Time for some full frontal iconoclasm.

Going over back issues of C&EN I found an article in the Sept 5th, 2011, issue, p. 14, that struck my interest.  Well, interest is the wrong word. The article opens with George Whitesides saying-

As many as 100,000 new jobs for chemists could be created in the next 20 years if the recommendations of an ACS Presidential Task Force on Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise are carried out, according to task force chair George Whitesides, a chemistry professor at Harvard University.

Other illuminati on the task force include the usual band of chem celebrities.

You know, I find this a little irksome. These oligarchs have been exploiting cheap student and post-doc labor for decades for their own professional gain. Now, after the economy is set to crystallize into a new phase, big prizes sitting on the mantle, they are suddenly showing concern for up and coming chemists and the future direction of the profession.

Are they concerned for chemists or is it the continuation of the grant business that they are after? Both are certainly worthy of support. But why do we have a system in place where the boat gets some needed navigation only when the rock stars hold a Farm Aid task force? Duh! Shit man, George and Bobby say we have to do something, so I guess we have to pay attention. These two characters are riding off on their high horses while the rest of us are shoveling out the barn.

These top tier professors sit at the apex of what is in fact an inbred patronage system that is now at risk of coming apart. That’s the issue behind the headlines.