French R&D vs. Prime Minister : 1/0
Today, hundreds (more than 200 at noon, local time; more than 600 expected at end of the day) of top french scientists are resigning from their administrative tasks because the French government has not addressed their concerns. Public Science and Research is in France in such a shape that I know some Lab directors who have to buy chalk on their own personal budget (incredible isn't it...) because their lab budget is so ridiculous everything must go into the absolutely mandatory expenses. I know a Lab director who wonders if he will have to close the lab in two years from now because in a team of five, one will retire next year, 2 are leaving for USA and South-Africa and a fourth one ponders leaving for a private lab; and he has no budget to attract more students. The guy is world-wide known, he is a famous authority in his domain, and his lab is a world-wide reference. He can't even travel to negociate contracts with corporations, his budget for that is strictly zero!!!
Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that the french public R&D is not a dinosaure. It is a dinosaure. A deep reform is needed. The researchers all agree on that. But when the french PM says
Nous ne sommes pas dans un marchandage à la petite semaine mais face à la construction de l'avenir du pays (approx. translation: "we're not in a carpet deal here, this is about the construction of our contry's future"), its shows a so deep scorn for our researchers that it's pathetic. The researchers are resigning BECAUSE they worry for the future, BECAUSE they see a complete desintegration of our R&D. And Jean-Pierre Raffarin sees a left-wing offensive where there is only an apolitic movement of survival.
A deep reform takes time and consensus. R&D is not something you can stop for five years and start again. Once you've lost the brains, lost the momentum, something is almost definitely broken. Fortunately, I'm not sure we'll keep that PM more than a few months...
La science moderne est un admirable monument qui fait honneur à l'espèce humaine et qui compense (un peu) l'immensité de sa bêtise guerrière- Hubert Reeves
Update: if you can read French, read this.
Update: 6pm, more than TWO THOUSAND lab managers have resigned...
Update: I just heard our PM and her R&D secretary speak during the news report on France 2 TV. Shame, shame shame. They said nothing, their attitude is totally insulting.