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Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

News Neoliberalism and rising inequality Recommended Links Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The value of education
Groupthink Obscurantism Multiple Choice Test Taking Strategies Cheating as a reaction to college application stress Toxic managers and coworkers Health Issues
Unemployment after graduation Problems of CS Education Science, Pseudoscience and Society Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Lysenkoism Numbers racket and "Potemkin numbers"
SAT   Diploma Mills Certification Information Technology Wonderland How to Solve It by George Polya
Education Quotes Benjamin Franklin Quotes Einstein Quotes John Kenneth Galbraith Quotes Social Problems of Education Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia
Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Softpanorama Bookshelf Classic Books Softpanorama Bookshelf / Algorithms Best Old TCP/IP Books
Best Red Hat Books for Preparation to Certification Compiler Construction Best C language textbooks Softpanorama bookshelf / C++ books Best Pascal Programming Books Best Perl Books for System Administrators
Information overload Mental Overload Sleep Deprivation Drinking from a firehose Humor Etc


Introduction

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, at least in some cases, became more of a social trap. This is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk. Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was a hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit minted during dot-com boom expensive private colleges, who hunt for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces). It remains viable only in elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

In some disciplines such as economics University presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollar salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change you specialization late in the education cycle. But early choice entail typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008. That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: this is a kind of "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in a particular specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet you are done.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities bacem appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first of all assume that it is functioning not to their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such salaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sense parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial resource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

The cruel world of neoliberal university

Of course bad things that happened to you during your university years are soon forgotten and nostalgia colors everything in role tones, but the truth is that the modern university is a very cruel world. Now more then ever. Here are some random observations of the subject (See also my Diploma Mills page about high education sharks for which sucking you dry financially is the main goal ):

Lysenkoism and petty, greedy pseudo-scientific scum as professors and teachers

Most teachers and Professors in the university are good, honest people who are trying to make some contribution to science and teach students (difficult things to mix). But not all. One of the most dangerous feature of neoliberal university are influx of people who represent a toxic mix of teacher, snake oil seller, careerist and cult follower. They are not teachers but brainwashers, hired guns -- propagandists masquerading as University professors. That is why we have witnessed such a corruption and politicization of science and rising proportion of research and theories taught at the universities that are fraudulent.

Previously teacher was a person somewhat similar to a monk. A person who consciously traded the ability to work in science to the possibility of acquiring material wealth, at least excessive material wealth. As Ernest Rutherford once reminded Pyotr Kapitsa "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

But in neoliberal university way too many teachers/researchers took Faustian bargain when one trades the academic independence for above average personal wealth, influence, for the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists and university professors they proved to be as corruptible by money as Wall Street traders ;-). This is because the sponsors of their research such as big business, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government vie to publish reports and results that put the sponsors in the best light. Good example is relations of pharmaceutical industry and academia

“The answer to that question is at once both predictable and shocking: For the past two decades, medical research has been quietly corrupted by cash from private industry. Most doctors and academic researchers aren't corrupt in the sense of intending to defraud the public or harm patients, but rather, more insidiously, guilty of allowing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to manipulate medical science through financial relationships, in effect tainting the system that is supposed to further the understanding of disease and protect patients from ineffective or dangerous drugs. More than 60 percent of clinical studies--those involving human subjects--are now funded not by the federal government, but by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. That means that the studies published in scientific journals like Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine--those critical reference points for thousands of clinicians deciding what drugs to prescribe patients, as well as for individuals trying to educate themselves about conditions and science reporters from the popular media who will publicize the findings--are increasingly likely to be designed, controlled, and sometimes even ghost-written by marketing departments, rather than academic scientists. Companies routinely delay or prevent the publication of data that show their drugs are ineffective.

...

“ Novartis, stepped in and provided additional funding for development. In 1984, private companies contributed a mere $26 million to university research budgets. By 2000, they were ponying up $2.3 billion, an increase of 9000 percent that provided much needed funds to universities at a time when the cost of doing medical research was skyrocketing.”

Historically the scientific community is held together through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental principles of conducting research (and teaching those results) and ethics. Scientific research is best practiced in a voluntary, honest and free atmosphere. But this idyllic arrangement as well as scientific ethics now belongs to the past ( The Corruption of Science )

“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.

...There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Now we can talk only about the level of political and economical pressure and corresponding level of corruption on professors and scientists, not so much about presence or absence of corruption in science and education. What really matters for students is that when they feel that a professor is a scum, they nevertheless try to imitate. See for example Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia.

Historically the situation started to change even before neoliberal university became a dominant educational institution. Previously, despite the fact that money for science were in short supply, scientists maintained a self-discipline. That changed after WWII. Prior to World War II there was little government financial support for science. A graduate student working on a Ph.D. degree was expected to make a new discovery to earn that degree. And if somebody else came first he needed to find a new theme and to restart his work.

But with the advent of NSF scientists started to "propose" directions of research to get funding. And be sure this instill atmosphere of sycophantism and political correctness. This process accelerated dramatically since 1980th with the ascendance of neoliberalism as a dominant USA ideology, when greed became playing significant role in US universities. It should be understood that now the university professor is no longer is a teacher and a scientist, but predominantly "grants provider" for the university and that means that he/she is in the first place a political agent, a manipulator on a mission from the external agent (typically the state via NSF or other agency, see The Corruption of Science in America -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net)

For the unwashed masses University professor career still represents the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of our neoliberal world fully use this "superstition". Like we can see with neoclassical economics, economists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself but false and simplistic picture of the world, using University professors to brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

Professors literally became a religious figures, and cult members or even cult leaders. The first sign of this dangerous disease of the modern university was probably Lysenkoism in the USSR. In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

Unfortunately a large part of the textbook market in the USA has all signs of corrupted monopoly infested with cronyism and incompetence to the extent that Standard Oil practices looks pretty benign in comparison. As the site MakeTextbooksAffordable.com states on its font page:

The report found that even though students already pay $900 year for textbooks, textbook publishers artificially inflate the price of textbooks by adding bells and whistles to the current texts, and forcing cheaper used books off the market by producing expensive new editions of textbooks that are barely different from the previous edition.

And some university professors are part of these scheme. Congressmen David Wu sites the opinion of the publisher in his letter "If a student is paying hundreds of dollars for a book, it's because the professor has ordered the Cadillac edition". But that might be true only for CS where any professor can easily find a cheaper high quality substitute from publishers like O'Reilly (and students can do this too, see Softpanorama Bookshelf actually about finding the best CS book (and some other) at reasonable prices. In other disciplines like mathematics situation is a real racket: The cost of a common calculus textbook is over $100 in the USA. This is a blatant, open rip-off. Economics is probably even worse with some useless junk selling for almost $300 per book.

In the meantime, enterprising students have many ways to cut the cost of buying textbooks.

But here one needs to see a bigger picture: low quality of recommended textbooks and, especially, the quality of university instruction makes it necessary buying additional textbooks. Also the ownership of best textbooks often makes the difference between success and failure in the particular course. In this sense additional $100 spending for books for each course makes economic sense as the common alternative is to drop the course, which often means $1K of more loss.

There are several ways to save on additional textbooks that hopefully can somewhat compensate for the low quality of tuition in a typical university. With some effort a student can often save approximately 50% of the cover price. Again my Links2bookstores page contains more information.

At the same time if the instructor is weak, or, worse, belongs to "fundamentalists", a category of instructors that does not distinguish between important and unimportant things and overloads the course with "useless overcomplexity" additional books are one of few countermeasures against this typical university-style rip-off. Dropping the course is a difficult maneuver that requires perfect timing and problems with instructor and the course content usually do not surface during the first month of the study when you can still do it for free or with minimal damage.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks: High textbook prices are a pebble in the shoe of many college students. Sure, it's not the biggest financial issue they face, But it's a real and nagging annoyance that for hinders performance for many students. ...
David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein at National Public Radio took up this question recently on one of their "Planet Money" podcasts. ... For economists, a highlight is that they converse with Greg Mankiw, author of what is currently the best-selling introductory economics textbook, which as they point out is selling for $286 on Amazon. Maybe this is a good place to point out that I am not a neutral observer in this argument: The third edition of my own Principles of Economics textbook is available through Textbook Media. The pricing varies from $25 for online access to the book, up through $60 for both a paper copy (soft-cover, black and white) and online access.

Several explanations for high textbook prices are on offer. The standard arguments are that textbook companies are marketing selling to professors, not to students, and professors are not necessarily very sensitive to textbook prices. (Indeed, one can argue that before the rapid rise in textbook prices in the last couple of decades, it made sense for professors not to focus too much on textbook prices.) Competition in the textbook market is limited, and the big publishers load up their books with features that might appeal to professors: multi-colored hardcover books, with DVDs and online access, together with test banks that allow professors to give quizzes and tests that can be machine-graded. At many colleges and universities, the intro econ class is taught in a large lecture format, which can include hundreds or even several thousand students, as well as a flock of teaching assistants, so some form of computerized grading and feedback is almost a necessity. Some of the marketing by textbook companies involves paying professors for reviewing chapters--of course in the hope that such reviewers will adopt the book.

The NPR show casts much of this dynamic as a "principal-agent problem," the name for a situation in which one person (the "principal") wants another person (the "agent") to act on their behalf, but lacks the ability to observe or evaluate the actions of the agent in a complete way. Principal-agent analysis is often used, for example, to think about the problem of a manager motivating employees. But it can also be used to consider the issue of students (the "principals") wanting the professor (the "agent") to choose the book that will best suit the needs of the students, with all factors of price and quality duly taken into account. The NPR reporters quote one expert saying that the profit margin for high school textbooks is 5-10%, because those books decisions are made by school districts and states that negotiate hard. However, profit margins on college textbooks--where the textbook choice is often made by a professor who may not even know the price that students will pay--are more like 20%.

The NPR report suggests this principal-agent framework to Greg Mankiw, author of the top-selling $286 economic textbook. Mankiw points out that principal-agent problems are in no way nefarious, but come up in many contexts. For example, when you get an operation, you rely on the doctor to make choices that involve costs; when you get your car fixed, you rely on a mechanic to make choices that involve costs; when you are having home repairs done, you rely on a repair person or a contractor to make choices that involve costs. Mankiw argues that professors, acting as the agents of students, have legitimate reason to be concerned about tradeoffs of time and money. As he notes, a high quality book is more important "than saving them a few dollars"--and he suggests that saving $30 isn't worth it for a low-quality book.

But of course, in the real world there are more choices than a high-quality $286 book and a low-quality $256 book. The PIRG student surveys suggest that up to two-thirds of students are avoiding buying textbooks at all, even though they fear it will hurt their grade, or are shifting to other classes with lower textbook costs. If a student is working 10 hours a week at a part-time job, making $8/hour after taxes, then the difference between $286 book and a $60 book is 28.25 hours--nearly three weeks of part-time work. I am unaware of any evidence in which students were randomly assigned different textbooks but otherwise taught and evaluated in the same way, and kept time diaries, which would show that higher-priced books save time or improve academic performance. It is by no means obvious that a lower-cost book (yes, like my own) works less well for students than a higher-cost book from a big publisher. Some would put that point more strongly.

A final dynamic that may be contributing to higher-prices textbooks is a sort of vicious circle related to the textbook resale market. The NPR report says that when selling a textbook over a three-year edition, a typical pattern was that sales fell by half after the first year and again by half after the second year, as students who had bought the first edition resold the book to later students. Of course, this dynamic also means that many students who bought the book new are not really paying full-price, but instead paying the original price minus the resale price. The argument is that as textbooks have increased in price, the resale market has become ever-more active, so that sales of a textbook in later years have dwindled much more quickly. Textbook companies react to this process by charging more for the new textbook, which of course only spurs more activity in the resale market.

A big question for the future of textbooks is how and in what ways they migrate to electronic forms. On one side, the hope is that electronic textbooks will offer expanded functionality, as well as being cheaper. But this future is not foreordained. At least at present, my sense is that the functionality of reading and taking notes in online textbooks hasn't yet caught up to the ease of reading on paper. Technology and better screens may well shift this balance over time. But even setting aside questions of reading for long periods of time on screen, or taking notes on screen, at present it remains harder to skip around in a computerized text between what you are currently reading and the earlier text that you need to be checking, as well as skipping to various graphs, tables, and definitions. To say it more simply, in a number of subjects it may still be harder to study an on-line text than to study a paper text.

Moreover, as textbook manufacturers shift to an on-line world, they will bring with them their full bag of tricks for getting paid. The Senack report notes:

Today’s marketplace offers more digital textbook options to the student consumer than ever. “Etextbooks” are digitized texts that students read on a laptop or tablet. Similar to PDF documents, e-textbooks enable students to annotate, highlight and search. The cost may be 40-50 percent of the print retail price, and access expires after 180 days. Publishers have introduced e-textbooks for nearly all their traditional textbook offerings. In addition, the emergence of the ereader like the Kindle and iPad, as well as the emergence of many e-textbook rental programs, all seemed to indicate that the e-textbook will alter the college textbook landscape for the better.

However, despite this shift, users of e-textbooks are subject to expiration dates, on-line codes that only work once, page printing limits, and other tactics that only serve to restrict use and increase cost.

Unfortunately for students, the publishing companies’ venture into e-textbooks is a continuation of the practices they use to monopolize the print market.

JohnH:

My understanding is that there are cases where the professor requires the textbook he wrote and for which he receives royalties...

In such cases, the publisher and the professor's interests align against the student, who pays through the teeth.

djb:

good article but i have a real problem with introductory texts on economics

they are completely biased, mostly towards supply side of the debate

meaning, of course, they are wrong

if they just contained that which is undeniably true then ok, or if they presented it as this school of thought says this and that school of thought says the other, ok,

The Raven:

A general rule of thumb: half the selling price of a book is spent before the first impression is made on paper. Speaking as a very small publisher, I think the main problem is that the texts are expensive to produce.

They take a lot of editorial and design effort, so the fixed costs of textbook production are high, the production costs are often high, and textbook bestsellers are not common, so they don't usually make it up on volume.

Now, one could, for standard freshman and sophomore texts, aim at lower costs and higher volumes, but that's not academic publishing, and nothing is going to help with upper-level texts; the market is just not that big.

pgl -> to The Raven...

Excellent! With a high elasticity of demand, the increase in quantity beats the drop in price. Unless the marginal cost of printing books is higher than I suspect it is, Mankiw's publisher is not a profit maximizing monopolist. I'm telling you the best economics is right here and we don't charge $286!

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

You'd have to market a book *hard* to get that increase in demand, though. It's not a student-by-student sale decision; the professors have to be marketed. The other thing about publishing economics that people outside the industry don't realize: most books don't make much money, so publishers rely on the good-sellers and the best-sellers for much of their profits. If you've got something you're pretty sure is going to be in demand, *you mark it up,* because in William Golding's immortal phrase, "Nobody knows anything."

Over the past 25 or so years, the consolidation of publishing has put the money types more and more in control of the business. And the money types always want to only market best sellers. This is sort of like Germany saying that everyone should make money exporting. "That trick never works."

Now, if anyone wanted to bring the price of an Econ 101 book down, one could do a no-frills book, small, soft-covered, and strictly monochrome, or perhaps an ebook. (But watch out—only some ebook readers support mathematics well.) It might cost $50 or so (I'm guessing—I'm not a textbook publisher.) It would not look impressive, and this might make a problem for marketing, but students could still learn from it. And—who knows?—it might even sell.

T.J.:

The issue is that textbook publishers release new editions every couple of years. For many subjects, including economics, this is absurd. Sciences don't change that quickly.

For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200.

Has principles of microeconomics changed that much over the course of 6 years? No, but textbook companies make a few changes on the margin and charge you hundreds of dollars for a new edition. Many times, professors require online access codes to supplement their lecture. Therefore, the student is forced into the newer edition, in which often there is no substantial differences or major improvements in presenting the material.

When you have that sort of market power, it is easy to achieve economic rents.

pgl -> to T.J....

"Sciences don't change that quickly". One would hope those freshwater books changed after their utter failures to predict the most recent recession. But they likely haven't.

cm -> to T.J....

There are errata, and some content that the author has in mind doesn't make it into the first edition, or not at the intended quality/depth. Most people who have never published something substantial have no idea how much work it is to get non-fiction scientific/technical stuff publication ready. Not only on the author's part but also editing and proofreading/giving feedback at a collegial level. (Not meaning to knock down fiction, that's a different set of challenges.)

Bill Ellis:

Two Ideas I would like to see combined. A period of Universal public service that earns a free higher and or tech education. Something like the GI bill for all.

I think making universal public service a right of passage could help us be a more unified society. If we have kids from inner city Detroit, rural West Virginia, suburban San Francisco and the oil fields of Oklahoma working side by side it would open their eyes to each other in ways that are never experienced by most American kids who are living in communities of institutional self-segregation.

Having said that.. free education is a no brainer no matter what.
To cover everyone's tuition it would only cost us about forty billion more than the feds already spend on higher ed. That's a rounding error in terms of our total budget.

We subsidize big oil and gas to the tune of about 50 billion a year.

The maddening thing is that the national debate is not even close to taking Free Ed seriously. Instead Liz Warren is portrayed some kind of wild eyed radical for proposing a modest cut in interest rates on student loans and some narrow way to get some forgiveness of debt.

John Cummings:

It is part of the educational industrial complex (which include vouchers and government backed private school industrial complex)

Educational industrial complex
Military industrial complex
Medical industrial complex
Prison industrial complex

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

Higher education: Why textbooks cost so much http://econ.st/1yzDU5Z via @TheEconomist - Aug 16th 2014

Students can learn a lot about economics when they buy Greg Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics”—even if they don’t read it. Like many popular textbooks, it is horribly expensive: $292.17 on Amazon. Indeed, the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation (see chart, at link).

Like doctors prescribing drugs, professors assigning textbooks do not pay for the products themselves, so they have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves. The 20m post-secondary students in America often have little choice in the matter. Small wonder textbooks generate megabucks.

But hope is not lost for poor scholars. Foreign editions are easy to find online and often cheaper—sometimes by over 90%. Publishers can be litigious about this, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to buy and resell copyrighted material obtained legally. Many university bookstores now let students rent books and return them. Publishers have begun to offer digital textbooks, which are cheaper but can’t be resold. And if all else fails, there is always the library.

Related: How Your Textbook Dollars Are Divvied Up http://t.usnews.com/a2B567 via @usnews - Aug 28, 2012

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

Room for Debate: The Real Cost of College Textbooks http://nyti.ms/1qEHasX - July 2010

(Including a couple of economists!)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More-Kiplinger http://po.st/nCZsxY - August 2014

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

(Turns out Mankiw's Econ textbook, which
currently costs $289 in hardcover from
Amazon, can be rented in Kindle format
for a mere $173 - for 180 days.)

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(Wait a second. The Federales fixed
this problem back in 2008...)

Advocates say a new set of federal provisions, aimed at driving down the cost of college textbooks, should help students this fall. On July 1, (2010) these rules took effect:

Publishers must give professors detailed information about textbook prices, revision histories and a list of alternate formats.

Publishers have to sell materials typically bundled with textbooks -- such as CDs, DVDs and workbooks -- separately so students don't have to buy them.

Colleges have to include in-course schedules with required textbooks for each class, including the book's price and International Standard Book Number, an identifying tool.

The protections, included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, are an attempt to lessen student debt, said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday.

"The cost of education is of concern not only to students and families but to the nation," Durbin said, explaining why the government got involved in textbook prices. "Students are emerging with more and more debt."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/22/97931_new-federal-rules-take-aim-at.html?rh=1

Charles Peterson:

A $289 econ text is only marked up 20% ???

I'm not sure how to account for this, but I believe a full account of markup should include royalties if they have become outrageous economic rent.

Jim Harrison:

Textbooks have been outrageously expensive for a long time, though some of the prices quoted in this article were astonishing to me and I used to be in the business. Nothing much has changed. The complaints and the defenses sound very familiar. Even in the 70s and 80s, publishers groused about how the used trade hurt their sales and the suggestion was repeatedly made that one way around the trap was to produce much cheaper texts and make up the difference on volume. Unfortunately, the numbers never add up for that business plan since the major textbook publishers have huge sunk costs in the big sales forces needed to support the current model. Anyhow, good cheap books have long been available for many big undergrad courses if profs want to assign them and don't mind producing their own tests and other teaching aids. A handful of profs do just that and were already doing it thirty years ago, but they are a distinct minority.

About the revision racket: the funny thing is that old editions of textbooks are often better than more recent editions. Market research makes good books worse in much the same way that it eventually screws up software by the relentless addition of bells and whistles. I'm a technical writer these days and keep copies of several old classics at hand when I need to brush up: Feynman's lectures on physics; the first edition of Freeman, Pisani, and Purves on Statistics; the 2nd edition of Linus Pauling's Intro Chem text; Goldstein on Thermo; and a real museum piece, Sylvaner Thomas' Calculus Made Easy. Many of these books have been reprinted by Dover and are available for peanuts.

To be fair, the high price for textbooks makes more sense in some fields than in others. The three or four year revision cycle is absurd for math books since the math remains the same decade after decade, but texts in areas like molecular biology really do have to be revised frequently and substantively, a very labor-intensive task. Which is why I give a pass to the Biology editors and the folks who struggle to update the Intermediate Accounting books with the latest FASB standards.

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

Can you elaborate on the revision "paradox"? Surely not only in very new fields, the state of the art progresses, or textbook authors see a need or opportunity to include new material (I suspect somebody setting out to write a comprehensive text has more ideas what to write about than can be finished at the required quality in the required time, for the first edition).

