House Votes to Slash Funding for Poli Sci Research

By The Right Sphere, The Right Sphere - May 17, 2012

An excerpt from Inside Higher Ed:

By a vote of 218-208, the House Wednesday night backed an amendment that  would bar the NSF from spending any of its 2013 funds on its political science program, which allocated about $11 million  in peer-reviewed grants this year. Explaining the amendment on the House floor Wednesday  evening, Flake said that given his colleagues’ reluctance to slash the agency’s  overall budget — the House defeated his earlier amendment by a vote of 291 to  121 — Congress should ensure, “at the least, that the NSF does not waste  taxpayer dollars on a meritless program.”

In hunting for programs that the government should not spend its precious  dollars on, Flake said, “I can think of few finer examples to cut than the  National Science Foundation's Political Science Program.”

The agency is spending more than $80 million, he said, on about 200 active  projects — and three-quarters of those funds, he added, “were directed to  universities with endowments greater than $1 billion…. Think about it. Three  out of the four of the grants awarded by the NSF Political Science Program go to  the wealthiest universities in the country.”

More troubling than who received funds from the program is what they were  spent on, Flake argued — before launching into what has become a rite of spring  in Washington, in which members of Congress list academic projects whose titles  or subjects strike them as unworthy.

Some of the topics that set Flake off seem predictable, given current  politics here; “$700,000 to develop a new model for international climate change  analysis,” for instance.

I can’t exactly say that I am crying over this. Just like any other government program, grants and funding for academia should be carefully examined, and cut where possible, in order to deal with the massive debt facing the federal government. If the American Political Science Association wants to retain its grants, it could start show us where the brokest nation in the history of mankind is supposed to find the money for them.

Edit: If you’re interested in learning more about why modern political science might not be all that useful, I recommend this reading by Steven F Hayward.

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