Daily Archives: April 16, 2010

Greg Mankiw points to an interesting, if slightly dyspeptic, essay on the puzzle of academic bias to the left. Thomas Reeves says it is mostly due to envy, aggravated by (relative) financial distress.Times are hard for scholars.

Serious economic problems face the glowing, self-confident scholar with little money. How, for example, is he able to find adequate housing? Even US$300,000, well beyond the reach of most young and many senior professors, won’t buy much in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta or Chicago, not to mention Madison, Sarasota, Ann Arbor, Palo Alto or Santa Barbara. The affluent suburbs, where the successful in other fields gather, are out of the question, of course. And so many of us move into older, deteriorating, often dangerous areas, telling all who listen that we made the choice deliberately and that we, being humanists, have a natural desire to live among the poor and oppressed. In my experience, some English and anthropology professors actually believe this nonsense, and enjoy dressing as factory workers and displaying furniture obviously purchased at a rummage sale.

In this talk from 1998, Robert Nozick put it down to a subtly different cause: a sense of frustrated entitlement. Intellectuals are trained to believe that the market has overthrown the proper allocation of reward according to merit. Note the difference: envy is wrong; insisting on reward by merit (however Utopian) is right.

The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals.

Of course, the two causes are not mutually exclusive.

Obama is no socialist. Norman Ornstein, Washington Post. A splendid attack on the administration’s overheated critics. (The AEI, where Ornstein works, is supposed to frown on this sort of thing. I hope Norm’s job is safe.)

Three Supreme Court myths. Stuart Taylor, National Journal.

First, it simply won’t make much difference in the next five or so years — if ever — whom Obama picks from the lists of moderately liberal, extremely liberal, and just plain liberal candidates leaked by the White House…

The essential task of stabilising fiscal policy. Ben Bernanke, testimony to the Joint Economic Committee.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

Clive Crook’s blog: A guide

Comment: To comment, please register with FT.com. Register for free here. Please also read the FT's comments policy here.
Time: UK time is shown on Clive's posts.
Follow the blog: Links to the Twitter and RSS feeds are at the top of the blog.
Schedule: Clive's column appears in the FT on Mondays and you can read an excerpt of it on this blog.
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.

Archive

« Mar May »April 2010
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930