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Scientists discuss leaving the U.S. in this week's Expert Voices.

Cuts in federal funding, censorship or threat of it, devaluation of facts and knowledge, and limits to the influx of talent will certainly affect American leadership in science and technology. But, the scientific ecosystem is robust, thanks to two remarkably simple structural strengths:

  1. Decentralized control. If the political U.S. consists of 50 states with constitutionally enforced local control, the scientific U.S. consists of thousands of universities, institutes, research centers, national labs, and other operations that form an enormously distributed network with largely autonomous governance structures and indecipherably global webs of interactions. Federalism implies that states can mount their own counter-measures when their interests are challenged. Extreme autonomy of scientific institutions almost guarantees the same.
  2. Public support. Deeper than a desire to be cured from disease or to use a faster internet, public support of science is a rooted belief in — and patriotic pride in — American scientific and technological exceptionalism. A challenge to this quintessential American identity will offend most and produce counter-movements, including political mutiny and philanthropic outpouring.

The bottom line: The robust scientific ecosystem in the U.S. will continue to thrive, and scientists with grit should stick around. The American Dream is alive, at least in science.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.

First look: Biden summons top CEOs on supply chain

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden will meet Monday afternoon with CEOs of big retailers, grocers and consumer-products firms to send this message, according to the White House: Products will be on shelves for holiday shopping.

Zoom out: Black Friday sales rebounded from 2020.

Thanksgiving box office shows theaters have long road to recovery

Photo of Disney's "Encanto;" Credit: Disney

Box office ticket sales over the Thanksgiving holiday show that consumer confidence in moviegoing is slowly improving, but not enough to bring the struggling theater industry back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, if ever.

Why it matters: "We may have to temper expectations a bit" for next year, said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.