Friday, July 1, 2016

LERA Posts My Exchange with Bruce E. Kaufman

The Labor and Employment Relations Association is the world's leading academic learned society that focuses on industrial relations.  Earlier this year Daniel B. Klein's  Econ Journal Watch published my article "The Left Orientation of Industrial Relations," in which I document the field’s left-wing orientation.   The article reviews the political affiliations of the faculty and the ideological orientation of their publications. 

Professor Bruce E. Kaufman, a leading industrial relations scholar, wrote a response to my piece, and Econ Journal Watch published Professor Kaufman's response and my reply.  LERA's website has now republished the exchange.  As Dan Klein just emailed to Heterodox Academy, "LERA is a central player in the very field that Langbert treats. A nice example of a left-oriented outfit opening its attention to our point of view:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Seidemann Shows How CUNY Supports NYPIRG's Fraud

David Seidemann, who is in the geology department of Brooklyn College,  has written an excellent article in City Journal about how insiders at the City University of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the New York Times collude to enable NYPIRG to defraud New York State's students.

Seidemann says that NYPIRG raises more student funding than any other student group and uses student funding for purposes completely unrelated to CUNY.  When questioned, CUNY officials linked to NYPIRG have resisted investigating the corruption.  NYPIRG's funding at Brooklyn College is now double the student senate's. As well, NYPIRG suppresses dissent on campus.

Seidemann gives this example of NYPIRG-related fraud at CUNY:

When 58 CUNY scientists accused NYPIRG of committing research misconduct, the university appointed a founding member of NYPIRG—now a CUNY vice chancellor—to look into the matter. Predictably, CUNY declined to investigate further, falsely claiming that the research in question had not taken place on campus.

Seidemann outlines how similar abuses have occurred around the country.  

As I have argued, Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits education institutes from engaging in political lobbying or ideological advocacy, but here we have colleges funneling student activities money into direct political uses that are unrelated to student activities. Not only does this seem to warrant an IRS investigation, but the parties involved should be investigated for fraud.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

USD Should Establish a Gail Heriot Award

Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars had sent a press release about a controversy concerning Professor Gail Heriot's testimony about transgender bathrooms.  I don't consider the issue to be a federal one, and I don't consider it to be particularly important. However, I do believe that a professor with an opinion should be allowed to testify before Congress without having her life threatened by authoritarian left wingers.   I wrote this email to the dean of the University of San Diego's law school and the university's president.  Peter Wood's email follows.

Dear Dean Ferruolo and President Harris:

I read about the recent abuse of Professor Gail Heriot.

Gail Heriot has performed a public service by testifying before the US House Taskforce on Executive Overreach.  In response, Representative Zoe Lofgren has attacked Professor Heriot, calling her a bigot. Several blogs have joined the attack, and activists who support Representative Lofgren’s views and tenor have sent Professor Heriot death threats.  As well, Dean Ferruolo has received demands that he fire Professor Heriot.

In a sense, this is a letter of congratulation. In hiring and supporting Professor Heriot, you are performing an important public service. Easy cases do not test academic freedom, and it is with respect to hard cases that public service like Heriot’s is signal.

We have seen this  intolerant tendency in and around universities  since the 1980s.  Representative Lundgren’s inability to disagree about a difficult moral and social question is inconsistent with the ability of a free society to function.  Her performance has been disgraceful.

It is time for universities  to encourage political speech that offends authoritarian sensibilities. I urge the University of San Diego to establish a Gail Heriot award to honor faculty who engage in difficult public debate.


Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Peter Wood, the president of the National Association of Scholars, has responded with the following statement to the controversy over Professor Heriot’s May 24, 2016 testimony to the U.S. Taskforce on Executive Overreach.
On Tuesday Gail Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego and a board member of the National Association of Scholars, gave testimony to the U.S. House Taskforce on Executive Overreach criticizing new guidance on restrooms and locker rooms for transgendered individuals. Professor Heriot testified that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had overstepped its legal authority in issuing its May 13 “Dear Colleague” letter, which requires all schools to allow students to use the restroom and locker room of their choice, regardless of biological sex.
In the questioning that followed Professor Heriot’s prepared statement, California Representative Zoe Lofgren attacked Professor Heriot’s testimony as “offensive.” Lofgren continued, "I think you’re a bigot, lady. I think you are an ignorant bigot."  Lofgren was particularly upset that Professor Heriot’s remarks would become part of the committee’s official record. The chairman of the Taskforce, Representative Steve King (Iowa), responded to Lofgren’s outburst by calling the meeting to order and asked Lofgren to refrain from “calling names.” Lofgren, however, persisted and announced she could “not allow that kind of bigotry to go unchallenged.”
Several left-wing blogs quickly reported on the event. Brad Reed, writing at Raw Story, characterized Lofgren’s remarks as an “epic smack-down.” The reports set off a cascade of hate mail to Professor Heriot, including death threats and a writer urging her to commit suicide. Stephen C. Ferruolo, the dean of the law school at the University of San Diego, has also received demands that he fire Professor Heriot.
The National Association of Scholars strongly supports Professor Heriot. Her invited testimony to the U.S. House Taskforce on Executive Overreach was well crafted and represents carefully considered views well within her professional expertise. In no way did Professor Heriot present “bigoted” statements on sexual identity. Rather, she gave a history of the OCR’s past disregard for legal limits to its authority and traced the history of the law regarding transgender individuals. She also noted that the concept of “transgender” did not enter the legal vocabulary until many years after the passage of Title IX, which OCR claims as the basis for its authority to issue its “Dear Colleague” letters.
Lofgren’s outburst was outrageous. It violated the standards of civility of the U.S. House of Representatives. And it was especially inappropriate in view of the temperate character of Professor Heriot’s remarks. It is perhaps too much to hope that Representative Lofgren will apologize for her antics as they seem to have served her purpose in exciting her progressive base. Other observers will take note of her abuse of her authority.
We expect the University of San Diego to disregard the calls to remove Professor Heriot from her position.
The National Association of Scholars recognizes Professor Heriot’s outstanding work on behalf of civil rights in America and her determination to uphold the rule of law during a period in which the executive has frequently abused it.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Minimum Wage Push May Inadvertently Provide New American Model

The minimum wage presents one of many value choices that divide America.  That is nothing new, but because it is one of the few areas in which some states are exceeding the federal government's degree of coercion, its differential adoption across the states suggests a potential model for overhauling the American political system.  The country can be divided into a green half that favors coercion, equality, and the religions of Marx and Comte and a blue half that favors freedom, economic growth, and the religions of Jesus and Moses.

In the nineteenth century the economic divisions between North and South led to two major conflicts: the conflict over the Tariff of Abominations in the late 1820s and early 1830s, which nearly led to a civil war, and the Civil War, which was fought not about slavery but about its abolition in new territories, which meant more land for white, small-scale farmers from the North.

The party of big business and free soil, the Republican Party, was also the party of abolition. Although Lincoln was not elected on an abolitionist platform, and Lincoln was a racist who wanted to send African American slaves to Africa, the conflict between states' rights and national power became associated with racism. This unfortunate historical confluence played into the hands of the big business-oriented Whigs, who had become a cornerstone of the Republicans.  Lincoln, for instance, was a railroad lawyer and lobbyist who directly benefited from the transcontinental railroad, which he authorized.  As well, increasing national power played directly into the hands of a host of large corporate clients, especially Wall Street. Regulation, painted as anti-business, was a bulwark of the corporatization of the American economy.  Universities were bolstered not only to provide scientific support to large-scale industry but also to provide ideological justification for centralizing policies that support their architects and funders: the federal government, Wall Street, and big business.

Centralization has relentlessly proceeded even as it has become more costly. It was never clear that economies of scale minus centralization's costs provided net benefits, but the costs have relentlessly increased and the benefits relentlessly dwindled as social democratic and socialistic policies invented in the Northeast and especially in New York have been imposed on the rest of America.  The minimum wage is a case in point: It causes unemployment, and its expansion is likely to cause further unemployment.  The effects of increasing enforced unemployment in American ghettos are unknowable, but the Democratic Party is eager to impose such costs in order to further the needs of its clients, especially the Service Employees' International Union.

However, not all states are beholden to the SEIU.  In an article in Seeking Alpha Vlae Kershner produces the chart below. It shows the states that have adopted above-federal minimum wages and those that have not:

Kershner suggests that increasing the minimum wage will harm Wal-Mart and help Amazon, and my guess is that Amazon's management is in favor of the minimum wage.  The green states, those with a minimum wage higher than the federal one, have in a sense adopted a social democratic model. The ones who have not, the blue, purple and dark blue states, have  a more constrained ideology, which likely includes elements of belief in freedom.

The relationship is not one to one. Pennsylvania, for example, may not fall into the freedom-oriented category and Alaska or Florida may.  Perhaps, though, Prof. Angelo Codevilla's country party finds most life in the twenty-one blue, dark blue, and purple states.

This suggests a new model for American governance.  There is no reason why we need a single federal system of the size and scope of today's United States. Two, three, or four systems linked by common trade and military policies might be more efficient and result in a greater degree of experimentation than the increasingly suppressive federal government with its increasingly idiotic voters.  Switzerland, with 26 relatively independent cantons and Canada, with two different languages, outperform the United States economically, politically, and spiritually.