Some good reasons for doing basic research even in hard economic times from Micorosft Research:
Many people across industry, and even some in academia, misunderstand the reasons for investing in long-term basic research. Too often people equate basic research with its outcomes, especially the new technologies and products it creates. They then try to manage basic research like they would product development or a business, often with disastrous consequences.
Government has a key role to play in advancing the boundaries of science and technology. If you look back to the writings of American scientist Vannevar Bush, as he described what would eventually become the National Science Foundation and the U.S. federal research infrastructure, Bush said, “You invest in basic research and long-term research precisely because you don’t know what the future will hold. You don’t know whether there will be a war, a disease outbreak, a famine, a new competitor, or an economic dislocation of some kind.”