This House Believes That Governments Should Stop Funding Scientific Programs that Have No Immediate Benefit for Humankind (Space Travel and Exploration, Human Cloning)


(+) Government

While the people in developing countries suffer from starvation during droughts, while the cure for cancer and HIV hasn’t been found, while climate change is an imminent threat to the global society, it is unrealistic to pursue advancements that have no urgency and no particular communities to benefit.

Let’s clearly say from the beginning that we do not ban these programs, but as the government, we would only stop their spending. What’s going to happen is the progress will be very very slow, but that’s it.

On the idea of justification. Why is it not justified as governments to fund these scientific programs?

These programs rise from the money of taxpayers, and the responsibility of the government is to create policies that benefit them in return.

First, we think these scientific programs are the only government spending that does not actually benefit society. Even things as simple as entertainment can provide happiness and pride as part of a nation. Even things like art can be people’s means to express their emotions and stories, and connect with different perspectives, encouraging respect of diversity.

Other programs always materialize into a benefit that can be felt by everyone, but this one doesn’t. It only fulfills the needs of those who are curious and have nothing to worry about, people like Bill Gates or other privileged people who have nothing else to think about. In the best case that it actually results in something, it will take hundreds of years to make it reach the communities who are currently in need but paying the equally fair amount of tax.

Even programs by the government like trying to provide Internet access to everyone takes decades to reach the poorest people who are in need of education. These projects will take even longer, maybe the poor communities that invested their tax in this will have died once it materializes. It’s not worth it to pursue.

Why can this not go hand in hand with, say, welfare programs? Because the government has a limited amount of money. And the government doesn’t have the interest to pursue welfare programs when these scientific programs exist.

Why? Three reasons.

  1. The rich and the affluent who have interest in this continuously glorify these programs, creating demand for the government and an illusional justification.
  2. These programs are known to not give direct benefit, so when pursuing these programs, the government needs very little accountability, and cannot do any wrong. It’s an easy option that can always bring good news, even though it only makes people happy for 10 seconds and that’s it.
  3. When the government does these kinds of programs, the poor communities can never ask to stop it. These are very rarely talked about in presidential campaigns, but the government keeps using it as an escape mechanism. The poor people might not actually know how much of their money goes to this. And these poor people do not have the capacity to voice themselves out. We think there is no check and balance that can counter the harms. What happens in the opposition side is, the government escapes its responsibility of pandering to the communities who are most in need by covering it up with all these “good news”. We think they are abandoning their duties. It’s not justified.

What do you get on our side? When the government stops funding these projects, we believe the money will be allocated towards more urgent needs. Imagine that the US now has an extra $100B because its space explorations are stopped. Its citizens and the international society will be demanding it to use it in the most responsible way possible.

Note that our society now is aware of urgent needs of the world, like combating climate change and eradicating poverty, and actually have the ability to call out governments once they do wrong. See how the Yellow Vests Strikes actually influenced Emmanuel Macron’s decisions.

So what’ll exactly happen? The government will allocate it to, say, combat climate change and create the economic safety net that is necessary during the transition to renewable energy. Or it will build better schools and give impoverished communities better facilities.

Why is this good? First, because it gives direct benefit to the taxpayers. This is a good government that can be accountable to society without escape mechanisms. Second, the government’s focus is completely shifted, and it works to cater to the right targets. Combating urgent needs becomes more possible than ever. Because the only means that the government can deliver good news now is when they solve their problems.

In the worst case that the government only uses it to further economic policies that only benefit the top of society, like Trump cutting down taxes of the rich and such, it’s still okay.

Because things like these will always trickle down to the communities that most need it at the end. When the government gets richer, infrastructure projects can be built. Cleaner cities and better working environments can be created. More affordable government services can be created. This is why our side is much better.

If the opposition side wants to say that we lose future advancements and people lose motivation, we say no. First, because these projects can still happen with private funds. Second, because humans have the inherent nature of wanting to pursue happiness for themselves and their community. At the end they will still find their own happiness and motivation to gain meaning in their life.

(-) Opposition

We concede that these programs do not give direct benefit to society and may sound non-populist to support. Look at this not from the view that is between a country and its citizens, but from a global perspective. It gives immense benefit and our arguments will give you that big scale of impact. We will show you how this is crucial for the livelihood of countries and the morals of the people.

