You could say that I work for the tax payer because my job is partially funded by NIH grants. My biggest fear is lack of funding, as lack of funding equals lack of job. This sequestration could impact the level of scientific research for years because the NIH is currently underfunded.
Grants are currently awarded for ~6th percentile (agency dependent), and the pressure to obtain funding and maintain it through competitive grant renewals is staggering. Research is EXPENSIVE!!! Here is a rundown of everything necessary for one of my experiments:
Cell culture - maintenance, media, etc
Disposables - gloves, tubes, plates, petri dishes, grids, etc
Chemicals/reagents - buffers, drugs, antibodies, resins, fixatives, etc.
Microscopy - billed per hour
And, of course, my time for data collection and analysis. One experiment a week for about 40 weeks of the year... each experiment costs well over $2500... you get the idea. I'm collaborating with about 20 lab members on experiments for various papers, so expenses multiple quickly.
Every year when I visit my extended family, I hear the same thing from a few relatives: "So, did you cure cancer yet? Don't know why it takes so long... Where the heck does all this money go that we donate... doesn't seem to make a difference! Right into the fat cat's wallets, I expect!" If I hear that this year, I'm going to have an internal conniption, but I can't express how I feel without turning the conversation sour. Instead, with a congenial face and tone, I will explain to my conservative family how science is conducted and is funded. Maybe some of this knowledge will sink in, and perhaps take on more significance to them with the looming sequestration. One can only hope.