So when Nature Publishing Group decides to boost its subscription costs for the University of California 400% for their 67 journals it is tough finding someone to root for. California is swimming in debt but the University of California is the biggest employer of state workers with 24% (followed by corrections with 17% and California State University with 14%) so they are not exactly friends of the taxpayer, since the big increases are in employees, not wages or research grants, and that happened while Gray Davis was Governor and not as some natural progression in enrollment numbers. Basically, university employees tend to be Democrats so he made more of them.
But there is going to be a lesser of two evils and the UC is it in this battle. Why so? Because Nature Publishing gets its articles for free (research funding - primarily taxpayers), gets peer review for free (employee funding - primarily taxpayers) yet retains copyright despite the funding source and then charges everyone for the articles. It's a silly system but, as PLoS co-founder Mike Eisen notes, one that the open access aspect of Science 2.0 can fix pretty easily.
One issue is that academia tends to be rather self-serving. If I have to pay full price for Nature, no one in the UC system cares but if students and researchers have to pay $1 million per year more to read it, they think there should be mass revolt - university employees are all paid but they want a lot of things for free so discount their sense of entitlement. And I am not really going after Nature, despite my title, since a dozen other major peer-reviewed journals do the exact same thing and make bucketloads of money, 'non-profit' or not.
University of California librarians should be torpedoing the entire system. If they simply object to an increase for them, whatever, it's just one self-perpetuating behemoth going after another and I don't care - I could easily have titled the artlcle "Academics - Universities Hate You" given how post-doctoral researchers are treated by schools - but if this is a legitimate chance to Science 2.0 the entire thing and make taxpayer-funded research open access, I am for it.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., Democrat from Michigan, has repeatedly tried to squash open access efforts. Don't just stop at a price increase from NPG, university people. Buck partisan politics and take on the people who are the obstacle to making open access the norm