Caution required when US Republicans talk about Societal Desirability – by Doris Schroeder and Michael Davis

Two Republican Members of the US House of Representatives have – again – criticised selected US research projects for not promoting US global competitiveness in an article entitled “Bronze Age Cyprus and Chinese auto shows might not be the kind of high priority research topics that need federal cash”(http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/09/30/cantor-gop-budget-science-spending-column/2896333). The emphasis on global competitiveness rather than broader social goals that might bring more justice to American society is worrying. Reuters just reported that 46.5 million US citizens live in poverty now (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/17/us-usa-economy-poverty-idUSBRE98G0PN20130917). One would think that tax payers’ money would be wisely spent bringing the US closer to Germany, France, Australia, Japan and Canada; all countries going well in terms of global competitiveness, yet not neglecting their vulnerable populations. Likewise, it is unclear how the two Republicans decided which NSF grants were “questionable” with regard to US global competitiveness. In their list, they included: History of Chiapas, Mexico (350 BC-1350 AD) $280,558. The US lost a major collaboration with Mexico exploring natural pharmaceutics and cosmetics by alleged insensitivity to Chiapas culture (http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-90-481-3123-5_17). Even the road to global competitiveness is paved with knowledge about other cultures.