One of the most cynical of scurrilous management tricks is to cut a major project that works so you can have their budget, be caught with your hand in the cookie jar by the public or journalists or favored customers such that you “have to give it back”, but then turn around and make them pay for your well-deserved embarrassment by knifing some other favorite project. Politicians know this one cold – the old “we’ve got to cut [Name of worthy project that everyone loves] to save [Name of another worthy project that everyone loves]” – conveniently forgetting there are a lot of “Stupid projects no one loves except my patron/master/boss” that could and should be cut. As noted political commentator Daffy Duck says “That’s despicable”!
Latest in the “Cut off your hand to save your foot because you didn’t let me cut off your foot in the first place” prize goes to NASA for targeting other missions to pay for Hubble, which they should have had budgeted to begin with. According to Tony Reichhardt in Nature, “Last week, NASA turned in a revised budget plan to Congress that includes cuts and delays to several programmes, including the roving Mars Science Laboratory and searches for planets like Earth. The proposed cuts would also lead to belt-tightening in the Hubble project itself, where grants for guest observers would be reduced by an average of 13%.”