Thursday, October 12, 2006

Politics, Elections, and Astronomy Research

Last night, my home phone rang off the hook with calls from various political groups and politicians, all trying to win my vote in the upcoming elections. Of course, many of these politicians are in Arizona and having their calls automatically forwarded to my new home, so they are wasting their time. I couldn't vote for them if I wanted to.

A few people have asked me which political party would better serve science research. Now, I have to keep most of my opinions to myself or I'll get in a lot of trouble with elections commissions. But historically, science spending does not seem to be correlated with the party in power. There are some exceptions, especially with medical research, but if the amount and types of medical research funding concern you, you probably are already aware where each party stands.

More important to astronomy and other sciences than who is elected in November is the issue of the Fiscal Year 2007 budget. Congress adjourned to go campaigning without passing most spending bills for FY2007 (which has started), so Congress will have to come back after the election and pass those bills, probably as a single "omnibus" spending bill, which means that few members of congress will actually read the whole thing. They will look to make sure that the programs most important to them have been funded, and then vote for the bill.

This means that you still can make a difference! If you want to help astronomy research, write your Representative and Senators and request that they support the president's proposed fiscal year 2007 funding for the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. President Bush suggested that both of these budgets be increased as part of his American Competitiveness Agenda. You can also suggest that funding be increased for NASA -- NASA's proposed budget will force it to instantly kill many astronomy and space science research missions.

Whenever writing your congresspersons on any issue, be sure to indicate that you are a constituent, meaning that you and/or your parents/family/friends can vote for that person. Congresspeople don't have enough time to read all their mail, so aides do that. And letters where the writer is not a constituent are often tossed aside. To find out who your Representative and Senators are, and to get their mailing and email addresses, go to this website for Representatives and go to this site for Senators.

No comments:

Post a Comment