Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Leading GOP Politicians Oppose Campus Due Process

In the Weekly Standard, KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. describe how the overwhelming majority of GOP senators, governors, and congressmen have failed to support Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's revised regulations under Title IX of the Education Amendments. The revisions undo much of the skewness in procedures concerning sexual harassment cases on campus.  

Among the abuses that have occurred, and that some GOP politicians appear to support, are, according to Johnson and Taylor: 

pervasive pro-accuser bias among academic officials; secret training of adjudicators to believe accusers even in the face of discrediting evidence; bans on meaningful cross-examination; concealment of exculpatory evidence; designation of a single bureaucrat as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury; and numerous other due-process outrages. 

Johnson and Taylor contacted Republican members of the  Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee to gauge their views. Lamar Alexander and Bill Cassidy  favor DeVos's proposed changes. None of the other committee members responded to Johnson and Taylor's inquiry.  The Republican senators on the committee who did not respond are as follows:

Michael B. Enzi
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Johnny Isaakson
Senator Rand Paul
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Todd Young
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Paul Roberts
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Senator Tim Scott

It is unclear whether the failure of ten Republican senators to respond indicates opposition to the amendments, cowardice, or lack of time and resources.  

A House Republican who has supported the amendments is Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. In contrast, Thomas Kean Jr., a Republican in the New Jersey state senate, is proposing New Jersey regulations that will please left-wing extremists who oppose due process.  Kean aims to preempt federal due process requirements by substituting state-based rules. Republican Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire is also siding with the left.

Perhaps a broader survey of  elected Republicans' positions on education reform would be beneficial.  I have been wondering for many years as to why elected Republicans seem to behave in a self-defeating way.  They are unperturbed at universities' functioning ideologically; they have no qualms about funding ideologically imbued cultural studies, social science, and humanities courses that indoctrinate students to be anti-Republican Party activists; they are unconcerned about the failure of universities to validate the efficacy of funds spent with respect to both education and job placement.  
It appears that what is happening is that since left wingers dominate education lobbies and few Americans who are not part of the lobbies take an interest in education, Republicans respond primarily to left-wing demands.  

That is a self-defeating cynicism because the higher education institutions banish Republican professors and teach students to hate Republicans. It reminds me of the faux quotation from Lenin: The last Republican will be he who votes the dollar to the educationist who teaches the student who buys the rope that hangs him.

What may be needed is a focused lobbying organization that counteracts educationist lobbies that take $200 billion a year in public money out of the economy, much of it amounting to dead weight social loss.  They have overseen a 50-year stagnation in the real hourly wage, questionable job outcomes for the bottom half of the college population, education programs that indoctrinate rather than educate, and administrative bloat. 

Star of Andrew Cuomo's SUNY Sentenced to Three Years

 The Albany Times Union reports that Alain Kaloyeros, former head of the SUNY Center for Semiconductor Research and SUNY Polytechnic, has been sentenced to three years.  Kaloyeros was convicted of wire fraud related to bid rigging on an upstate revitalization project.

What are the links among large state universities, their left-wing ideology, and criminality?  First, left-wing ideology supports large state institutions, including universities, even though they are inefficient. Second, because they are inefficient, universities avoid careful accounting for outcomes.  Universities, much like industrial corporations, prefer secrecy.  It is easier to draw students to academic programs if the students mistakenly think that they will be able to find a job after completing the degree. The leftists who sponsor such programs make no effort to determine what the outcomes for their students are because doing so would lead to reduced demand, likely eliminating academic jobs.

Third, secrecy and lack of accountability beget criminality.  Kaloyeros was given financial authority, but he continued to behave like an ordinary professor.  Lying about research findings is not a felony; Kaloyeros was morally unable to transition from the world of academic research to the real world.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It Is Time to Force a First Amendment Debate on the Democrats

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I have discovered in recent weeks that the left wing of the Democratic Party increasingly opposes the First Amendment.  Emily Ekins of the Cato Institute reports a 2017 survey that finds that, while 71% of Americans believe that political correctness has tended to cause Americans to silence important discussions, opinion is split along party lines:  52% of Democrats favor restrictions on the First Amendment.

The survey also finds that 65% of Americans believe that students who prevent speakers from speaking at universities should be disciplined and that 72% of Republicans and 60% of independents oppose government restrictions on the First Amendment.

It will be fruitful for Republicans to force a debate on the First Amendment, which will expose the increasing authoritarianism and extremism of the Democratic Party. Political correctness can be a wedge issue that pushes increasing support to Republicans, who are more mainstream on this issue.

For example, Republicans might propose a bill that withholds funding to universities that do not discipline students who disrupt public discussions, or they might propose one that ties federal funding of private universities to their complying with the First Amendment in personnel decision making.   Perhaps funding could be withheld from universities whose faculty members advocate abrogating the First Amendment.  Then, we might enjoy watching the Democrats complain that the bill violates the same First Amendment that they and their left-wing core wish to abrogate.

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Cc: The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Russell Senate Office Building
317 Delaware Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20510

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Controlling for IQ, Does Higher Education Send a Negative Signal?

In validation studies, when controlled for IQ, years of education have a dampening effect on employee performance criteria, such as supervisory ratings.  What has occurred with American colleges in recent years--the dumbing down of and politicization of the social sciences and humanities, the increasing emphasis on identity politics, claims of microaggessions, demands for safety blankets and safe spaces, student violence, Antifa, and the linkage of higher education with terrorism--may be increasingly offsetting the traditional signaling value of higher education. College degrees may be a worse predictor of job performance and a worse signal to employers than a two dollar IQ test.  Employers may be beginning to favor high-IQ job applicants without college degrees to applicants with degrees, especially if the degrees are in politicized fields like gender studies.

One of the chief impediments to understanding the effects of education is the traditional research approach of combining all majors into a single variable called "education." In fact, gender studies education has zero to do with mathematics education.  One is political, the other is intellectually demanding.  Saying that students who have been exposed to four years of gender studies education have had an experience equal to students who have studied mathematics or engineering is incorrect.

