Monday, February 28, 2011

Money Badly Spent

At Minding the Campus, I have an essay on a highly dubious federal funding decision: nearly $50,000 to a conference organized by Paula McClain--yes, that Paula McClain--to "offer guidance" to minority political science junior faculty members on how to achieve tenure. Among the apparent items discussed--how to reconcile the tenure bid with engaging in the type of social activism championed by the Group of 88.

In any event, below is the complete workshop program for which taxpayers forked over nearly $50,000. Note that, contrary to most academic conferences, it contains no specific presenters or topics of presentations, only vague seminar session titles. And even this took some effort to receive--it's not posted on the Duke program website, the program's office repeatedly refused to provide it to me, and I only obtained if through the gracious intervention of the NSF program officer.

Enhancing Research: A Workshop for Political Scientists from Underrepresented Groups. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and

Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS)

Duke University

February 3 to 5, 2011

Workshop Agenda

Thursday, February 3, 2011

6:30 p.m. Dinner, Spring Hill Suites, Morehead Conference Room, 5310 McFarland Drive, Durham, NC 27707

Friday, February 4, 2011 – Erwin Mill Bldg, Room A103, 2024 W. Main St., Durham, NC

7:30 p.m. Bus to Social Science Research Institute/Center for the Study of Race Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS)

8:00 a.m. Continental breakfast

8:30 to 11:00

Panel 1. Norms, Mentoring and Networks

11:00 to 11:30 Break/stretch/walk around

11:30 Lunch served/working lunch

11:45 to 2:15

Panel 2. Balancing Publishing, Teaching and Family/Social life

2:15 to 2:45 Break/Stretch/Walk Around

2:45 to 5:15

Panel 3. Pre-tenure Review, Moving toward the Tenure Review, and Final decisions on tenure.

5:15 to 5:45 Reception and Working Dinner-Erwin Mill Bldg., Room A103, 2024 W. Main
Street, Durham, NC

5:45 to 8:00 p.m.

Panel 4. Tenure Reviewers’ Panel.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

8:00 a.m. Check out of hotel/buses to SSRI

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Panel 5. What Went Wrong? Candid Conversations

11:30 Lunch and transport to airport


Anonymous said...

"Among the apparent items discussed--how to reconcile the tenure bid with engaging in the type of social activism championed by the Group of 88."

That's apparent from the agenda? If so, I don't see it, unless you equate "Social life" to "Social activism", but that seems very dubious. Your comment is simply not supported by the facts at hand.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.00:

I had assumed the readers would click through and read my MTC essay, which I did not duplicate on DIW. That's why I provided the link. If you're having trouble locating the link, simply click on the above: "an essay on a highly dubious federal funding decision." You'll notice that those words are in blue, rather than in black, like the rest of the text.

In the essay, I quote from an official Duke news release that "McClain also was listed as moderating a panel that discussed, among other topics, 'the repercussions of engaging in social activism.'"

Anonymous said...

In a time of trillion dollar deficits it's disappointing the NSF would provide funds for this seminar. If it doesn't consider this one a waste of funds, what seminar would be?

Anonymous said...

The "National Science Foundation." That made me laugh. There can be no doubt about the need for funding this effort. It ensures that Important People get to have a Continental Breakfast and then sit around and discuss Important Things. MOO! Gregory

P.S. Also nice to see Professor Johnson spank a troll who didn't do his/her homework!

skwilli said...

The use of the word "science" in this context (social science) is as infuriating to me as "evolution" is to the other 50% of my acquaintances in my "intelligently designed" home town! Adding race, class and gender to this science mix puts it waaaay over the top.

Anonymous said...

Is McClain a Communist?

Gary Packwood said...

It is not especially comforting to learn that junior political science faculty from underrepresented groups need political guidance on how to subvert competency in their quest to become tenured.

I guess this is the group where ...Process is their most important product.

gwallan said...

Why is the word junket echoing repeatedly through the vacant recesses of my mind?

Jim in San Diego said...

The Federal government has no money. It is broke.

The entire discretionary Federal budget is borrowed money. 100% of tax revenues now goes to pay our entitlement programs. Every other dollar spent is being borrowed from our grandchildren.

We know this because there is no plan to repay the money we are borrowing for decades. The President's commission on the budget has recommended balancing the budget by a combination of tax increases and spending cuts - in 27 years!

