It's no secret that the humanities and social sciences are under assault, leaving supporters in the unhappy position of trying to explain why cutting them is bad for business (it is even a serious problem in Britain). Those who support the cuts argue that the so-called STEM disciplines are what we need instead. The overall argument is summed up very neatly by Florida Governor Rick Scott:
"You know, we don't need a lot more anthropologists in the state. It's a great degree if people want to get it, but we don't need them here," he said.
Scott said students need to focus on studying subjects that can get them jobs—specifically in high-growth areas such as STEM.
"I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, math degrees. That's what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on," he said. "So when they get out of school, they can get a job."
What's interesting is that these predominantly Republican calls to push everyone toward STEM are exactly the same as Fidel Castro's years ago, and for exactly the same reasons. We want people working, not thinking subversive abstract thoughts that don't lead to a trade.
University enrollments expanded greatly beyond the pre-1959 levels, and the focus of education changed, social sciences, and law, which prepared one for government positions, to the sciences, engineering, architecture, and agriculture to serve the larger needs of a socialist society (p. 93).
Thomas M. Leonard, Fidel Castro: A Biography
There was a strong technical bias to higher education that encouraged enrolment in engineering and discouraged it in the humanities (p. 483).
Leslie Bethell, The Cambridge History of Latin America
The essential problem both with anti-humanities Republicans and Fidel Castro is that they view education as a zero-sum game: if we want to support STEM then we have to cut non-STEM. The far better solution is to support both, and to acknowledge the importance of both technical and non-technical degrees.