Letters: Protectionism, grants, height

Marketplace Staff Jun 16, 2009
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Letters: Protectionism, grants, height

Marketplace Staff Jun 16, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: We’ve had big news for a couple of weeks in a row now: GM went under, Chrysler went Italian, the president started going after health care. And a lot of news means a lot of letters. We’ll start this week with a big story from earlier this year, one that is still on people’s minds — the economic stimulus package. More specifically, the “Buy American” provision that was in it. Commentator Mark Perry said last week he thought protectionism like that is a terrible idea.

Fay Aldridge from San Bernardino, Calif., couldn’t agree less.

FAY ALDRIDGE: Is Mr. Perry aware that some of the very countries that are complaining about this issue have their own similar provisions in place? Let’s face it, we just happened to be one of the largest trade markets and nobody wants to miss out on the money to be traded. America buying American would surely put a damper on that.

The National Institutes of Health got a big chunk of that stimulus bill, about $10 billion worth to fund research grants. And that, we learned from science reporter Paul Basken, has led to a flood of grant applications. So many applications that the NIH is having trouble keeping up. Still, Paul said he wasn’t sure the money was going to create all that many new jobs. A lot of you wrote in to say we had our logic wrong — including Josh Schimel, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

JOSH Schimel: The largest part of every research grant is to pay the salaries of technicians, post-docs, and student researchers. That directly creates jobs and provides training for people who will, in turn, develop new technologies and new procedures that will in time fuel new business and new jobs.

Those post-docs are more likely to get hired if they’re tall. I talked to Arianne Cohen last week about her latest book “The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life from on High.” Not everybody had the stomach for the height argument, though.

Karl Galko of Madison, Wis., was one of them.

KARL GALKO: I feel so lucky to not be burdened with height. If no one assumed that I was slow or lacked endurance, where would I get the drive to prove them wrong? And with the ability to play almost any position in sports, how would I chose what to specialize in? Think about the dating pool. Being tall would give me so many choices and make finding “the one” very difficult. Well, at least I don’t have to deal with these burdens and have a real excuse for my pay, right?

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