At a news conference in Washington D.C. today a number of SIA leaders questioned the ability of the U.S. to retain its lead role in the semiconductor industry as it moves into nanoscale technologies. They called for a number of solutions including increased funding for the NSF of 7%/yr. In contrast, as reported by Thomas Freidman in the NY Times on Dec. 26, 2004, the proposed Bush-Republican 2005 budget specified a $100M cut to the NSF. (The actual budget request is open to debate as is seen here and here.) For comparison purposes the NSF budget is slightly less than $6B while the war in Iraq from March 2003 thru 2005 is estimated at $207B.
Clearly the industry leaders recognize that long term R&D support is required and because the financial markets do not seem to have worked out a model which could enable this they must turn to the government for support. It would seem that those involved in politics are not quite as able to connect the dots as one would hope. One could double funding for the NSF for 15 years for the cost of a war. The advancements in nanotechnology that such R&D could provide could so advance the quality of life of people in places such as Iraq that there would be significantly fewer incentives to become a terrorist or an insurgent. Two extremely simple problems — clean water and sufficient electricity — could be significantly dealt with through applications of nanotechnology in Iraq. Why is there no focus on these approaches to uplifting their population?