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January 26, 2006

Quote of the Day 2: Small Government Conservative Edition

From Bush's interview with the WSJ again:

We're spending over a billion now on technology, and I'm going to remind the American people that the way to achieve a national objective, which is less dependency on foreign oil, and improve the quality of our environment, is for the government to encourage research and development and new technologies that have got marketplace applications.

Gotta love it. "[T]he way to achieve a national objective...is for the government to encourage research and development". Somewhere, Bill Buckley just shed a tear.

January 26, 2006 | Permalink

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for the government to encourage research and development and new technologies that have got marketplace applications.

Or tax breaks with no strings for big energy companies. How can he say this stuff with a straight face?

Posted by: Chris Howard | Jan 26, 2006 3:59:14 PM

Surely conservative theory says that if the government has any place in research, it's for technologies that do not have marketplace applications. After all, if a technology has marketplace applications, then efficient market theory says the market will fund it.

I wonder how long it will take conservatives to find a way to blame liberals for the fact they voted for Bush.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Jan 26, 2006 4:32:33 PM

Conservatives and libertarians conveneintly (or perhaps they are just ignorant) forget recent history, and the role that government has played in technology. Surely NASA has made a difference in our technology, surely DARPA has. The marketplace is no perfect, although moronic libertarians like to think so.

Posted by: d | Jan 26, 2006 7:12:57 PM

One . . .billion. . .dollars. Hey big spender, go easy there. That's almost 1/1000 the cost of the Iraq war, don't want to overdo it.

Posted by: roublen | Jan 26, 2006 10:58:03 PM

Hey d: That the government developed a given technology doesn't prove that only the government could have developed that technology.

In other words, while it's true we've gotten a lot of great technology out of government projects, there's no way of knowing whether the private sector would have also discovered that technology. Since the private sector runs more efficiently than the government, I'd guess that we'd probably have as much or more technology today without big government programs, but there's no way to go back in time and find out.

Going back to the original post, as a small-l libertarian, I really can't stand either the president or the Congressional Republicans these days.

Posted by: MGO | Jan 27, 2006 12:41:04 AM

Ezra, government is supposed to be limited by its effectiveness, not its size. For example, actual research money is drying up, and it's harder and harder for actual scientists to get government funding. Mission accomplished!

To whit:

Several job candidates turned down the prestigious school [MIT] for work in other countries where science funding is considered more stable... Researchers in nearly every field are finding it harder to win competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other research agencies.

Posted by: Constantine | Jan 27, 2006 1:05:11 AM

Same old, same old Announce a bold new initiative
Scrap or hobble the program in place

Posted by: opit | Jan 27, 2006 1:25:40 AM

Quoting Bush to prove conservatives have gone soft on limited government ideals quit being effective around 2001. You need to read more of the conservative blogosphere and punditry. Few conservatives will make the case that this President is a limited government conservative. Bush's Presidency doesn't change our goals any more than Clinton's Presidency changed liberals' goals.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Jan 27, 2006 7:03:06 AM

Bush's Presidency doesn't change our goals any more than Clinton's Presidency changed liberals' goals.

Yep, surely it's the goal of Republicans to limit government. All of their politicians have been forced, under their strong arm of their base, to triple pork barrel spending.

It's not that we think that Republicans are going to change their mantra of "limited government," it's that they're mendacious hypocrites who are going to incomptenently bungle any attempt they make to either limit government or expand government while trolling for votes.

On another note, Ezra should keep in mind that "limited government" was the Republican party mantra at the same time when Republican power was at its lowest ebb. By the time Reagan was elected, "limited government" was just a campaign slogan and nothing more. Bush simply pulled of the mask and finally admitted, "I'll advocate the government doing anything if it'll give me more votes." The only aspect of it he retained was that he didn't believe that government programs were a tool of making the country a better place-- merely a tool of keeping him in office and giving his supporters more money.

Posted by: Constantine | Jan 27, 2006 9:38:58 AM

I agree.
I am deeply disappointed in this administration over the non-military spending hike. There is simply no excuse for it. I would like to see the next round of candidates (both parties) run on this as an issue.

By the carping here, you are indicating that you, too, would like less spending?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Jan 27, 2006 10:35:49 AM

By the carping here, you are indicating that you, too, would like less spending?

Posted by: Fred Jones

Not to speak for everyone, but personally, I don't care about the size of government too much one way or the other, but I want responsible government. There's plenty of room to debate what that means, what the government can or should take responsibility for, etc., but at the very least it means reducing deficits and pork and unnecessary programs. Spend or don't spend, but pay for it with taxes and be honest about it. Maybe I'd prefer Ralph Nader's America to P.J. O'Rourke's, to choose two economic fringes, but I'd prefer O'Rourke's to Bush's.

In other words, while it's true we've gotten a lot of great technology out of government projects, there's no way of knowing whether the private sector would have also discovered that technology. Since the private sector runs more efficiently than the government, I'd guess that we'd probably have as much or more technology today without big government programs, but there's no way to go back in time and find out.

Posted by: MGO

I'm not so sure, because profit doesn't always go in the direction of innovation and expanding knowledge. For example, I read somewhere - great sourcing, I know, but come to think of it, maybe it was here - that almost all R&D in pharmacutical companies doesn't go towards drugs that do something new and different, but toward reverse-engineering versions of existing drugs to get around a competitor's patent or eliminate a side effect. This is just because the latter type of research is so much more cost-effective - why put all that money into doing something new that might not even be possible, when if you do succeed someone else can make a knockoff three years later for half the price?

It goes without saying that private industry is important for other things, but I think most actual progress in science and technology has come from "pure science", indirectly if not directly.

Posted by: Cyrus | Jan 27, 2006 11:16:22 AM

"I'm going to remind the American people that the way to achieve a national objective...is for the government to [socialize development costs.]"

That this is how things work under 'capitalism' is some great surprise?

Posted by: Half | Jan 27, 2006 11:46:35 AM

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Posted by: judy | Sep 29, 2007 9:50:31 AM

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