Front Page Titles (by Subject) State Science Research - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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State Science Research - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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State Science Research
“The National Science Foundation and the Debate over Postwar Research Policy, 1942–1945: A Political Interpretation of Science—The Endless Frontier.” Isis 68 (May 1977): 5–26.
What role, if any, should the federal government exercise in advancing science for the general welfare?
This major policy issue, still hotly debated, becomes clearer when we consider the highly political context that begot America's National Science Foundation (NSF). It was Vannevar Bush's famous report, Science—The Endless Frontier (1945) that primarily influenced and shaped the subsequent National Science Foundation. The politicized nature of this report is intimated by Bush's government post as the director of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). He also voiced his concern to President Roosevelt that science, lacking government involvement, might languish in the postwar United States.
Through a survey of the documentary record (congressional hearings, correspondence, and publications), we can appreciate the political developments leading up to Bush's 1945 report and the ultimate political form of the NSF.
The political emphasis coloring Bush's report sprang from the headiness of success with the federal mobilization of research efforts during World War II. Other political factors included: allegations of big industry monopolistically controlling patents and research, to the detriment of small business and universities; concern over the justice of industries' obtaining patents for products produced under federal contract and at taxpayers' expense; and national security concerns over corporate patent arrangements with foreign corporations.
The debate behind the Bush report centered around the belief of a necessary disparity between research dictated by market forces as opposed to that dictated by “national needs,” social, economic, and military. In this vein, Waldemaer Kaempffert, liberal science editor of The New York Times, testified that American research had “grown up, like Topsy,” without “concentrated social purpose in planning..., direction..., organization.” Kaempffert advocated abandoning laissezfaire in scientific research as well as in economics.
The series of bills that culminated in establishing the NSF began with one to centralize various wartime production efforts. The focus, however, gradually shifted to the peacetime coordination of science “to serve the public interest.”