genetic research, mankind would suffer terrible intellectual atrophy.
If this is you, Libertarianism.org recently hosted a podcast entitled “Science Doesn’t Need Public Funding” which I would highly recommend. Terence Kealey, the Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Buckingham, brilliantly puts some of the most common (and some fairly uncommon) aspects of these fears on the table and examines them.
As I’ve said time and again, I believe strongly that the Market is THE BEST mechanism by which the needs of society can be met because the Market forces us to produce better, more efficient and inexpensive technologies every single day. The Market’s appetite for Innovation is insatiable and constantly pushes progress forward, even before the idea of Progress was ever coined.
While I was listening to this podcast, I was reminded of the CEO of Google, Larry Page, sharing his desire to give all of his billions of dollars of inheritance to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, rather than charity if he were to pass. Some critics, I’m sure, balked at Page and labeled him as a greedy corporatist, but if you read his comments, his desire is to support innovative thinkers like Musk to the benefit of Mankind.
One point that Kealey makes on the podcast which I want to emphasize is that from a % basis, US public funding in the name of scientific research is a drop in the bucket compared to the massive amounts of spending on things like Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, and Defense. However, the symbolic and ideological notion that science cannot exist without Government-forced funding is what’s critical to debunk. In doing so, I’m hoping more fence-sitters with leaning toward smaller government will finally take the bold step of embracing life without a coercive oppressor.
2 thoughts on “Liberty and Science”
Two additional resources to consider, shared by some friends.
1) Another clip from Dr. Kealey on this topic: http://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/does-public-funding-science-enhance-scientific-progress-0
2) The truth behind Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, oftentimes used by Statists to act as some kind of Liberty Boogy Man. http://fee.org/freeman/detail/ideas-and-consequences-of-meat-and-myth
Well done. The idea of individuals choosing to work cooperatively while risking their own resources (or from others whom they were able to persuade as a viable use of resources) offers greater assurance that they will be applied to the most urgent need. Detractors will argue that capital markets have not financed some of the largest projects without merit. In many cases private markets have been locked out by the state. And to include the totality of investment by private firms reaffirms that the free market is not only capable, but superior. Nice work.