3-16-13 Hodgepodge

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Government Funding as Wastefulness

Although the author does not advocate what I do (i.e., getting the government almost completely out of funding science), he brings up the following interesting fact regarding the wastefulness of the government grant system:

Universities depend on grant money to pay faculty. But if the money allocated for research were given to universities instead of individuals, universities could afford to pay their faculty.

Not only that, universities could reduce the enormous bureaucracies created to manage grants. This isn't purely hypothetical. When Hillsdale College decided to refuse all federal grant money, they found that the loss wasn't nearly as large as it seemed because so much of the grant money had been going to administering grants. [bold added]
There are other even more compelling reasons to divorce central planning from science -- and there would still be some costs for administering the money, whatever its source -- but it's interesting to consider the bite that bureaucracy is taking out of research funding.

Weekend Reading

"[Rockefeller's] cheap, safe oil products--and the innovative business methods he developed to produce them--lifted Americans' standard of living by several degrees of magnitude." -- Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, in "'Give Back' Is One of the World's Most Impoverishing Commands", at Forbes

"Sadly, addicts buy into this politically correct nonsense and wait for medical solutions for their 'diseases' - at their own peril and that of their loved ones." -- Michael Hurd, in "Stop Waiting: Help Yourself!", at The Delaware Coast Press

"Is telling people they're helpless better than suggesting they take responsibility for deciding what's worth it to them, and tackling it case-by-case?" -- Michael Hurd, in "What the Heck is Misophonia?", at The Delaware Wave

"Perhaps more people will come to realize that the minor spending-growth restraint entailed in the sequester not only entails no disaster, but is a positive development fully consistent with a steadily-rising stock market and more robust job gains." -- Richard Salsman, in "Why The Fiscal 'Sequester' Scheme Is Actually Bullish", at Forbes

My Two Cents

I have a minor quibble with Yaron Brook and Don Watkins -- or might it be with their editors? After reading their examples of how, via trade, America's great capitalists have already more than "given back" (and for valid, selfish reasons), I'd add "and Ridiculous" after "Impoverishing" in their title.

Dirty, Filthy Data

A New York Times piece about the possible causes of celiac disease points to an interesting possible accomplice to genetics and gluten:
Differing wheat consumption patterns can't explain this disparity. If anything, Russians consume more wheat than Finns, and of similar varieties. Neither can genetics.

Although now bisected by the Finno-Russian border, Karelia, as the study region is known, was historically a single province. The two study populations are culturally, linguistically and genetically related. The predisposing gene variants are similarly prevalent in both groups.

Maybe more telling, this disparity holds for other autoimmune and allergic diseases. Finland ranks first in the world for Type 1 autoimmune diabetes. But among Russian Karelians, the disease is nearly six times less frequent. Antibodies indicative of autoimmune thyroiditis are also less prevalent, and the risk of developing allergies, as gauged by skin-prick tests, is one-fourth as common.

What's the Russians' secret? [links dropped]
You may be surprised at where the research might lead.



Jennifer Snow said...

There's a strong link between the timing of the introduction of modern semi-dwarf wheat in the 70's and the recent radical increase in celiac and other wheat-related illness. One thing that wheat does is change your bowel flora, promoting the growth of several undesirable types while retarding the growth of several desirable types. So, yeah, it'd make a rough kind of sense if your level of bacterial exposure has something to do with your particular reaction to wheat. Or it could be that these somewhat antiquated Russians are growing and eating an older strain of wheat that isn't bathed in pesticides and herbicides, which may exacerbate the anti-nutritional properties of the grain.

Gus Van Horn said...

"There's a strong link between the timing of the introduction of modern semi-dwarf wheat in the 70's and the recent radical increase in celiac and other wheat-related illness."

Not necessarily, particularly if, as the article implies, either everyone on both sides of the border (a) started eating this new variety at the same time, or (b) never started eating it, OR (c) some other variable (like common hygenic or other nutritional practices) changed at the same time this variety was introduced.