The traditional debate between human capital and signaling theories of education can likely be resolved by disambiguating different fields of study.  The high-wage fields like engineering, science, and mathematics probably do provide human capital.  The low-wage fields like politicized humanities and social sciences, and especially the studies fields, likely provide no human capital. What may be occurring is that the zero-added-human capital fields like gender studies have reduced the signaling effect of education to zero, and the chief reason for returns to education is the human capital effects in the rigorous fields.

An Extra Credit Class Assignment

I gave the following extra credit assignment to my classes.  I wonder whether Antifa, dumbed-down studies majors at universities around the country, Antifa's dumbed-down studies professors, and the dumbed-down New York news media will demand that I be fired for saying that socialism doesn't work. 

Dear Class:

At the beginning of the term, I said that you can raise your exam grade by five points by doing an optional extra credit assignment. The assignment requires that you read Friedrich von Hayek's article "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (available  here) and write a one- to two- page paper that develops a thesis about the article.  Your thesis can be pro or con.   You will need to read the paper thoroughly.   Adding additional readings is fine but not required. 

The paper needs to be one to two pages, double spaced, with 12-inch font, and with one-inch margins.  Your name and class section should be in the heading.  It needs to be emailed to me by December 16 because I will be submitting the final grades soon thereafter.

The background for Hayek's article is as follows:  In the 1920s Ludwig von Mises showed that socialist economic planning is necessarily inefficient because its information requirements are too great.  Later, Oskar Lange attempted to refute von Mises by claiming that firms can use survey data to equate economic marginal cost and revenue, so duplicating free markets.  However, Lange's claim that perfect competition can be duplicated with managerial survey techniques begs von Mises's original question.  

First, the burden of performing such surveys and coordinating them around the economy is too big and causes decision making to be too slow to be of any use. Second, even if such surveys are performed, a socialist economy--characterized by centralized planning, regulation, or control--violates a key premise of competition: ease of entry.  Since there is no quality competition, closed socialist economies are doomed to produce low-quality merchandise.  Moreover, because the central planning agency (Gosplan in the former USSR) cannot digest all of the information needed to coordinate a large economy, there will be inefficiencies. 

In "The Use of Knowledge in Society" Hayek provides an additional reason why socialism cannot work.  The most important knowledge in running a business is not theory. It is knowledge of specific time and place, practical coordination.  In order to coordinate economic decisions, an economic communication system is necessary. Although great advances have been made with respect to information technology since Hayek's article was published in the 1940s, the Internet, smart phones, and similar information technologies don't come close to being able to coordinate the massive, rapid fluctuations in information that must be communicated to entrepreneurs.  Only a free market PRICE system is capable of communicating such information rapidly.  Since socialism squashes, eliminates, or at a minimum distorts PRICES, information becomes garbled or disappears, and inefficiencies, shortages, and distortions occur.  

Von Mises and Hayek's ideas were transferred to smaller organization units by James March and Herbert Simon in their classic book on organization theory, Organizations.   March and Simon show that bounded rationality,--limits on the ability to plan--characterize business corporations, which are much smaller units than total states.  The information requirements to manage a state are orders of magnitude greater than the information requirements to manage a large corporation.  

Hence, the increasing trend toward socialism over the past sixty years in the United States has caused the real hourly wage to stagnate and has eliminated economic opportunities for millennials. Astonishingly, millennials now mostly support socialism, essentially favoring the system that has restricted their opportunities and likely reduced their lifetime incomes. 

The empirical evidence for the ideas of von Mises and Hayek, written in the 1920s to 1940s, supports their theories.  First, the Soviet Union fell in the 1980s for the reasons von Mises predicted in the 1920s. Second, large socialist countries like India and pre-reform China performed dismally. Third, countries that were largely democratic socialist in the 1960s, such as Denmark and Sweden, reformed their economies to eliminate much socialism because socialism performed badly there, even in smaller countries with smaller information demands than in large countries like the US or the USSR.  Denmark is now roughly as free market as the United States, and Sweden is almost as free market. 

Although scientific evidence overwhelmingly favors the failure of socialism, you probably have not been exposed to the ideas of von Mises and Hayek in your education or in the media.  The economic forces that favor socialism are the same that favored the large-scale bailouts of 2008-9.  To understand how special interests work (and make no mistake, your education has been the product of special interests), you need to understand public choice theory.  A good place to start is with Mancur Olson's Rise and Decline of Nations.  However, for this assignment you will need to focus on Hayek's essay.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Mike Judge's Idiocracy and American Progress

A student in one of my classes commented recently on Mike Judge's Idiocracy. The student wrote:

If you recall in Idiocracy, there's no great resurgence of intellectual enlightenment at the end... only the exponential success of the few educated time-travelers over the rest of the happily stupid. This success doesn't come from educating people or instigating growth but from keeping to themselves and turning their (historical) knowledge into power. So, is that what we're in for? People that bother to read an uncensored history book or a hard-science technical manual when curious about an idea are becoming more and more rare, and their existence is being actively stigmatized. Is the reality to shut up and keep knowledge to oneself and get rich from it? The bulk of society are getting their degrees and entering the workforce having never had to fix a crisis in their lives, neurologically underdeveloped, missing critical-thinking skills that were absolutely normal even just 10 years ago. This is our workforce of tomorrow?

How do you work in this environment? It's like going to work in construction and finding out that the Dept of Labor suddenly designated that shadow-acting construction work should be treated as equivalent payable labor as actual labor. Now all the construction workers are 100 lbs and don't know how to use their tools, pantomiming construction behaviors and getting full pay for it. If you ask one of them to spot you when lifting something heavy, you're on your own. That's how I've felt at most of my jobs for almost five years now. 

My student indeed.  A century ago Ludwig von Mises wrote about how depressed interest rates stimulate malinvestment.  Malinvestment occurs when projects that are not feasible at market interest rates are funded at below-market rates. The rates will generally have been depressed by stimulative Fed policies.

