Friday, January 26, 2018

Libertarian Professors Walk a Fine Line

The concept of a libertarian professor is oxymoronic. Higher education would not exist without state support, for it isn't value producing. It is, moreover, a special interest whose justification is inherently ideological and statist. Hence, to be a libertarian academic the professor needs to protest the statist system from which he benefits.
If a professor overtly favors the state-provided benefits he receives, then he is like any other industrialist who claims to favor free enterprise while lobbying for tariffs or bailouts. Such hypocrisy is damaging to professors, part of whose job is to exemplify integrity. Libertarian academics who lobby for public support and curry to their statist colleagues are hypocrites.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Parsing the 11:1 Democratic-to-Republican Ratio in Elite Colleges

The Democratic-to-Republican ratio in elite social science departments is 11:1. Some thoughts about the lopsidedness:

(1) Partisan lopsidedness drives ideological lopsidedness, not the other way around. Professors tend to be left because they are virtually all Democrats; that has been increasingly true since the New Deal. In the 1920s elite professors were beginning to become Democratic in response to funding mandates of John D. Rockefeller's General Education Board and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The New Deal cemented that trend. With the radicalization of the Democratic Party after the Vietnam War, universities increasingly moved to the left.

(2) There is an association between left ideology and Democratic affiliation. Conservatives are no longer an important force in the Democratic Party, but they have become an increasingly important force in the Republican Party. Professors, especially elite ones in the Northeast, became more radical and more intolerant as Democrats in the Democratic Party became more radical and more intolerant.

(3) The Democratic Party moved further to the left in tandem with professors' moving to the left, and the causal direction has to be hypothesized that DP-->professors, not the other way around; professors are only one of many interest groups that influence the Democrats.

(4) The faculty Democratic affiliation rate is highest in states with the greatest degree of state Democratic control.  A grater share of SUNY than Ohio State professors are Democratic.  That may be because professors who would otherwise live in a state become professors in that state (Ohio has more Republicans than New York), or it might be because the professors respond to incentives from the state capitals, or both.

If there is in-state hiring, that raises the question as to  why domestic hiring is local, but a large share of elite universities' faculties, as much as 25%, is foreign born. In other words, universities hire internationally before they hire Republicans. The ratio of foreign born professors to Republicans is probably also about 10:1.

(5) The D:R gap in party affiliation among the educated is about 1.6:1, roughly the same as for engineering professors in liberal arts colleges. The gap in party affiliation among history professors among elite research institutions is 35:1. The ratio among studies (gender studies, women's studies, Black studies, LGBTQ studies, and so on) professors in elite liberal arts colleges is 100:0. Few differences in the social sciences are of this magnitude, 35:1.6 or 22 times,or 35:0. These are apartheid rates.

Monday, January 22, 2018

How Progressivism Destroyed Utica

 Below is a picture of the population trend in Utica, NY from 1850 to the present. Unlike Buffalo, whose population peaked in 1950, right after passage of the urban renewal act, the population of Utica peaked in the 1930s, about 15 years before urban renewal and about 20 years after an expansion of workplace legislation in 1911 to 1913, during New York's Progressive era.

The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City had led to the passage of dozens of labor laws in the mid 1910s. According to Wikipedia's entry on Al Smith (who was the speaker of the New York State Assembly and a member of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission, which proposed the laws):
New laws mandated better building access and egress, fireproofing requirements, the availability of fire extinguishers, the installation of alarm systems and automatic sprinklers, better eating and toilet facilities for workers, and limited the number of hours that women and children could work. In the years from 1911 to 1913, sixty of the sixty-four new laws recommended by the Commission were legislated with the support of Governor William Sulzer.

Other sources say that there were 36 laws, but whatever the precise number, there was a lot of new regulation.

The stagnation in the Utica population began about six or seven years after Smith's State Assembly (and Robert Wagner's State Senate) passed the Progressive-era laws, and the decline in the Utica population began about 15 years after.

According to Wikipedia, "Utica's economy centered around the manufacture of furniture, heavy machinery, textiles, and lumber." All of these are subject to factory regulation, which in effect raises wages. Employers contemplate the cost of regulation in their relocation decisions.

As well, the 1913 founding of the Federal Reserve Bank, also in the Progressive period, led to increased availability of credit. Easy credit meant reduced costs of relocation. There may have been early relocations of plants away from the city of Utica into surrounding suburban areas and into the South.

The combination of easing credit and increasing workplace and other regulation--the policy mix of both parties, but especially the Democrats--has been deadly to American manufacturing.

Instead of thinking about underlying causes of Trump's popularity, the American media has fixated on ad hominem attacks and shrill rhetoric.

Wikipedia's entry on Utica says that suburbanization began occurring in earnest in Utica in the 1940s, but there may have been an earlier trend as credit became available. The suburbanization of the pre- and post-war eras anticipated the broader globalization that followed the easing of credit and further expansion of regulation before and after the abolition of the international gold standard in 1971.

The post-1971 world has been brutal for those who create value. Those who live off the state as commercial or investment bankers, government contractors, government employees, and welfare recipients have fared well.

Unlike Syracuse, Utica does not have a nationally ranked university. Hence, it has not as easily participated in the state-subsidized education industry. Unlike Albany, it isn't a seat of an ever-expanding state bureaucracy. Unlike New York, the city that has benefited most from expanding credit, it is not a seat of global finance and bailout funding.

Utica actually produced goods of value like furniture. It was not a center of financial or political power, which produce nothing. Such production has been  punished in the credit-based economy, which supports a limited degree of innovation and instead favors low-risk investments such as plant relocations.
Historical Population of Utica, NY


Sunday, January 21, 2018

How Urban Renewal Destroyed Buffalo, NY

Below is a picture of the population of Buffalo, New York from 1830 to 2017. In 1949, Congress passed the American Housing Act. According to Wikipedia, "It was a landmark, sweeping expansion of the federal role in mortgage insurance and issuance and the construction of public housing."

The Housing act was supposed to be a support to cities. It was the chief "urban renewal" law. adds:

Sites were acquired through eminent domain, the right of the government to take over privately owned real estate for public purposes, in exchange for "just compensation." After the land was cleared, local governments sold it to private real estate developers at below-market prices. Developers, however, had no incentives to supply housing for the poor. In return for the subsidy and certain tax abatements, they built commercial projects and housing for the upper-middle class.

Robert Moses was a leader in eminent domain actions going back to the 1930s. The sponsor of the law was Moses's friend and fellow Yale graduate, Senator Robert Taft. Taft had alerted Moses as to the passage of the law, and Moses saw a state law passed that increased his own power to oversee the urban renewal programs in New York.

The year before urban renewal went into law, signaling increased federal government involvement in the economy, Buffalo's population peaked. Its population, along with most other upstate New York cities, has declined ever since the law went into effect.