I'm not sure why everyone seems to boil things down the false dichotomy of goverment or business. The 'public' can fund non-profit research organizations in ways that don't involve a government middleman. As a society we need long-term non-profit oriented research, but I would think that the goverment should be the last resort. It's a highly political environment full of corruption and self-interest not unlike many businesses, but unlike business it's essentially self-regulated. I'm not saying goverment is evil or incapable of doing wonderful things in the realm of research (internet, and nice fluffy memory foam among others), but I would like to see the 'public' funding the research more directly via contributions and support of non-profit research organizations that they select - that's true democracy - not 51% being able to spend 100% of the dollars. As a society we may not responsible enough for that approach, but I think it would be more effective - and it doesn't a consensus or majority - just enough like minded people to contribute toward making the world a better place.