As someone who's salary is coming directly from the National Science Foundation (NSF), I am a fan of the government dollars. This also means I'm a little fed up with Congress' love of cutting funding for the sciences. In the aftermath of the sequester, and the resultant funding cuts for scientific organizations in the US (National Institute of Health, NSF, NASA to name a few), I was left wondering just how much much money has actually been funneled to the sciences over the years.
I hope you're wondering the same thing, because I've experimented with a new free graphics program over the past week. This resulted in some cool looking graphics that demonstrate the state of science funding in the United States over the years.
Note that I decided to focus on the federal Research and Development budget. R&D encompasses much of the science spending in the US including NASA, the Department of Energy, the NSF, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to name a few. HOWEVER, and this is important, R&D spending also includes defense spending. For instance, some of this money is going to the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs.
So keep in mind that R&D is not entirely non-defense spending. And also keep in mind that R&D is entirely separate from the defense budget. To give a comparison, in 2009 (George W.'s last White House year), the defense budget (not including discretionary funds for the War on Terror) was $515.4 billion dollars [DoD]. The R&D budget that same year was $133.3 billion [NSF]. So already, R&D spending totals up to around a fifth of the stand-alone defense budget in 2009.
But what does this look like? Check out the graphics below.
This year, the budget for the NSF is 7.17 billion dollars. The budget for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is 7.55 billion dollars (United States DoD Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request).
In other words, while the NSF funds 11,000 new applicants each year, the F-35 continues to have issues getting off the ground (see David Axe's article "Pentagon's big budget F-35 fighter 'can't turn, can't climb, can't run": ).