Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Year's Resolution?

New fiscal year, no budget. This is the story out of capital hill this week. Problem is, on a continuing resolution RHIC is on the same tight budget as last year, which didn't include nearly enough money for actual running. We were only spared from disaster (layoffs, etc.) by an infusion of money from James Simons and his colleagues at Renaissance Technology. It still boggles my mind that the continuing life and health of Brookhaven rests on relatively small fractions of its total budget. But this is how science is done: lots of fixed costs (especially salaries) and then the so-called "real work" on the margin. Unfortunately, even small shortfalls have dramatic effect (e.g. layoffs, deferred pay-raises) on the people at the lab who have given years of their lives to maintain the level of quality the government and the public (who are the real supporters, via taxes) expect.

It will be a frustrating knock-on effect from what I thought were otherwise satisfying elections if Congress simply leaves the hard decisions to individual recipients of government funding. Let's at least have a budget to argue about.

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