Waving a banner of necessary austerity to reduce public services and support for the lower paid majority of society is borderline morally corrupt, but cutting science funding is outright stupid. It's the equivalent of trying to buoy up a sinking hot air balloon by throwing fuel canisters overboard. But I can't say my dismay is a surprise, even when stimulated by the words of a prominent member of a political party I recently supported as our best hope.
|Vince Cable and David Cameron in India (from the Dailymail.co.uk)|
It is highly likely that the route to technological advancement is computationally irreducible, i.e. it is impossible to predict which research routes will yield important advances. Viewed from a great height scientific research is a process of memetic evolution. Evolution is not just (or rather rarely) about making gradual improvements to an organism, it mostly involves creating increasingly greater complexity by expanding into and creating as many new niches as possible, spreading tendrils out to every direction of phase space.
|Adonna Khare -"Goldfish with Legs" (2008)|
In a previous post  I speculated that financial bubbles might be a boon for better businesses/technology, fostering evolutionary explosions after mass extinctions. But these austerity measures are non cyclical: a more gradual squeezing. What is more, the survival criterion are arbitrarily biased away from the most beneficial break throughs, towards short term money spinners and well entrenched "internationally excellent research".