The Fed has pursued stimulative policies for many decades.  At present, for instance, student-loan debt is about $1.5 trillion. The same period has seen the politicization of higher education. In today's universities, ideology and advocacy in the guise of social justice education substitute for learning about culture and science.  Much of this dumbed-down advocacy lacks any legitimate educational content.  It is funded by paper money, artificially created by the Federal Reserve Bank.  Much of the paper money loans will never be repaid because the dumbed-down social activists will not find jobs, and the unpaid loans will be a deadweight loss to society.  

Students educated in the politicized soft social sciences, the humanities, and the studies fields will not produce value beyond the value that high school graduates are capable of producing. They are not literate or numerate; they lack understanding of basic American institutions; their training teaches them to exclaim their oppressed status, making them difficult to employ in all but menial jobs.  A few months ago Ben Shapiro  noticed, with respect to research that I did earlier this year, that the extent of politicization of academic disciplines is inversely related to the earnings of the graduates. Effete graduates of the studies fields and left-ideological fields like sociology do dismally in the job market. 

There is no doubt of the importance of scientific and mathematical education. When the humanities involved education about the basis for American history and culture, it too was important.  The hard social sciences may at times help business decision making, but it is unclear whether the soft social sciences in their current state contribute to the social good.  However, most college students funded by the paper-money-based education bubble do not take science, math, languages, or the hard social sciences. Dumbed-down studies like gender studies are increasingly influential in fields like history.

Hence, as the number of college students has expanded and as the sciences have been downplayed in favor of politicized fields like gender studies, the value contributed by American universities has declined.  It may now be in negative territory: The net costs of higher education may exceed its social benefits.  

The malinvestment in education is linked to the flexible paper money system.   Inefficiencies are hidden by an artificially depressed cost of capital.  American corporations were already inefficient by the 1970s: Books like Patrick J. Wright's On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors
depict an already-inefficient industrial system.  Major firms like GM and GE have been on monetary life support for years.  In turn, the paper-money bubble receives global life support  because the dollar is the international reserve currency.  That double-subsidization of inefficiency  has continued since the end of World War II.

One outcome has been plant relocation to Mexico and China.  With near-zero capital costs, relocation costs were eliminated, and the cost efficiency of relocation to low-wage countries was increased.  Waste is in thousands of fields, including the military,  health care, and finance.  When the waste, especially with respect to federal government debt,  becomes so extreme that inflation is the only way out, the dollar's reserve currency status will end.  There may be a switch to an international basket of currencies such as the IMF's special drawing rights. This may be accompanied by sharp reductions in government spending, public pensions, welfare, and subsidized health care, much as occurred in Greece.  

One of the effects of malinvestment is a workforce increasingly effete and obsessed with supposed injustices.  Such shadow workers, as my student calls them, will be ill equipped to handle an economic depression.  Of course, it is always possible that technology will evolve that will solve these problems, but even during periods of much more rapid technological advance than today's, such as during the laissez-faire period of the late nineteenth century, depressions and wars that posed greater challenges than the recent generations of Americans have experienced required better problem solvers than the current American system of higher education is producing.

Insider Trading at GE

There is increasing talk of the possibility of a GE bankruptcy.  There is always a trade-off between risk and return.  Selling when there is a panic over a small probability of bankruptcy is foolish, even if in the end it turns out to have been a right decision.  The reason is that markets tend to overreact to panic-inducing news. According to NASDAQ's website, three stock analysts give it a buy; nine give it a hold; one gives it a sell, so the bias is somewhat toward buy.  The analysts may be right.

One quick gauge of the probability of a bankruptcy is insider trading activity.  If there is talk of bankruptcy in the executive suite, insiders are likely to be the first to know.  According to The Street, as of October 31, in terms of numbers of shares traded, insiders recently have bought 98,100 shares while they have sold 41,740 shares.  The bias seems to be toward insider buying, although the number of insider sells is greater than the number of insider buys.  There are more sells but larger buys. Perhaps the small trades are by insiders who are less inside.

The chief seller seems to be the HR executive,  Raghu Krishnamoorthy, who has made a series of small sells recently.  CEO Lawrence Culp has been buying.

Buying GE now is a gamble. (Of course, it is less of a gamble than it was last year, when there was no panic, and the stock was selling 2.4 times higher at $17.88--as opposed to $7.44 now.)  On the one hand, there is a chance of bankruptcy and a likelihood of further panic selling; the stock is down better than six percent today.  On the other hand, when there is a turnaround, much as happened with Chrysler in the early 1980s, there will be a nice leverage effect.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Left Wing Hate Speech Against Mitchell Langbert's Blog III: My Courses Fill at a Faster Rate Than in Prior Years

Within the past two months, a small-but-vocal group of radical students have engaged in hate speech.  Supported by a small-but-vocal group of left-wing alumni and the fake-news media, they have called for my sacking from my teaching job at Brooklyn College.  The calls for my sacking received a moral salute from the college president and provost, who sent around emails (carefully omitting mention of my name) condemning my eminently valid claim that the Kavanaugh investigation was baloney.   

A petition to fire me for disagreeing with and offending the Democratic Party bosses--who decide on the college budget--was posted on  the Action Network.  To date, more than a month after the news stories subsided, 447 students and professors have signed the petition.   

The total enrollment at Brooklyn College is 17,803, and the total number of full-time and part-time faculty is 1,480, so about  (447/18,250) or 2.5% of the active Brooklyn College community have signed, a proportion statistically not all that much greater than zero.  If you add the alumni, of whom there are at least 300,000, the proportion is minuscule. If you add the entire population of left-wing extremists in New York (the petition was not limited to those associated with CUNY), the proportion is smaller still. 

Yesterday, a student in one of my classes sent me this email: 

It's [name omitted], hope all is well.

What are my chances of getting into one of your online wait[-]listed classes for Spring 2019? [O]r do they generally stay full?

