In The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan wrote that around half of scientists in the world at some point find themselves at least partially dependent on the military to fund their research — and that this is a problem. Today, that’s still true. But another serious problem is the privatization of “public” scientific research. Under the Harper Government™ this has proceeded on three fronts, one of which has occupied most of this blog’s attention recently.
At major research institutions around the country, a profound change is taking place. Programs are being taken over by corporatists — not just administrators with an inadequate knowledge of the gritty details. Objectives are being quietly altered to reflect commercial priorities rather than basic scientific ones, which often can’t guarantee short-term industrial applications. Some important research programs that have so far thrived in the public sector are simply being handed over to the private sector on the dubious grounds that they will somehow run them more effectively. In at least one case I’ll discuss, these have an enormous added cost which won’t appear anywhere in the contracts.Tweet