Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ideology or Economic Interest? Ideology and Academe

Earlier this decade Stanley Rothman and his associates found that the vast majority of university professors are registered Democrats and that the imbalance is greater than had been previously thought. Rather than try to better understand the finding, the American Association of University Professors attempted to smear the research. The finding is unsurprising to anyone who has spent five minutes at college. Not only are university professors "liberal" social democrats but they are virtually universally so. Moreover, there is a vocal minority that is overtly communist. My faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, is dominated by communist cranks who would be happy to see a repeat of the blood red mass murder that occurred under Chairman Mao and about which the left continually lies.

At the height of the recent discussion about the Bush-Obama "bail out", New York University featured "white papers" by 18 of its economists on its website. I teach at NYU's Stern School of Business as an adjunct and I think very highly of its students, faculty and administration. It is the best run place at which I have worked. My only complaint is that it's hard to find students who don't deserve an "A" and the business school only lets me give one third A's. It is indicative, though, that all 18 of the commentators favored massive wealth transfers to the super rich. None questioned the wisdom of the Bush-Obama policy of socialism for the privileged.

I noticed last night when I was looking for Ayn Rand tapes on Youtube that Michael Moore is coming out with a movie on the bail out in which he is more than willing to take Wall Street to task. There seems to be a division between the populist left represented by Moore and the academic left. While 18 economists are willing to do somersaults to protect Wall Street's interests, Moore lacks the economists' economic motives. No Wall Streeter has contributed to Moore's movies.

While nearly 100% of colleges and universities receive financial support from the public, nearly 100% of university professors support an expansive state that would include significant benefits to universities. The relationship is direct. In the past, only those wealthy enough to enjoy free time to devote to scientific discovery could participate in intellectual life; and only those wealthy enough could enjoy a life of leisure. Under the social democratic university professors can devote their lives to scientific discovery and/or enjoy a life of leisure. Therefore, there is little likelihood that university professors would (a) oppose the inheritance tax or (b) support anything other than an expansion of the state. If expansion of the state means expansion of support to the super rich, then that becomes part of the professorial game plan. Sadly, the chief voice criticizing the bailout is the corpulent and uncouth Mr. Moore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Langbert:
I do not begrudge the wealth of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They have created a product, which they sold. They have earned their success.
But I do begrudge the wealth of the Wall Street types. Goldman Sachs, for example, used our money to trade exotic derivative securities and make huge trading profits. Why should they not be taxed? And taxed very heavily? What do you think?