An NPR story today tracks the loss of academic jobs in science and medical fields. Only 15% of the PhD’s who have graduated in the past decade will actually get a tenure track job. These fresh PhD’s are working temporary jobs in labs across the country for as little as $40,000 a year. These are some of the best and brightest minds in the United States.
Up until the 1980’s, the U.S. government supported basic research in universities and colleges across the nation. In the 1980’s a new political philosophy emerged and the curtailment of government monies for research began to wane. At times the money has increased temporarily, only to dissipate just as rapidly, further eroding the amount of government sponsored research.
All of this basic research was the genesis for many of the new fields of employment we have today. Biomedical research, pharmaceuticals, energy sources (both repurposed and alternative), computer hardware, software, opticals, nanotechnology, quantum physics, and especially cell phone technology all began with government sponsored research in anonymous college labs.
Private corporations are not going to fund research in any significant manner. They have not done so in the past thirty years.
This report should be a call to arms. We should be having a conversation about how Congress spends our money. However, I fear that our national legislators are unusually nearsighted and are unable to see beyond their next election, which has little to do long term issues and trends of our nation.
We need to get these people to work at their best levels, doing the research they have spent years training to do. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/16/343539024/too-few-university-jobs-for-americas-young-scientists>