Friday, October 09, 2009

Why The Median Political Scientist Should Support The Coburn Amendment

Here is some quick background for non-political scientists in the audience. Senator Tom Coburn has proposed an amendment to eliminate the Political Science Program at the National Science Foundation. This program has, over the past decade, funded 91.3 million dollars of research on the study of elections, campaign finance reform, media coverage of war, and a host of other projects that seek to advance our understanding of politics, government, and policymaking.

Predictably, the American Political Science Association is rallying its membership to express opposition to the Coburn Amendment, through actions such as signing an online petition and writing personal letters to Senators. The median political scientist, however, may actually have nothing to lose and something to gain if the amendment succeeds and becomes law.

In my estimation, the median political scientist has never received funding from the National Science Foundation. So, in this sense, the median political scientist has nothing to lose from a research support point of view if the Political Science Program were to close its doors.

I will also wager that the median political scientist is at least occasionally called upon to review proposals that have been submitted to the National Science Foundation. Careful reviews take a non-trivial amount of effort to prepare, meaning that the median political scientist will gain back a significant chunk of time if the Political Science Program is shut down.

Put all of this together--time savings, no reduction in research support--and the self-interest of the median political scientist comes into clear focus.


PS: To quote Charlie Brown (after he "thanked" Violet for sending him a Christmas card)..."Don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?" I'm heading off next Tuesday on an NSF-funded trip to Albany.


At 12:48 PM, Blogger The Balla Family said...

PS: Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist, has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. I guess I made the right call in assigning two of her articles in my graduate seminar this semester...



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