Sunday, September 06, 2009

How Will Science Fare? and other questions

Science has a fairly vacuous article (How Will Science Fare?) about the forthcoming science budget negotiations in Japan. Not that I'm really blaming them, I'm sure they've got pages to fill and no-one seems to know either what the DPJ will try to do, nor whether they will actually be able to do it given the iron grip that bureaucrats have on the country.
In an annual rite of summer, the education ministry's budget requests are trimmed by advisory bodies, politicians, and the powerful finance ministry. This year, there is a new twist: The newly elected Democratic Party now has responsibility for finalizing the budget—and no one knows how R&D will fare.

The Democratic Party's platform keys in on the importance of research. But the party also promised to cut wasteful governmental spending, without being specific, and party politicians have called for reining in bureaucracy.
There's a specific goal of becoming a low-carbon economy, but it's not clear to me that this really needs a lot of climate science.

I saw another comment of potential interest, regarding proposals to ban contract work:

He cited the proposed ban on contract workers, which he said would hamstring corporations from adjusting quickly to changes in markets. Such temporary workers are easy to hire and fire because they aren’t tacitly guaranteed lifetime employment, as most salaried workers are.

Our institute is built on short-term contract employment, so it's possible that this could lead to a bit of a shake-up. However it may be solely focussed on the truly short-term (daily/monthly) hiring of cheap labour in manufacturing industry, so we'll have to wait and see what this really means. By the time anything reaches us it may well be unrecognisable in terms of the official policy anyway. For example, a govt science committee recently recommended the introduction of more tenure-track positions, which JAMSTEC reinterpreted to mean hiring more junior post-docs on contracts...

Meanwhile, the new First Nutter is happily telling all and sundry how she was abducted by aliens and draws energy directly from the sun. Maybe the bureaucrats aren't so bad after all.

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