|INTEL billionaire Gordon Moore and his new Thirty Meter Telescope which will sit on a Hawaii mountain top.|
In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise. This according to New York Times science writer William Broad who reveals that while government financing of basic science research is plummeting, private donors have filled the void, raising questions about the future of research for the public good.
According to Broad, this is philanthropy in the age of the new economy — financed with its outsize riches, practiced according to its individualistic, entrepreneurial creed. The donors are impatient with the deliberate, and often politicized, pace of public science, they say, and willing to take risks that government cannot or simply will not consider.
Growing health & wealth gap... Among the consequences of the growing privatization of scientific research, a widening of the historical racial inequalities in health care and disease research, disparities that decades of studies have shown to contribute to higher rates of disease and death among blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups.
Among the biggest players: Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor (and founder of the media company that bears his name), L.A. philanthropist Eli Broad, James Simons (hedge funds), David Koch (oil and chemicals), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Eric E. Schmidt (Google) and Lawrence J. Ellison (Oracle).