Does Government Research Funding Really Contribute to Economic Growth?

I just read a great article over at Reason on a subject near and dear to my heart and related to some previous posts of mine regarding NASA funding.  I implore everyone to check it out.  Here is my favorite snippet from the article:
The story of the airplane is instructive. After the Spanish-American War, the federal government supplied a grant of $73,000 to the director of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Pierpont Langley to develop heavier-than-air craft. All six of Langley's prototypes crashed, the last one on October 7, 1903. Two months later, Ohio bicycle mechanics, Orville and Wilbur Wright, launched their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Their R&D budget? About $1,000.
This is merely an anecdote, of course, but what a powerful one it is, especially when the proponents of government funded science offer a handful of successes to make their case.  
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