Overfunding federal research has led to scientism and stagnation
Electricity (generated and distributed DC, then AC), the automobile, and the airplane were the products of many, many attempts at innovation by mostly poorly-funded inventors.
Private foundations established by the uber-wealthy Rockefellers et al. were major inhibitors of that kind of adventurist innovation because they made it about money instead of innovation. Just look at how Rockefeller took over medicine and forced the world into an allopathic model, virtually outlawing naturopathic medicine and allied fields. Then they moved into social engineering, journalism, and—of course—public policy.
I think what we're seeing, and this is to Jon's point above, is that policy is driving culture, and ideology driving the scientific enterprise, to a depth and scope never, ever before seen since the Dark Ages. The only difference is that heretics aren't beheaded (yet); they're canceled.
I saw this trend increase over my 35 years in higher education, in some of the most "liberal" major public universities in the country. Toward the end it was sickening. The groupthink and dysfunction have affected every aspect of university life.
I'm glad that's all behind me. But it's always with me, heavy on my conscience.
At least we could easily have high immigration of people coming to study and work while being selective. And while we could clearly be a lot more productive with research, tossing a few tens of billions more toward fusion, geothermal would be a good investment
Would like to hear a little more about the "abuse" committed by the National Science Foundation.
A secondary question: "National Science Guy" reeks of Bill Nye stench of popular science (Pop Sci), is the media partly to blame for the change in attitude towards badly allocated funding and wasted productivity?
Using a capital 'E' for "Earth" indicates that it is a proper noun, the third planet from our sun, rather than the substance that earthworms crawl in.