I would be willing to try online considering I'm familiar with who you are.

Let me know.

Thank you,

Usually, my classes reach wait-list status around Christmas, so the publicity has been of little concern to the majority of students who take my classes. In fact, my classes have filled earlier rather than later than usual.  Perhaps the vast majority of students at Brooklyn College simply do not care about the left-wing president's and provost's emails, the small-but-vocal group of left-wing demonstrators, or the left-wing, fake-news publicity.  Perhaps more students agree with me than disagree with me.

Neither the fringe students and professors who demonstrated against me nor  the media, administrators, and professors who supported them were interested in putting the sacking demands into perspective.  This contrasts with earlier free-speech controversies at Brooklyn College in which left-wing speech was called into question.  Then, the administration and media emphasized freedom of speech and the First Amendment.  These included a controversy about a speaker from BDS and a controversy about students who entered a faculty council meeting and made anti-Semitic remarks.  

The students who wrote pieces about me in the student newspapers likely represent the the more articulate among the demonstrators.   The chief rationale that they present in their opinion pieces calling for my sacking is that they disagree with me and do not believe that people with whom they disagree should be allowed to teach at Brooklyn College. Their logic does not extend much further.

For example, Assibi Ali complains that "Langbert had the outlandish idea to pen a satirical piece that proudly and openly supports Brett Kavanaugh, whose hearing he claimed to be a 'travesty.'" Ali contends, "What students would feel comfortable reaching out to a rape apologist? A man who empathizes with Kavanaugh because of the “defamation that he has suffered at the hands of the media…” 

In other words, according to Ali, the 38% of Americans who supported Kavanaugh's appointment (according to left-biased Time Magazine) should not be permitted to teach at Brooklyn College. As well, Ali didn't bother to check how many students I have taught (likely in the area of 5,000) and how many have complained about not being able to reach out (none).  Perhaps Ali's prejudices have been learned at the college because, according to my own data, conservatives have been consistently excluded from teaching posts by the same left-McCarthyite faculties who have trained Ali.

Another student, Kevin Limiti, claims that my blog is a threat to safety.   In contrast, Limiti is unconcerned by the violent threats I received from his classmates or the five campus police officers whom the administration saw fit to post outside my classroom.  I add that while the administration saw fit to complain that my blog post was outside the supposed "community standards" of Brooklyn College (thus claiming to arbitrate the speech standards of a publicly funded university), the same administration saw no need to complain about left-wing students' threats of violence. 

Like Ali, Limiti is unaware of how university personnel decision making ought to work, how university decision making works in reality, what the First Amendment says, and how the Supreme Court interprets the First Amendment.  At a phone meeting of the National Association of Scholars yesterday, several professors noted that the far left has frequently eliminated or subverted K-12 civics teaching so that students are unaware of how basic American institutions work.   Ali and Limiti are the result.

CUNY's bylaws state the following:

The City University of New York (“CUNY” or “the University”) is committed to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas and expression of all points of view for members of the University community, including individual students, faculty, and staff and recognized groups of those constituencies. Such exchange is at the core of the mission of higher education. The ideas of different members of the University community will often conflict, but it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive. Although members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however disagreeable or offensive they may be to some members of the University community. The appropriate response to false or offensive speech is not to prohibit it but to respond with more speech.

The bylaws give some caveats, which entirely depend on the speaker's presence at the college, which was not the case with a blog written off campus and with no purpose of addressing campus-linked issues.  Limiti's claim that my blog perpetuates violence is characteristic of the kind of intolerance in which college students are increasingly indoctrinated.   

Monday, November 12, 2018

False Accusations of Sexual Assault Skyrocket

I just received this press release from Margaret Valois of SAVE Services


Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335

Surging Public Support for Due Process and the Presumption of Innocence

WASHINGTON / November 13, 2018 – Several non-partisan, national surveys point to widespread public concern about the erosion of the presumption of innocence and due process in our country, the problem of false allegations, and a pressing need to reinvigorate these bedrock principles of fairness in our legal system.

Public concern was first spotlighted in a 2011 SAVE survey that reported 9.7% of persons report they have been falsely accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse. One in six of the respondents personally knew someone who said he or she had been falsely accused of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault.1

A 2013 survey commissioned by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity found that 66.8% of respondents believe the presumption of innocence is becoming lost in our legal system. In addition, 42.8% of persons say prosecutorial misconduct has become widespread.2

A 2017 YouGov poll revealed strong support for the restoration of due process in campus sexual assault cases. The survey queried whether “Students accused of crimes on college campuses should receive the same civil liberties from their colleges that they receive in the court system.” Among the 1,200 persons responding, 65% of Democrats, 77% of Republicans, and 67% of Independents expressed agreement with the statement.3

A poll by Ipsos/NPR found 80% of men and 73% of women believe that those who are accused of sexual harassment should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. The survey was conducted October 22-23, 2018 with a sample of 1,003 adults.4

Much of the shift in public perceptions can be linked to the controversies associated with the #MeToo movement.

Morning Consult recently found 57% of U.S. adults say they are equally worried about men facing false allegations of sexual assault as they are about women facing sexual assault. Overall support for the #MeToo movement has dropped 2% over the last year, the survey found.5

A survey conducted by YouGov and the Economist in October revealed 18% of Americans now think false accusations of sexual assault are a bigger problem than attacks that go unreported or unpunished, compared with 13% one year ago. These shifts in public opinion against complainants have been stronger among women than men, the Economist noted.6

SAVE has developed a Due Process Statement that urges members of Congress to “speak out in support of Constitutionally rooted due process rights on campus.” Over 285 law professors, scholars, and state lawmakers have signed the Statement. SAVE invites additional state lawmakers to become co-signers. For more information, contact .

Writing Centers Do Not Work

I help my student to learn writing and English grammar, which is neglected in New York City K-12 elementary schools and in college.   My students write a page, which I correct; then, I have them rewrite the page.  Often there are more than two dozen corrections.  In making them rewrite the assignment, I refer them to web pages that discuss the grammatical reasons for the error.