What is the exclusivity of these scientific programs? First, they are created by scientific means, means that do not side to any person in particular, means that are not results of zero sum games in contrast to economic competition, where someone surely gets poorer when you get richer. Second, when the programs succeed, they can benefit everyone because the benefits aren’t exclusive to a certain strata of people.

Why is this good for the livelihood of countries?

We think every country in the world is in a constant state of competition, and it is inevitable because every country wants the best for it people. To do that, they must gain wealth, they must gain power. But this is always a zero sum game. How do countries compete?

First, through means of economy. But the problem with this is these competitions are usually stagnant. The top economy will always be owned by the same countries and that never changes.

Especially with globalization and the more present possibilities of monopoly, and a trend of protectionism coming from superpower countries which enables them to maintain power even better. Countries cannot bring betterment through means of economy.

Second, through means of power. Countries invest in defense and do proxy wars or self-defense. But this is usually bad; it results in collateral damage and so far we don’t think there is a possible solution in the short term.

What’s problematic is, all of these always harm certain sides. When countries pursue hegemony through these means, it always results in atrocities and certain communities will be harmed severely. We think it’s justified for us to provide a different means of competition. The exclusivity of scientific programs comes here.

  1. When progress is made, there is no side that actually loses, but all can benefit. For example, when scientists studied genetic engineering, it seemed like it was just gonna add a chapter to your biology curriculum, but at the end it provided benefits to farmers and ranchers. And these programs always seek to reduce the cost as well, so it’s a win-win.
  2. All countries can compete fairly, there’s no monopoly that prevents this. Yes, there might be economic limitations, but we believe it actually lies in the strategic decisions and allocations more than any other means of competition, which makes it the fairest way. See how Greek professors can still invent vaccines even though their economy is failing.

This is the benefit that taxpayers can see; their country’s image rising because they can bring betterment to the world. This will at the end result in better economy and such if you want, but most importantly a sustainable progress.

So, to prevent a vicious zero sum game of the countries in this world and for a fair means of competition between countries, we think this is justified.

Why is this good for the morals of the people?

As the government, in order to maintain trust and accountability for your citizens, what you have to do is bring good news. When the government in the government side brings good news, it usually sounds like “US beats China’s economic growth in 2020”.

It always sounds bad to certain people. Maybe Chinese who live in the US, or those who don’t agree with the US’s means to achieve that economic growth. Or it sounds like “Indonesia builds infrastructure in Kalimantan”.

The Papuans will be mad because Indonesia is not building in their area. The good news are never good news to everyone, and the government is under constant threat of appearing dismissive and irresponsible to groups. This is bad because it can cause dissatisfaction from inside and that dissatisfaction can even be perpetuated by external actors.

The government in our side can bring good news that we, as humanity, are progressing. Scientific programs are in the name of humans. Why is this good? First, it tells the taxpayers who are working for the nation that their work actually results in something that is meaningful in the history of mankind, that is undeniably good. And this progress is clear, it’s not things like “you helped combat poverty in Province A” which people cannot directly relate to, and might not even be sustainable.

We give people meaning in life; their existence as a human contributes to humanity as a whole. This, we think, will result in motivation and a boosted morale in work, resulting in more productivity. Second, it encourages people to also create progress in the name of mankind, not as a representative of their class or race, as this enables many jobs in the scientific research industry and glorifies such jobs. We think people will be less distracted by differences and bigotry and more inclined to unite. This is good for the government as the people will work in better coordination.

Yes, the benefits might not be immediately available to everyone, but we are more than happy to progressively make it more affordable. At least that hope of something positive that can happen will make people trust the government and happy to be contributing to the country.

What are the benefits that these scientific programs bring, anyway? Note that it doesn’t always require the programs to succeed for the benefits to be felt. The success of the program is uncertain, but novel contributions to other fields is certain because it has always happened when we explored new things.

We have the artificial limbs, firefighting equipment, GPS, and solar cells that we do now because of NASA’s space explorations. So it’s also possible in our side to bring trickle down impacts to the taxpayers that create direct benefit.