Our grandchildren have nothing to say in this. We are borrowing money from our grandchildren without asking them. We are not going to pay it back. There is a word for this.

In this light, this $50,000 (and much else) is theft from our grandchildren. We have just become very, very used to spending money that is not ours for our own priorities.

When looked at in this light, which is the way we should look at discretionary expenditures today, it is intolerable to contemplate my grandchildren spending a significant part of their working lives repaying this $50,000. With several decades of interest, it will cost them about as much as buying a house for themselves and their families.

We all should be very ashamed.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Deficit arguments, Jim Peterson? The United States economy is cyclical and will come back and that's when we pay back debt. And paying off debt in 27 years is putting it on our grandchildren? Sure, like getting a 30-year mortgage is mortgaging our grandchildren. If I can handle a 30-year debt, I'm quite sure the United States of America can handle a 27-year debt.

As for this particular expenditure, it is shameful. We can agree to agree on that. It's like funding a conference to teach Hollywood stars and NBA players how to find the good, mentally balanced hookers. MOO! Gregory

James said...

MOO, Gregory:

(One of the most insightful contributors to this blog over the years.)

However, as to the national debt:

At this moment, the national debt alone amounts to about $40,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. This does not include nearly $70 trillion of off-balance-sheet unfunded obligations to medicare, medicaid,social security, and government pensions. These amounts are about five times the total US GDP.

This also does not include each person's share of State and Local debt and unfunded obligations to public employee pensions and health benefits.

The national debt is growing at more than 10% a year, much faster than the economy is growing, and much faster than the economy can grow. So long as this is true, it is mathematically impossible to pay it off.

Interest alone on the current debt is the third largest item in the national budget today. By 2017, it will rise to $650 billion per year. This interest can only be paid by more borrowing, added to the national deabt.

If every taxpayer today were taxed at 100% of their income, the deficit still would not be eliminated.

There is no political will to deal with either our fiscal or our monetary irresponsibility.

The Federal Reserve is enabling the debt orgy by keeping interest rates artificially low. Thus, we do not yet feel the full cost of the debt we already have. So, we do not see the danger of taking on much more debt. Once interest rates return to normal (as they must, or the currency will debase), the interest on the debt will immediately become unpayable.

Yes, you and I can handle a 30 year mortgage, if the principal and interest payments are within our means. However, the Federal Government is not paying on a fixed principal, fixed interest rate 30 year mortgage. it is engaged in a money party and continues to gorge itself with debt and future obligations which it cannot pay.

None of these truths detract from the fundamental immorality of borrowing money from our grandchildren to pay for our unnecessary and even foolish trifles today, such as this $50,000 flim flam.

Jim Peterson

New York car accident lawyers said...

What an unnecessary waste of money...The seminar schedule is really weird...

guiowen said...

To the 6:03:

You're being disingenuous.
When you get a 30-year fixed-payment mortgage, you immediately start paying it off, in the sense that some of the first payment goes toward decreasing the principal. After 30 years, the debt is entirely paid off.
In this case, what we're told is that the debt will continue to increase for 27 years, and then we will begin to pay it off. That sounds a lot more like those horrible mortgages that pay less than interest for the first few years and then blow up on the borrower.

Anonymous said...

Jim Peterson, you're a trooper and a great poster! We'll have to agree to disagree about the deficit and agree to agree on the egregiousness of this particular expenditure. This is how I see the money being spent:


Friday, February 29, 1693

The Sarah Goode Conference Center, Downtown Salem Hyatt

Registration Fee: A Chicken.

Learn what's new in Spectral Sighting and Demonic Possession. Get in on the ground floor of this burgeoning industry! Seats are limited, so call now before all the good witches are taken!

POC: MOO!Gregory

No Justice, No Peace said...

Apparently Ron Schiller the former NPR Senior Vice President of Development resigned. He's the guy caught on tape expressing the core values of NPR. The video is beyond words and if you've not seen it, you should.

NPR, bigotry, and Duke?

Who would hire a guy like Schiller? It turns out he has taken a job with the Aspen Institute.

Who is the Chairman of the Aspen Institute?

Duke's own Robert K. Steel.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Kimf. said...

UNBELIEVABLE how the tax payers spring for this type of event and are completely unaware that they are doing so. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, good article.