The college has a writing center to which the students can take their assignments.  I do not encourage them to use it because they will not learn if someone else makes the corrections. The writing center is like a bicycle center to which people go to learn to ride a bicycle by watching others ride.  It replaces basic skills instruction with administrative therapy.

Higher education replaces math and English skills with therapy and social advocacy.  The students are badly educated but taught to nurse their feelings, to feel wronged, to lash out at others, and to identify supposed oppressors. They view their expensive, dumbed-down college experience as the financial  obligation of their oppressors, who in their view ought to be subjected to violent compulsion at their hands.  Higher education is a narcissists' and totalitarians' training process.

I am trying to figure out whether I should forbid the use of the writing center.  A student, who was unable to make the indicated corrections, just emailed that he would like to go to the writing center and have them rewrite the paper for him and then resubmit it a second time to get a higher grade. This is an episodic example of what education has become: feeling good and avoiding learning.  I can't reject the system, but I have done what I can to do so.

Another student, who took me in 2012, while I was still perfecting my current approach to writing instruction, recently wrote me the following email:

I don't if you remember me. I am a former student. You might recall I cried in your class in 2012. The truth is, I was going through a lot(Manic Depression and all the Jazz), and in retrospect- Your class was the single most important moment in all of my years at college. 

I remember like it was yesterday. You, critiquing all my work. The red ink all over papers. Talks of socialism, freedom, individualism, and self-esteem. During that time I didn't understand it all. I was young, and very naïve. I couldn't even read at a 12th grade level, but I tried my best. You gave me a C+ in that class, and in retrospect that was the most important grade I have ever had. 

The thing is, I have over the course of my years been torn between Capitalism vs Socialism, Individuality vs Collectivism, and having Freewill vs being guided through Determinism. I read, read, and read. I read many books, watched many lectures, and had many debates. It wasn't until I realize during all this debating that all this exploring I was doing and mass confusion was merely making me more aware. Yes, I said it. It was increasing my understanding of the world. Of the polarity which is associated with everything. 

I can't say I agree with you on everything. But I do want to formally thank you for "putting the battery in my back" as is often said.You are an amazing teacher, and at one point my arch enemy. I hated how you made me dislike Obamanomics, and found vested interest in Billionaire tycoons like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

Thanks for your inspiration!

Your former student,

By 2012 I had already discarded the twin assumptions in higher education: (1) the educator's job isn't to teach writing and other basic skills, and (2)  we should replace basic skills with administrative therapy.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Left Wing Democrats' Hate Speech Toward Mitchell Langbert's Blog II

I was surprised at the characterization of my remarks about males' sexual exploration as being part of their maturation process as hate speech.  True, I dislike Democrats, but most Democrats dislike me, so I never thought of political speech as hate speech.  

There has been an interesting evolution of  the Democratic Party's authoritarianism.  Democrats increasingly engage in hate speech while they increasingly advocate speech restrictions on those toward whom they express hate.   

Having made a crack about the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, I received two hundred hate emails.  A number of these involved violent threats, amounting to misdemeanor harassment.  Under New York State law,  second degree aggravated harassment occurs when someone attempts to communicate with another person with the intention of causing alarm or annoyance.   

Having objected to my sense and the object of my humor, which ran afoul of the Democratic Party mob, several hundred Democrats engaged in hate speech and misdemeanor aggravated harassment. Here is a sampling. 

From: Yo Sup []
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2018 10:58 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Hello
You'e a scumbag. Kill yourself.

From: Carole D []
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2018 9:34 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Sir, I relish the thought of a gang of boys becoming men at your assholes expense. History will pull back your lizard skin and your pathetic attempt at being relevant will be exposed as nothing more than a losers fame grab. Brooklyn College though heeheehee. Damn shame about the car accident that did that to your face BUT otherwise you deserve what is surely coming your way. Your pointless and so you try to get attention with divisive chatter. Sad little nobody that never had an original thought in his bipolar and dandruff encrusted greasy head. You don't have to spread your message of terror for young girls honeybuns, they get it, everyday they get it. Sorry women find you so repulsive you had to rape to become a man. You sick little boy. Sorry momma neve


 From: nothink78 []

Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 12:15 AM

To: Mitchell Langbert

Subject: Thank you!

Thank you for advocating for sexual assault by high school boys against high school girls! When I think of my daughter being assaulted by some piece of shit
that thinks like you, I feel like a true American! I can’t wait to visit your campus
 and shove a glass coke bottle up your ass while kicking your fucking teeth in. Have a nice day you sad excuse of a human being.


From: Emily Batista []
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 1:35 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
You disgusting asshole

From: Gordon Brogan []
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2018 8:25 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Hey


My sincere condolences.

I’m very sorry about your sad tiny penis.

It is no wonder you bitterly resent women. Those you’ve likely Rohypnol-ed into bed likely laughed themselves to tears after gaining consciousness when you threatened them with it.

Also, you have all the wit, intelligence, and charisma of a fecal impaction.

You have nothing that women want.

On behalf of real men who aren’t fugly douchebag incel losers like you are: dual blazing middle fingers.
From: David Miller []
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2018 12:11 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: comments

You are a complete and total asshole.
You have no business instructing students in anything.

From: []
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2018 8:40 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Expert witness?
Decided to retire as an expert as well no doubt? Enjoy your retirement. 
Kevin M. McCain
Attorney at Law
Phone: 205-332-1367
Toll Free 1-800-257-6031

From: Liz P []
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2018 12:27 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Your a cave man

After reading an article on your rite of passage of young men. You are a #loser.  

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

From: Maureen Saccio []
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 10:30 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
You sick disgusting animal.  Who raised you? Certainly not a woman.  Shame on you.  But of course,  another white trash twumpie is amongst us.  Listen here asshole,  the women of this great nation are taking over.  And all you angry white trash men can go back to your mobile homes and shut the door behind you.  Go hide back under the rock you crawled out from under simpleton 
From: David Burns []
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 3:42 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Your head is full of spiders and mayonnaise.  
I hope you get fired, you repulsive dipshit.

