Tuesday, April 2, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, excerpt six)

from The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis:

As I drove out of Hanford, the Trump administration unveiled its budget for the Department of Energy. ARPA-E had since won the praise of business leaders from Bill Gates to Lee Scott, the former CEO of Walmart, to Fred Smith, the Republican founder of FedEx, who has said that “pound for pound, dollar for dollar, activity for activity, it’s hard to find a more effective thing government has done than ARPA-E.” Trump’s first budget eliminated ARPA-E altogether. It also eliminated the spectacularly successful $70 billion loan program. It cut funding to the national labs in a way that implies the laying off of six thousand of their people. It eliminated all research on climate change. It halved the funding for work to secure the electrical grid from attack or natural disaster. “All the risks are science-based,” said John MacWilliams when he saw the budget. “You can’t gut the science. If you do, you are hurting the country. If you gut the core competency of the DOE, you gut the country.”

But you can. Indeed, if you are seeking to preserve a certain worldview, it actually helps to gut science. Trump’s budget, like the social forces behind it, is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant. Donald Trump didn’t invent this desire. He was just its ultimate expression.

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