How would the subsequent editions be worse, if the new content is driven by the author and not by external marketing considerations, unless the new material is at the expense of older material (e.g. #pages limit)?

From my very limited experience, authors who are not in it for making a profit, and who write for a small market (selling up to a few thousand copies per year is a small market) run into substantial overhead costs for editing, marketing (i.e. making the existence of the book known to the target audience), and distribution, and basically have to do the work for free. Some, and perhaps most, certainly academic, publishers have "charity" programs where they publish small editions where they at best break even or even cross-subsidize them out of "full rate" publications. Then people complain about excessive prices for the latter.

Leading Edge Boomer:

Jeebus, $286 for a textbook, from an author who is often wrong lately? I co-authored a graduate computer science text (low volume = higher cost) that retailed in the low two digits.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I will not comment on the author's merit or lack thereof, but $286 is really in "WTF" territory, for any textbook.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I once contributed to a book, and the authors/editors decided to collectively waive their royalties to hit an affordable price (and I suspect it was still a charity deal on the part of the largely academic publisher). But I got my free copy.

Jim Harrison:

At least for big market textbooks, the motive for revisions is generally financial and that's as true for the authors as the publishers. In fact, the authors are often the ones who push for new editions as their royalty checks steadily diminish. In cases where it's the authors who are reluctant to revise for whatever reason, publishers often sweeten the deal with advances, grants, or other goodies.

I don't mean to be completely cynical. Authors and editors certainly try to produce a better product when they put out new editions, and it very often happens that the second edition is better than the first. Especially in later cycles, however, the changes are usually pretty cosmetic. The editor in charge of the project solicits advice from users and potential users and comes up with a list of "improvements" in a process not entirely different than what happens when various interests in Washington get their pet provisions put in a bill. If you think that professor X is likely to adopt the text if you go along with his ideas and plug his contributions in the acknowledgements, the idea is very likely to be irresistible.

The sales force also weighs in. They want feature they can tout; but since real improvements are hard to come by, that usually means more and more pedagogy: boxes, pictures, computer programs, and umpteen forms of emphasis. Let me assure you it takes desperate ingenuity to come up with something new to add to an Intermediate Algebra textbook. "Now with a new way to factor trinomials" isn't exactly a memorable pitch. Meanwhile, after three or four editions, the author, who presumably would be the best source of serious innovation for a new edition, is generally bored to death with the project.

As I said above, there are textbooks that really do need perpetually revision for substantive reasons; but in most fields what Freshmen and Sophomores need to learn has been known for a long time. My remarks on revisions also don't apply very well to upper level texts in smaller markets, in part because students tend to hang on to serious books in their majors so the companies have less incentive to beat the used book market with new editions.

reason:

From what I remember of my university days (in the long distant past), we didn't have text books (that was for school kids). We had lectures and lists of reading materials (that if we were lucky we could find in the library and photocopy relvant sections). I did have a copy of Samualson (relatively cheap). But the emphasis was on a reading a variety of sources. What has changed, and why?

reason:

P.S. Not have text books would have the advantage of ensuring that the students attended lectures and stayed awake during them.

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Paul-Krugman/dp/1429251638/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413545846&sr=8-2&keywords=krugman+wells

grizzled:

My own biggest peeve concerns calculus textbooks, especially introductory calculus textbooks. The material hasn't changed in at least 60 years, if not longer. If it weren't for the current ridiculously long copyright terms people could just use old ones.

The last time I took the subject our professor went to some lengths to let us use the previous edition, which was available used. The only real change in the next edition was in the problems. That is, if a student was assigned "problem 8 in section xxx" having the most recent edition was the only way to know what the problem was.

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

My son took an intro geology course a few years ago. The textbook price at the school bookstore was about $125. He purchased the gray market (legal) "international edition" - word for word, page for page the same, but with a different picture on the cover - over the internet for about $50.

It's my understanding that this sort of price-differential is common. Mankiw's book appears to be available in the "international edition" for $60 (soft cover).

http://www.abebooks.com/9781285165875/Principles-Economics-7th-Edition-Mankiw-128516587X/plp

Please don't tell me that publishers and authors are not making money when they sell their books for US$50 or 60 in Australia.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Feb 27, 2017] Leoliberal privitization of eduction went way too far

Feb 27, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne : February 24, 2017 at 05:00 PM , 2017 at 05:00 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/upshot/dismal-results-from-vouchers-surprise-researchers-as-devos-era-begins.html

February 23, 2017

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins
By Kevin Carey

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation's highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform.

But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling - the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.

While many policy ideas have murky origins, vouchers emerged fully formed from a single, brilliant essay * published in 1955 by Milton Friedman, the free-market godfather later to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. Because "a stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens," Mr. Friedman wrote, the government should pay for all children to go to school.

But, he argued, that doesn't mean the government should run all the schools. Instead, it could give parents vouchers to pay for "approved educational services" provided by private schools, with the government's role limited to "ensuring that the schools met certain minimum standards."

The voucher idea sat dormant for years before taking root in a few places, most notably Milwaukee. Yet even as many of Mr. Friedman's other ideas became Republican Party orthodoxy, most national G.O.P. leaders committed themselves to a different theory of educational improvement: standards, testing and accountability. That movement reached an apex when the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought a new focus on tests and standards to nearly every public school nationwide. The law left voucher supporters with crumbs: a small demonstration project in Washington, D.C.

But broad political support for No Child Left Behind proved short-lived. Teachers unions opposed the reforms from the left, while libertarians and states-rights conservatives denounced it from the right. When Republicans took control of more governor's mansions and state legislatures in the 2000s, they expanded vouchers to an unprecedented degree. Three of the largest programs sprang up in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which collectively enroll more than a third of the 178,000 voucher students nationwide.

Most of the new programs heeded Mr. Friedman's original call for the government to enforce "minimum standards" by requiring private schools that accept vouchers to administer standardized state tests. Researchers have used this data to compare voucher students with similar children who took the same tests in public school. Many of the results were released over the last 18 months, while Donald J. Trump was advocating school choice on the campaign trail.

The first results came in late 2015....

* http://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/330T/350kPEEFriedmanRoleOfGovttable.pdf

anne -> anne... , February 24, 2017 at 05:00 PM
http://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/330T/350kPEEFriedmanRoleOfGovttable.pdf

1955

The Role of Government in Education
By Milton Friedman

The general trend in our times toward increasing intervention by the state in economic affairs has led to a concentration of attention and dispute on the areas where new intervention is proposed and to an acceptance of whatever intervention has so far occurred as natural and unchangeable. The current pause, perhaps reversal, in the trend toward collectivism offers an opportunity to reexamine the existing activities of government and to make a fresh assessment of the activities that are and those that are not justified. This paper attempts such a re-examination for education.

Education is today largely paid for and almost entirely administered by governmental bodies or non-profit institutions. This situation has developed gradually and is now taken so much for granted that little explicit attention is any longer directed to the reasons for the special treatment of education even in countries that are predominantly free enterprise in organization and philosophy. The result has been an indiscriminate extension of governmental responsibility.

The role assigned to government in any particular field depends, of course, on the principles accepted for the organization of society in general. In what follows, I shall assume a society that takes freedom of the individual, or more realistically the family, as its ultimate objective, and seeks to further this objective by relying primarily on voluntary exchange among individuals for the organization of economic activity. In such a free private enterprise exchange economy, government's primary role is to preserve the rules of the game by enforcing contracts, preventing coercion, and keeping markets free. Beyond this, there are only three major grounds on which government intervention is to be justified. One is "natural monopoly" or similar market imperfection which makes effective competition (and therefore thoroughly voluntary ex change) impossible. A second is the existence of substantial "neighborhood effects," i.e., the action of one individual imposes significant costs on other individuals for which it is not feasible to make him compensate them or yields significant gains to them for which it is not feasible to make them compensate him-- circumstances that again make voluntary exchange impossible. The third derives from an ambiguity in the ultimate objective rather than from the difficulty of achieving it by voluntary exchange, namely, paternalistic concern for children and other irresponsible individuals. The belief in freedom is for "responsible" units, among whom we include neither children nor insane people. In general, this problem is avoided by regarding the family as the basic unit and therefore parents as responsible for their children; in considerable measure, however, such a procedure rests on expediency rather than principle. The problem of drawing a reasonable line between action justified on these paternalistic grounds and action that conflicts with the freedom of responsible individuals is clearly one to which no satisfactory answer can be given.

In applying these general principles to education, we shall find it helpful to deal separately with (1) general education for citizen ship, and (2) specialized vocational education, although it may be difficult to draw a sharp line between them in practice. The grounds for government intervention are widely different in these two areas and justify very different types of action....

[Feb 26, 2017] The Revenge Of Comet Pizza Zero Hedge

Feb 26, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Remember that one? It was about as weird as it gets. A meme generated out of the voluminous hacked John Podesta emails that some conspiracy connoisseurs cooked up into a tale of satanic child abuse revolving around a certain chi-chi Washington DC pizza joint. I never signed on with the story, but it was an interesting indication of how far the boundaries of mass psychology could be pushed in the mind wars of politics.

Sex, of course, is fraught. Sex and the feelings it conjures beat a path straight to the limbic system where the most primitive thoughts become the father of the most primitive deeds. In our American world, this realm of thought and deed has turned into a political football with the Left and the Right scrimmaging ferociously for field position - while the real political agenda of everything important other than sex lies outside the stadium.

The Comet Pizza story was understandably upsetting to Democrats who didn't like being painted as child molesters. Unfortunately for them, it coincided with the bust of one Anthony Weiner - and his infamous laptop - disgraced former "sexting" congressman, husband of Hillary's top aide and BFF, Huma Abedin. The laptop allegedly contained a lot of child porn.

That garbage barge of sexual allegation and innuendo couldn't have helped the Hillary campaign, along with all the Clinton Foundation stuff, in the march to electoral loserdom. I suspect the chthonic darkness of it all generated the "Russia-did-it" hysteria that cluttered up the news-cloud during the first month of Trumptopia. The collective superego of America is reeling with shame and rage.

On the Right side of the spectrum stood the curious figure of Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-styled "Dangerous Faggot," who has made a sensational career lately as an ideological provocateur, especially on the campus scene where he got so into the indignant faces of the Maoist snowflakes with his special brand of boundary-pushing that they resorted to disrupting his events, dis-inviting him at the last moment, or finally rioting, as in the case at UC Berkeley a few weeks ago.

Milo's battles on campus were particularly ripe because his opponents on the far Left were themselves so adamant about their own brand of boundary-pushing along the frontier of the LGBTQ agenda. The last couple of years, you would've thought that half the student population fell into one of those "non-binary" sex categories, and it became the most urgent mission of the Left to secure bathroom rights and enforce new personal pronouns of address for the sexually ambiguous.

But then Milo made a tactical error. Despite all the mutual boundary-pushing on each side, he pushed a boundary too far and entered the final dark circle of taboo: child molesting. That was the point were the closet Puritan hysterics went in for the kill. This is what he said on a Web talk radio show:

What normally happens in schools, very often, is you have an older woman with a younger boy, and the boy is the predator in that situation. The boy is like, let's see if I can fuck the gym teacher, or let's see if I can fuck the hot math teacher, and he does. The women fall in love with these nubile young boys, these athletic young boys in their prime. We get hung up on the child abuse stuff to the point where we're heavily policing consenting adults, grad students and their professors, this arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys the understanding many of us have about the complexities, subtleties, and complicated nature of many relationships. In the homosexual world particularly, some of the relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming-of-age relationships in which these older men help those young boys discover who they are, and give them security and provide them with love . [Milo is shouted down by his podcast hosts]

So that was the final straw. Milo got bounced by his platform, Breitbart News , and went through the now-routine, mandatory, abject ceremonial of the televised apology required by over-stepping celebrities - though he claimed, with some justification I think, that his remarks were misconstrued. Anyway, I'm sure he'll rebound on his own signature website platform and he'll be back in action before long.

His remarks about the "coming-of-age" phase of life prompted me to wonder about the boundary-pushers on the Left, on the college campuses in particular, who are encouraging young people to go through drastic sex-change surgeries, at an age before the development of that portion of their frontal lobes controlling judgment is complete. Who are these diversity deans and LGBTQ counselors who lead confused adolescents to self-mutilation in search of some hypothesized "identity?" Whoever they are, this dynamic seems pretty reckless and probably tragic to me. There ought to be reasonable doubt that an irreversible "sexual reassignment" surgery may not lead to personal happiness some years down the line - when, for instance, that person's frontal lobes have developed, and they begin to experience profound and complicated emotions such as remorse.

Our sexual hysteria has many more curious angles to it. We live in a culture where pornography, up to the last limits of freakishness and depravity, is available to young unformed personalities at a click. We stopped protecting adolescents against this years ago, so why should we be surprised when they venture into ever-darker frontiers of sexuality? It was the Left that sought to abolish boundaries in sex and many other areas of American life. And yet they still affect to be shocked by someone like Milo.

I maintain that there is a dynamic relationship between our inability to act on the truly pressing issues of the day - energy, economy, and geo-politics - and our neurotic preoccupation with sexual identity. The epic amount of collective psychic energy being diverted from what's important into sexual fantasy, titillation, confusion, and litigation leaves us pathetically unprepared to face the much more serious crisis of civilization gathering before us.

*

Postscript : This item from The Stanford [University] Daily newspaper puts a nice gloss on the stupefying idiocy in the campus sex-and-identity debate. Single-occupancy Restrooms Convert to All-gender Facilities : "Single-occupancy restrooms on campus will soon all be converted to gender-neutral facilities due to new California legislature and ongoing administrative efforts. The Diversity and Access Office (D&A Office) has been spearheading the campaign to convert all single-occupancy restrooms ."

Here's what I don't get: if a single-occupancy restroom is going to be used by one person at a time, what need is there to officially designate the sex of any person using it? And why are officials at an elite university wasting their time on this?

  1. routersurfer February 24, 2017 at 9:44 am # I agree totally this perverted national pastime of pin the genitalia on the mass of confused youth is a waste of time and energy. Anyone who reaches for the scalpel and plastic surgery before 25 has not been served well by the so called adults in their lives. Nature makes mistakes. Look at the Royals of Europe. But wait until the body is formed before the Medical Industrial Complex steps in. Now back to real problems. I heard on Bloomberg radio The Fed may offer 50 and 100 year T notes. Can someone explain how that fits into our system of accounting scams??

[Feb 25, 2017] Most of the skill and experience has to be acquired on the job - into which graduates will not be hired

Feb 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : February 25, 2017 at 05:23 AM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/if-inadequate-skills-is-preventing-people-from-being-hired-in-manufacturing-it-s-among-the-ceos

February 24, 2017

If "Inadequate Skills" Is Preventing People from Being Hired in Manufacturing, It's Among the CEOs

The Associated Press ran a story * that told readers:

"Factory jobs exist, CEOs tell Trump. Skills don't."

The piece presents complaints from a number of CEOs of manufacturing companies that they can't find the workers with the necessary skills. The piece does note the argument that the way to get more skilled workers is to offer higher pay, but then reports:

"some data supports the CEOs' concerns about the shortage of qualified applicants. Government figures show there are 324,000 open factory jobs nationwide - triple the number in 2009, during the depths of the recession."

The comparison to 2009 is not really indicative of anything, since this was a time when the economy was facing the worst downturn since the Great Depression and companies were rapidly shedding workers. A more serious comparison would be to 2007, before the recession. The job opening rate in manufacturing for the last three months has averaged 2.5 percent, roughly the same as in the first six months of 2007, which was still a period in which the sector was losing jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory workers in manufacturing has risen by 2.4 percent over the last year. This means that manufacturing firms are not acting in a way consistent with employers having trouble finding workers. This suggests that if there is a skills shortage it is among CEOs who don't understand that the price of an item in short supply, in this case qualified manufacturing workers, is supposed to increase.

* http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/factory-jobs-exist-ceos-tell-trump-skills-dont/

Peter K. -> anne... , February 25, 2017 at 08:23 AM
See Tyler Cowen for the CEOs's sycophant.
mrrunangun said in reply to anne... , February 25, 2017 at 01:51 PM
Young people who have watched the stampede of manufacturing jobs out of the US may reasonably believe that they would be unwise to commit to developing any scarce skills currently needed in domestic manufacturing. Working in Illinois and Wisconsin, I know many skilled manufacturing technicians and engineers whose situations went from comfort to poverty in the space of a few years. Why would a young person today believe that manufacturing skills developed now will not be offshored the next time political winds shift? One of the reasons Trump got elected was by promising to protect the manufacturing jobs that are left, something that neither the Clintons, Bushes, nor Obama were willing to attempt.

I believe Trump is wrong to try to wreck NAFTA, but PNTR for China has been a disaster for the US working class. This was initiated by Clinton and neither Bush nor Obama did anything to mitigate its effect on working people in the Midwest.

cm -> mrrunangun... , February 25, 2017 at 03:57 PM
Even without that aspect, most of the "skill" and experience has to be acquired on the job - into which they will not be hired.

What most business managers are looking for is trained up people for whose training and hands-on skill somebody else has paid for. They don't want to be that "sucker" themselves.

I suspect it is not purely selfishness (though poaching has always existed), but this mindset has evolved in the past decades where business could draw on a large overhang of sufficiently-skilled labor at home and globally. It was possible to dial down training and still find enough qualified workers. This is one of those things where the downward path is easier than upward. In parallel corporate pensions and unions were eliminated or reduced, both things that promote worker retention; and corporate/public rhetoric shifted to make it clear that you will only have your job as long as you are useful to the company, and maintaining that is up to you. Well, that's a two-way street.

cm -> mrrunangun... , February 25, 2017 at 04:03 PM
One possible solution to the training problem has been practiced in Germany - the government passes out training quotas or subsidies to companies; it is basically "either you train them or you pay a no-training 'fee' and we train them for you". Most large companies have training programs, but they often exceed their demand for new workers (or they can find qualified workers or temps elsewhere), and not everybody will be hired after graduating. That part such programs cannot address.
anne -> cm... , February 25, 2017 at 04:14 PM
One possible solution to the training problem has been practiced in Germany - the government passes out training quotas or subsidies to companies; it is basically "either you train them or you pay a no-training 'fee' and we train them for you"....

[Feb 19, 2017] International science collaboration growing at astonishing rate: Cross-border studies more than doubled in 15 years

Feb 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : Reply Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM , February 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/osu-isc021417.php

PUBLIC RELEASE: 17-FEB-2017

International science collaboration growing at astonishing rate: Cross-border studies more than doubled in 15 years

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

BOSTON - Even those who follow science may be surprised by how quickly international collaboration in scientific studies is growing, according to new research.

The number of multiple-author scientific papers with collaborators from more than one country more than doubled from 1990 to 2015, from 10 to 25 percent, one study found. And 58 more countries participated in international research in 2015 than did so in 1990.

"Those are astonishing numbers," said Caroline Wagner, associate professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, who helped conduct these studies.

"In the 20th century, we had national systems for conducting research. In this century, we increasingly have a global system."

Wagner presented her research Feb. 17 in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Even though Wagner has studied international collaboration in science for years, the way it has grown so quickly and widely has surprised even her.

One unexpected finding was that international collaboration has grown in all fields she has studied. One would expect more cooperation in fields like physics, where expensive equipment (think supercolliders) encourages support from many countries. But in mathematics?

"You would think that researchers in math wouldn't have a need to collaborate internationally - but I found they do work together, and at an increasing rate," Wagner said.

"The methods of doing research don't determine patterns of collaboration. No matter how scientists do their work, they are collaborating more across borders."

In a study published online last month in the journal Scientometrics, Wagner and two co-authors (who are both from The Netherlands) examined the growth in international collaboration in six fields: astrophysics, mathematical logic, polymer science, seismology, soil science and virology.

Their findings showed that all six specialties added between 18 and 60 new nations to the list of collaborating partners between 1990 and 2013. In two of those fields, the number of participating nations doubled or more.

The researchers expected astrophysics would grow the most in collaboration, given the need to use expensive equipment. But it was soil science that grew the most, with a 550 percent increase in the links between research groups in different countries in that time period.

"We certainly didn't expect to see soil science have the fastest growth," she said.

"But we saw strong increases in all areas. It appears that all the fields of science that we studied are converging toward similar levels of international activity."

The study found that virology had the highest rate of collaboration, with the most countries involved. "They aren't working together because they need to share expensive equipment. They're collaborating because issues like HIV/AIDS, Ebola and Zika are all international problems and they need to share information across borders to make progress."

Wagner has started a new line of research that attempts to determine how much nations benefit from their scientific work with other countries. For this work, she is looking at all the scientific articles that a nation's scientists published with international collaborators in 2013. She is looking at each article's "impact factor" - a score that measures how much other scientists mentioned that study in their own work.

"How much recognition a study gets from other scientists is a way to measure its importance," Wagner said.

She compared each nation's combined impact factor for its international collaborations to how much money the same country spent on scientific research. This is a way to determine how much benefit in terms of impact each nation gets for the money it spends.

The United States has the highest overall spending and shows proportional returns. However, smaller, scientifically advanced nations are far outperforming the United States in the relationship between spending and impact. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland outperform other countries in high-quality science compared to their investment. China is significantly underperforming its investment.

Wagner said this isn't the only way to measure how a country is benefiting from international science collaboration. But it can be one way to determine how efficiently a country is using its science dollars.

In any case, Wagner said her findings show that international science collaboration is becoming the way research gets done in nearly all scientific fields.

"Science is a global enterprise now," Wagner said.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 07:24 AM
This is the kind of globalization I endorse.

