PostHeaderIcon Ike’s Farewell

In a comment on another blog, a Lefty linked to Ike’s farewell address to make the familiar point about his warning regarding the military-industrial complex. Once there, I took the time to read the whole speech. Doing so, I noticed another warning he offered, which I have never heard repeated:

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

(bold emphasis mine)

Then, stunningly, was a paragraph that every one of the 535 fools currently ensconced on capital hill should be required to write one hundred times on a blackboard, before being allowed to vote on the spending bill they are currently ramming through congress over the ever growing objection of the public:

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

(bold emphasis mine)

The “Now Generation” blew this one big time. We have already mortgaged the future of our grandchildren, and now we are in the process of stealing from their children and grandchildren. Have we no shame? If the kids could only think for themselves well enough to realize what we have done to them, they would cut off our SSI checks tomorrow… and I wouldn’t blame them. â—„Daveâ–º

One Response to “Ike’s Farewell”

  • On government and research: I’m a fan of X-Prize style research. DARPA has been quite successful with it for things like autonomous vehicles. There are some things can benefit society but present challenges of profitability. An example would be medical research. It is in the interest of private companies to find treatments. It is not in their interests to find cures. Rather than paying for research, we should be paying for results. It allows for the private sector to work competitively and create cures that are beneficial to society, rather than creating more overpriced asthma inhalers, and it keeps the government out of the business of scientific welfare programs.

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