From: Anne Lopes, Provost and Senior Vice President []
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 7:59 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: An Important Message From Provost Anne Lopes

View this email in your browser
Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, Tel: 718.951.5671 | Fax: 718.951.4872
From Anne Lopes, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
To the Brooklyn College Community,

It has come to our attention that a Brooklyn College faculty member blogged a gender-biased and homophobic post that advocates sexual assault last week. I view the post as offensive, obviously abhorrent, and contravening the fundamental values and practices of our community. However, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects even speech that many experience as offensive, such as the faculty member's post. I understand that in response to the speech students have organized a protest that will take place on the East Quad on Thursday during common hours.

From: Brian Russell []
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 12:14 AM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Asshole

You are a misogynist asshole. Enjoy you’re firing, you sexist prick.

Brian Russell
Sent from my iPhone

Left-Wing Hate Speech Toward Mitchell Langbert's Blog I

I have previously discussed the decline in campus civility in light of increasing left-wing hate, intolerance, calls for censorship and repeal of the First Amendment.  The bizarre combination of millennials' often-violent protest against others and their often-self-pitying anxiety about their own feelings has been discussed by Lukianoff and Haidt in their recent book Coddling of the American Mind  

Many millennials lack writing, mathematical, and linear thinking skills. Most lack civics and history education. Few have read the classics of the liberal tradition--Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Smith, Mill.   As a result, a majority is unfamiliar with the origins of the First Amendment, the history of speech codes in early modernity, or of the use of speech codes by Joseph McCarthy and Alexander Mitchell Palmer. As well, they often lack an understanding of how the US government works and what the Constitution says.  The same may be said of American journalists, who are increasingly a dumbed-down, irrelevant brood. 

Two radical Brooklyn College student-journalists, Jasmine Peralta and Danielle Kogan, recently wrote a piece in one of the campus news outlets in which they present a fellow student's opinions about my remarks but do not present my response. Peralta and Kogan quote a fellow radical student, whom they identify merely as Club Coordinator of the Puerto Rican Alliance Rivera, at length. 

Rivera says:  

I feel that any professor who makes anyone else feel threatened is a threat to me because I, as a student leader have to represent the members of my organization and of the organizations that I stand by in solidarity.

Rivera doesn't consider that his calls for censorship may make those who disagree feel threatened.  The young radical goes on to express the curious opinion--prevalent among campus diversity officers, campus administrators, and the fake-news media--that since the college campus is all inclusive, views with which the hate-filled campus lynch mob disagrees should be excluded. 

Rivera continues:

It’s supposed to be a campus that’s all-inclusive. It’s one of the most diverse campuses in the nation….for a professor to make statements about those types of students that alludes to sexual assault implies that all men are rapist and make sexual assault victims feel totally unsafe here on the Brooklyn College campus is unacceptable. 

 As I have previously blogged, the concept of hate speech is vacuous. Indeed, the left frequently engages in hate speech, and Jasmine Peralta, Danielle Kogan, and Club Coordinator of the Puerto Rican Alliance Rivera are not exceptions. Rivera is filled with hate. He or she wishes to exclude anyone who disagrees with his or her definition of hate speech, and he or she will pull no punches in expressing this opinion.  Peralta and Kogan agree, and they will not hesitate to write one-sided articles to prove it.

Peralta, Kogan, and Rivera apparently have not read the Constitution, the case law that has evolved concerning the First Amendment on campus, or any of the works of liberalism that led to the Lockean consensus that has, until the millennial generation and the concomitant dumbing down of American journalism, been America's common ground.  Indeed, they seem to be aware that law concerning the Constitution evolves through a stare decisis process, or that there are courts that adjudicate questions of this kind.  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Yamiche Alcindor Evidences Need to End 501 (c) (3) Exemption for PBS

Watching the president's press conference on Fox News yesterday, I saw Yamiche Alcindor's insipid question. Alcindor asked whether, because President Trump has said that he is a nationalist, he is a white nationalist.

This is not a question that reflects basic knowledge necessary to be a competent journalist. Hence, the question arises whether PBS is functioning as a legitimate, nonpartisan news organization entitled to tax exemption.  No other major network enjoys a tax exemption.  The presumption is that PBS performs at a higher level than other networks, but the low quality of Alcindor's performance evidences a lower-level, partisan performance.

The term "nationalist" is broad, but its application  to President Trump suggests trade and international relations issues.  Advocates of tariffs in trade and of unilateralism in international relations are traditionally called economic or international relations nationalists. In the 1930s Senator Robert Taft, Herbert Hoover,  and other Republicans were nationalists in opposition to internationalists like Wendell Willkie, and President Trump continues in  this tradition.  This is basic history, basic economics, and basic current events--knowledge that is necessary to competent journalism.

Unfortunately, like many reporters in television news, Ms. Alcindor lacks knowledge necessary to competent journalism.  This raises the question as to why PBS would employ someone who lacks  minimal skills and who instead of functioning as a journalist raises shrill, bigoted questions in a press conference.

PBS is a not-for-profit corporation that claims to be nonpartisan, but it is clearly partisan. It is time to reconsider longstanding subsidization of Democratic Party publicists in the media and in higher education who masquerade as professors and journalists, fraudulently securing tax subsidization through Section 501(c)(3).  Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code is inapplicable to ideological or partisan organizations, and claims that Ms. Alcindor is a journalist or that PBS is nonideological and nonpartisan are disingenuous.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Trevor Loudon's Enemy Within

I heard Trevor Loudon speak in Albany earlier this week, and I'm watching his excellent video, The Enemies Within, about the internal workings of the Democratic Party.  I recommend it.

