In this era of mounting deficits, we struggle to find extravagances whose elimination is practicable and effective.

Among the many proposals to salvage the economy is imposition of a drastic reduction of the government support of basic research. Proponents of these austerities view research activity as frivolous-its practitioners in the laboratories as misty-eyed, impractical dreamers who are wholly out of touch with reality and the serious needs of our society. The administration favors diverting our limited research dollars to projects of the Commerce Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, although the National Academy of Sciences views these projects to be of inferior scientific merit and to lack any peer review (H. Miller, The Scientist, May 27, 1996, page 10).

While the opponents acknowledge that the United States is still preeminent in scientific stature and that we must win the wars on cancer, heart disease, and AIDS now,...

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