(Not a Tiger Woods Story)
The challenge in authoring an article about a weighty subject like the $792 billion dollars the Congress authorized earlier in 2008 is to keep the reader’s eyes from glazing over. It doesn’t take long for a series of numbers and statistics to lull the logical mind and encourage a longing for yet another Adam Lambert or Tiger Woods story.
I could have taken the Union-Tribune’s usual approach and found a project amongst the 600 plus grants made in San Diego County that seems sensational, like the $2,125,608.00 Scripps Research Institute received from the National Institutes of Health to collect and study knee tissue from dead people (for a comprehensive sample and database on human joint aging and osteoarthritis). Or I could have highlighted the $98,000.00 granted by NIH to UCSD for a study that seeks to understand how the smell of our morning coffee is interpreted by the brain. But that would have been feeding ammunition to the assholes flat-earthers who seek a world that’s user friendly for the intellectually challenged point of view.
Another approach would be to highlight the “gee-whiz” stuff, like the $12,335,000.00 from the Office of Science to General Atomics (with SDG&E as a subcontractor) for potentially ground breaking research into the development of advanced fusion energy technology, but then I’d be obliged to ask why the “grant date” for this research happens to be November, 2003. Perhaps this research has allowed these scientists to travel forward in time to receive funding. Interesting stuff, no doubt.
In fact, my review of the scientific research grants shows a wide range of solid exploration, ranging from a lot of cancer projects to ocean-studies to crisis negotiation. All of it seemed in keeping with generating the kinds of information that could be the basis of future scientific breakthroughs.
A non-profit organization called Pro-Publica released a database of stimulus funding several weeks ago that allows the user to search federal funding by locale, and I’ve taken a look at San Diego’s share. As of the end of the third quarter of 2008, about half the funds for grants and contracts have been spent, with about $280 billion left to be spent. (Another large part of the stimulus package included tax cuts.)
Stimulus monies flowing into San Diego County totaled $986,602,029 as of September 30th, and included grants, loans and Federal contracts. I focused on the research grants. (there were also Pell Grants/student loans included in the ProPublica database.) That works out to an average of $329 per county resident.
The big winners locally were:
- California Dept. of Transportation– $213,179,108.00
- Scripps Research Institute–$42,702,931.00
- City of San Diego– $17,630,190.00
- San Diego County– $11,862,840.00
- Burnham Institute for Medical Research–$11,300,793.00
- San Diego State University Foundation–$11,257,850.00
- Salk Institute for Biological Studies– $4,963,553.00
The grants were distributed in the following (very general) categories:
- Transportation– $305,289,038.00
- Scientific Research– $180,655,310.00
- Housing– $29,039,173.00
- Healthcare– $25,684,018.00
- Law Enforcement– $23,635,243.00
- Energy/Environment– $9,760,153.00
- Education– $8,330,497.95
- Native American Projects– $5,406,930.00
- Arts– $75,000.00