Freedom House Measure of US Academic Freedom Is Flawed

During the Cold War, activists associated with Wendell Willkie founded Freedom House to advocate for global intervention  in support of freedom.  One of its early chairmen was Harry Gideonse, the conservative president of Brooklyn College.  Freedom House ranks political and social freedom in countries around the world. The US is not at the the top of the list, but it is among the free countries, with a score of 86 out of 100.

Unsurprisingly, Freedom House is critical of Donald Trump.  Freedom House advocates a globalist or interventionist philosophy, while Trump represents a nationalist philosophy.

Globalism is fine up to the point at which it causes expansion of the state apparatus.  That is, the optimal balance between globalism and internationalism can be found in one of two ways, which are the same:

(1) the point at which the balance between globalism and nationalism minimizes the scope, tyranny, and intervention of the state and
(2) the point at which the balance between globalism and nationalism maximizes economic and political performance.

The question of whether there is a difference if the maximand is total freedom internationally or total freedom domestically is complex. It is possible that some international interventions  reduce freedom at home but increase it internationally. Hence, Trump's presidency is likely to expand freedom at home, yet it may not reduce it overseas, contrary to Freedom House's claims.

For instance, US globalist involvement in World War I led to the imprisonment of Eugene V. Debs and other war protesters.  World War I led directly to totalitarianism around the world. Globalism and freedom are not always--and maybe not often--equivalent.

Despite its name, Freedom House supports globalist institutions that reduce freedom.  One example is American universities, which are hostile to political freedom for conservatives but claim to have academic freedom. Academic freedom is a myth, a code for a socialist-, globalist-only faculty and suppression of freedom for all who disagree with socialism and globalism.  American universities are a globalist force that  reduces freedom.

In its country rankings, Freedom House claims that the US has an optimal degree of academic freedom.*  This is nonsensical.  American universities are one-party institutions, as Dan Klein and I show in a paper on social science departments, and as I show with respect to liberal arts colleges. Organizations that refuse to employ one-half of the population because of political intolerance are not free.

Moreover, intolerant, Democratic Party-only practices riddle the US government-subsidized technology and media industries.  Calling one-party, government-subsidized organizations that increasingly dominate the US economy and culture characteristic of a free country may be globalist but does not support freedom.  Freedom House sees no problem in social media's exclusion of conservatives because government-supported organizations like Facebook and Quora are globalist.

For half of the US population, there is no academic freedom, there is no freedom of employment,  and there is no press freedom.  Academics who run afoul of the prejudices of the Democratic Party are likely to be attacked and their removal demanded by Democratic Party bigots. 

Freedom House's globalist prejudices trump its belief in freedom.

*This is what the report says about academic freedom in the US:

Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 4 / 4
The academic sphere has long featured a high level of intellectual freedom. While it remains quite robust by global standards, this liberty has come under some pressure in recent years. University students at a number of campuses have obstructed guest speakers whose views they find objectionable by shouting them down or holding strident protests. In the most highly publicized cases, students and nonstudent activists have physically prevented presentations by controversial speakers, especially those known for their views on race, gender, immigration, and other sensitive issues. University faculty have also reported instances of harassment—including on social media—related to curriculum content, textbooks, or statements that some students strongly disagreed with. As a consequence, some professors have allegedly engaged in self-censorship.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

When Will the Currency Collapse Come?

As of the first quarter of this year, federal indebtedness was $21.1 trillion, while GDP was roughly $19.8 trillion, so the ratio of GDP to debt is 107%.   Nobody knows how the constellation of relationships in the current world economy will play out.  For instance, the dollar is the global reserve currency.  Other countries absorb and make use of the dollar.  However, as with all psychological delusions--whether faith in a tribal rain dance or faith in the integrity of the Federal Reserve Bank-- sooner or later reality intervenes.  The economy of Greece collapsed at a debt-GDP ratio of 170% or so.   The US has additional cushions, so there is not likely an impending crisis, but it is unlikely that indebtedness will do anything but grow.

There are three ticking debt clocks:  First the Social Security unfunded liability of $13.2 trillion over 75 years may require a benefit cut of 17%. Second, the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, which are unknown, may be as great. John D. Shatto and M Kent Clemens, actuaries for the Department of Health and Human Services, write that there is “substantial uncertainty regarding the adequacy of future Medicare payment rates under current law.” Third, student loan indebtedness is currently about $1.5 trillion.

If you add the hard indebtedness of $21.1 trillion to the unfunded liabilities and the student loan debt, the sum is in excess of twice GDP.

In part because the unfunded liabilities are not salient, international investors continue to accept the dollar as the global reserve curreny. As with any bubble, this will continue until it doesn't. The amount of US currency in circulation overseas is at least equal to the amount at home. 

There will be political pressure to devalue the dollar, both from Millennials who spent $100,000 each on college and never found a job and from senior citizens who do not want their Social Security benefits cut because the government claimed for 85 years that Social Security is an insurance plan rather than an at-Congressional-will welfare plan.  As well, depending on the course of technology and health care costs, Medicare can easily become the biggest problem of all.

There will thus be significant pressure to devalue the dollar in order to dupe Social Security recipients and to devalue the Millennial's unproductive student loans.  In response, there may be a global run on the dollar; alternatively, an internationalist authority like the IMF might step in and offer to substitute a global currency like special drawing rights as a substitute for the dollar.  As a result, bank dollar holdings and cash may be reduced in value.

Knowing this, I hypothesize that a portfolio allocation of 10 to 20 percent to gold and silver is wise. At the same time, gold could go back down to 2001 levels before it rebounds. As Keynes put it and my financial adviser reminds me,  "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."  As well, trusting in the wisdom of the federal government and the American people is foolhardy.

The Self-Evident Logic in Support of Universal College Education

Here is the logic:

(1) It was once difficult to get into college, so only smart, elite youngsters could attend.
(2) Attending college makes a youngster smart and elite.
(3) Therefore, all should attend college so that all can be smart and elite.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan debt for 2017 graduates was $39,400. Moreover, Americans owe $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, almost double total credit card debt.

