To no small degree, the United States of America rose in prominence because of innovation, and to no small degree that innovation has been funded through research funded directly by the federal government and indirectly through its support of higher education. In economist Edwin Mansfield’s classic study of American industrial innovation, for instance, he finds that industrialists regularly cited academic research as the basis of their technological developments. In the electronics, information processing, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petroleum, metals and instruments industries, between 89 and 100 percent of the academic research necessary to innovation that was cited by these industries was funded by the federal government. Mansfield identifies the primary source of this government funding — the National Science Foundation:
“The first point to note is that practically all of the cited academic researchers had some government support for their research. In about two-thirds of the cases, it came, at least in part, from the National Science Foundation (NSF).”
You can like it or not, but that’s the way it is.
Non-industrial research strength also plays a role in building American strength. According to social scientists Devesh Kapur and John McHale, the United States holds the largest reservoir of generally highly-educated immigrants from other countries of any nation on the planet. Attracted by accessible, high-quality education and research programs (again, funded generally through the federal and state governments and specifically through research support programs like the National Science Foundation), the world’s best and brightest in all sorts of fields come to America to study and stay to build a life, making the U.S. a better place to live.
In case you’re wondering, you can’t look up who voted which way, either. The Senate made its decision using a voice vote so that the American public couldn’t track politicians’ behavior and hold them accountable.