McCain initially proposed across-the-board spending freeze on the nation budget until further review (except defense and veterans programs), but was wise to announce later make science funding exempt. This is an ancient topic, as the election will come to a close in two days, but nevermind that. I don’t consider scientific research to be wasteful earmark spending.

John McCain: “You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don’t know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers’ money. And it has got to be brought under control.”

The Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project, the recipient of this $3M earmark, must analyze the distribution & genetic diversity of one of the largest populations of grizzly bears left in the lower 48 states. Seeing as how the grizzly bear is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, perhaps it’s important to collect this information in order to better aid in their recovery (which happens to be required by law anyway). This isn’t quite the shining example of reckless expenditures.

Sarah Palin: “You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.”

How can Palin, who is an advocate for research into the causes/treatments of childhood diseases, fail to understand – or at least, grasp the value of the model systems that are necessary to do so? Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) have been and will continue to be of tremendous importance within the fields of neurogenetics and neurobiology, if not all other areas of basic scientific research. She’s certainly not the only politician with this problem, but it still saddens me that this ignorance would be present at the level of a vice presidential candidate.

Innovation and furthering knowledge has everything to do with the public good.