The Agenda

David Brooks on the NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

I agree with David Brooks completely on the following proposition:

[I]n the middle of this golden age of behavioral research, there is a bill working through Congress that would eliminate the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. This is exactly how budgets should not be balanced — by cutting cheap things that produce enormous future benefits.

What saddens me is the thought that this message might fall on deaf ears among conservatives who believe that David has given the benefit too much of the benefit of the doubt and congressional Republicans too little over the debt-ceiling negotiations. This basic principle, that government should do a better job of gathering data on the efficacy of public programs, and allow researchers to access this data to create better civil society initiatives, is, as David might put it, a no-brainer. And if some of the revenue from paring back the mortgage interest deduction were devoted to the Directorate, that would be a big net plus.  

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