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more on the military-industrial-academic complex in infinite cockjammer’s propaganda thread, specifically how darpa has a much more massive influence on academia than its meager (lol) 3B budget would suggest. original


I was skeptical of Chomsky’s (and other’s) claim that a huge proportion of our economy, especially the high-tech sectors, are state-funded and state-directed under the guise of “defense spending”, but then I started to think about all the engineers I know (quite a few) and every single one of them is involved in research that is somehow weapons related, or if not directly building a weapon then they’re funded by government military grants of some kind. Everything from helicopter motors, to robotics research like tele-surgery, to trying to put out fire with sound (that last one funded by a military grant).

yeah, its pretty pervasive.  what you have to remember is that, besides the huge amount of money directly spent on military research (which is in the hundreds of billions), an even greater amount is externalized.  as long as MICkey mouse has the power to control what is researched and how, you can consider these externalized costs as part of the defense sector of the economy. unfortunately, the speculative nature of start-up companies and universities means that they are dependant on research grants to survive.  Since the majority of grant money is from the DoD and its relatives, these institutions must gear themselves towards projects DoD is interested in if they are to maintain relevance. that means the power of the insitution’s “free” money, (e.g. state-funding and tuitions and alumni-donations in the case of large universities) will be subjugated under the power of the more-competitive darpa grants.

let me give you an example. a lot of people in my research lab get their funding from darpa.  darpa directly controls about 3B (thats b-b-b-billion) bucks a year to hand out in grants to research labs in both academia and industry. these grants vary in size and we often recieve them in partnership with industry. sometimes it’ll be in an equal partnership, or, what usually happens, as the initial stage in tiered research approach.  the way this works is that darpa sponsers many small “seedlings,” for the most part to academic labs, for new pathbreaking work.  seedlings are lucky to geta couple hundred thousand bux or so each.  later, depending on the success of the seedling, a “program” worth millions of dollars will be created with the intention of commerializing the research done in the seedling.  sometimes the original seedling academic researchers may branch out into industry with a “start-up” that capitalizes on their initial work to get that big-buck program money.

say, in either case, our cut of a grant is like, i dunno, a couple hundred thousand bucks.  from that, the university takes a cut, the faculty on the grant take a cut, and then the grad students and the post-docs get a cut. (for their stipend)  the rest is spent on equipment, manufacturing costs, etc.  seems pretty reasonable so far, right?  well, were the DoD to try funding this fully internally, they’d have to also spend money on:

  1. health care for the researchers (paid for by the university, partly with their cut from the grant, but mostly from private donations)
  2. the software (one particular cad software we use costs 100k/seat, with seat meaning 100k for every computer it is installed on, for a commercial company. we get it for free as a university.  there’s a bunch of shit we use like that)
  3. building maintenance and the amortized building construction cost (paid for by the university)
  4. postdoc/grad-student salaries would be much higher (for instance, my yearly stipend is under 20k and i’m not allowed to take any outside income except if i get some sort of fellowship)
  5. tabula rasa grant money, which usually goes towards strengthening existing projects (university)
  6. the full professor’s salary (big bucks, university)

in addition, since almost all research is geared towards the topics MICkey wants, then subsequently the whole damn education system is geared towards what they want too! so add:

  1. an undergraduate-level (loans/scholarships/parents(not me tho))
  2. a graduate-level engineering education (university)

that grant of a couple hundered k soon adds up to a few million once you add in the externalities, but noone counts this as part of the 3B that darpa “controls.”


Written by meowywowy

June 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Posted in propaganda

Tagged with , ,

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