Certain center-left Hillary fanboys like yuan, EMichael etc will point out that exit polls show how the poor voted for Hillary (as if that somehow proves that she's great for the poor. PGL would always point to how the poor blacks of the south were voting for Hillary in the primary.) Probably has something to do with the large populations of poor and working poor in metro areas. And Republicans aren't great for the poor.

But exit polls said Hillary did much better with the educated. The more educated voted for her, the less educated voted for Trump.

Also Hillary won the "high-output" counties, not the poor counties:

"Last week, as my colleague Sifan Liu and I were gnawing on some questions asked by Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post, we happened upon a revealing aspect of the election outcome. While looking at number of influences on the presidential vote outcome, we found that in a year of massive divides, one particular economic split stands out.

Our observation: The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America's economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country's output-just a little more than one-third of the nation's economic activity."

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2016/11/29/another-clinton-trump-divide-high-output-america-vs-low-output-america/

The high-output and educated will continue with globalization thanks in part to the Internet and globalization while the religious and less-educated turn inwards and try to turn back the clock.

We need fair trade and for globalization to mean shared prosperity and progress not corporate rule for the one percent.

There needs to be an International of the Sanders supporters, and the supporters of Corbyn and Benoit Hamon.

Those wallowing in the center-left need to decide whether they support barbarism or socialism. Which is the lesser evil?

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 07:41 AM
Hillary says we are not Denmark!

[Feb 08, 2017] How Universities Are Increasingly Choosing Capitalism Over Education naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Henry Heller, a professor of history at the University of Manitoba, Canada and the author of The Capitalist University. Cross posted from Alternet ..."
"... The following is an excerpt from the new book ..."
"... by Henry Heller (Pluto Press, December 2016): ..."
"... Inside Higher Education ..."
"... The University, State and Market: The Political Economy of Globalization in the Americas ..."
"... New Left Review ..."
"... The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature ..."
"... Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher ..."
"... Anti-Communism in Twentieth-Century America ..."
"... Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States. ..."
"... As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. ..."
Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
How Universities Are Increasingly Choosing Capitalism Over Education Posted on February 7, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Some further observations. First, the author neglects to mention the role of MBAs in the reorientation of higher education institutions. When I went to school, the administrative layer of universities was lean and not all that well paid. Those roles were typically inhabited by alumni who enjoyed the prestige and being able to hang around the campus. But t he growth of MBAs has meant they've all had to find jobs, and colonizing not-for-profits like universities has helped keep them off the street.

Second, this post focuses on non-elite universities, but the same general pattern is in play, although the specific outcomes are different. Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached.

By Henry Heller, a professor of history at the University of Manitoba, Canada and the author of The Capitalist University. Cross posted from Alternet

The following is an excerpt from the new book The Capitalist University: The Transformations of Higher Education in the United States since 1945 by Henry Heller (Pluto Press, December 2016):

The fact that today there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States represents an unparalleled educational, scientific, and cultural endowment. These institutions occupy a central place in American economic and cultural life. Certification from one of them is critical to the career hopes of most young people in the United States. The research produced in these establishments is likewise crucial to the economic and political future of the American state. Institutions of higher learning are of course of varying quality, with only 600 offering master's degrees and only 260 classified as research institutions. Of these only 87 account for the majority of the 56,000 doctoral degrees granted annually. Moreover, the number of really top-notch institutions based on the quality of their faculty and the size of their endowments is no more than 20 or 30. But still, the existence of thousands of universities and colleges offering humanistic, scientific, and vocational education, to say nothing of religious training, represents a considerable achievement. Moreover, the breakthroughs in research that have taken place during the last two generations in the humanities and social sciences, not to speak of the natural sciences, have been spectacular.

But the future of these institutions is today imperiled. Except for a relatively few well-endowed universities, most are in serious financial difficulty. A notable reason for this has been the decline in public financial support for higher education since the 1980s, a decline due to a crisis in federal and state finances but also to the triumph of right-wing politics based on continuing austerity toward public institutions. The response of most colleges and universities has been to dramatically increase tuition fees, forcing students to take on heavy debt and putting into question access to higher education for young people from low- and middle-income families. This situation casts a shadow on the implicit post-war contract between families and the state which promised upward mobility for their children based on higher education. This impasse is but part of the general predicament of the majority of the American population, which has seen its income fall and its employment opportunities shrink since the Reagan era. These problems have intensified since the financial collapse of 2008 and the onset of depression or the start of a generalized capitalist crisis.

Mounting student debt and fading job prospects are reflected in stagnating enrollments in higher education, intensifying the financial difficulties of universities and indeed exacerbating the overall economic malaise.[1] The growing cost of universities has led recently to the emergence of Massive Online Open Courses whose upfront costs to students are nil, which further puts into doubt the future of traditional colleges and universities. These so-called MOOCs, delivered via the internet, hold out the possibility, or embody the threat, of doing away with much of the expensive labor and fixed capital costs embodied in existing university campuses. Clearly the future of higher education hangs in the balance with important implications for both American politics and economic life.

The deteriorating situation of the universities has its own internal logic as well. In response to the decline in funding, but also to the prevalence of neoliberal ideology, universities-or rather the presidents, administrators, and boards of trustees who control them-are increasingly moving away from their ostensible mission of serving the public good to that of becoming as far as possible like private enterprises. In doing so, most of the teachers in these universities are being reduced to the status of wage labor, and indeed precarious wage labor. The wages of the non-tenured faculty who now constitute the majority of teachers in higher education are low, they have no job security and receive few benefits. Although salaried and historically enjoying a certain autonomy, tenured faculty are losing the vestiges of their independence as well. Similarly, the influence of students in university affairs-a result of concessions made by administrators during the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s-has effectively been neutered. These changes reflect a decisive shift of power toward university managers whose numbers and remuneration have expanded prodigiously. The objective of these bureaucrats is to transform universities as much as possible to approximate private and profit-making corporations, regarded as models of efficient organization based on the discipline of the market. Indeed, scores of universities, Phoenix University for example, have been created explicitly as for-profit businesses and currently enroll millions of students.

Modern universities have always had a close relationship with private business, but whereas in the past faculty labor served capital by producing educated managers, highly skilled workers, and new knowledge as a largely free good, strenuous efforts are now underway to transform academic employment into directly productive, i.e., profitable, labor. The knowledge engendered by academic work is accordingly being privatized as a commodity through patenting, licensing, and copyrighting to the immediate benefit of universities and the private businesses to which universities are increasingly linked. Meanwhile, through the imposition of administrative standards laid down in accord with neoliberal principles, faculty are being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny through continuous quantified evaluation of teaching and research in which the ability to generate outside funding has become the ultimate measure of scholarly worth. At the same time, universities have become part of global ranking systems like the Shanghai Index or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in which their standing in the hierarchy has become all important to their prestige and funding.

Several intertwined questions emerge from this state of affairs. In the first place, given the rising expense and debt that attendance at university imposes and declining employment prospects especially for young people, will there continue to be a mass market for higher education? Is the model of the university or college traditionally centered on the humanities and the sciences with a commitment to the pursuit of truth compatible with the movement toward converting the universities into quasi- or fully private business corporations? Finally, what are the implications of changes in the neoliberal direction for the future production of objective knowledge, not to speak of critical understanding?

Universities during the Cold War produced an impressive amount of new positive knowledge, not only in the sciences, engineering, and agriculture but also in the social sciences and humanities. In the case of the humanities and social sciences such knowledge, however real, was largely instrumental or tainted by ideological rationalizations. It was not sufficiently critical in the sense of getting to the root of the matter, especially on questions of social class or on the motives of American foreign policy. Too much of it was used to control and manipulate ordinary people within and without the United States in behalf of the American state and the maintenance of the capitalist order. There were scholars who continued to search for critical understanding even at the height of the Cold War, but they largely labored in obscurity. This state of affairs was disrupted in the 1960s with the sudden burgeoning of Marxist scholarship made possible by the upsurge of campus radicalism attendant on the anti-war, civil rights, and black liberation struggles. But the decline of radicalism in the 1970s saw the onset of postmodernism, neoliberalism, and the cultural turn. Postmodernism represented an unwarranted and untenable skepticism, while neoliberal economics was a crude and overstated scientism. The cultural turn deserves more respect, but whatever intellectual interest there may be in it there is little doubt that the net effect of all three was to delink the humanities and social sciences from the revolutionary politics that marked the 1960s. The ongoing presence in many universities of radicals who took refuge in academe under Nixon and Reagan ensured the survival of Marxist ideas if only in an academic guise. Be that as it may, the crisis in American society and the concomitant crisis of the universities has become extremely grave over the last decade. It is a central contention of this work that, as a result of the crisis, universities will likely prove to be a key location for ideological and class struggle, signaled already by the growing interest in unionization of faculty both tenured and non-tenured, the revival of Marxist scholarship, the Occupy Movement, the growing importance of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and heightening conflicts over academic freedom and the corporatization of university governance.

The approach of this work is to examine the recent history of American universities from the perspective of Marxism, a method which can be used to study these institutions critically as part of the capitalist economic and political system. Despite ongoing apologetics that view universities as sites for the pursuit of disinterested truth, we contend that a critical perspective involving an understanding of universities as institutions based on the contradictions of class inequality, the ultimate unity of the disciplines rooted in the master narrative of historical materialism, and a consciousness of history makes more sense as a method of analysis. All the more so, this mode of investigation is justified by the increasing and explicit promotion of academic capitalism by university managers trying to turn universities into for-profit corporations. In response to these policies scholars have in fact begun to move toward the reintegration of political economy with the study of higher education. This represents a turn away from the previous dominance in this field of postmodernism and cultural studies and, indeed, represents a break from the hegemonic outlook of neoliberalism.[2] On the other hand, most of this new scholarship is orientated toward studying the effects of neoliberalism on the contemporary university, whereas the present work takes a longer view. Marxist political economy demands a historical perspective in which the present condition of universities emerged from the crystallization of certain previous trends. It therefore looks at the evolution of the university from the beginning of the twentieth century, sketching its evolution from a preserve of the upper-middle class in which research played almost no role into a site of mass education and burgeoning research, and, by the 1960s, a vital element in the political economy of the United States.

In contrast to their original commitment to independence with respect to the state up to World War II, most if by no means all universities and colleges defined their post-war goals in terms of the pursuit of the public good and were partially absorbed into the state apparatus by becoming financially dependent on government. But from start to finish twentieth-century higher education also had an intimate and ongoing relationship with private business. In the neoliberal period universities are taking this a step further, aspiring to turn themselves into quasi- or actual business corporations. But this represents the conclusion of a long-evolving process. The encroachment of private business into the university is in fact but part of the penetration of the state by private enterprise and the partial privatization of the state. On the surface this invasion of the public sphere by the market may appear beneficial to private business. We regard it, on the contrary, as a symptom of economic weakness and a weakening of civil society.

The American system of higher education, with its prestigious private institutions, great public universities, private colleges and junior colleges, was a major achievement of a triumphant American republic. It provided the U.S. state with the intellectual, scientific, and technical means to strengthen significantly its post-1945 power. The current neoliberal phase reflects an America struggling economically and politically to adapt to the growing challenges to its global dominance and to the crisis of capitalism itself. The shift of universities toward the private corporate model is part of this struggle. Capitalism in its strongest periods not only separated the state from the private sector, it kept the private sector at arm's length from the state. The role of the state in ensuring a level playing field and providing support for the market was clearly understood. The current attempt by universities to mimic the private sector is a form of economic and ideological desperation on the part of short-sighted and opportunistic university administrators as well as politicians and businessmen. In our view, this aping of the private sector is misguided, full of contradictions, and ultimately vain if not disastrous. Indeed, it is a symptom of crisis and decline.

The current overwhelming influence of private business on universities grew out of pre-existing tendencies. There is already an existing corporate nature of university governance both private and public, as well as an influence of business on universities in the first part of the twentieth century. In reaction there developed the concept of academic freedom as well as the establishment of the system of tenure and the development of a rather timid faculty trade unionism. This underscores the importance of private foundations in controlling the development of the curriculum and research in both the sciences and humanities. In their teaching, universities were mainly purveyors of the dominant capitalist ideology. Humanities and social science professors imparted mainly liberal ideology and taught laissez-faire economics which justified the political and economic status quo. The development of specialized departments reinforced the fragmentation of knowledge and discouraged the emergence of a systemic overview and critique of American culture and society. There were, as noted earlier, a few Marxist scholars, some of considerable distinction, who became prominent particularly in the wake of the Depression, the development of the influence of the Communist Party, and the brief period of Soviet-American cooperation during World War II. But the teaching of Marxism was frowned upon and attacked even prior to the Cold War.

The post-1945 university was a creation of the Cold War. Its expansion, which sprang directly out of war, was based on the idea of education as a vehicle of social mobility, which was seen as an alternative to the equality and democracy promoted by the populism of the New Deal. Its elitist and technocratic style of governance was patterned after that of the large private corporation and the American federal state during the 1950s. Its enormously successful research programs were mainly underwritten by appropriations from the military and the CIA. The CIA itself was largely created by recruiting patriotic faculty from the universities. Much of the research in the social sciences was directed at fighting Soviet and revolutionary influence and advancing American imperialism abroad. Marxist professors and teaching programs were purged from the campuses.

Dating from medieval times, the curriculum of the universities was based on a common set of subjects including language, philosophy, and natural science premised on the idea of a unitary truth. Although the subject matter changed over the centuries higher education continued to impart the hegemonic ideology of the times. Of course the notion of unitary truth was fraying at the seams by the beginning of the twentieth century with the development of departmental specialization and the increasingly contested nature of truth, especially in the social sciences in the face of growing class struggle in America. However, the notion of the idea of the unity of knowledge as purveyed by the university was still ideologically important as a rationale for the existence of universities. Moreover, as we shall demonstrate, it was remarkable how similarly, despite differences in subject matter and method, the main disciplines in the humanities and social sciences responded to the challenge of Marxism during the Cold War. They all developed paradigms which opposed or offered alternatives to Marxism while rationalizing continued loyalty to liberalism and capitalism. As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. Indeed, this work will focus on these disciplines because they defended the capitalist status quo at a deeper cultural and intellectual level than the ubiquitous mass media. As Louis Althusser pointed out, the teaching received by students from professors at universities was the strategic focal point for the ideological defense of the dominant class system. That was as true of the United States as it was of France, where institutions of higher learning trained those who would later train or manage labor. Criticizing the recent history of these disciplines is thus an indispensable step to developing an alternative knowledge and indeed culture that will help to undermine liberal capitalist hegemony.[3]

The approach of this work is to critically analyze these core academic subjects from a perspective informed by Pierre Bourdieu and Karl Marx. Bourdieu points out that the deep involvement of the social sciences (and the humanities) with powerful social interests makes it difficult to free their study from ideological presuppositions and thereby achieve a truly socially and psychologically reflexive understanding.[4] But such reflexive knowledge was precisely what Marx had in mind more than a century earlier. Leaving a Germany still under the thrall of feudalism and absolutism for Paris in 1843, the young Marx wrote to his friend Arnold Ruge that

reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form but, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.[5]

His task as he saw it was to criticize the existing body of knowledge so as to make it as reasonable as possible, i.e., to undermine its illusory and ideological character and substitute knowledge which was both true and helped advance communism. Such a project entailed deconstructing the existing body of knowledge through rational criticism, exposing its ideological foundations and advancing an alternative based on a sense of contradiction, social totality, and a historical and materialist understanding. It is our ambition in surveying and studying the humanities and social sciences in the period after 1945 to pursue our investigation in the same spirit. Indeed, it is our view that a self-reflexive approach to contemporary knowledge, while woefully lacking, is an indispensable complement to the development of a serious ideological critique of the crisis-ridden capitalist society of today.

Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States. As a matter of fact, anti-Marxism in American universities was not merely a defensive response to McCarthyism as some allege. Anti-communism was bred in the bone of many Americans and was one of the strongest forces that affected U.S. society in the twentieth century, including the faculty members of its universities. An idée fixe rather than an articulated ideology, it was compounded out of deeply embedded albeit parochial notions of Americanism, American exceptionalism and anti-radicalism.[6] The latter was rooted in the bitter resistance of the still large American middle or capitalist class to the industrial unrest which marked the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and which had a strong bed of support among the immigrant working class. Nativism then was an important tool in the hands of this class in fighting a militant if ethnically divided working class. Moreover, the anti-intellectual prejudices of American society in general and the provincialism of its universities were ideal terrain for fending off subversive ideas from abroad like Marxism. Later, this anti-communism and hostility to Marxism became the rationale for the extension of American imperialism overseas particularly after 1945. The social origins of the professoriate among the lower middle class, furthermore, and its role as indentured if indirect servants of capital, strengthened its position as inimical to Marxism. Just as careers could be lost for favoring Marxism, smart and adroit academics could make careers by advancing some new intellectual angle in the fight against Marxism. And this was not merely a passing feature of the height of the Cold War: from the 1980s onward, postmodernism, identity politics, and the cultural turn were invoked to disarm the revolutionary Marxist politics that had developed in the 1960s. Whatever possible role identity politics and culture might have in deepening an understanding of class their immediate effect was to undermine a sense of class and strengthen a sense of liberal social inclusiveness while stressing the cultural obstacles to the development of revolutionary class consciousness.

This overall picture of conformity and repression was, however, offset by the remarkable upsurge of student radicalism that marked the 1960s, challenging the intellectual and social orthodoxies of the Cold War. In reaction to racism and political and social repression at home and the Vietnam War abroad, students rebelled against the oppressive character of university governance and by extension the power structure of American society. Overwhelmingly the ideology through which this revolt was refracted was the foreign and until then largely un-American doctrine of Marxism. Imported into the universities largely by students, Marxism then inspired a new generation of radical and groundbreaking scholarship. Meanwhile it is important to note that the student revolt itself was largely initiated by the southern civil rights movement, an important bastion of which were the historically black colleges of the South. It was from the struggle of racially oppressed black students in the American South as well as the growing understanding of the anti-colonial revolutionaries of Vietnam that the protest movement in American colleges and universities was born. Equally important was the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Indeed, it is the contention of this work that the issues raised at Berkeley over democracy in the universities and the free expression of ideas not only shaped the student movement of that time but are still with us, and indeed are central to the future of universities and intellectual life today.

At the heart of the Berkeley protest lay a rejection of the idea of a university as a hierarchical corporation producing exchange values including the production of trained workers and ideas convertible into commodities. Instead the students asserted the vision of a democratic university which produced knowledge as a use value serving the common good. It is our view that this issue raised at Berkeley in the 1960s anticipated the class conflict that is increasingly coming to the fore over so-called knowledge capitalism. Both within the increasingly corporate neoliberal university and in business at large, the role of knowledge and knowledge workers is becoming a key point of class struggle. This is especially true on university campuses where the proletarianization of both teaching and research staff is in process and where the imposition of neoliberal work rules is increasingly experienced as tyrannical. The skilled work of these knowledge producers, the necessarily interconnected nature of their work, and the fundamentally contradictory notion of trying to privatize and commodify knowledge, have the potential to develop into a fundamental challenge to capitalism.

Notes:

1. Paul Fain, "'Nearing the Bottom': Inside Higher Education," Inside Higher Education , May 15, 2014.

2. Raymond A. Morrow, "Critical Theory and Higher Education: Political Economy and the Cul-de-Sac of the Postmodernist Turn," in The University, State and Market: The Political Economy of Globalization in the Americas , ed. Robert A. Rhoads and Carlos Alberto Torres, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006, pp. xvii‒xxxiii.

3. Perry Anderson, "Components of the National Culture," New Left Review , No. 50, July‒August, 1968, pp. 3–4.

4. Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature , New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 86–7.

5. Karl Marx, Letter to Arnold Ruge, Kreuznach, September 1843, Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher , at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/letters/43_09.htm

6. Larry Ceplair, Anti-Communism in Twentieth-Century America , Santa Barbara: Clio, 2011, pp. 1–2, 12.

0 0 30 1 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Guest Post , Politics , Social policy , Social values on February 7, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 31 comments Jim , February 7, 2017 at 1:57 am

Capitalism requires that total strangers be on the hook for student loans? And if this is Capitalism then why didn't this trend emerge 100+ years ago? Why now?

Trout Creek , February 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

It is a function of the adaption of NeoLiberalism as a governing principle which you can basically start around the time of Reagan.

Steve Sewall , February 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Because a) the market for a college degree is vastly bigger today than it was 100+ years ago b) tuitions were affordable so there was no way for high-interest lenders ("total strangers") to game the system as they do today.

Plus I wonder if the legal system or tax code would have let them get away with anything like what they get away with today.

schultzzz , February 7, 2017 at 1:58 am

I agree with everything dude says, but the way he says it is so deathly dull and needlessly technical . . .

it's a shame that someone so openly critical of the university system and culture nonetheless unquestioningly obeys the tradition of: "serious writing has to turn off 99% of the people that might be otherwise interested in the subject."

Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 8:57 am

And here I thought I was the only one

John Wright , February 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

Yes, his writing caused this reader to do a MEDGO ("my eyes doth gloss over")

It was technical in its assertions, but has few metrics to quantify the trends such as inflation adjusted administrative cost or inflation adjusted government college funding now vs then.

There is a mention that the USA government has touted the "upward mobility" or excess value, AKA "consumer surplus", of a college degree to students and their families for years.

The US government further encouraged the student loan industry with guarantees and bankruptcy relief de-facto prohibited.

The current system may illustrate that colleges raised their prices to capture more of this alleged consumer surplus, a surplus that may no longer be there..

If one looks at the USA's current political/economic/infrastructure condition, and asserts that the leaders and government officials of the USA were trained, overwhelmingly, over the last 40 years, in the USA's system of higher education, perhaps this is an indication USA higher education has not served the general public well for a long time.

