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Hypocrite Gore Should Practice What He Preaches

Guest column by Gary M. Rubman

During his years as Vice President, Al Gore has served as the Clinton Administration's spokesman for science and technology. In evaluating his credibility on these issues, it is important for us to carefully examine his record. While claiming to support scientific advancement, in reality, Gore has positioned himself at the radical left wing of the political spectrum.

This wing, in defense of its beloved doctrine of "social construction," all too often equates science as being social science and political science, as opposed to biological science and computer science. Gore has been an ardent proponent of cutting Department of Defense research funding and increasing the bureaucratic stranglehold of Washington agencies over technological advancement. His actions will affect nearly every one of my fellow graduates. Unfortunately, the only ones who will benefit are those who aspire to the security and power of a job as a Washington bureaucrat.

The scientific community must begin to recognize that Al Gore's rhetoric, while it may sound impressive, represents a frontal assault on scientific advancement.

Over the past few years, Gore has spoken often in support of the information superhighway. While I applaud him for his enthusiasm, I condemn him for his approach. Time and again, he has opposed a free-market approach to the Internet's development in favor of yet another big government program that the American people have overwhelmingly rejected. Even after private industry has proven itself to be more than capable of developing the superhighway, Gore is still feebly trying to impose his big government bureaucracy. Would you prefer Robert Reich, George Stephanopoulos, and Al Gore making these decisions, or Bill Gates and our fellow MIT students? The choice is clear.

MIT depends heavily on federal research funding to run most of the laboratories throughout campus. This money directly benefits all of MIT. The 1997 defense authorization bill the Clinton administration presented to Congress on March 4 calls for a six percent cut in the 1996 defense budget approved by Congress just last year, using inflation-adjusted dollars.

The Republican defense authorization bill would increase DoD funding $12.4 billion over the Clinton administration's proposed budget. In addition, Republicans in Congress have also proposed $249.6 million more in civilian science basic research funding than the Clinton administration. While Al Gore will try to fool the American people into believing that Republicans are "slashing" science funding, the numbers disagree. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the only numbers that Gore cares about are those from the polls, not the numbers that actually matter. Which one is better for MIT, the Clinton budget or the Republican budget which includes $249.6 million more for basic research? The choice is clear.

Government regulations hinder technological progress. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, creates a regulatory environment which frustrates innovation. Due to red tape, it takes an average of 12 years and $359 million to bring a new drug from test tube to patient.

These delays and costs put a company's very existence at risk, often causing them to move overseas. Al Gore supports this system. Republicans in Congress want to make the system better by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, speeding up the approval process, and giving back to American companies the incentive to invest in research and development. Which one is better for the American people and science in general? The choice is clear.

Following the publication of his book, Earth in the Balance, the liberal media anointed Al Gore an environmental expert and political spokesman for the scientific community, possibly contributing to why he was chosen to deliver the commencement address at MIT, the epitome of scientific discovery and innovation. When one carefully examines Gore's writings, though, it is shocking to see the clear parallels between his views and those articulated by the Unabomber in his 35,000-word manifesto, the epitome of scientific mistrust and the leading advocate for returning society to the Stone Age. As syndicated columnist Tony Snow recently wrote, "Gore, like the Unabomber, distrusts unbridled technology. While Gore prefers to concentrate power in the hands of a wise and gigantic government, the Unabomber prefers anarchy."

Interestingly, one of the books found in the Unabomber's cabin after his arrest was a dog-eared copy of Gore's Earth in the Balance, complete with copious notes in the margins and underlined sections. For some reason, federal investigators decided to leave this off of the evidence list released to the media. Could it be that Gore recognizes the similarities and is embarrassed by the fact that he is the leading defender of the same eco-hysteria as the Unabomber? The answer is obvious.

If Gore truly wants to maintain any credibility among the science community, he should at the very least practice what he preaches. During the 1992 election campaign, for example, a Nashville television station obtained footage proving the existence of a dump filled with aluminum cans, old tires, and filters of waste oil - a dump Gore insisted did not exist - on property owned by Gore's father. The close proximity of the dump to a river suggested that it was an environmental hazard. More recently, in March 1996, the Denver Water Department released an extra 96 million gallons of water - enough for 300 families for a year - to improve the backdrop for a campaign photo-op for Gore in front of the South Platte River. Finally, even though he has supposedly long been a foe of logging the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, shortly after being sworn in as Vice President, Gore added a verandah made of old-growth redwood and Douglas fir to the Vice President's mansion. Clearly, Gore should learn to listen more closely to the rhetoric that his speech writers have given him.

After an examination of his record, it becomes clear that Vice President Al Gore talking about science and technology is like Fidel Castro talking about freedom and democracy - each knows little about of what he speaks. While his words may sound good and his show may be impressive, his actions are destructive. Gore believes that our salvation lies just beyond another round of federal legislation. We need a leader who understands true science and has the strength to avoid the use of shallow rhetoric. During the upcoming election I hope people will listen carefully to Gore's words and think about the consequences. Which administration would truly represent the best interests of science and technology, the status quo or a Dole administration? The choice is clear.