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Academe vs Business

Jun 17, 2010

My meeting with my supervisor was briefly interrupted by his colleague, and from my limited knowledge of the French language I realized that they were talking about research funding. Seeing that I was curious, my supervisor explained to me that they have 2000 euros that they should spend immediately. Otherwise, the people who funded the project will withdraw the money and give them less money for the following year.

If I was the one funding the project, this definitely makes sense. Because there is money to spare, that implies that the people involved in the project overestimated their budget. I own the money, so I have the right to reallocate it as I please. So from my point of view, this is logical.

My supervisor thinks otherwise. He says that this is a stupid policy, why not let the people involved in the project keep the money so that they can save it and use it next year? I started to protest, but he mentioned a word that made me realize that we are looking at it from entirely different perspectives. It is an obligation, he said.

I shrugged and merely said that I am looking at it from the capitalist point of view. His point of view is clearly socialist in nature.

I could dwell on the right balance between these two ideologies that will make this world a better place to live in, but one idea dominated my thoughts at that moment: Damn, I wish I had that amount of money to spend.

One Comment leave one →
  1. bugsbane permalink
    Jul 7, 2010 9:18 am

    Pinoys are by nature efficient. We hate wasting. We hate throwing away things. We try to make do with less. We are thrilled when we can put the items we obtain to more than one use. I say this at a time when I’m about to dump a perfectly operating 27 inch CRT TV because there is no one I can bequeath it to who would want it – and I can no longer stand the behemoth eating up precious desk space.

    You are wrong about polarizing the discussion as one of capitalism vs. socialism. sobrang simplistic. Rather, the funding system is flawed. It practically begs to be ‘gamed’ – depending on the objective function of the recipients of the funds. It’s inefficient. The discussion should be prefaced with how to improve that efficiency regardless of ideology. Ya think?

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