The author mentions this important point "These so-called MOOCs, delivered via the internet, hold out the possibility, or embody the threat, of doing away with much of the expensive labor and fixed capital costs embodied in existing university campuses. Clearly the future of higher education hangs in the balance with important implications for both American politics and economic life."

Maybe the MOOCs are the low cost future as the 4 year degree loses economic value and the USA moves to a life-long continuous education model?

Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 11:06 am

ISTR reading that the completion rate for MOOCs is pretty low. As in, 10% of the students who start the course end up finishing it.

Pete , February 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

And that rate doesn't even mention what scores they achieved. MOOCs are hopeless especially since college is now less about getting an education and more about a statement about a young person's lifestyle or identity.

http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2015/10/college-as-part-of-lifestyle.html

JustAnObserver , February 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Now sure about the `now' bit. I maybe a bit cynical but I've always thought, even when I was at one, that colleges/universities major function was as a middle-class finishing school for those unable to afford the real deal in Switzerland.

julia , February 7, 2017 at 10:31 am

I do not agree and it is deathly dull and needlessly technical. In fact it remains me off the marxistic education I enjoyed growing up in East Germany.
Maybe it is time to rethink after school education. Physical Labor should loose its stain of being for loosers and stupid people. A whole lot of professions could be better taught through apprentiships and technical college mix.( many younge people would maybe enjoy being able to start qualified work after only 3 additional years of education).
And do we really need 12 years of standard school education? There are so many kids that do not function well in school.
Universities should be for the really eager and talented who want to spend a big part of
their youth learning.
I guess we need a lot of new ideas to get away from the old paradigma ( anti- marxist or marxist)

John Wright , February 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I took a couple of classes at the local junior college in automotive smog testing and machining.

One of the instructors told me the JC administration viewed this Junior College as having two parts, College Prep + vocational education.

He suggested the administration looked down on the vocational education portion, saying "But we get the jobs".

Steve , February 7, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I don't know how you read other works from academics if you think that this was dull.

Do you or anyone thinking this was "dull" have any examples of academic essays or books that contain useful knowledge but also consider them "shiny?"

Personally, I thought this was a very good essay as it explains some things I've been thinking about American higher education and quite a few things about my personal university education at a tier-1 research school.

Altandmain , February 7, 2017 at 2:10 am

Basically universities have become a cog in the machine of neoliberalism.

Rather than anything resembling an institution for the public good, it has taken on the worst aspects of corporate America (and Canada). You can see this in the way they push now for endowment money, the highly paid senior management contrasted with poorly paid adjuncts, and how research is controlled these days. Blue skies research is cut, while most research is geared towards short-term corporate profit, from which they will no doubt milk society with.

I tremble when I think about what all of this means:
1. Students won't be getting a good education when they are taught by adjuncts being paid poverty wages.
2. Corporations will profit in the short run.
3. The wealthy and corporations due to endowment money have a huge sway.
4. Blue skies research will fall and over time, US leadership in hard sciences.
5. The productivity of future workers will be suppressed and with it, their earning potential.
6. Related to that, inequality will increase dramatically as universities worsen the situation.
7. There will be many "left behind" students and graduates with high debt, along with bleak job prospects.
8. State governments, starving for tax money will make further cuts, worsening these trends.
9. Anything hostile to the corporate state (as the article notes) will be suppressed.
10. With it, academic freedom and ultimately democracy will be much reduced.

What it means is decline in US technological power, productivity gains, and with it, declining living standards.

All of these trends already are happening. They will worsen.

I'd agree that a more readable version of this should be made for the general public.

James McFadden , February 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Well said.

But your description suggests an inevitable bleak dystopic future – a self-fulfilling prophesy. The future is not written – we can help determine its course. It starts with grass roots movement building in your neighborhood and community. And I can't think of a more rewarding task then creating a better future for our children.

But perhaps my farmer's work ethic, my inclination to side with the underdog and stand up to the bully capitalists, are notions that most Americans no longer possess. Perhaps Cornel West is correct when he states: "The oppressive effect of the prevailing market moralities leads to a form of sleepwalking from womb to tomb, with the majority of citizens content to focus on private careers and be distracted with stimulating amusements. They have given up any real hope of shaping the collective destiny of the nation. Sour cynicism, political apathy, and cultural escapism become the pervasive options."

However, it is my observation that Trump's election has woken this sleepwalking giant, and that his bizarre behavior continues to energize people to resist. So why not rebel and help bring down the neoliberal fascists. Is there any cause more worthy? And for those who won't try because they don't think they can win, consider the words of Chris Hedges: "I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists."

Jason , February 7, 2017 at 2:14 am

I'm going to complain about your headline. A lot of stuff on this blog is obviously relevant only to the USA, and when it's obvious it doesn't need to be mentioned in the headline. But it's not at all obvious that this topic is only about the USA (or North America, since the author is in Canada?), so maybe you could edit the headline to reflect that it is in fact only about the USA?

My observation of Australian universities is that they have similar problems, although maybe to a lesser extent. But I doubt the same things happen in all countries. I'd be interested to know more about mainland European universities, and ex-Soviet-bloc universities, and Chinese universities, and Third World universities.

As for "Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached", I think the rich universities in the UK (i.e. the richer residential Oxbridge colleges, if you count them as universities – Oxford and Cambridge Universities themselves are not particularly rich – plus maybe Imperial College?) have very little invested in hedge funds and a lot in property. Can anyone confirm or deny that?

Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:30 am

Thank you, Jason.

In the past two decades, the UK's top universities, often called the Russell Group after the Russell Hotel in Russell Square where they met to form a sort of lobby group, have made money and started hiring rock star academics. I don't know how much these academics teach, but they often pontificate in the media.

Big business, oligarchs and former alumni (often oligarchs) donate money, allowing them to build up their coffers. Imperial is developing an area of west London.

Oxbridge colleges own a lot of property. Much of the land between Cambridge and London is owned by Cambridge colleges. This goes back to when they were religious institutions and despite Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

London Business School has expanded from its Regent's Park base to Marylebone as the number of students, especially from Asia, grow. I have spoken to students from there and Oxford's Said Business School and know people who have guest lectured there. They were not impressed. Plutonium Kun has written about that below.

Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:38 am

Correction: number of students grows :-)

bmeisen , February 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Oxford and Cambridge are British state universities as I understand it. The Russell Group consists primarily of state institutions that have assumed / been given / been restored to an elite role in the British system of higher education, which is overwhelmingly public. Oxford and Cambridge are at the peak of a relatively flat hierarchy of elite public higher education. Higher ed's role in the constitution of British elites is characterized by 3 features: association with an institutional reputation and thereby access to a network, a financial hurdle, and a meritocratic process of selection. Of these the financial hurdle is the least problematic – tuition is still peanuts compared to that at American elite institutions.

Things have gotten better – you no longer have to be a male member of the church of England to get in – and the system is more democratic than the French system of elite public higher ed, i.e. the ruling elite in the UK can be penetrated by working people, e.g. Corbyn.

Winston Smith , February 7, 2017 at 3:07 am

My son is half Japanese and half American and holds a passport with both countries, he is still in elementary school, but my wife and I are encouraging him to go to school in Japan or to Germany (ancestral home) and seek his fortunes outside of the US as the crapification of the US roller coasters out of control.

Japanese universities are still affordable compared to the US and it's administrative layer, modestly paid, isn't run by MBAs, corporate hacks and neoliberal apologists and others who would better serve the public by decorating a lamp post somewhere with piano wire tightly wrapped around their necks!

My niece attended Kyoto University, one of the best schools in Japan and it cost her and her parents about 7500.00 a year. She commuted from Nara City and Finished her degree in just under three years and had a job waiting for her in the middle of her third year.

Now, I agree that Japanese universities have their fare share of problems and insanity, but the thought of dealing with US universities nauseates my wife and me.

The only school in the US that I would want my son to attend would be Caltech, if he could ever successfully get accepted. They still do great science there, much of it blue sky research. LIGO is still running!
https://eands.caltech.edu/random-walk-3/

* disclaimer, I used to be a Caltech employee.

Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:35 am

An increasing number of British students are going to the Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, Germany for courses taught in English and for under EUR2000 per annum. Leiden and Maastricht are particularly favoured. Apparently, some Spanish universities are cottoning on to that market.

Half a dozen years ago, a clown masquerading as a BBC breakfast news reporter went to have a look and condescend. Her concluding remark was, "The question is are continental universities as good as British ones."

Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

I have studied at a Spanish university. The courses were excellent.

Jake , February 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

But but Japan has sooooo much government debt and must cut cut cut unless it implodes!

Out of curiosity, may I ask you to elaborate on what you mean when you say japanese universities have 'their fare share of problems and insanity'?

schultzzz , February 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

re: japanese universities.

The university system is not set up for education. it's a reward to the conformists who studied 12 hours a day all through jr high/highschool to pass the university entrance exams (which notoriously don't test for any useful knowledge). The idea being that if you waste your whole childhood studying for a phoney test, you won't dare question the system once you're in the workforce, as it would mean admitting your whole childhood was wasted!

Since college is viewed as a reward, rather than a challenge, there's very little learning going on. it's about developing relationships (and drinking problems) with future members of this elite class.

So most Japanese corporations wind up having to teach the grads everything on the job anyway.

A Japanese degree doesn't mean 'i know things' it means 'i have already by age 20 sacrificed so much that i don't dare ever rock the boat', which is exactly how the corporations and govt bureaucracies want it.

You might say "oh but science! Japanese are good at that!"

But my wife, a nurse, says that it's considered rude to flunk an incompetent student, providing she/he's respectful of the professor. There are doctors who routinely botch surgeries, but firing them would be rude. These doctors would have flunked out of regular (i.e. non-Japanese) universities.

End rant!

PlutoniumKun , February 7, 2017 at 3:55 am

Having on more than one occasion suffered through management restructuring organised by MBA's which did nothing other than reduce productivity in favour of meaningless metrics and increase the power of managers who had no idea how to actually do the job, I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that the MBA was a clever invention by an anarchist determined to create a virus to undermine capitalism from within. At least, thats the only possible theory that makes sense to me.

templar555510 , February 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I agree . Putting it more bluntly the MBA is a clever con to get would-be students to sign up in the belief it'll teach them something that can't be taught – how to make money. I've said this on this blog before – the ability to make money is a knack ; it doesn't matter what the field is it's all akin to someone selling cheap goods on a market stall .

Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:19 am

Thank you, Yves, for posting.

Some observations from the UK:

Many UK universities are targeting foreign, especially Asian, students for the purpose of profit, not education. Some universities refer to students as clients.

Some provincial universities are opening campuses in London as foreign students only want to study in London.

There are many Chinese would be students in London this week. Some universities have open days at the moment. When the youngsters and their parents are not attending such days, they go shopping at Bicester Village, just north of Oxford. It's odd to see commuters arriving from Buckinghamshire at Marylebone for work and Chinese and Arab tourists going shopping in the opposite direction, and the reverse in the evening.

The targeting of rich Asian students, often not up to academic standard, has led to a secondary school in mid-Buckinghamshire, where selective education prevails at secondary / high school, to take Chinese students for the summer term and house them with well to do (only) local parents. The experiment went well for the "grammar" school, i.e. it made money. As for the families who housed the kids, not so much. There were complaints that the children could speak little or no English, which is not what they expected, so the host families could barely interact with the visitors. The school wants to repeat the programme and expand it to a full year. That is the thin end of a wedge as the school will scale back the numbers of local children admitted and probably expand the programme to the entire phase of secondary / high school. It's like running a boarding school by stealth. The school is now an "academy", so no longer under government control and similar to charter schools, and can do what it wants.

David Barrera , February 7, 2017 at 6:20 am

Yves Smith,
I like your introduction to the article. "Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached" A recent and very simple but eye opener interview on the subject-Richard Wolff-http://www.rdwolff.com/rttv_boom_bust_for_profit_schools_are_making_money_but_failing_the_grade

As Henry Heller mentions Bourdieu, I can not find among his bibliography much on the specific increasing dominance of the "free market" over learning institutions. The Field of Cultural Production focuses mainly on the opposition market/art,cultural field and the rules of art. Some of his other works elaborate very well on the transformed reproduction of social agents with different economic and cultural capital weights. His major works on higher learning are The State Nobility and Academic Discourse, which are about the homologies between the hierarchy of higher learning centers and the market position occupiers which the latter produce. All of it within the French context. The great late Bourdieu certainly denounced the increasing free market ideology presence and dominance on "everything human"(i.e Free Exchange, Against the Tyranny of the Market and elsewhere); yet not much in that regard-to my knowledge-on the centers with the granted power to issue higher learning degrees. I guess my point is that Heller's reference to Bourdieu strikes me as a bit odd here.
Nevertheless, I like Heller's article. Just as incidental evidence: my town's community college President is a CPA and MBA title holder, the Economics 101 class taught does not deviate the slightest from economic orthodoxy doctrine and I must add that, despite-or because of- a 75% tutoring fee increase in the last eight years, the center has consistently generated a surplus aided by the low wages from the vastly non-tenured teachers.

Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 6:38 am

The students from China, Singapore and the Middle East often live in the upscale areas of London, often at home rather than rent. Parents are often in tow. They also drive big and expensive cars.

It's amazing to see what is driven and by whom around University, Imperial and King's colleges and the London School of Economics in central London. This was remarked upon by US readers a couple of years ago. Parking is not cheap, either.

A friend and former colleague was planning to rent at Canary Wharf where he was a contractor. He put his name down and was getting ready to move in. The landlord got in touch to say sorry, a family from Singapore was coming and paying more. Apparently, Singaporeans reserve well in advance, even before the students know their exam results.

A golf course was put up for sale near home. The local authority tipped off some upscale estate agents / realtors from London. A Chinese buyer has acquired the thirty odd acre property. Without planning (construction) permission, the property is worth £1.5m. With planning permission, it's worth £1m per acre. A gated community / rural retreat for the Chinese student community is planned. Oxford, London, Shakespeare Country, Clooney Country and Heathrow are an hour or less away.

Left in Wisconsin , February 7, 2017 at 10:45 am

My favorite line:
Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States.

I love a good Marxist and I know that a totalizing perspective such as Marxism requires a certain amount of generalization, but I found more to criticize in this post than to recommend it. Apparently entire disciplines have agency ( As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. ).

It is clearly true that the modern university is overly focused on money-making – both the university enterprise itself and the selling of higher ed to students – but, from my long experience with one big Tier One and lesser knowledge of several others, it is wrong to say that the modern university looks to operate as a business. Indeed, the top heaviness of bureaucratic administration in the modern university is not very business-like.

IMO what declining public funding has done is allow/force the modern university to aim it's giant vacuum sucker in any and every direction. By the way, if Wisconsin is any example, there are enough Chinese students interested in American university degrees to keep it in business for quite a long time.

But my biggest complaint is with the history. After first laying out an ideal (but not very) historical vision of the utopian university, in contrast with today's money grubber, he later admits that the mid-century university was not all that open to leftism. Then the miracle of the 1960s, which seems to spring from social protest alone. The real story of the 1960s was the huge expansion of higher ed in the U.S., which led to considerable faculty hiring, which allowed a lot of leftists to get hired in the 1960s and early 1970s (often at second or third-tier schools) when they would not have in the 1950s. This was always going to be a one-time event.

The author also seems to suggest that universities owe it to Marxists to hire them if their analysis is good. This is a weird argument for a Marxist to make, seemingly entirely oblivious to the overall political economy he otherwise emphasizes. It ends up sounding more than a bit self-serving. I'm not sure lecturing in History on the public dime is Marx's idea of praxis.

cojo , February 7, 2017 at 11:52 am

The same can be said about administrative costs in medicine. Seems the parasitic infection is everywhere!

[Jan 29, 2017] Not all authors are able to afford MS Word and the equipment. So using open source publishing system is the most proper for academic publishing

Notable quotes:
"... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem". ..."
"... Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity. ..."
"... Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript. ..."
"... I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process. ..."
Jan 29, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Chris G ... Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM , January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM
>In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

> Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

> What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it. The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow. Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

[Jan 28, 2017] Ms Word vs LaTeX

Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : January 28, 2017 at 06:04 AM

Re LaTeX reduces writing productivity - The .Plan

1. My experience with LaTeX vs Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

2. There's a guy in my group, the most talented applied mathematician I've ever known -incredibly good at applying high level math to solve practical problems, who swears by LaTeX even though we're standardized on Word at work. He's not any faster in preparing his docs than the rest of us and they're not any better in terms of look and feel. He just prefers to use LaTeX. Getting him to use Word has been like pulling teeth, i.e., entirely consistent with "On most measures, expert LaTeX users performed even worse than novice Word users. LaTeX users, however, more often report enjoying using their respective software." I will send him a link to the PLOS ONE article first thing Monday morning;-)

pgl -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 10:46 AM
WordPerfect works better than either.
libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 03:05 PM

"My experience with LaTeX vs. Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

You are wrong.

Such a statement signifies complete lack of understand of what the writing a book or dissertation is about. And what problems the author faces and need to solve in the process (this is pretty hard and time consuming job to write a sizable book - your book is a very harsh mistress ;-)

MS Word and TeX represent two different categories of writer's tool: the former is the tool without direct access to raw representation of the document/book. The latter is a tool with full access to such a representation. In this sense you can't and should not even compare them, unless you want to looks like an incompetent.

Moreover on long documents (to say nothing about books) latest versions of MS Word all have strange quirks. Sometime it change your formatting in a undesirable way. Microsoft software quality really went downhill after, say, 2003.

Fixing those quirks including "spontaneous" changes in formatting can take a day or a week of work even if you know MS Word perfectly well (which, unsurprisingly, very few people outside programming community do), including the in-depth knowledge of styles and, especially, macro programming. The latter is a must for writing any sizable book in MS Word. Or you need a good programmer to help you.

Of course, if you expect that your book will be a bestseller you can hire a top level programmer to adapt set of tools/macros for you, but that's a lot of money. You need approximately 3-5K lines of macros to supplement MS Word for writing a sizable book (say, over 300 pages).

I do know a couple of authors who write their technical books using MS Word (Bruce Eckel the author of "Thinking in Java" is one example). I view them as perverts, although being a programmer is a distinct advantage in such a situation; you will need all your skills to make the job done and you do not need to pay somebody else for such a help ;-).

Writing a large book is about managing revisions and a very precise formatting of chapters. Which needs to be preserved (and verified with some automatic tools) over many iterations (which can take several years) until the final draft of the book. Manipulating the set of styles you use in the book is not easy in MS Word.

Here access to the raw representation of the text of the book is vital. If you need to check your examples (like in case of writing programming books), access to raw text is a must (although can be imitated in MS Word via macros). If you are writing geo science or any book with a lot of mathematics – you better forget about MS Word.

The usual trick authors who write books in MS Word use -- storing each chapter as a separate document -- makes it difficult to create cross references and such. Chapters became semi-isolated and that negatively affects the quality of the book.

So for technical books and especially dissertations TeX has a huge (and I mean HUGE) edge over MS Word. Only using HTML with styles (FrontPage 2003 or Microsoft expression Web) can compete with TeX and only in case you do not use mathematical notation and equations extensively.

brian : , January 28, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Re latex

OK. word is faster. However there's nothing there about what the document looks like. Word documents look like word documents, i.e. not very good. Perhaps that's a function of somebody knowledgeable setting up templates. I find it really hard to believe that it's that much faster. I find word completely bewildering.

People like latex it better because they can use their favorite text editor and get it done. using word is completely and utterly annoying. That accounts for the enjoyment factor i think.

Also too, no mention of lyx.

libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 05:59 PM
I respectfully disagree, but I see your point -- MS Word is much simpler to use for short papers, especially in multi-author env. It requires less sophistication on users part.

Please understand that for LaTeX to work in multi-author environment you need Git or Subversion (or similar version management system) to be installed and learned by all people in the group. Even when just two people are involved (as often is the case with dissertations ) this is a must.

But from the point of view of achievable final quality of the product WordPerfect is better as PGL pointed out.

Both are (unlike TeX) integrated WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") publishing environments with a lot of sophisticated features (such as folding, macros, styles, creation of TOC, powerful spellchecker, etc).

WordPerfect still is used by lawyers and some other professions who value precise layout:

http://www.microcounsel.com/nextgen.htm

== quote ==
Why do lawyers still love WordPerfect? One attorney answers with "Two words: Reveal Codes. At one point about 10 years ago, I tried switching to Word. My secretary and I agreed we hated it after only a few weeks."
== end of quote ==

I am surprised that so few people in the USA use Microsoft Expression Web (or FrontPage ) for this purpose in corporate env.

I am also surprised how Microsoft being a huge company still managed to produce very complex, professional tools like Ms Word and managed to push them to people who are definitely unable to use even 10% of the features offered.

Few people understand that MS Word takes years of day-to-day usage (plus some programming abilities) to learn on the expert level. In reality this is a complex publishing system.

I know some secretaries with almost 30 years day-to-day experience (starting PC DOS days with MS Word 4, which was released in 1987) who still learn something new each month. Often because they knew it a couple of years ago, but forgot :-).

BTW MS Word is one of the few applications for which viruses ("macro viruses") exist and were a nasty problem in the corporate environment in 1996-2002.

