Given all the anxiety recently about government regulation, I wonder if the warring sides have any common ground at all. For example, does anyone today oppose the existence of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards)?
Issues of standard weights and measures surfaced even in colonial America, ultimately resulting in the creation of the Office of Standard Weights and Measures in 1824. Seems to me, this was a needed creation and a vital role of national government. Then, during industrialization, the National Bureau of Standards took on additional responsibilities, because it was even more important to have precise measurements. The time standard was kept on atomic clocks. An inch was defined as a precise wavelength of a vibrating atom.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the NIST developed and promoted the use of measurement, standards, and technology designed to facilitate trade, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of life. A staff of approximately 4,600 scientists, engineers, technicians, visiting researchers, manufacturing specialists, and support and administrative personnel, with an annual budget in excess of $800 million, conducted research in engineering, chemistry, physics, and information science through four main programs: the NIST Laboratories (in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Boulder, Colorado), the Baldrige National Quality Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Advanced Technology Program (all located in Gaithersburg). The Baldrige National Quality Program promotes performance excellence in manufacturing, services, education, and health care. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership provides technical and business assistance to small manufacturers, and the Advanced Technology Program supports research and development of innovative technologies with the potential for broad-based national benefit. Answers.com
A staff of 4,600 with a budget of $800 million amounts to a sizable government agency. Some questions:
Do the people who argue against almost any government undertaking, mainly on ideological grounds, oppose this institute as well?
Could these services be better provided by private enterprise?
Even though the need for this government role preceded the Constitution, which is invoked more and more in such discussions, is it Constitutional?
My point is that we all seem to be wrapped up in ideological discussions in which the ensuing decisions can have broad practical consequences. So let’s have the discussions but be mindful of those consequences, especially if ideologically based decisions are made.