Posts Tagged ‘National Science Foundation’
October 15th, 2009 at 11:26 am
Nobel Laureate Got Big Federal Bucks
Posted by Print

Last week, two Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.  Thanks to our friend Paul Krugman, it was recently revealed that one of the winners, Elinor Ostrom, received a massive amount of federal funds during her career, in addition to her $167,018 salary at Indiana University.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), an organization tasked with promoting the progress of science, has given over $16.7 million in inflation-adjusted grants to Professor Ostrom.  This figure includes a hefty $9.8 million (inflation-adjusted) grant in 1971, when Professor Ostrom was just six years removed from her Ph.D.

Obviously, given her recognition and achievements in the fields of political science and economics, she put this $16.7 million to good use, but with that much money one could only imagine what else could have been achieved.

With lobbying heavyweights like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, there are plenty of voices lobbying for more education funding.  Everyone is trying to get a piece of the $3.6 trillion federal pie, and these groups are effective at ensuring more federal dollars go toward education funding.

Senator Tom Coburn has seized on NSF funding and has recommended the elimination of political science grants.  With over $147.7 billion in endowment wealth for the top ten Universities alone, there is plenty of higher education money available.  If Harvard dedicated just 1% of its endowment to research funding, it could provide life-time grants to 22  “Elinor Ostrom’s” every year (over $365 million in total).

Senator Coburn often likes to make the point that you don’t practice charity through the federal government.  You practice politics and favoritism.  With so much private wealth already accumulated in the nation’s universities and other foundations dedicated to promoting education, has the market really failed to invest in education?  If universities are as esteemed as they are in this country, couldn’t they afford a small investment in research grants?