Bill Gates took huge risk to bring "over-sophisticated" products like this to the market and still managed to achieve a dominant position among regular users. In Bill Gates days Microsoft was a "king of software complexity" in this product niche.

supersaurus : , January 28, 2017 at 03:26 PM
LaTeX vs MSWord? really? someone got paid to do research on that topic? what next? emacs vs vim?
Observer -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM
Kind of brings you back, doesn't it. I seem to recall a guy in the lab running LateX on a PDP 11/70 back in the early 80's - rather a boutique affectation even then.
libezkova -> Observer... , -1
TeX is a standard typesetting tool for the American Mathematical Society.

http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/authors
== quote ==
Many mathematics publishers (including the AMS) strongly encourage the use of LaTeX:

[Jan 25, 2017] Neoliberalism, computer revolution and tranformation of university education

Notable quotes:
"... Another quibble, the defining of inequality by the single metric of share of income of the 1% is a bit reductive, though only a bit. ..."
"... Sometimes I think that the success of neoliberalism would be impossible without computer revolution. ..."
"... Bargaining power was squashed by neoliberalism by design. So this is not a "natural" development, but an "evil plot" of financial oligarchy, so to speak. In this sense dissolution of the USSR was a huge hit for the US trade unions. ..."
"... Education is now used as the filter for many jobs. So people start to invest in it to get a pass, so to speak. With the neoliberal transformation of universities it now often takes pervert forms such as "diploma mills" or mass production of "Public relations" graduates. ..."
"... Neoliberal transformation of universities into profit centers also played the role in increasing the volume -- they need "customers" much like McDonalds and use misleading advertisements, no entrance exams, and other tricks to lure people in. ..."
Jan 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
sanjait : Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 11:31 AM
This is tremendous.

If the world were sane, this is the kind of thinking that would be taking place about inequality. Rather than jumping to simple conclusions based on heavy priors (which is where too much of the "debate" starts and stops), one starts with a broad, open minded and contemplative review that seeks to identify primary causal factors.

That said ... there is a lot that could be quibbled here.

One, it's not always the case that identifying primary causes leads one directly to solutions. Sometimes the solution has little to do with the cause. If, for example, changing climate causes an increase in forest fires, we should consider that as another factor in our evaluation of climate economics, but in terms of strategies for addressing forest fires, we have to find proximate solutions.

Although in practice, certainly we will often have a better understanding of what solutions might be possible and might be effective when we carefully analyze causes. The endeavor of identifying causes is absolutely worthwhile for that reason.

Another quibble, the defining of inequality by the single metric of share of income of the 1% is a bit reductive, though only a bit.

Last note ... I notice international trade is not mentioned here. That doesn't mean it isn't a primary driver, although as I've said many times, I don't think it is a primary driver, and it appears Kenworthy didn't think it even worth mentioning.

sanjait -> sanjait... , January 25, 2017 at 11:41 AM

Although my biggest quibble is that I think Kenworthy missed the big cause entirely: the effect technology has had in making workers fungible.

IT has made communications almost free and made micromanagement of business systems ubiquitous. As a result, firms are no longer dependent on long-tenured workers, or even teams of workers in a particular place. Anything and anyone can be replaced and outsourced (in the broadest sense of the term, not just offshoring to foreign workers), and when costs are high companies do this aggressively.

This change has immeasurably changed the nature of work and the relative bargaining powers of individual workers and even teams of workers. That, I believe, is why education is rising, and doing so in the countries that are most adept and aggressive about business process solutions implementation across many sectors. If I'm right, we will see this trend accelerate very soon in countries that are laggards in this domain, as they finally start operating as resource planned enterprises.

Because this effect is not measured and difficult to measure ... I think it gets overlooked. But if I were a researcher in this field, I'd be looking at ERP adoption trends vs within firm inequality trends and looking for correlations. This would get confounded by firm size but I bet there are ways to tease out the effect.

sanjait -> sanjait... , January 25, 2017 at 11:42 AM
"why education is rising" supposed to say "why INEQUALITY is rising" ...
libezkova -> sanjait... , January 25, 2017 at 06:44 PM
Sanjait,

"the effect technology has had in making workers fungible."

Yes, this is a very good point. Especially computer revolution and related revolution in telecommunications. Starting from "PC revolution" (August 12, 1981) the pace of technological innovation was really breathtaking. Especially in hardware.

Regular smartphone now is more powerful then a mainframe computer of 1971 which would occupy a large room with air conditioning (IBM 360/370 series). So say nothing about early 1960th ("Desk Set" movie with Katharine Hepburn, which was probably the first about displacement of workers by computers, was produced in 1957)

"This change has immeasurably changed the nature of work and the relative bargaining powers of individual workers and even teams of workers. That, I believe, is why education is rising..."

The nature of work in "classic" human fields (agriculture, steel industry, electrical generation, law, etc) was not changed dramatically but the "superstructure" above them did.

Sometimes I think that the success of neoliberalism would be impossible without computer revolution.

Bargaining power was squashed by neoliberalism by design. So this is not a "natural" development, but an "evil plot" of financial oligarchy, so to speak. In this sense dissolution of the USSR was a huge hit for the US trade unions.

Education is now used as the filter for many jobs. So people start to invest in it to get a pass, so to speak. With the neoliberal transformation of universities it now often takes pervert forms such as "diploma mills" or mass production of "Public relations" graduates.

Neoliberal transformation of universities into profit centers also played the role in increasing the volume -- they need "customers" much like McDonalds and use misleading advertisements, no entrance exams, and other tricks to lure people in.

So university education now is a pretty perverted institution too.

[Jan 25, 2017] Most college grads are working jobs that do not require a degree. Indeed many jobs routinely filled by high school graduates when I was young now want a college degree.

Notable quotes:
"... To insist that offshoring and illegal immigration were not partially responsible for the increase in US inequality is gross denial. As with the earlier moves to the southern states, the lives of the illegal immigrants and the workers in Mexico and Asia were improved, but US workers paid a dear price in wage loss. ..."
"... Another huge factor was the financialization that was occurring during this period (perhaps somewhat due the other changes and their effect on the nations politics). ..."
"... Most college grads are working jobs that do not require a degree. Indeed many jobs routinely filled by high school graduates when I was young now want a college degree. Melvin completely nails it. ..."
"... College degree now serves as a filter to cut off unnecessary applicants. That does not means that the college degree by itself is not worth it. There is a value in the college degree beyond job market prospects. In this sense huge inflation of the cost of higher education is a big injustice in itself. ..."
"... My last point would be that, with things like Dynasty trusts, it becomes much easier for the top .01% to maintain their place at the top of the income 'food chain', versus people born into families of more modest means. Those people in the .01% can send their children to the truly best schools in the country, whereas the rest of us go to whatever schools our parents can afford, or however much college debt we're willing to absorb. ..."
Jan 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ken melvin : January 25, 2017 at 11:10 AM

Why the surge in inequality? Good question. When did this surge begin? What was going on that might have led to this surge?

Seems a lot of agreement on the 1970s as the beginning. What was going on in the 1970? Beginnings of offshoring to Mexico and Asia (the movement of well paying 'rustbelt' union jobs to the cheap labor southern states had begun earlier with questionable net in that southern labor gained and northern lost), industrial automation began to take off (especially in auto manufacturing – car plants that employed 5k in 1970 were producing more cars with 1.2k by the end of the 70s), but just as significant – about this time, the US began to lose market share to European and Asian manufacturing.

The education thing is a canard. In the 1950s, Detroit employed millions of workers who had less than a high school education; by the late 50s, they demanded a high school diploma; today, they can demand an Associate degree. All apart of the selection process. Higher academic credentials help the individual find a better paying job, but do not in fact create anymore jobs, let alone the well paying assembly line jobs of before.

To insist that offshoring and illegal immigration were not partially responsible for the increase in US inequality is gross denial. As with the earlier moves to the southern states, the lives of the illegal immigrants and the workers in Mexico and Asia were improved, but US workers paid a dear price in wage loss.

Another huge factor was the financialization that was occurring during this period (perhaps somewhat due the other changes and their effect on the nations politics).

In toto, it was a convergence of: loss of market, automation, offshoring, illegal immigrant laborers, this financialization that led to the surge in inequality.

sanjait -> ken melvin... , January 25, 2017 at 11:24 AM
"The education thing is a canard."

Not at all.

The paper above references a book called "The Race between Education and Technology" that provides a useful framing of the issue. Essentially:

"The book argues that technological change, education, and inequality have been involved in a kind of race. During the first eight decades of the twentieth century, the increase of educated workers was higher than the demand for them. This had the effect of boosting income for most people and lowering inequality. However, the reverse has been true since about 1980. This educational slowdown was accompanied by rising inequality. The authors discuss the complex reasons for this, and what might be done to ameliorate it."

However, authors of the paper mentioned in the OP do dismiss education as a major cause of inequality if we are looking at the 1% vs the 99% (rather than a more broad measure).

DrDick -> sanjait... , -1
Most college grads are working jobs that do not require a degree. Indeed many jobs routinely filled by high school graduates when I was young now want a college degree. Melvin completely nails it.

http://www.attn.com/stories/1734/college-graduates-underemployed-working-requirements

http://www.gallup.com/poll/164321/majority-workers-say-job-require-degree.aspx

libezkova -> DrDick... , January 25, 2017 at 05:45 PM
"Most college grads are working jobs that do not require a degree."

College degree now serves as a filter to cut off unnecessary applicants. That does not means that the college degree by itself is not worth it. There is a value in the college degree beyond job market prospects. In this sense huge inflation of the cost of higher education is a big injustice in itself.

Mike S -> ken melvin... , January 25, 2017 at 12:27 PM
I agree that I don't think there was any one single thing which started driving inequality.

You pointed out 'Beginnings of offshoring to Mexico and Asia (the movement of well paying 'rustbelt' union jobs to the cheap labor southern states had begun earlier with questionable net in that southern labor gained and northern lost)'. True, but implicitly those southern states were 'right to work' states which is why the labor was cheaper.

Also, I believe in Thomas Pikkety's book 'Capital in the 21st Century' he pointed out that the top .01% have so much wealth, they can't spend all the income they earn from dividends, so that gets reinvested into more equities (stocks, bonds, et al) which then earn even more dividends.

And when you point out automation, implicit in that is that the owners of the company (either privately or stockholders) will increase their share of the 'pie', so to speak, which gets split between the entrepreneurs and the workers, also increasing the inequality.

My last point would be that, with things like Dynasty trusts, it becomes much easier for the top .01% to maintain their place at the top of the income 'food chain', versus people born into families of more modest means. Those people in the .01% can send their children to the truly best schools in the country, whereas the rest of us go to whatever schools our parents can afford, or however much college debt we're willing to absorb.

[Jan 23, 2017] Students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand.

Jan 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
L , January 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm

"Other findings show that pen and paper have an edge over the keyboard. Research by Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles, published in 2014, showed that the pen is indeed mightier than the keyboard. In three studies, researchers found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. Those who took written notes had a better understanding of the material and remembered more of it because they had to mentally process information rather than type it verbatim" [BBC]. Wait. Computers make you stupid?

Not surprising. The basic upshot is that computers encourage distraction and even when that is controlled for they encourage people to type down what they hear (i.e. transcribing) and not to encode, or distill it down to the important concepts. This latter is important because it means you are listening at a deeper level and thinking about what you are getting and are thus more likely to recall and use the knowledge later.

[Jan 21, 2017] The DeVos Democrats

Jan 21, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com
As many of her critics have pointed out, DeVos is a case study in the nefarious ways that big money shapes education policy in the United States. But she takes such criticism in stride. In 1997 she wrote: "I have decided . . . to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return."

In short, DeVos is arguably the nation's most powerful proponent of school privatization - and now, even after bumbling her way through her confirmation hearing, she's set to take the reins of the Department of Education.

American public schools have some very serious problems. Spend time in the crumbling public schools on the south side of Chicago and then venture over to the plush public schools in the leafy Chicago suburbs, and you'll experience alternative universes. Schools all over the greater Chicagoland are filled with committed and professional teachers, some quite excellent. But the students who attend the city schools arrive at school with stark disadvantages, unlike their better-off suburban peers. Discrepancies in school funding only exacerbate such class deficits.

Most of the problems with the public schools, in other words, are outgrowths of a deeply unequal society. Yet the solution to this problem - the redistribution of wealth - is inimical to the interests of billionaires like DeVos. The fact that she will soon be in charge of the nation's schools is a sick joke. Make no mistake: DeVos is a serious threat to public education and should be treated accordingly.

Unfortunately, many Democrats have long supported the same so-called education reform measures that DeVos backs. Often wrapping these measures in civil rights language, Democratic education reformers have provided cover for some of the worst types of reforms, including promoting the spread of charter schools - the preferred liberal mechanism for fulfilling the "choice" agenda. (Charter schools operate with public money, but without much public oversight, and are therefore often vehicles for pet pedagogical projects of billionaire educational philanthropists like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.)

DeVos will not have to completely reverse the Department of Education's course in order to fulfill her agenda. Obama's "Race to the Top" policy - the brainchild of former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, past CEO of Chicago Public Schools - allocates scarce federal resources to those states most aggressively implementing education reform measures, particularly around charter schools.

Perhaps the most effective advocate of school choice is New Jersey senator Cory Booker, who many Democrats are touting as the party's savior in the post-Obama era. Liberals swooned when Booker opposed his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions, the right-wing racist Trump tapped to be the next attorney general. But however laudable, Booker's actions didn't take much in the way of courage.

Booker's funders - hedge-fund managers and pharmaceutical barons - don't care about such theatrics. They're more concerned that he vote Big Pharma's way and keep up his role as a leading member of Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-privatization group. They want to make sure he continues attacking teachers' unions, the strongest bulwark against privatization.

Their aim is to undercut public schools and foster union-free charter schools, freeing the rich from having to pay teachers as unionized public servants with pensions.

So in the fight against Trump and DeVos, we can't give Booker and his anti-union ilk a pass. As enablers of DeVos's privatization agenda, they too must be delegitimized.

Public education depends on it. The beautiful school where I send my children depends on it.

[Jan 21, 2017] Obama invigorated the worst of the corporate education reform movement

Notable quotes:
"... three decades the national conversation about education has been held hostage by the anxiety-inducing metaphors that always accompany the neoliberal dismantling of public services. ..."
"... President Obama and his advisers have done little to resist this state of affairs, carrying out low-intensity warfare on teachers' unions and perpetuating harmful myths that the American school system is "life-saving" (because we live in a meritocracy), that it is "in crisis" (because test scores are falling behind globally), and that it can only be saved by the free-market fixes (competition, standards, accountability, and choice) originally advocated by conservative think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation and billionaire philanthropists. ..."
"... Of all the education initiatives with names that sound like spaceships (America 2000, Goals 2000) or battle cries (No Child Left Behind), Race to the Top, the Obama administration's signature contribution to the genre, may be the most successful assault yet in the sustained effort to destroy the democratic project of public schooling. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

In some languages, the words for "teach" and "learn" are the same, suggesting a view of education as a cooperative activity, rather than as something that is done to students. Not in English, and certainly not in the United States, where for three decades the national conversation about education has been held hostage by the anxiety-inducing metaphors that always accompany the neoliberal dismantling of public services.

President Obama and his advisers have done little to resist this state of affairs, carrying out low-intensity warfare on teachers' unions and perpetuating harmful myths that the American school system is "life-saving" (because we live in a meritocracy), that it is "in crisis" (because test scores are falling behind globally), and that it can only be saved by the free-market fixes (competition, standards, accountability, and choice) originally advocated by conservative think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation and billionaire philanthropists.

Of all the education initiatives with names that sound like spaceships (America 2000, Goals 2000) or battle cries (No Child Left Behind), Race to the Top, the Obama administration's signature contribution to the genre, may be the most successful assault yet in the sustained effort to destroy the democratic project of public schooling. In 2009, more than $4 billion of public funds were set aside for K-12 education as part of TARP, representing a moment of enormous possibility for the president. The money could have been used to equalize funding among schools ( which is exceptionally inequitable in America ) or to incentivize states to make changes that we know improve educational outcomes for poor children and children of color, like reducing class sizes and promoting socioeconomic and racial integration .

Instead, the Obama administration chose to use a series of competitive grants to push the adoption of the Common Core standards, the linking of teacher evaluations to student test scores, and the expansion of charter schools. These measures were deemed "innovative," even in the face of growing evidence that charter test scores are no better than those of traditional public schools and that charters are more stratified by race, class, special education status, and possibly language, than public schools.

Today, forty-two of fifty states are members of the Common Core Standards Initiative and nearly half tie teacher evaluations to test scores, an enormous transformation in policy. Yet test scores on the NAEP (known as "America's report card") have fallen for the first time, and Race to the Top has failed to deliver even by its own paltry and unimaginative measures. Meanwhile, the real crisis facing children - a disgraceful level of poverty - has gone unnamed by anyone but Bernie Sanders, let alone addressed.

It was nice that Obama called out the widening wealth gap during his farewell address, but the ultimate legacy of his administration has been the deepening of that inequality through the advancement of the agenda of the Broad, Walton Family, and Gates Foundations over the demands of the American people for free, high-quality, and equitably funded schools (a counsel for the education department even once mistakenly referred to the Obama administration as "the Gates administration").

Privatization efforts under Trump will be worse. Clearly, no one is going to give us control of our schools. We're going to have to take it. In 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement and the NAACP called for a moratorium on charter schools - it's a start.

–Megan Erickson

[Jan 12, 2017] Students who took at least Ecnomics 101 should understand the Economics 101 is a scam (or more correctly a couse for indoctrination into neoliberal religion, a new type of Lysenkoism for listening which you should be paid, not the college) and financing a six-figure college expenditure with debt bearing exceedingly onerous termsis another scam

Notable quotes:
"... students schooled in Home Econ would cast a jaundiced eye on financing a six-figure college expenditure with debt bearing exceedingly onerous terms. College debt is precisely the sort of scam that well-prepared young people learn to take a hard-nosed look at. ..."
Jan 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Jim Haygood , January 12, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Your practical insights used to be imparted to high school students in Home Economics.

But Home Econ sounded too, errr, blue collar to the aspirational upper middle class. As well, students schooled in Home Econ would cast a jaundiced eye on financing a six-figure college expenditure with debt bearing exceedingly onerous terms. College debt is precisely the sort of scam that well-prepared young people learn to take a hard-nosed look at.

So for the greater good of all, Home Econ had to be phased out, so that its subversive truisms would not interfere with the vital missions of higher education and consumer upselling.

Waldenpond , January 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm

May not be married but what % are living at home or with roommates? So people are still cohabitating to reduce overhead.

I wouldn't pick up something by a dumpster, but I frequent thrift stores and estate/yard sales. Once I'm done with my thrift store clothes, they get recycled to other projects. Can even cut small strips to tie up peas and beans in the garden.

I agree with the no debt. Don't do it or you're screwed. I have two kids . we've been very clear, come to us before hand, we'll help if we can, otherwise you go without and if you ever do debt, you're on your own.

Of course, we told both adults not to marry like us. They both did. One ceremony at a park the other signed papers at our house but no parties/weddings. We've made clear we can't afford kids. One has one kid, the other is considering it.

Managing money, house repairs, land mgmt etc are all electives. Very few take them.

[Jan 09, 2017] Intel CEO reveals how he almost got himself fired 25 years ago

Notable quotes:
"... Fortt Knox is a weekly podcast from CNBC anchor Jon Fortt. Previous broacasts of the program can be found here . ..."
Jan 09, 2017 | finance.yahoo.com

... ... ...

Krzanich grew up in San Jose, California, just miles from Intel headquarters. He didn't go to an Ivy League school: He got his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from San Jose State University. The prestige of a college's brand on a résumé doesn't impress him.

"I've told my daughters this; my older daughter's about to go into college. It doesn't matter what college you go to. The thing that was great about San Jose State was, I got connected with some very good professors," he said.

He did research for their projects on the side. "When I went into interviews, I could talk about real work that I'd done, not just textbook stuff," Krzanich added.

That informs how he deals with job candidates today. "I ask real simple questions that just tell me, does this person know how to think?"

Krzanich had some more advice. "The other thing I tell my daughters is, I've had to terminate or fire more people for being difficult to work with than being dumb."

... ... ...

Fortt Knox is a weekly podcast from CNBC anchor Jon Fortt. Previous broacasts of the program can be found here . Rock 4 hours ago On Small Business
21 percent of CEOs are psychopaths............one in five chief executives are psychopaths. At least, that's what was found by a recent study of 261 senior corporate professionals in the United States..........................

"Typically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other," Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist and the lead researcher of the study said in this report from The Telegraph. "For psychopaths, it [corporate success] is a game and they don't mind if they violate morals. It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others." PU 4 hours ago I have worked for him, his way or the highway...very difficult to work for. Bill 4 hours ago I worked with BK in the 90s and he was not the easiest guy to interact with, but creative people usually aren't. He was a good engineer though. Backlash 37 minutes ago I had a very rewarding career at Intel and much my success I attribute to the mentoring I received from Andy Grove. He was a visionary second to none and believed that constructive confrontation cut through all the crap and expedited the identification of problems and the rapid implementation of solutions.

He knew how to get your attention, provided you the tools to get your job done and expected you to deliver on your commitments. Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore had a softer approach but they too could get your attention and make it very clear what you had to deliver.

These founders of one of America's most successful corporations personal and professional legacies set a high standard for the coming generations. Michael W 2 hours ago Would have been interesting to know what the actual problem was and the solution. From the term "Copy Exactly" it looks like he had issues with transferring the technology from one place to another and allowed "improvements" on a working process. Key 2 hours ago Copy exactly is the death of Intel as we know it. It stifles innovation in manufacturing processes to reduce cost an increase productivity. This is a typical over reaction from disconnected management that has made Intel into a company that can only increase its revenue by laying off workers.

