because I wasn't a political scientist.
(H/T/ Martin Niemöller)
Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted to restrict NSF funding for political science. An amendment that was submitted by Tom Coburn (R-OK) reads:
Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences of the National Science Foundation, except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.Of course, "the economic interests of the United States" is a nebulous, undefined term, which is perhaps the way Coburn prefers it.
In a March 12th letter to NSF, Colburn wrote:
"Studies of presidential executive power and Americans' attitudes toward the Senate filibuster hold little promise to save an American's life from a threatening condition or to advance America's competitiveness in the world." Coburn wrote in a letter to NSF director Subra Suresh last week explaining his proposal.Of course, that's true of much of the research intended to develop pure knowledge. Do grants to differential geometers promise to save anyone's life or advance America's competitiveness in the world? They do, but not perhaps for decades, but the likes of people like Colburn cannot see that far.
After the voice vote approving the amendment, Colburn said in a statement:
"I’m pleased the Senate accepted an amendment that restricts funding to low-priority political science grants. There is no reason to spend $251,000 studying Americans' attitudes toward the U.S. Senate when citizens can figure that out for free."Yes, Americans are certainly serious students of the intracicies of Congress, the shifts in Executive power, the knowledge of other political systems (especially "American Idol"). Aren't they?
Even if federal receipts are at a 60-year low (because, you know, we can't fairly tax millionaires).
But Colburn isn't saying that, is he? No, he's saying the very essence of their scholarship isn't valuable.
And that's dangerous. What will he next decide isn't worth it? Theoretical physics? Mathematical biology? Climate science?
This is how nations decline, people. It's exactly how they decline.