Former Soviet dissident talks about Russian and American science
When you begin wondering, what is the driving force of technical progress you can get a lot of answers to that question. For example, many people will say that it is all about scientists and their talents, inventions, education, industry and so on and so forth. I looked into this question and I found out that the major factor concerning technical progress is the amount of money spent by governments on these programs.
The U.S. has been investing state funds in science and advanced technologies for a long period of time. The country created numerous benefits for the development of new technologies. Now it is the richest country in the world. This allows the States to invest more and more money and become the world leader in technology.
The majority of other countries either copy successful American technologies, or develop them. Even if the U.S. makes a new invention secret, a simple realization of the fact that it is possible gives incentive to other countries to copy that invention as well. This policy is cheaper, but it has a very significant drawback – you will always be behind, sometimes many years behind.
People often ask me, when Russia is going to catch up with America. The answer is simple – never, taking into consideration the current speed of scientific progress. For example, how can a country catch up to the U.S. in the field of space exploration, when they invest 30 times as much money in space exploration as all the other countries combined? Where is the way out? People say that the government is supposed to put an end to the issue of brain drain, to oblige scientists for the development of new technologies. I think that there is only one way out of this situation. It is about time both the government and the population realize that it is always vital to allot money to advance science. One should choose perspective projects that will be able to move scientific progress further on.
Something about Russian scientists in the U.S., their fates are different. Everything depends on how they start, on their language knowledge, on their age and education and so on. The typical feature of Russian scientists who come to the U.S. is their wild desire to settle there, to find something that they can hold on to. The best thing that they can do is obtain refugee status (escaped from communism, racism, etc). This is like obtaining the rights of an American citizen before obtaining American citizenship. A pauper can get $580 of welfare allowances, money for food (about $100), pay only one-third of the rent, use free medical services and so on and so forth. This is the way a lot of immigrants and black people live in the U.S.
Americans cut the welfare allowance period to five years when it was realized there were too many immigrants from the former Soviet Union using these services. This was the so-called third wave of immigration, there were over one million welfare users in New York City alone.
Those scientists who came to the United States with a guest visa or otherwise usually have to lead harder lives. They are basically forced to live there on an illegal basis. However, a lot of them are ready to go through anything just to stay in the U.S. I know a doctor of science, a former professor of the Moscow Aviation Institute, he has been living in low income housing for years, eating in charity canteens, but still he does not want to go back to Moscow. I know a former professor of another Russian provincial university, who came to the United States and submitted for refugee status. He is broke, but he is not willing to return to Russia either. I know a professor, who has spent several years of his life trying to prove to an American court that it is dangerous for him to return to Russia. He was eventually granted refugee status. They are basically old people, they are not likely to get back to scientific work or research.
On the photo: Alexander Bolonkin
To be continued
Alexander Bolonkin Doctor of Technical Science PRAVDA.Ru USA
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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