[Jan 06, 2017] The straight A student who dropped out of university

While facts are correct the move was probably stupid. He could transfer to less expensive collage or just finish community collage first. you can't replace collage experices. and sutudents often matter more then professors. KSU has reasonable fees (less then $6K for 16 credits a semester) See Tuition and Fees and k-state.edu
He would be better off by returning, especially if the company he joins pay to tuition or at least part of it.
Notable quotes:
"... "cost of inflation is relatively small compared to the cost of college over the last 30 or so years. I mean, it really is ridiculous how the cost of college has gone up." ..."
"... In 1980, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and fees for a four-year course was over $9,000. That cost now is more than $23,000 for state colleges. If you want to go private it's more than $30,000. ..."
"... In the post Willson also cited higher education debt as a reason to leave university and enter the work place. Students in the United States are estimated to be in around over $1.2 trillion of loan debt with 7 million borrowers in default. ..."
www.bbc.com

Billy Willson received a 4.0 grade point average, the equivalent to straight A's, for his first semester at Kansas State University. He decided that it would also be his last.

In a strongly worded Facebook post, Willson uploaded a photograph of himself standing outside the university's sign, holding his middle finger up to it. In the accompanying text he wrote:

"YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED. You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will see it some day,"

"You are being put thousands into debt to learn things you will never even use. Wasting 4 years of your life to be stuck at a paycheck that grows slower than the rate of inflation. Paying $200 for a $6 textbook."

His post, which has been shared more than 10,000 times in little more than a fortnight and has provoked a vigorous debate in the comments, appears to have struck a chord with other young adults who are wondering if pursuing higher education is worth the time and money.

Willson, who was on an Architectural Engineering undergraduate course told BBC Trending that the "cost of inflation is relatively small compared to the cost of college over the last 30 or so years. I mean, it really is ridiculous how the cost of college has gone up."

He's backed up by data. According to the US Department of Education the average annual increase in college tuition in the United States, between 1980-2014, grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items.

In 1980, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and fees for a four-year course was over $9,000. That cost now is more than $23,000 for state colleges. If you want to go private it's more than $30,000.

... ... ...

In the post Willson also cited higher education debt as a reason to leave university and enter the work place. Students in the United States are estimated to be in around over $1.2 trillion of loan debt with 7 million borrowers in default.

[Jan 03, 2017] New York Governor Proposes Free College For Lower-Income Students The Two-Way

Notable quotes:
"... "College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success," Cuomo told the crowd. ..."
Jan 03, 2017 | NPR

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a proposal to offer free tuition for lower-income New Yorkers attending state-run colleges, an idea embraced by last year's Democratic presidential contenders.

The plan announced Tuesday – called the Excelsior Scholarship – would grant full-rides to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year, as long as they attend one of the state's public two- or four-year colleges.

The plan announced Tuesday – called the Excelsior Scholarship – would grant full-rides to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year, as long as they attend one of the state's public two- or four-year colleges.

Speaking at LaGuardia Community College in New York's Queens borough, the Democratic governor said his proposal could allow students from some 940,000 families to attend college, which is key to scoring about 70 percent of jobs in the state, Reuters quotes Cuomo as saying.

"College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success," Cuomo told the crowd.

Joining the governor, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders cheered the proposal.

... ... ...

Cuomo's proposal, which would apply only to New York residents, iwould cost about $163 million annually and be in place by 2019 – that's if it passes the state's legislature, The New York Times reports.

... ... ...

As it stands currently, tuition at the public State University system is $6,470 a year; a two-year degree runs at about $4,350.

The price-tag at the state's other public system, City University, runs roughly the same.

While New York has need-based tuition awards, those tap out at $5,165 per school year.

[Jan 01, 2017] Education Excerpt from Economics in Two Lessons

Notable quotes:
"... Moreover, although the evidence is murky it seems that an increasing proportion of charters are being run on a for-profit basis, even in cases where formal structure is non-profit. Given the failure of the for-profit model in general, the prospects for the future are not good. ..."
"... On the other hand, an analysis based on prices falls down badly in the attempt to describe education as a market transaction. All the terms of the Second Lesson are relevant here. Education is characterized by market failure, by potentially inequitable initial allocations and, most importantly, by the fact that the relationship between the education 'industry' and its 'consumers', that is between educational institutions and teachers on the one hand and students on the other, cannot be reduced to a market transaction. ..."
"... The result is that education does not rely on market competition to any significant extent to sort good teachers and institutions from bad ones. Rather, education depends on a combination of sustained institutional standards and individual professional ethics to maintain their performance. ..."
"... One subject which is not taught in school or Universities, is to control greed, which is the biggest malaise in the world today, as it was thousands of years ago ..."
"... "an increasing proportion of charters are being run on a for-profit basis, even in cases where formal structure is non-profit" ..."
"... You may want to make clear that this can be done by buying services from for-profit companies owned by the management of the charter schools. ..."
"... "In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances." ..."
"... Is this perhaps overstated? I'd have thought that the most important factor is the socioeconomic status of one's parents. ..."
"... Ask any affluent parent about the best school districts in their county, or the best schools within their school districts, and you'll get confident and well informed answers. ..."
"... And of course these parents act on this knowledge by spending money by buying houses in neighborhoods with good schools. Given local funding, in the US we get a nasty positive feedback loop that creates huge inequalities at the expense of less affluent parents -- better schools mean higher real estate prices which means higher assessed values which means more tax revenues for funding the better schools which means they get even better. The less affluent are steadily priced out of this market, and their choices dwindle -- they're stuck with crappy schools. ..."
December 29, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

Here's another excerpt from my book-in-progress, Economics in Two Lessons . As usual, praise is welcome, useful criticism even more so. You can find a draft of the opening sections here .

In the section over the fold, I'm looking at education.

In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances. The average who holds a professional or doctoral degree earns more than twice as much as someone without a four-year college degree, and is virtually assured of being employed (at a time of deep depression in 2011, only 2.5 per cent of higher-degree holders were unemployed). In economic terms, the education sector is one of the largest in the economy.

However, this statistical analysis seriously underestimates the economic importance of sector, because it ignores the First Lesson. The true cost of education comprises not just the salaries of teachers and the cost of running schools and universities, but the opportunity cost of the time spent in education by students.

The failure to take proper account of the First Lesson is a big problem in understanding the economics of education. But the failure to understand the Second Lesson has been much more of a problem for policy.

Simple-minded analyses based on a simplistic reading of the First Lesson have driven the irsteducation debate in the US and other English-speaking countries for the last few decades. The dominant idea is that education is a product like any other and that the best guarantee of good education is market competition between providers. The villains in this story are public goods and, especially, teacher unions.

To make education more like a private good, advocates of he First Lesson tried to change the conditions of both supply and demand. On the demand side, the central proposal was that of education 'vouchers', put forward most notably by Nobel Prizewinning economist at the University of Chicago, Milton Friedman. The idea was that, rather than funding schools, government should provide funding directly parents in the form of vouchers that could be used at whichever school the parents preferred, and topped up, if necessary by additional fee payments.

As is typically the case, voucher advocates ignored the implications of their proposals for the distribution of income. In large measure, vouchers represent a simply cash transfer, going predominantly from the poor to the rich. The biggest beneficiaries would be those, mostly well-off, who were already sending their children to private schools, for whom the voucher would be a simple cash transfer. Those whose children remained at the same public school as before would gain nothing.

On the supply side, the central idea was the introduction of for-profit schools and colleges to a sector traditionally dominated by public and non-profit educational institutions. For-profit educational institutions had a spectacular rise and fall.

The most notable entrant in the US school sector was Edison Schools. Edison Schools was founded in 1992 and was widely viewed as representing the future of school education. Its plans were drawn up by a committee headed by John Chubb, the co-author of the most influential single critique of public sector education in the United States (Chubb and Moe 1990). For-profit schools were also introduced in Chile and Sweden.

At the university level, for-profit enterprises proliferated with the University of Phoenix was the most notable example. For-profit trade and vocational schools also expanded in the US, and, even more dramatically in Australia, where a poorly-designed subsidy scheme produced a spectacular expansion.

The story was much the same everywhere: an initial burst of enthusiasm and high profits, followed by the exposure of poor practices and outcomes, and finally collapse, with governments being left to pick up the pieces.

Edison Schools, launched on the stockmarket with a flourish in 1999, lost most of its value and was subsequently taken private. At its peak, Edison ran hundreds of schools throughout the US. It has now faded into obscurity under the name EdisonLearning.

Sweden introduced voucher-style reforms in 1992, and opened the market to for-profit schools. Initially favorable assessments were replaced by disillusionment as the performance of the school system as a whole deteriorated. Scores on the international PISA test plummeted

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/sweden-schools-crisis-political-failure-education

and dissatisfaction became general

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/sweden-schools-crisis-political-failure-education

By 2015, the majority of the public favored banning for-profit schools. The Minister for Education described the system as a 'political failure', Other critics described it in harsher terms.

The Swedish for-profit 'free' school disaster

Although a full analysis has not yet been undertaken, it seems likely that the for-profit schools engaged in 'cream-skimming', admitting able and well-behaved students, while pushing more problematic students back into the public system. The rules under which the reform was introduced included 'safeguards' to prevent cream-skimming, but such safeguards have historical proved ineffectual in the face of the profits to be made by evading them.

Similar processes took place in Chile, under the influence of the Chicago-trained reformers whose policies were implemented by the Pinochet dictatorship. There were glowing initial reports, but the eventual outcome was to amplify inequality without improving performance. Chile banned for-profit education in 2015

The for-profit university sector followed a similar trajectory. The University of Phoenix epitomised the process. Enrolments peaked at 600 000 in 2010, but had fallen to 142 000 by 2016 as the US government cracked down on shady enrolment practices. Other for-profit universities closed altogether or converted to non-profit status

Perhaps the most spectacular boom and bust took place in my native Australia. From tiny beginnings around 2007, a scheme to provide loans-based funding for vocational training grew into a full-blown educational and budgetary disaster. Even more than in the for-profit US university sector, the companies involved found it profitable to exploit the weaknesses of the funding system, and the fact that students could not judge the quality of education in advance, rather than to do the hard work of providing improved education.

The results speak for themselves. By the time a conservative government radically restricted the scheme in late 2016, the estimated losses to the budget ran into the billions of dollars, while thousands of students were left with unrepayable debts and worthless qualifications. Meanwhile, the public system of Technical and Further Education, which had worked well for decades had suffered grave and possibly irreparable damage.

The failure of full-scale privatisation left the field open to the main remaining alternative 'charter' schools. The idea of charter schools was originally put forward by Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. His idea was to encourage schools where teachers had more opportunities to try out innovative approaches, and where the student body would be more diverse, both economically and racially.

In the hands of the education reform movement, however, charter schools took on a very different tone and purpose, much closer to that of the for-profit model that failed with Edison. While some independent charter schools have pursued innovation along the lines suggested by Shanker, others are part of chains relying on services like management companies, including for-profits like EdisonLearning.

Charter schools have been, and remain, politically popular with Republicans and Democrats alike.

The only problem is that, according to the empirical evidence, they don't work. Charter schools have not failed spectacularly, as for-profits have done, but they have not yielded any significant return for the money and political effort that has been poured into their expansion.

http://www.in-perspective.org/pages/student-achievement

Nationally, there is very little evidence that charter and traditional public schools differ meaningfully in their average impact on students' standardized test performance.

Moreover, although the evidence is murky it seems that an increasing proportion of charters are being run on a for-profit basis, even in cases where formal structure is non-profit. Given the failure of the for-profit model in general, the prospects for the future are not good.

Why has market-oriented reform of education been such a failure? Every part of the Second Lesson is relevant here. On the 'production' side, education is, in many respects similar to other industries. Prices send signals about the cost of providing particular courses of study in particular ways, and of the rewards of one kind of employment or another. Institutions and educators respond to those signals. Students try to weigh the cost and the likely monetary benefits of continuing education, or of seeking employment, along with less tangible costs and benefits, and decide accordingly.

On the other hand, an analysis based on prices falls down badly in the attempt to describe education as a market transaction. All the terms of the Second Lesson are relevant here. Education is characterized by market failure, by potentially inequitable initial allocations and, most importantly, by the fact that the relationship between the education 'industry' and its 'consumers', that is between educational institutions and teachers on the one hand and students on the other, cannot be reduced to a market transaction.

The critical problem with this simple model is that students, by definition, cannot know in advance what they are going to learn, or make an informed judgement about what they are learning. They have to rely, to a substantial extent, on their teachers to select the right topics of study and to teach them appropriately.

Moreover, any specific course of education is a once-only experience in most cases. Students may judge, in retrospect, that particular teachers, courses or institutions were good or bad, but in either case they are unlikely to return, so that there is no direct market return to high quality performance.

The result is that education does not rely on market competition to any significant extent to sort good teachers and institutions from bad ones. Rather, education depends on a combination of sustained institutional standards and individual professional ethics to maintain their performance.

The implications for education policy are clear, at least at the school level. School education should be publicly funded and provided either by public schools or by non-profits with a clear educational mission, as opposed to corporate 'school management organisations'.

Post-school education raises more complex problems, regrettably beyond the scope of this book. But the key element should be to make high quality post-school education available, and affordable, for all young people.

Bill Hawil 12.29.16 at 10:50 am ( 1 )

With very little education, I,am hardly qualified to comment on this topic.

I do consider that education should be available to all students irrespective of their parents wealth, by the government, and if the higher educated earn more, then they should pay more taxes so that the government have the funds to provide free education.

One subject which is not taught in school or Universities, is to control greed, which is the biggest malaise in the world today, as it was thousands of years ago

Mike Huben 12.29.16 at 2:31 pm ( 5 )

"an increasing proportion of charters are being run on a for-profit basis, even in cases where formal structure is non-profit"

You may want to make clear that this can be done by buying services from for-profit companies owned by the management of the charter schools.

You may want to examine the Education index at my Critiques of Libertarianism wiki to see if there is something you can use. For example, you don't mention the failures of MOOCs.

You might also mention the big picture idea that there is a lengthy history of educational policy entrepreneurs, whose ideas become fads and then fail. These are just the latest.

jdkbrown 12.29.16 at 3:38 pm

"In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances."

Is this perhaps overstated? I'd have thought that the most important factor is the socioeconomic status of one's parents.

Olle J. 12.29.16 at 4:14 pm

As someone that reads the newspaper, the occasional report, and works with the "products" coming out of Swedish secondary education (i.e. what used to be called students), it might be worth noting that the introduction of vouchers and free choice are not the only thing that have been accused of causing the declining school results (and increased inequality).

Other purposed causes include the decentralization of schools from the state to the local municipalities; educational reforms that have introduced modern pedagogy ("flumpedagogik", hippie pedagogy, is the derogatory term); teachers spending more and more time documenting things for different forms of evaluations instead of teaching or preparing classes; as well as the declining status, class room autonomy, and salaries of teachers (resulting in deskilling and that better students shuns from becoming teachers). The jury is still out on what, or rather which combination, caused the declining test results in Pisa (and Timms; although results both are up again this year).

Jake Gibson 12.29.16 at 6:43 pm ( 9 )

Don't underestimate the political goal of the right to undermine teacher's unions and to turn public goods into profit streams.

engels 12.29.16 at 6:53 pm

In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances.

Prince Charles seems to be doing a fair bit better than me and he's only got a couple of O-levels (as well as being a certifiable fuckwit). I think Thomas Piketty had something to say about this atrange and hitherto unnoticed phenomenon

engels 12.29.16 at 6:56 pm ( 11 )

(Also think I read somewhere that people with PhDs on average make less than people with BAs, and what jdkbrown said, but can't check now.)

Alex K. 12.29.16 at 7:16 pm

Sorry, but this is a hack job.

The link leads to a piece that relies on a Slate article. The Slate article about the Swedish school system was criticized at the time:

http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/383304/sweden-has-education-crisis-it-wasnt-caused-school-choice-tino-sanandaji

http://educationnext.org/sweden-school-choice/

Then you have cherry-picking of failures, but completely ignore private school successes, like say, Korea.

The theoretical criticism is silly: "The critical problem with this simple model is that students, by definition, cannot know in advance what they are going to learn, or make an informed judgement about what they are learning."

This proves too much: it is something that would be true for for-profits as well as for non-profit private systems. Yet in the USA, the private universities are consistently the top universities. You don't have to know Quantum Physics before judging if a university has a good or bad physics program.

The sentence is also a criticism of school choice in general, yet the middle classes in the US have no problem in figuring out where to buy houses to get away from failing schools.

There is a valid point to be made, namely that the institutional design of private-public partnerships needs to focus intensely on avoiding the gaming of the system. Bureaucrats with only vague interest in designing a successful system often don't do that. But they only have to get it right once. Running a public system well means getting things right year after year - at some point, they'll fail, and if success is somewhat sticky, failure is even stickier.

But the author of the chapter has no interest in expanding on the valid point, preferring to make overshooting and incorrect generalizations.

dbk 12.29.16 at 7:31 pm ( 13 )

It might be worth re-visiting the three excruciatingly long threads (Harry) posted on charters/vouchers a couple weeks ago.

In the home state of the nominee for Secretary of Education, 80% of charters are now for-profit. I suspect the statistics for all states are available if one looks by state. There has been a pretty full assessment of Detroit's charter school results to date, and they're not very encouraging overall.

@MPAVictoria:

re: Duncan, I suspect this was JQ's note to himself to reference Arne Duncan, Obama's Education Secretary and Former Chancellor of Chicago's Public School System. Duncan was/is a proponent of charters – in this area, it's very much a case of "both sides do it."

One aspect of the interminable discussion on Harry's threads was the inability of commenters to agree on "who's the client" for public schooling. Commenters were divided between "the students" (the recipients) and "their parents" (i.e. the payers).

I never saw it that way. A public good has by definition one client: the public, the polity itself. To my mind, it behooves the polity to (a) establish standards and (b) ensure these are met to the greatest extent possible given limited resources.

For-profit charters and vouchers (used mostly for private religious schools) are not the ideal vectors for serving the polity's education goals for its citizens.

The reasons are legion; again, Harry's three threads say a lot about them.

Sebastian H 12.29.16 at 7:44 pm

Its been a long time since I read the first few chapters, so I apologize if I'm missing the thread about your point here (do you have an easy set of reference links so we can easily go back?).

Talking about education system in terms of market failures is going to strike as very tone deaf for US audiences because the very tiny experiments with charters came about in *response* to pervasive and long term failures of the already public education system. This has always been my frustration with the discussion–that the anti-market people want to criticize market failures, and the pro-market people want to criticize government failures, but they talk past each other.

No one really analyzes what makes for pervasive and long term government failure from the market critique position, and no one really analyzes what makes for government success from the government critique position. So outsiders to the academic world feel like no one is really analyzing it from a point of view where we can get useful non-dogmatic information about when government failures can be corrected with markets, and when market failures might need to be left alone anyway.

Anyway I might be asking that you write a book other than the one you're writing which isn't really fair.

J-D 12.29.16 at 9:34 pm ( 15 )

'have driven the irst education debate'
I see what you did there.

'for-profit enterprises proliferated with the University of Phoenix was the most notable example'
I don't see what you did there. Either the ' with' should be a ';' or the 'was' should be an 'as'.

Jonathan McNamee 12.29.16 at 10:33 pm

You state:
As is typically the case, voucher advocates ignored the implications of their proposals for the distribution of income. In large measure, vouchers represent a simply cash transfer, going predominantly from the poor to the rich. The biggest beneficiaries would be those, mostly well-off, who were already sending their children to private schools, for whom the voucher would be a simple cash transfer. Those whose children remained at the same public school as before would gain nothing.

Do well off parents get vouchers to send their kids to private schools? I'm not aware that they get vouchers in the US. Parents who send their children to private schools are subsiding the public school because they pay property taxes. Indirectly they also help to provide vouchers.

Maxwell Yurkofsky 12.30.16 at 12:15 am ( 17 )

A wrote an undergraduate thesis apply Chubb and Moe's theory to Sweden, and am now pursuing a doctorate and study (among other things) how schools respond to competition.

I generally agree with your take, but I think your argument would be more interesting if you gave a little more credence to the charter school movement. In cities, they are better, on average, particularly for poor students and students of color, and even for ELL students (CREDO). More importantly, it is interesting, and relevant to your argument, that (to my knowledge) all the most successful charter management organizatinos are non-profit, and highly mission driven. It is worth it to unpack why they succeed, while for-profit ventures literally founded by the folks who developed the most persuasive theory of action for market principles (Chubb) fail.

It is also worth noting one major exception to even this trend-Bridge International Academies– which has impressively scaled across many countries, generally serves very poor students, and so far has promising results. (many news articles about them, below is one).
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/10/is-it-okay-to-make-teachers-read-scripted-lessons/381265/

A final point worth considering is the extent to which any of these organizaitons feel "competition". Successful CMOs are buffered by large donations from venture philanthropists, and Bridge has received large investments from folks like Mark Zuckerberg. This certainly adds dimensions to the story.

Collin Street 12.30.16 at 1:14 am

You might also mention the big picture idea that there is a lengthy history of educational policy entrepreneurs, whose ideas become fads and then fail. These are just the latest.

But - again - there's nothing special about education here. All sectors of the economy have these clouds of too-clever-by-half people, the vast majority of whom are deeply misguided. In established private-sector industries and in bureaucracies alike the bad ideas get largely excluded; it's when things are broken down - nationalisations the same as privatisations - that the daft ideas can get in.

[which means: gradualism, I guess. And throwing the baby out with the bathwater is bad, but so's leaving the baby in the bath until it dies of hypothermia because you're so paralysed by the fear the baby will fall down the plughole.]

Shirley0401 12.30.16 at 1:38 am ( 19 )

Looking forward to the book. I work in education, and have a couple thoughts

Unless you already address it elsewhere, you might want to spend at least a few paragraphs on the metrics of determining school effectiveness/success, and the ways individuals and schools have tried (in various cases, illegally and/or merely shadily/unethically) to figure out ways to juke the stats.

