Data and Information

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The High Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research
Center for American Progress | Sean Pool and Jennifer Erickson
In order for the U.S. to maintain its role as an innovation-driven economy, “government must provide three key public-good inputs that allow innovation to blossom: investments in human capital, infrastructure, and research.” The authors cite and summarize the contributions of influential research funded by the U.S. Government through the Dept. of Energy Labs, The National Science Foundation, The Human Genome Project, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Apollo Space Program.


Imagine spending a day without the Internet and GPS
Continuing Innovation in Information Technology | National Research Council
The internet and GPS (a U.S.-owned utility) are among many innovations that have been funded by the U.S. Government.  The authors of Continuing Innovation in Information Technology write, “fundamental research in IT, conducted in industry and universities, has led to the introduction of entirely new producer categories that ultimately became billion-dollar industries.” Underscoring the impact of government’s outsized role in creating the dominant technologies of the 21st century, the authors of this report ask readers to imagine a day without information technology. “This would be a day without the Internet and all that it enables … A day without digital media … A day during which aircraft could not fly, travelers had to navigate without benefit of the Global Positioning System (GPS), weather forecasters had no models, [and] banks and merchants could not transfer funds electronically”


Losing Our Libraries
Public Goods Post | September 2017

Public libraries are one of our most easily recognizable public goods. Most everyone knows that local public libraries are free to all, and most understand that this is because these libraries are supported collectively, by our taxes. But until citizens voted in the 1800’s in the U.S. to support the first public libraries, access to collections of books depended upon one’s wealth.

This Post is prompted by the potential loss or degradation of yet one more public library in the United States – in this case the one in Escondido, California, which may be privatized.

Privatizing public libraries does not mean that taxpayers stop paying the cost. No. What it means is that the operation of the library is contracted out to a private, for-profit corporation. Taxpayers keep paying —  but in order to meet the profit requirements of the newly engaged private operator, one of two things must happen: either the cost to taxpayers must go up or the quality of services must go down. Read More …