I start out agreeing with the basic premise of Will's article over at National Review: basic science ain't gonna happen when the focus is on applied science with immediately useful results.
But then there's this:
Only government can have the long-time horizon required for the basic research that produces — in time — innovations that propel economic growth.
Bzzzt! Principle time: government isn't frittering away its own money on useless basic research; it's frittering away the taxpayers' money. If corporations were to fund basic research, at least they'd be frittering away the money of shareholders, who (in theory*) voluntarily entered into the funding relationship and are free to take their investment dollars elsewhere.
Responsible governance (whether governmental or corporate) entails being very careful about how other people's money is being spent. You can't have responsible government and government sponsorship of basic science at the same time.
Remember, most of the work done in basic science goes exactly nowhere. It turns out to be a complete waste (except in the sense of providing negative results, which may never be published, making it entirely a waste). Throwing money at it isn't going to help, and adding layers of bureaucracy to keep track of every dollar and prevent waste both increases costs and prevents the science from happening. Besides which, where are you going to find bureaucrats who are qualified to tell a promising line of inquiry from a line of BS peddled by a scam artist?
No, basic research belongs in academia, with funding from eccentric rich people who are throwing their own money away. Which is pretty much how it was, up until World War II, wasn't it? I guess that's why there was no technology prior to the war.
* In the Corporatist State, the government may be "investing" the taxpayers' money in quasi-private corporations, especially if said corporations are doing something economically implausible but favored by the political class. Also, most investment (actually, speculation on financial-instrument futures) nowadays is done by big financial institutions, with the nominal owners of the capital having little or no say in how it's directed.