To the best of my knowledge, the frequency and scale of these incidents has risen dramatically as education "reform" became a movement in the 80s and 90s. In my experience, as education is increasingly treated as simply another business, it is attracting more and more non-educators whose experience is in "leadership" and "management" rather than education. Unsurprisingly, this has led to more educators focusing more on their end-of-year metrics, rather than their students' best interests, educational or otherwise.

I know there's already plenty out there about the ed "reform" movement in general, and your focus is specific, but I think some reference to these issues might be warranted and might connect to some of the other chapters. Frankly, a lot of people I talk to at both the school and district level feel like many of these reforms are solutions in search of problems. Not that there aren't problems – educational outcomes' strong correlation with parent income, for one – but that the solutions on offer seem to be unable/unwilling to engage them.

I also remember seeing on a previous post a recommendation that you explore who, in the case of schools, is even the "consumer," in the first place, and whether their judgment of school effectiveness is the yardstick anyone should use when judging school quality. It's an interesting question, and one not given enough space in the discussion, from what I've seen.

Frankie 12.30.16 at 3:17 am

I'm really enjoying this series, and would like to chime in on this installment as I work in higher ed. jdkbrown brings up something very important; college education is associated with better life outcomes, sure, but being able to complete college depends on family resources (and book smarts, which are associated with family resources .) This relationship is so predictable that UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute has posted an interactive graduation rate calculator .

Also, the number of "good" jobs is not increasing. Expanding access to college hasn't expanded career opportunities; in fact jobs from accounting to legal research to X-Ray reading are getting automated or offshored to low-wage countries.

Far from being happy to take anyone with a college degree, employers have become far more choosy , and less willing to invest in training. So the same few college people that used to get the good jobs still get the good jobs, and the rest settle for jobs that used to go to high school grads .

Expanding access to college without addressing poverty and job market realities is not going to increase social mobility.

Tabasco 12.30.16 at 7:24 am ( 21 )

Engels @10

You are exaggerating about Prince Charles. He got two A-levels, a B in History and a C in French.

And is really doing better than you? I don't know how how your career has gone, but he is 68 years old and still an intern.

reason 12.30.16 at 10:40 am

One thing that is missing here is the clear case that the biggest problem with public education in the US is local financing. Sebastian H. has a valid point here. I don't necessarily see the issue of public versus private as the dominant factor here. Why is Finland so consistently successful compared to almost everywhere else, at least in results for the typical student (and I'm not sure that I know of league tables for elite student performance). And as I pointed out in your previous thread, I think many of the main issues are orthogonal to this issue (issues that are regarded as important in Germany for historical reasons like furthering democratic values and social inclusiveness for instance).

reason 12.30.16 at 10:52 am ( 23 )

Mike Huben http://crookedtimber.org/2016/12/29/education-excerpt-from-economics-in-two-lessons/#comment-701282

re – Libertarianism and education – isn't the more fundamental point here that Libertarianism doesn't really cope with the case of children very well in the first place.

Children just don't fit in the Libertarian world view, they have limited rights and limited responsibilities and are viewed simply as consumption goods rather than actors in their own right.

engels 12.30.16 at 12:43 pm

Just 35 percent of the Forbes 400 last year were raised poor or middle class, compared to 95 percent of the broader public, as (reasonably) defined by UFE. Twenty one percent inherited enough money to join the 400 without lifting a finger , what UFE calls being "born on home plate." Another 7 percent inherited at least $50 million or a "large and prosperous company," 12 percent inherited at least a million bucks or a decent-sized business or startup capital from a relative, and 22 percent were "born on first base," into an upper class family or got a modest inheritance or startup capital

harry b 12.30.16 at 2:32 pm ( 25 )

There's a lot here, John, but for the moment some comments about for-profit universities in the US. First, I am not sure the numbers have declined in the way implied by your language - I'd need to check, but last I read they were still thriving in terms of numbers and income. And I expect them to expand with the new administration. Second, you might want to say something about their graduation rates - they are spectacularly low. Basically, they gobble up huge amounts of public resources without showing much at all return. Third, though, its worth remembering the the US lacks any kind of systematic vocational/job training/retraining system. Someone wants to retrain as a welder, they go to a community college or a for-profit university, usually taking a Pell Grant with them (the majority of Pell Grant recipients are not the 18-22 year old students it was designed for, but older workers seeking retraining). In fact it is really expensive to train a welder, so the institution (whether public, or for-profit) creates all sorts of additional requirements that are cheap to provide, but which cost the same for the student - and the student ends up taking lots of classes he's not interested in and dealing with a labyrinth of requirements, with very little counseling. There's a lot of bad behavior, from both for-profits and public institutions in the space in which they are serving (which is not traditional, start-of-adulthood, 4-year degrees). Worth reading Bowen and McPherson, Lesson Plan, which is a quick and informative read.

engels 12.30.16 at 2:59 pm

In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances.

In America a white high-school grad can expect to own 95% of the wealth of a black college grad and a black advanced degree holder can expect to own 15% less than a white college grad.

J-D 12.30.16 at 9:48 pm ( 27 )

Tabasco

You are exaggerating about Prince Charles. He got two A-levels, a B in History and a C in French.

And is really doing better than you? I don't know how how your career has gone, but he is 68 years old and still an intern.

What say you then of the head of the firm?

harry b 12.30.16 at 11:04 pm

engels

@11 - depends where you are. IN the US a PhD earns you more (over the life course) than a Bachelor's, but less than a Master's or a Professional degree. But that's presumably because people taking Masters and Professional degreea do so for the purpose of getting a more lucrative job whereas presumably people doing PhDs do so for other reasons (my students choosing between a PhD and a Law degree know which is going to earn them more money).

engels 12.31.16 at 12:09 am ( 29 )

IN the US a PhD earns you more (over the life course) than a Bachelor's, but less than a Master's or a Professional degree

Thanks-that's probably the fact I was trying to remember (and is consistent with the data on race and wealth effects I linked).

engels 12.31.16 at 12:12 am

And in other news:
Betsy Devos and the Plan to Break Public Schools

John Quiggin 12.31.16 at 2:12 am

@Engels For the moment, the statement you are concerned about is true for the majority of the population – I don't think the average reader would take it as referring to Prince Charles or Paris Hilton.

But, as Piketty suggests, and as I've pointed out before, it's ceasing to be true.

http://johnquiggin.com/2012/04/16/the-coming-boom-in-inherited-wealth/

I'll put in a footnote on this.

Matt 12.31.16 at 2:15 am

IN the US a PhD earns you more (over the life course) than a Bachelor's, but less than a Master's or a Professional degree

Harry – is that limited to certain masters' degrees that are either purely professional (MBA, MPA, some accounting degrees, some engineering degrees, etc.)? (Maybe also a JD, if that's how you want to consider it.) I'd be very surprised if it applied to, say, someone with an MA in English or History or Philosophy or many other fields (Or even to MFAs). (I'd even be surprised if a masters in, say, social work or education, or educational psychology typically lead to earning more money than a Ph.D., but I'm not sure. Even with an MPA, I'd be a bit surprised.) I'm not sure if it makes that much difference to the over-all argument, but I suspect that the number of masters degrees that typically lead to making more than a PhD is pretty limited.

ZM 12.31.16 at 6:14 am ( 33 )

engels,

"In a modern society, education is the most important single factor determining a person's life chances."

This isn't true depending on what you mean about life chances. If you define that as happiness and wellbeing, then family life and your mother's mental health when you are growing up, and your own emotional wellbeing by age 16 are critical defining factors, more important than educational qualifications.

I wrote on John Quiggin's blog recently I saw some interesting research on Facebook posted by the World Economic Forum, about the factors that influence whether someone is happy and has a high wellbeing score. Copying from that comment, this research says that inequality isn't the most important thing and also that educational qualifications aren't the major factor in deciding an adult's life satisfaction, but Emotional Health at age 16 is the major factor. Family income contributes higher to someone's Qualifications (0.16) , but the major contributor to Emotional Health is not family income (0.07), but their mother's mental health (0.19). The conclusions are that family life and the quality of schools, and also physical and mental health, are more important for someone's life satisfaction, than inequality is. Not that I am saying high levels of inequality isn't a problem, but I think the research is interesting nonetheless.

Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/the-origins-of-happiness

Frankie 12.31.16 at 6:43 am

reason@22,

Hawaii doesn't have local financing for schools. We have a statewide DOE. In possibly related news, we have the highest rate of private school attendance in the nation.

engels 12.31.16 at 1:53 pm ( 35 )

ZM, that came up in UK media recently thanks to Blairite economist Richard Layard, and it drew some strong rebuttals from the psychology profession:

harry b 12.31.16 at 2:12 pm

Matt - I'm sure you're right - -the stat is for all people with Masters degrees (but not PhDs) compared with all who have only Bachelors degrees and all who have PhDs.

Thing is the vast majority of people with Masters degrees do not hold them in traditional academic disciplines. But, also, in many professions, just having a Masters raises your salary (in those professions PhDs often do as well, but not by enough more to be worth the investment and risk of non-completion). Also we're talking lifetime expected earnings here - someone with a PhD might earn more in a year than someone with a Masters, but they have foregone several more years of earnings.

engels 12.31.16 at 2:47 pm ( 37 )

The most important individual predictor of getting eaten by lions in first century Rome was being a Christian. However, with hindsight I don't think improving everyone's access to Pagan worship would have been the best way of helping those people

engels 12.31.16 at 4:12 pm

Another stat I saw recently which I can't now find is that the income boost from education varies massively across capitalist countries. The 'return' on a college degree (e.g.) is much higher in US iirc than it is anywhere else.

Anyway, I'd love to live in a world in which good public education and proper mental health care were provided to all as a universal right, and not because they improve their chances of not dying on the streets. That isn't an objection to the main (pro-public-ed) thrust of the post, most of which I agreed with.

Tristian 12.31.16 at 4:58 pm ( 39 )

I think you need to work on the last part. If we look at education as an market transaction it's the parents who are the customers, not the children. Parents make the decisions and pay the costs, and it seems wrong to suppose they necessarily do this without access to information about the quality or worth of the 'product' they are 'purchasing'.

Ask any affluent parent about the best school districts in their county, or the best schools within their school districts, and you'll get confident and well informed answers.

And of course these parents act on this knowledge by spending money by buying houses in neighborhoods with good schools. Given local funding, in the US we get a nasty positive feedback loop that creates huge inequalities at the expense of less affluent parents -- better schools mean higher real estate prices which means higher assessed values which means more tax revenues for funding the better schools which means they get even better. The less affluent are steadily priced out of this market, and their choices dwindle -- they're stuck with crappy schools.

In short, prime facie the market model actually works for primary and secondary education for the reasonably wealthy. What makes it work, however, guarantees it won't work for the less wealthy. It's easy to see the attraction of schemes promising 'school choice' to those who as things stand don't have it.

Harry 12.31.16 at 5:12 pm

"Another stat I saw recently which I can't now find is that the income boost from education varies massively across capitalist countries"

Yes: roughly speaking, the flatter the income distribution, the smaller the return on additional years of education (in terms of income - not, though, access to positions, which still carry with them all sorts of non-pecuniary benefits, including better health and longer life though, again, in more egalitarian countries these benefits are less too, and because health and longevity are better at the lower end).

Barry 12.31.16 at 5:39 pm ( 41 )

harry b 12.30.16 at 11:04 pm

"engels @11 - depends where you are. IN the US a PhD earns you more (over the life course) than a Bachelor's, but less than a Master's or a Professional degree. But that's presumably because people taking Masters and Professional degreea do so for the purpose of getting a more lucrative job whereas presumably people doing PhDs do so for other reasons (my students choosing between a PhD and a Law degree know which is going to earn them more money)."

At the risk of thread derailment, they likely don't, since they don't know the salaries, and don't know the odds.

BTW – for most, the Ph.D. would get them more.

Matt 12.31.16 at 6:01 pm

Thanks, Harry – I hadn't been considering the effect of extra years spent in school, but that's surely relevant (and not just for more "professional" degrees, I assume. Someone who leaves a history/philosophy/english PhD program w/ an MA after two years and then gets a job will probably earn more than someone who spends 8+ years in the program and then several years w/ questionable employment, maybe w/o a TT job on the other side, and no more, perhaps less, qualified than the person w/ the MA.)

Harry 12.31.16 at 6:22 pm ( 43 )

Ok - my students know which is more likely to earn them more money. And I am using 'my' more restrictively than I should - I try to ensure that students with whom I discuss their futures have at least the information I do about the prospects associated with the different trajectories. And for most of them who are actually choosing between a disciplinary PhD and Law degree, I am pretty sure the probabilities in terms of income favor the Law degree: why do you think the contrary?

Kurt Schuler 12.31.16 at 11:37 pm If India is enough of an English-speaking country for you, you may wish to consider the demand for private schooling there, even among the poor.

The number of students involved dwarfs Sweden or Chile or most anywhere else. A place to start is James Tooley's book The Beautiful Tree.

engels 01.01.17 at 5:27 pm ( 45 )

Education, education, education:

Harry 01.01.17 at 6:08 pm For anyone interested, College Board produces a nice report on how higher ed pays off in the US: last edition was 2013, and it here:

https://trends.collegeboard.org/education-pays

Its very compendious (can something be *very* compendious??)

[Dec 28, 2016] The Myth of American Meritocracy

Notable quotes:
"... Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... And while I am not as focused on the poverty ve wealth dynamic. this century has revealed something very disappointing that you address. That the elites have done a very poor job of leading the ship of state, while still remaining in leadership belies such a bold hypocrisy in accountability, it's jarring. The article could actually be titled: "The Myth of the Best and the Brightest." ..."
"... They are teaching the elite how to drain all value from American companies, as the rich plan their move to China, the new land of opportunity. When 1% of the population controls such a huge portion of the wealth, patriotism becomes a loadstone to them. The elite are global. Places like Harvard cater to them, help train them to rule the world .but first they must remake it. ..."
"... In my high school, there were roughly 15 of us who had been advanced two years ahead in math. Of those, 10 were Jewish; only two of them had a 'Jewish' last name. In my graduate school class, half (7) are Jewish. None has a 'Jewish' last name. So I'm pretty dubious of the counting method that you use. ..."
"... Regarding the declining Jewish achievement, it looks like it can be primarily explained through demographics: "Intermarriage rates have risen from roughly 6% in 1950 to approximately 40–50% in the year 2000.[56][57] This, in combination with the comparatively low birthrate in the Jewish community, has led to a 5% decline in the Jewish population of the United States in the 1990s." ..."
"... Jewish surnames don't mean what they used to. And intermarriage rates are lowest among the low-performing and highly prolific Orthodox. ..."
"... A potentially bigger issue completely ignored by your article is how do colleges differentiate between 'foreign' students (overwhelmingly Asian) and American students. Many students being counted as "Asian American" are in reality wealthy and elite foreign "parachute kids" (an Asian term), dropped onto the generous American education system or into boarding schools to study for US entrance exams, qualify for resident tuition rates and scholarships, and to compete for "American" admissions slots, not for the usually limited 'foreign' admission slots. ..."
"... As some who is Jewish from the former Soviet Union, and who was denied even to take an entrance exam to a Moscow college, I am saddened to see that American educational admission process looks more and more "Soviet" nowadays. Kids are denied opportunities because of their ethnic or social background, in a supposedly free and fair country! ..."
"... Actually, Richard Feynman famously rejected genetic explanations of Jewish achievement (whether he was right or wrong to do so is another story), and aggressively resisted any attempts to list him as a "Jewish scientist" or "Jewish Nobel Prize winner." I am sure he would not cared in the slightest bit how many Jews were participating in the Physics Olympiad, as long as the quality of the students' work continued to be excellent. Here is a letter he wrote to a woman seeking to include him in a book about Jewish achievement in the sciences. ..."
"... It would be interesting to know how well "true WASPS" do in admissions. This could perhaps be estimated by counting Slavic and Italian names, or Puritan New England last names. I would expect this group to do almost as well as Jews (not quite as well, because their ability would be in the lower end of the Legacy group). ..."
"... The missing variable in this analysis is income/class. While Unz states that many elite colleges have the resources to fund every student's education, and in fact practice need-blind admissions, the student bodies are skewed towards the very highest percentile of the income and wealth distribution. SAT scores may also scale with parents' income as well. ..."
"... Having worked with folks from all manner of "elite" and not so elite schools in a technical field, the main conclusion I was able to draw was folks who went to "elite" colleges had a greater degree of entitlement. And that's it. ..."
"... My own position has always been strongly in the former camp, supporting meritocracy over diversity in elite admissions. ..."
"... The Reality of American Mediocrity ..."
"... The central test of fairness in any admissions system is to ask this simple question. Was there anyone admitted under that system admitted over someone else who was denied admission and with better grades and SAT scores and poorer ? If the answer is in the affirmative, then that system is unfair , if it is in the negative then the system is fair. ..."
"... Harvard ranks only 8th after Penn State in the production of undergrads who eventually get Doctorates in Science and Engineering. Of course Berkeley has the bragging rights for that kind of attribute. ..."
"... There is an excellent analysis of this article at The Occidental Observer by Kevin MacDonald, "Ron Unz on the Illusory American Meritocracy". The MSM is ignoring Unz's article for obvious reasons. ..."
"... Could it be that the goal of financial, rather than academic, achievement, makes many young people uninterested in competing in the science and math competitions sought out by the Asian students? I ..."
"... America never promised success through merit or equality. That is the American "dream." ..."
"... Anyone famliar with sociology and the research on social stratification knows that meritocracy is a myth; for example, if one's parents are in the bottom decile of the the income scale, the child has only a 3% chance to reach the top decile in his or her lifetime. In fact, in contrast to the Horatio Alger ideology, the U.S. has lower rates of upward mobility than almost any other developed country. Social classses exist and they tend to reproduce themselves. ..."
"... The rigid class structure of the the U.S. is one of the reasons I support progressive taxation; wealth may not always be inherited, but life outcomes are largely determined by the class position of one's parents. In this manner, it is also a myth to believe that wealth is an individual creation;most financially successful individuals have enjoyed the benefits of class privilege: good and safe schools, two-parent families, tutors, and perhaps most important of all, high expecatations and positive peer socialization (Unz never mentions the importants of peeer groups, which data show exert a strong causal unfluence on academic performance). ..."
"... And I would challenge Unz's assertion that many high-performing Asians come from impovershed backgrounds: many of them may undereport their income as small business owners. I believe that Asian success derives not only from their class background but their culture in which the parents have authority and the success of the child is crucual to the honor of the family. As they assimilate to the more individualist American ethos, I predict that their academic success will level off just as it has with Jews. ..."
"... All I can say is see a book: "Ivy League Fools and Felons"' by Mack Roth. Lots of them are kids of corrupt people in all fields. ..."
Dec 28, 2016 | www.unz.com
November 28, 2012 | The American Conservative •
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam. [1] Each year, Harvard admits just 1600 freshmen while almost 125 Harvard students now face possible suspension over this single incident. A Harvard dean described the situation as "unprecedented."

But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at America's most prestigious academic institution? In the last generation or two, the funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion of our financial, media, business, and political elites being drawn from a relatively small number of our leading universities, together with their professional schools. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually impossible today, as even America's most successful college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg often turn out to be extremely well-connected former Harvard students. Indeed, the early success of Facebook was largely due to the powerful imprimatur it enjoyed from its exclusive availability first only at Harvard and later restricted to just the Ivy League.

NetWealth During this period, we have witnessed a huge national decline in well-paid middle class jobs in the manufacturing sector and other sources of employment for those lacking college degrees, with median American wages having been stagnant or declining for the last forty years. Meanwhile, there has been an astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with America's richest 1 percent now possessing nearly as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent. [2]

This situation, sometimes described as a "winner take all society," leaves families desperate to maximize the chances that their children will reach the winners' circle, rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. And the best single means of becoming such an economic winner is to gain admission to a top university, which provides an easy ticket to the wealth of Wall Street or similar venues, whose leading firms increasingly restrict their hiring to graduates of the Ivy League or a tiny handful of other top colleges. [3] On the other side, finance remains the favored employment choice for Harvard, Yale or Princeton students after the diplomas are handed out. [4]

The Battle for Elite College Admissions

As a direct consequence, the war over college admissions has become astonishingly fierce, with many middle- or upper-middle class families investing quantities of time and money that would have seemed unimaginable a generation or more ago, leading to an all-against-all arms race that immiserates the student and exhausts the parents. The absurd parental efforts of an Amy Chua, as recounted in her 2010 bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , were simply a much more extreme version of widespread behavior among her peer-group, which is why her story resonated so deeply among our educated elites. Over the last thirty years, America's test-prep companies have grown from almost nothing into a $5 billion annual industry, allowing the affluent to provide an admissions edge to their less able children. Similarly, the enormous annual tuition of $35,000 charged by elite private schools such as Dalton or Exeter is less for a superior high school education than for the hope of a greatly increased chance to enter the Ivy League. [5]

Many New York City parents even go to enormous efforts to enroll their children in the best possible pre-Kindergarten program, seeking early placement on the educational conveyer belt which eventually leads to Harvard. [6] Others cut corners in a more direct fashion, as revealed in the huge SAT cheating rings recently uncovered in affluent New York suburbs, in which students were paid thousands of dollars to take SAT exams for their wealthier but dimmer classmates. [7]

But given such massive social and economic value now concentrated in a Harvard or Yale degree, the tiny handful of elite admissions gatekeepers enjoy enormous, almost unprecedented power to shape the leadership of our society by allocating their supply of thick envelopes. Even billionaires, media barons, and U.S. Senators may weigh their words and actions more carefully as their children approach college age. And if such power is used to select our future elites in a corrupt manner, perhaps the inevitable result is the selection of corrupt elites, with terrible consequences for America. Thus, the huge Harvard cheating scandal, and perhaps also the endless series of financial, business, and political scandals which have rocked our country over the last decade or more, even while our national economy has stagnated.

