Political science

More from Congressman Jeff Flake

May 13 '12

This was posted on May 12 on his Facebook page:

I’m taking a bit of criticism in the Washington Post and in the academic blogosphere for offering an amendment (which ultimately passed) to prohibit National Science Foundation funding for political science studies like “Why do candidates employ ambiguity, and what are the consequences.” (By the way, that particular study cost taxpayers $216,884).

Those critical of this prohibition assert that the amendment won’t save any money. That is, unfortunately, true. I also offered an amendment that would have cut approximately $1.2 billion from the NSF budget (returning it to the 2008 spending level), but that amendment failed. I should note that those who voted against the successful amendment, ostensibly on grounds that it would save no money, also voted against the failed amendment that would have done so.

I’m a big fan of political science, a field in which I have an advanced degree. In fact, I think so much of the science that I don’t believe that federal funding, particularly in an era of trillion dollar deficits, is necessary to validate it.


P.S. Why is it that the subtraction of federal funding for a program a discipline is deemed to be “politicizing” an issue when the addition of funding is not? When National Science Foundation funding first found its way into political science programs, were there voices from the political science community complaining that their field of study had been politicized?

Let me focus on the postscript for a moment.  Of course, there have been debates about academics’ accepting government funding — e.g., funding from the Defense Department.  But I don’t know whether the NSF political science program was the subject of a similar debate when it was created — the earliest awards  from the political science program were from 1971, I think — or since.   Any relevant knowledge from commenters?