Friday, 9 September 1988
DO THE PARTY PLATFORMS ADDRESS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ISSUES?
Yes, but comparisons are difficult since the 104-page Republican
platform is more detailed than its 8-page Democratic counterpart.
ENERGY POLICY - Both platforms call for clean coal technology,
conservation, and increased use of methanol and ethanol. The
Democrats contend the country "could reduce its reliance on
nuclear power" with these measures. The Republicans anticipate
the "expansion of safe nuclear power" to meet future needs.
RESEARCH - The Democrats stress the need for "a greater
commitment to civilian research and development," while the
Republicans warn that "defense research and development must be
maintained at a level commensurate with the Reagan-Bush years."
The Republicans, however, specifically endorse increased funding
for the NSF, retooling of university laboratories, and the SSC.
SPACE - The Republicans support everything--including space
station, aerospace plane, a replacement shuttle, a new launch
vehicle and a manned flight to Mars--oh, yes, and a balanced
budget amendment to the Constitution and no new taxes. The
Democratic platform is totally silent on the question of space.
EDUCATION - The Democrats commit themselves to "the principle
that no one should be denied the opportunity to attend college
for financial reasons," while the Republican platform promises
"to challenge college administrators to exercise more fiscal
responsibility." The Republicans offer a big list of small
promises, such as protecting the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
ENVIRONMENT - No real differences here. Both sides stress the
need for international agreements to deal with such problems as
the greenhouse effect and depletion of the ozone layer.
DEFENSE - The major area of disagreement. The Republicans
pledge not to "compromise plans for the research, testing, or the
rapid and certain deployment of SDI," and oppose any nuclear test
ban. The Democrats charge that dubious new weapons are wasting
money and call for a ban on all chemical and space weapons, as
well as a moratorium on both missile and nuclear weapons testing.
. THE US MAY HAVE VIOLATED THE 1974 THRESHOLD TEST BAN TREATY,
while the Soviets watched. An 18 Aug test, with Soviet observers
on hand, was intended to demonstrate neDw, more accurate sensors
which are located near the detonation. The new sensors indicated
that the blast exceeded the 150kt limit by a few percent, while
according to more distant seismic monitors, which the US insists
are unreliable, it was just below the limit. It was embarrassing
in light of official claims of Soviet violations--claims that
were not supported by a recent OTA study
(WN 10 Jun 88).