The new stimulus: Invest in nerds.

Benefits to big companies haven't done enough to stimulate the economy, so how about investing in nerdy research and development (R&D)? Nerds have plenty of 'shovel-ready' intellectual investments to fund.

Photo illustration / Darren Greenwood / Design Pics / Newscom
Are nerds the new smart investment?

Forget High Speed Rail, the nerds are making a very solid case for the medium term payoff of large investments in antibiotics research (for details) and renewable energy R&D. Will the Republicans embrace a new type of "trickle down" economics? The "old" trickle down involved tax cuts that increase private consumption and thus increase jobs and incentive firms to hire workers (as after tax profits increase). In this new version of "trickle down", a sharp increase in government subsidies of R&D would be like launching 10,000 Manhattan Projects. Think of all the fun the highly educated physicists in Los Alamos had during World War II.

As Nerds go wild with intellectual stimulus money, how would Joe the Plummer benefit? Some of the nerds' ideas would work and the innovations would offer improved quality of life for Joe and his future offspring. The next Google could be launched from the ideas that would be generated. Now, you are correct to point out that this is a convenient argument for a PHD to make. I plead guilty but do you have a better idea for how to jump start this economy? Ben Bernanke is a very smart man but he and his Fed aren't going to cause growth through printing green pieces of paper.

Again, our universities and our open system of inquiry and intellectual competition may be our last export industry --- is it crazy to give us a chance to show what we can do to simultaneously try to crack some major social changes such as climate change and energy security needs and antibiotic medicines while at the same time searching for the next "big thing" for reinventing this economy?

So, I ask the new Speaker of the House; "JB, take a costly action; accept a higher tax on smoking and a 10 cent extra tax on gasoline and earmark the revenues for the U.S nerds, give it all to the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health. Play your Ace card, JB and you will be remembered for a long time."


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