An eight-year-old study by Arum and Roksa found that half of graduates earn less than the national median wage.  According to, the average college dropout owes $13,000 in student loan debt.

Students with the worst prospects for finding jobs are in the fields that are most politicized: the "studies" fields like women's studies, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How High Can the VIX Go?

stock chart
VXX over the Past 10 Years. Chart Courtesy of

The VIX measures stock market volatility.  Over the past ten years, it has declined from over $14,000 to about $35. That is due to the masseuse skills of the Federal Reserve Bank, which is lightening its deep tissue, shiatsu, and Swedish massage.  The VXX is up 6% today according to Yahoo Finance.  Stock market declines are usually short, absent government intervention as occurred under Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, but steep. They are, of course, difficult or impossible to time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Real Reason They Hate Trump

David Gelerneter, a computer science professor and businessman, has written a brilliant op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Quoting his lyrical piece, which reads like Jack Kerouac:

The difference between citizens who hate Mr. Trump and those who can live with him—whether they love or merely tolerate him—comes down to their views of the typical American: the farmer, factory hand, auto mechanic, machinist, teamster, shop owner, clerk, software engineer, infantryman, truck driver, housewife. The leftist intellectuals I know say they dislike such people insofar as they tend to be conservative Republicans.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama know their real sins. They know how appalling such people are, with their stupid guns and loathsome churches. They have no money or permanent grievances to make them interesting and no Twitter followers to speak of. They skip Davos every year and watch Fox News. Not even the very best has the dazzling brilliance of a Chuck Schumer, not to mention a Michelle Obama. In truth they are dumb as sheep.
Mr. Trump reminds us who the average American really is. Not the average male American, or the average white American. We know for sure that, come 2020, intellectuals will be dumbfounded at the number of women and blacks who will vote for Mr. Trump. He might be realigning the political map: plain average Americans of every type vs. fancy ones.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why I Support Republicans in 2018 and Trump in 2020, and Why I Oppose Sissified Democrats

Last year Tom Ross wrote a piece in the Examiner in which he quoted William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts and the 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate, as claiming that data showed that 75% of LP voters would have voted for Trump rather than Clinton.  As a result, Trump would have won a net majority in the absence of minor parties.

I am one of the culprits who did not vote for Trump. Until recently, I tended not to vote in presidential elections. When I did, I supported the Libertarian candidate. However, I served on my county Republican committee, worked for the Republican Party locally, and voted during the three nonpresidential years. I have opposed the evident corruption in the GOP both locally and nationally, but I have also contributed to GOP candidates.

As a libertarian, there were three features of Trump's candidacy that turned me off: his proposed wall, his animus toward immigration, and his suspicions about free trade.  These are anti-libertarian positions, and I still oppose them.

However, there are two areas in which Trump has demonstrated valuable instincts:  his attitudes toward political correctness and the media.  Political correctness is a polite name for the totalitarian control and authoritarianism that have always been associated with socialism, communism, and the left in general. One does not advocate a strong government because one is shy of control; one who desires control is as likely to desire it with respect to civil as well as economic matters.

The left's thoroughgoing and consistent authoritarianism is seen in its rationalization architecture. Scholars like Adorno call all who oppose left-wing authoritarianism "authoritarian"; meanwhile, Herbert Marcuse advocates intolerance.  A movement that claims to be intolerant in the name of opposing authoritarianism is a spinning top capable of anything. Indeed, the left, when it gains power, has accomplished every horror imaginable, beginning with mass murder in the nine digits.

Accelerating left-wing totalitarian patterns have been evident to me since I entered higher education in the early 1990s, and they continued to escalate up to the point when the Obama administration began to prosecute professors for expression of views that had no connection to teaching or the campus.  Laura Kipnis was accused of creating a hostile environment at Northwestern University simply because she wrote two articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

These rules have now changed. The Trump administration is the first in my lifetime to reverse the march toward totalitarianism in American universities. The exclusion of Republicans from leading universities, which I have studied, is symptomatic of Democratic Party-subsidized groupthink. In turn, the subsidization reflects a historical impetus from corporate-linked foundations, which were eager to homogenize education and eject Christianity from American colleges in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The media has a similar history.  It was consolidated by investment banking interests, and the centralization and left orientation received subsequent support from the Democratic Party, which censored libertarian positions during the New Deal.  The centralization and homogenization of higher education and journalism converge on the needs of large financial institutions and one of their twin handmaidens, the Democratic Party.

Trump is the first elected official to threaten the status quo. Perhaps this was a ploy to gain votes--but perhaps Trump understands that the media, the universities, the so-called deep state, and especially the Democratic Party have interests that are as really aligned with the interests of ordinary Americans as the interests of Septimius Severus were really aligned with the ordinary Romans who received free bread.

By coincidence I have recently been listening to a lecture series about Roman history, and the thought occurred to me that a parallel might be made between the decline of Rome and the sissification of American culture, especially in the Democratic Party.  I googled a related combination of words and came across a series of news items that tell a story similar to the dumbed-down attacks I have suffered at the hands of the fake-news media.

In 2011 the Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, based on a lifetime of study of Roman history, concluded that the decline of Rome was caused by a parallel process. De Mattei, who was head of the Italian Research Council,  was treated to threats and calls for his sacking by Mussolini's fascio descendants, the Italian left wing.

America's dumbed-down journalists are tools of globalist financiers who delight in American indebtedness, decline, authoritarianism, and socialism.  The delight about the indebtedness part ends when Republicans follow the same destructive policies as the Democrats, but it holds when the Democrats are in office

American journalists worry endlessly about their supposed freedom of the press, which is constrained to the point of zero by centralized credit, centralized financial controls, regulated cable television monopolies, regulated airwaves, and dumbed-down journalists, who are economic and historical illiterates trained by ideological, totalitarian institutions.

The Internet, which was originally thought to be a decentralizing force, is increasingly concentrated on social media that has proven even more authoritarian and subject to centralizing control than television.

Trump's use of Twitter turns this dynamic on its head. Bless him.