Monday, August 22, 2011

Talk to your congressman?

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a suggestion to help chemistry by talking to your congressperson, by Connie Murphy, chair of the ACS Committee On Chemistry & Public Affairs:
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.


  1. When he wasn't dressed as a tiger or harrassing teenaged girls, David Wu was on the Science, Space and Technology AND the Education and Labor committees. He would have been in the perfect position to address many of the problems facing chemists...if he weren't such a bozo.

    By the way, the rumor is that he was a huge Trekkie. That sounds like it was a good thing, but it actually meant he was far more interested in science fiction than science.

  2. @8:48: Who knows, maybe channeling a phased tachyon beam through the main deflector dish and reversing the polarity will create jobs. Worth a shot! 8-)

  3. I used to live in the district, and my recollection was that Dave Camp, a good Republican that he is, voted with the party like 101%. What's the point of lobbying the guy whose decisions are made elsewhere? And probably holds true for the absolute majority of Congress, no matter what side of the aisle they are. And lobbying using an information packet from the ACS? Isn't that ACS's job? _To_ _lobby_?

  4. They do lobby! They spent more than a half a million dollars of that 501(c)3 money hiring lobbyists to smooze with all your congress-critters to try and quash PubChem and Open Access movements. Way to go ACS! Thanks for looking out for, wait.. yourself?

    I write to my congressperson regularly. They usually thank me several times for writing, then tell why I'm totally wrong and why they are voting the other way.

  5. Pharma really has no intentions of coming back to the U.S.:

    Some alternative careers:

    "Sue Price, a former supply-chain executive pursuing work in career counseling."

    If your going to talk to your representative, be sure to hire someone to wait in line for you:

    Why spend all this time worrying about this idiotic industry, when you can just put all that energy into something else.

  6. It's important to keep talking with your Congressperson even if they keep voting the wrong way. They need to hear from us. How do you think they'll vote if the only people they hear from are lobbyists and angry Tea Partiers?

  7. Geez, all, you don't have to be so defeatist.

    You can approach any legislator- they are all public servants. It isn't just about proactive lobbying- if you help them understand why keeping chemical manufacturers open isn't always bad for the environment, they might be easier to remind that funding for NSF keeps jobs in their home district- something you can both get behind. Policy might be an interesting way to use your science, but if you aren't interested in it, try to be supportive of those who might be able to relieve your burden (and secure your funding). And I totally agree with Unstable Isotope- even if you can't change their mind, they don't need to think you agree.