The only way for a society to grow and prosper is through research and development. This is the best investment of public funds in my opinion. Of course, any use of public funds needs to be closely monitored for waste. Without public funding, our country will fall behind in the areas of research and development, and we will be looking to other countries (China and Japan) to solve our problems for us, leaving us less self-reliant.
There are so many undiscovered problems in the world right now that a lot people do not know about. Research is an important process in finding out what and how a problem can be solved. Many people die of cancer every year and many also survive based on solutions that have been put forward by research. The public can serve as a way of funding positive ideas in the society.
Applied research should get financing from public funds only if there is a vote on the items up for research. If we do not support research, then we will quickly fall behind our ever moving and advancing world. Research has led to some of the greatest discoveries man has ever seen.
Public funding should be eliminated in general! If everything is private, people will be able to keep money to spend it how they wish and the money will be evenly proportioned to where it is needed instead of 1 person making huge decisions that affect our entire country and sometimes the world. Private organizations that have very little taxes (which if our coutry becomes libertarian, we will most likely have to only pay local taxes) and they can keep more money to create larger profits and donate more to fund private research.
If there is a need for the research, the market will dictate the need. When public funds are used to support research, it always has political connotations. Why do you think universities give to political campaigns? Do you think it is out of a serious concern for the country, or the public funding they receive?