The first time I visited my congressman in Washington, D.C., to talk about science was an eye-opening experience. First, it was much easier to talk to him than I expected. It was a topic I cared about, and I came armed with printed data and an information package ACS had provided. I began by telling him I wanted to discuss innovation and American competitiveness. I explained the importance of science and math education in filling the pipeline of American innovators for the future, and I shared how investments in R&D today will more than pay for themselves with jobs and the taxes industry will pay on profits from new products.
Surprisingly, my representative, who lives in Midland, Mich. (home to corporate headquarters and major research centers for both Dow Chemical and Dow Corning), said he was glad I came to talk to him because “people don’t talk to me about R&D.” I’m still amazed by that statement and was disappointed to hear a few years later from one of his legislative aides that science was still not a topic brought to their office very often.I don't fancy that many CJ readers will be inspired to travel to Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, you may be interested in reading ACS' policy recommendations (fairly standard pro-business blah blah. Not too much about flooding the employment market with millions of Ph.D. chemists, as far as I could tell.)
I confess a little personal skepticism about the good it might do to talk to your elected representatives about one's problems. But Ms. Murphy has a point -- how often do scientists show up to lobby their representatives? Not very often, I'm guessing.