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Schaff Wins NEH Grant to Write Book

I like my neighbor Jon Schaff a lot. He’s a Republican, but he’s a smart professor worth listening to. He also writes books, which is awesome.

But I’d be remiss in my ideological spitballery if I didn’t point out that the conservative Professor Schaff’s authorial endeavors appear to depend on us—not just the minority of interested readers who will shell out 30-plus bucks on Amazon for his meditations on Lincoln and the limits of liberal democracy, but all of us, taxpayers and citizens, acting together as a community through government to support struggling artists like himself whose creativity the free market alone does not sufficiently appreciate:

Northern State University Professor of Political Science Dr. Jon Schaff has been awarded a competitive research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The NEH grant will fund Schaff’s research project, tentatively titled, “A More Perfect Union: Jefferson, Hamilton, and Lincoln and America’s Unfinished Work,” as well as its publication.

The book-length research project proposes Lincoln as a synthesis of the early-American conflict between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. This Lincolnian synthesis builds a better politics than either Jefferson or Hamilton alone envisioned.

…“I am very grateful to NEH for seeing value in the topic,” Schaff said. “Book writing is a long, laborious process. This money will free up time to help get this project off the ground” [Northern State University, press release, 2020.06.02].

What?! The free market alone won’t make possible Schaff’s Lincolnian synthesis? I am shocked, simply shocked! at this failure of the market to recognize true cultural value. I am glad we have smart government to support smart people like Professor Schaff in their efforts to make us all smarter. I am glad we can all help write a book. And I am glad that our liberal Congress has had the good sense to reject the conservative White House‘s repeated calls to defund the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Now keep it down: Dr. Schaff is trying to concentrate….

Political science professors Ken Blanchard and Jon Schaff speak at the Northern State University Noon Forum, 2016.11.02.
Dr. Jon Schaff (right) eagerly anticipates hearing his conservative colleague Dr. Ken Blanchard’s (left) opinion of publicly subsidized grants for writing books. (DFP photo, Northern State University Noon Forum, 2016.11.02.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-06-17 09:02

    Thanks for pointing out that thinking Republicans don’t really support their own b.s. It’s important to note that Trump proposed a budget for this fiscal year that would have provided no money for awarding grants. Had Trump’s budget been adopted, Schaff would have received no money.

    And, just to drive home the point, Trump proposed a similar budget for the next fiscal year. It is, after all, a part of Republican/conservative orthodoxy to cut such programs, if not to zero them out completely, as Trump proposes. Trump’s budget proposals over three years comes as a result of a Republican Study Committee report that decided NEH should not be in the business of funding such projects because such funding represents a small amount of total funding of arts and humanities nationally.

    As has been pointed out, funding of arts and humanities projects by the private sector is important, but most of that funding is distributed to projects in wealthy urban areas, and does not have the national reach of government programs designed to provide funding to, for example, a professor in Aberdeen, SD. In real life, especially once you get out of the cloistered conservative budget-erotics, Republicans attached to real life appreciate the National Endowment of the Humanities. So, it never gets cut, and never will.

    As is usual in Republican circle jerks, they will relent the spending on such programs, while stretching their hands out for the money.

  2. Debbo 2020-06-17 17:16

    So Schaaf is trying to capitalize on the “Hamilton” excitement created by the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway play, a liberal haven. It was supported by all those New York Liberals who brought history to life!

    If Schaaf can get Doddering Donny to dislike his book, it might land on the liberal NY Times Best Seller List, like Bolton’s book has. 🤣 🤣 🤣

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-17 19:15

    Whether we want to sustain culture-creators in our own community or roads to drive to enjoy culture elsewhere, South Dakota depends on socialism, the combined efforts of the community through government redistributing wealth to enrich our lives.

  4. Linda M. Hasselstrom 2020-06-18 10:36

    I’m fascinated by Prof. Jon Shaff’s topic, and will no doubt read his book, if it’s completed, though I’ll hope to do so through library loan. That’s in part because I, a professional writer with dozens of accolades, won’t be able to afford 30 bucks for it.

    However, I find it ludicrous that a well-paid professor talks about needing financial support for his writing efforts when there may be dozens of equally intelligent writers in this state who are struggling to even put food on their tables while trying to write works that would be important to our history.

    I know that NEH depends on applicants to award the grants, and perhaps they have received too few, or applications that are not as tidy as the professor’s but I think this is a travesty and a waste of federal money.

    Does this also suggest that Aberdeen’s Northern State University doesn’t pay its professors enough to tuck money aside for a writing sabbatical? Or maybe the professor has other priorities for his spending.

  5. Debbo 2020-06-18 13:58

    Well stated, Ms. Hasselstrom. Let me guess, you didn’t get $95k last year?

    You should be paid far more for the high quality of your writing. I am a fan.

  6. Linda M. Hasselstrom 2020-06-18 15:00

    Thank you, Debbo; I appreciate readers. I don’t make that kind of money, but on the other hand, I set my own hours and have students of my own choosing.

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