Just a few years ago Pulitzer Prize-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden published The Price of Admission , a devastating account of the corrupt admissions practices at so many of our leading universities, in which every sort of non-academic or financial factor plays a role in privileging the privileged and thereby squeezing out those high-ability, hard-working students who lack any special hook.

In one particularly egregious case, a wealthy New Jersey real estate developer, later sent to Federal prison on political corruption charges, paid Harvard $2.5 million to help ensure admission of his completely under-qualified son. [8] When we consider that Harvard's existing endowment was then at $15 billion and earning almost $7 million each day in investment earnings, we see that a culture of financial corruption has developed an absurd illogic of its own, in which senior Harvard administrators sell their university's honor for just a few hours worth of its regular annual income, the equivalent of a Harvard instructor raising a grade for a hundred dollars in cash.

An admissions system based on non-academic factors often amounting to institutionalized venality would seem strange or even unthinkable among the top universities of most other advanced nations in Europe or Asia, though such practices are widespread in much of the corrupt Third World. The notion of a wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude of Europe's Nordic or Germanic nations is even more severe, with those far more egalitarian societies anyway tending to deemphasize university rankings.

EliteCommInc., November 28, 2012 at 11:09 am GMT

Well, legacy programs are alive and well. According to the read, here's the problem:

"The research certainly supports the widespread perception that non-academic factors play a major role in the process, including athletic ability and "legacy" status. But as we saw earlier, even more significant are racial factors, with black ancestry being worth the equivalent of 310 points, Hispanics gaining 130 points, and Asian students being penalized by 140 points, all relative to white applicants on the 1600 point Math and Reading SAT scale."

These arbitrary point systems while well intended are not a reflection of AA design. School lawyers in a race not be penalized for past practices, implemented their own versions of AA programs. The numbers are easy to challenge because they aren't based on tangible or narrow principles. It's weakneses are almost laughable. Because there redal goal was to thwart any real challenge that institutions were idle in addressing past acts of discrimination. To boost their diversity issues, asians were heavily recruited. Since AA has been in place a lot of faulty measures were egaged in: Quotas for quotas sake. Good for PR, lousy for AA and issues it was designed to address.

I think the statistical data hides a very important factor and practice. Most jews in this country are white as such , and as such only needed to change their names and hide behaviors as a strategy of surviving the entrance gauntlet. That segregation created a black collegiate system with it's own set of elite qualifiers demonstrates that this model isn't limited to the Ivy league.

That an elite system is devised and practiced in members of a certain club networks so as to maintain their elite status, networks and control, this is a human practice. And it once served as something to achieve. It was thought that the avenues of becoming an elite were there if one wanted to strive for it. Hard work, honesty, persistence, results . . . should yield X.

And while I am not as focused on the poverty ve wealth dynamic. this century has revealed something very disappointing that you address. That the elites have done a very poor job of leading the ship of state, while still remaining in leadership belies such a bold hypocrisy in accountability, it's jarring. The article could actually be titled: "The Myth of the Best and the Brightest."

I don't think it's just some vindictive intent. and while Americans have always known and to an extent accepted that for upper income citizens, normal was not the same as normal on the street. Fairness, was not the same jn practice nor sentiment. What may becoming increasing intolerant has been the obvious lack of accountability among elites. TARP looked like the elites looking out for each other as opposed the ship of state. I have read three books on the financials and they do not paint a pretty portrait of Ivy League leadership as to ethics, cheating, lying, covering up, and shamelessly passing the buck. I will be reading this again I am sure.

It's sad to think that we may be seeing te passing of an era. in which one aspired to be an elite not soley for their wealth, but the model they provided od leadership real or imagined. Perhaps, it passed long ago, and we are all not just noticing.
I appreciated you conclusions, not sure that I am comfortable with some of the solutions.

EliteCommInc. November 28, 2012 at 11:21 am GMT

Since I still hanker to be an elite in some manner, It is interesting to note my rather subdued response to the cheating. Sadly, this too may be an open secret of standard fair - and that is very very sad. And disappointing. Angering even.

Russell Seitz November 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm GMT

The shifting social demography of deans, house masters and admissions committees may be a more important metric than the composition of the student body, as it determines the shape of the curriculum, and the underlying culture of the university as a legacy in itself.

If Ron harrows the literary journals of the Jackson era with equal diligence. he may well turn up an essay or two expressing deep shock at Unitarians admitting too many of the Lord's preterite sheep to Harvard, or lamenting the rise of Methodism at Yale and the College of New Jersey.

Sean Gillhoolley November 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm GMT

Harvard is a university, much like Princeton and Yale, that continues based on its reputation, something that was earned in the past. When the present catches up to them people will regard them as nepotistic cauldrons of corruption.

Look at the financial disaster that befell the USA and much of the globe back in 2008. Its genesis can be found in the clever minds of those coming out of their business schools (and, oddly enough, their Physics programs as well).

They are teaching the elite how to drain all value from American companies, as the rich plan their move to China, the new land of opportunity. When 1% of the population controls such a huge portion of the wealth, patriotism becomes a loadstone to them. The elite are global. Places like Harvard cater to them, help train them to rule the world .but first they must remake it.

• Replies: @Part White, Part Native I agree, common people would never think of derivatives , nor make loans based on speculation
Rob in CT November 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm GMT

First, I appreciated the length and depth of your article.

Having said that, to boil it down to its essence:

Subconcious bias/groupthink + affirmative action/diversity focus + corruption + innumeracy = student bodies at elite institutions that are wildly skewed vis-a-vis both: 1) the ethnic makeup of the general population; and 2) the makeup of our top-performing students.

Since these institutions are pipelines to power, this matters.

I rather doubt that wage stagnation (which appears to have begun in ~1970) can be pinned on this – that part stuck out, because there are far more plausible causes. To the extent you're merely arguing that our elite failed to counter the trend, ok, but I'm not sure a "better" elite would have either. The trend, after all, favored the elite.

Anyway, I find your case is plausible.

Your inner/outer circle hybrid option is interesting. One (perhaps minor) thing jumps out at me: kids talk. The innies are going to figure out who they are and who the outies are. The outies might have their arrogance tempered, but the innies? I suspect they'd be even *more* arrogant than such folks are now (all the more so because they'd have better justification for their arrogance), but I could be wrong.

Perhaps more significantly, this:

But if it were explicitly known that the vast majority of Harvard students had merely been winners in the application lottery, top businesses would begin to cast a much wider net in their employment outreach, and while the average Harvard student would probably be academically stronger than the average graduate of a state college, the gap would no longer be seen as so enormous, with individuals being judged more on their own merits and actual achievements

Is a very good reason for Harvard, et al. to resist the idea. I think you're right that this would be a good thing for the country, but it would be bad for Harvard. I think the odds of convincing Harvard to do it out of the goodness of their administrators hearts is unlikely. You are basically asking them to purposefully damage their brand.

All in all, I think you're on to something here. I have my quibbles (the wage stagnation thing, and the graph with Chinese vs USA per capita growth come on, apples and oranges there!), but overall I think I agree that your proposal is likely superior to the status quo.

Bryan November 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm GMT

Don't forget the mess one finds after they ARE admitted to these schools. I dropped out of Columbia University in 2010.

You can "make it" on an Ivy-league campus if you are a conservative-Republican-type with all the rich country-club connections that liberals use to stereotype.

Or you can succeed if you are a poor or working-class type who is willing to toe the Affirmative Action party line and be a good "progressive" Democrat (Obama stickers, "Gay Pride" celebrations, etc.)

If you come from a poor or working-class background and are religious, or culturally conservative or libertarian in any way, you might as well save your time and money. You're not welcome, period. And if you're a military veteran you WILL be actively persecuted, no matter what the news reports claim.

It sucks. Getting accepted to Columbia was a dream come true for me. The reality broke my heart.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm GMT

Regarding the overrepresentation of Jewish students compared to their actual academic merit, I think the author overstates the role bias (subjective, or otherwise) plays in this:

1) , a likely explanation is that Jewish applicants are a step ahead in knowing how to "play the admissions game." They therefore constitute a good percentage of applicants that admission committees view as "the total package." (at least a higher percentage than scores alone would yield). Obviously money and connections plays a role in them knowing to say precisely what adcoms want to hear, but in any case, at the end of the day, if adcoms are looking for applicants with >1400 SATs, "meaningful" life experiences/accomplishments, and a personal statement that can weave it all together into a compelling narrative, the middle-upper-class east coast Jewish applicant probably constitutes a good percentage of such "total package" applicants. I will concede however that this explanation only works in explaining the prevalence of jews vs. whites in general. With respect to Asians, however, since they are likely being actively and purposefully discriminated against by adcoms, having the "complete package" would be less helpful to them.

2) Another factor is that, regardless of ethnicity, alumni children get a boost and since in the previous generation Jewish applicants were the highest achieving academic group, many of these lesser qualified jews admitted are children of alumni.

3) That ivy colleges care more about strong verbal scores than mathematics (i.e., they prefer 800V 700M over 700V 800M), and Jewish applicants make up a higher proportion of the high verbal score breakdowns.

4) Last, and perhaps more importantly we do not really know the extent of Jewish representation compared to their academic merit. Unlike admitted Asian applicants, who we know, on average, score higher than white applicants, we have no similar numbers of Jewish applicants. The PSAT numbers are helpful, but hardly dispositive considering those aren't the scores colleges use in making their decision information.

Scott McConnell November 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm GMT

@Bryan– Getting accepted to Columbia was a dream come true for me. The reality broke my heart.

I'm touched by this. I've spent tons of time at Columbia, a generation ago -- and my background fit fine -- the kind of WASP background Jews found exotic and interesting. But I can see your point, sad to say. There are other great schools -- Fordham, where my wife went to law school at night, has incredible esprit de corps - and probably, person for person, has as many lawyers doing good and interesting work as Columbia.

HAR November 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm GMT

"There are other great schools–Fordham, where my wife went to law school at night, has incredible esprit de corps - and probably, person for person, has as many lawyers doing good and interesting work as Columbia."

Someone doesn't know much about the legal market.

KXB November 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm GMT

"Tiffany was also rejected by all her other prestigious college choices, including Yale, Penn, Duke, and Wellsley, an outcome which greatly surprised and disappointed her immigrant father.88″

In the fall of 1990, my parents had me apply to 10 colleges. I had the profile of many Indian kids at the time – ranked in the top 10 of the class, editor of school paper, Boy Scouts. SAT scores could have been better, but still strong. Over 700 in all achievement tests save Bio, which was 670.

Rejected by 5 schools, waitlisted by 3, accepted into 2 – one of them the state univ.

One of my classmates, whose family was from Thailand, wound up in the same predicament as me. His response, "Basketball was designed to keep the Asian man down."

The one black kid in our group – got into MIT, dropped out after one year because he could not hack it. The kid from our school who should have gone, from an Italian-American family, and among the few who did not embrace the guido culture, went to Rennsealer instead, and had professional success after.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm GMT

As a University of Chicago alum, I infer that by avoiding the label "elite" on such a nifty chart we can be accurately categorized as "meritocratic" by The American Conservative.

Then again, this article doesn't even purport to ask why elite universities might be in the business of EDUCATING a wider population of students, or how that education takes place.

Perhaps, by ensuring that "the best" students are not concentrated in only 8 universities is why the depth and quality of America's education system remains the envy of the world.

a November 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

Two comments:

In my high school, there were roughly 15 of us who had been advanced two years ahead in math. Of those, 10 were Jewish; only two of them had a 'Jewish' last name. In my graduate school class, half (7) are Jewish. None has a 'Jewish' last name. So I'm pretty dubious of the counting method that you use.

Also, it's clear that there are Asian quotas at these schools, but it's not clear that Intel Science Fairs, etc, are the best way to estimate what level of talent Asians have relative to other groups.

I was curious so I google High School Poetry Competition, High School Constitution Competition, High School Debating Competition. None of the winners here seem to have an especially high Asian quotient. So maybe a non-technical (liberal arts) university would settle on ~25-30% instead of ~40% asian? And perhaps a (small) part of the problem is a preponderance of Asian applicants excelling in technical fields, leading to competition against each other rather than the general population? Just wonderin'

Weighty Commentary November 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

Regarding the declining Jewish achievement, it looks like it can be primarily explained through demographics: "Intermarriage rates have risen from roughly 6% in 1950 to approximately 40–50% in the year 2000.[56][57] This, in combination with the comparatively low birthrate in the Jewish community, has led to a 5% decline in the Jewish population of the United States in the 1990s."

Jewish surnames don't mean what they used to. And intermarriage rates are lowest among the low-performing and highly prolific Orthodox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Jews#Demographics

Jewish birth rates have been falling faster than the white population, especially for the non-Orthodox:

"In contrast to the ongoing trends of assimilation, some communities within American Jewry, such as Orthodox Jews, have significantly higher birth rates and lower intermarriage rates, and are growing rapidly. The proportion of Jewish synagogue members who were Orthodox rose from 11% in 1971 to 21% in 2000, while the overall Jewish community declined in number. [60] In 2000, there were 360,000 so-called "ultra-orthodox" (Haredi) Jews in USA (7.2%).[61] The figure for 2006 is estimated at 468,000 (9.4%).[61]"

http://www.jewishdatabank.org/Reports/RecentTrends_Sheskin_2011.pdf

"a very low fertility rate of 1.9, of which 1.4 will be raised as Jews (2.15 is replacement rate)"

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48899452.html

"As against the overall average of 1.86 children per Jewish woman, an informed estimate gives figures ranging upward from 3.3 children in "modern Orthodox" families to 6.6 in Haredi or "ultra-Orthodox" families to a whopping 7.9 in families of Hasidim."

These statistics would suggest that half or more of Jewish children are being born into these lower-performing groups. Given their very low intermarriage rates, a huge portion of the secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews must be intermarrying (more than half if the aggregate 43% intermarriage figure is right). And the high-performing groups may now be around 1 child per woman or lower, and worse for the youngest generation.

So a collapse in Jewish representation in youth science prizes can be mostly explained by the collapse of the distinct non-Orthodox Jewish youth.

Incidentally, intermarriage also produces people with Jewish ancestry who get classified as gentiles using last names or self-identification, reducing Jewish-gentile gaps by bringing up nominal gentile scores at the same time as nominal-Jewish scores are lowered.

Adam November 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm GMT

The center of power in this country being located in the Northeast is nothing new. Whether it be in it's Ivy League schools or the ownership of natural resources located in other regions, particularly the South, the Northeast has always had a disproportionate share of influence in the power structures, particularly political and financial, of this nation. This is one of the reasons the definition of "white" when reviewing ethnicity is so laughably inaccurate. There is a huge difference in opportunity between WASP or Jewish in the Northeast, for instance, and those of Scots Irish ancestory in the mountain south. Hopefully statistical analysis such as this can break open that stranglehold, especially as it is directly impacting a minority group in a negative fashion. Doing this exercise using say, white Baptists compared to other white subgroups, while maybe equally valid in the results, would be seen as racist by the very Ivy League system that is essentially practicing a form of racism.

Bryan November 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm GMT

Scott, thanks for your words of commiseration.

Yeah, my ultimate goal was to attend law school, and a big part of the heartbreak for me–or heartburn, the more cynical would call it–was seeing how skewed and absurd the admissions process to law school is.

I have no doubt that I could have eventually entered into a "top tier" law school, and that was a dream of mine also. I met with admissions officers from Duke, Harvard, Stanford, Fordham, etc. I was encouraged. I had the grades and background for it.

But–and I'm really not trying to sound corny 0r self-important here–what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? I really don't feel that I'm exaggerating when I say that that's exactly how it felt to me.

The best experience I had while In New York was working as an after-school programs administrator for P.S. 136, but that was only because of the kids. They'll be old and bitter and cynical soon enough.

At one point it occurred to me that I should have just started claiming "Black" as my ethnicity when I first started attending college as an adult. I never attended high-school so it couldn't have been disproved. I'm part Sicilian so I could pass for 1/4 African-American. Then I would have received the preference toward admission that, say, Michael Jordan's kids or Barack Obama's kids will receive when they claim their Ivy-league diplomas. I should have hid the "white privilege" I've enjoyed as the son of a fisherman and a waitress from one of the most economically-depressed states in America.

The bottom line is that those colleges are political brainwashing centers for a country I no longer believe in. I arrived on campus in 2009 and I'm not joking at all when I say I was actively persecuted for being a veteran and a conservative who was not drinking the Obama Kool-aid. Some big fat African-American lady, a back-room "administrator" for Columbia, straight-up threw my VA benefits certification in the garbage, so my money got delayed by almost two months. I had no idea what was going on. I had a wife and children to support.

The fact that technology has enabled us to sit here in real-time and correspond back-and-forth about the state of things doesn't really change the state of things. They are irredeemable. This country is broke and broken.

If Abraham Lincoln were born today in America he would wind up like "Uncle Teardrop" from Winter's Bone. Back then, in order to be an attorney, you simply studied law and starting trying cases. If you were good at it then you were accepted and became a lawyer. Today, something has been lost. There is no fixing it. I don't want to waste my time trying to help by being "productive" to the new tower of Babel or pretending to contribute.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm GMT

Perhaps only one thing you left out, which is especially important with regard to Jewish enrollment and applications at Ivy leagues, and other schools as well.
Jewish high school graduates actively look out for campuses with large Jewish populations, where they feel more comfortable.
I don't know the figures, but I believe Dartmouth, for example, has a much smaller Jewish population than Columbia, and it will stay that way because of a positive feedback loop. (i.e. Jews would rather be at Columbia than Dartmouth, or sometimes even rather be at NYU than Dartmouth). This explains some of the difference among different schools (and not solely better admission standards).

This is also especially relevant to your random lottery idea, which will inevitably lead to certain schools being overwhelmingly Asian, others being overwhelmingly Jewish, etc., because the percentage of applicants from every ethnicity is different in every school. This will necessarily eliminate any diversity which may or may not have existed until now.

TM says: • Website November 28, 2012 at 9:51 pm GMT

I like the lottery admissions idea a lot but the real remedy for the US education system would be to abandon the absurd elite cult altogether. There is not a shred of evidence that graduates of so-called elite institutions make good leaders. Many of them are responsible for the economic crash and some of them have brought us the disaster of the Bush presidency.

Many better functioning countries – Germany, the Scandinavians – do not have elite higher education systems. When I enrolled to University in Germany, I showed up at the enrollment office the summer before the academic year started, filled out a form (1), and provided a certified copy of my Abitur certificate proving that I was academically competent to attend University. I never wasted a minute on any of the admissions games that American middle class teenagers and their parents are subjected to. It would surely have hurt my sense of dignity to be forced to jump through all these absurd and arbitrary hoops.

Americans, due to their ignorance of everything happening outside their borders, have no clue that a system in which a person is judged by what "school" they attended is everything but normal. It is part of the reason for American dysfunction.

Luke Lea November 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm GMT

Since they are the pool from which tomorrow's governing elites will be chosen, I'd much rather see Ivy League student bodies which reflected the full ethnic and geographic diversity of the US. Right now rural and small town Americans and those of Catholic and Protestant descent who live in the South and Mid-West - roughly half the population - are woefully under-represented, which explains why their economic interests have been neglected over the last forty years. We live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic representative democracy and our policy-making elites must reflect that diversity. Else the country will come apart.

Thus I recommend 'affirmative action for all' in our elite liberal arts colleges and universities (though not our technical schools). Student bodies should be represent 'the best and the brightest' of every ethnic group and geographical area of the country. Then the old school ties will truly knit our society together in a way that is simply not happening today.

A side benefit - and I mean this seriously - is that our second and third tier colleges and universities would be improved by an influx of Asian and Ashkenazi students (even though the very best would still go to Harvard).

Jack November 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm GMT

I believe that this article raises – and then inappropriately immediately dismisses – the simplest and most likely reason for the over-representation of Jewish students at Ivy League Schools in the face of their declining bulk academic performance:

They apply to those schools in vastly disproportionate numbers.

Without actual data on the ethnicity of the applicants to these and other schools, we simply cannot rule out this simple and likely explanation.

It is quite clear that a large current of Jewish American culture places a great emphasis on elite college attendance, and among elite colleges, specifically values the Ivy League and its particular cache as opposed to other elite institutions such as MIT. Also, elite Jewish American culture, moreso than elite Asian American culture, encourages children to go far away from home for college, considering such a thing almost a right of passage, while other ethnic groups tend to encourage children to remain closer. A high performing Asian student from, say, California, is much more likely to face familial pressure to stay close to home for undergrad (Berkeley, UCLA, etc) than a high performing Jewish student from the same high school, who will likely be encouraged by his or her family to apply to many universities "back east".

Without being able to systematically compare – with real data – the ethnicities of the applicants to those offered admission, these conclusions simply cannot be accepted.

Pat Boyle November 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm GMT

Different expectations for different races should worry traditional Americans.

If we become comfortable with different academic standards for Asians will we soon be expected to apply different laws to them also? Will we apply different laws or at least different interpretations of the same laws to blacks?

The association of East Asians with CalTech is now as strong as the association of blacks with violent crime. Can not race conscious jurisprudence be far behind?

Around a millenium ago in England it mattered to the court if you were a commoner or a noble. Nobles could exercise 'high justice' with impunity. They were held to different standards. Their testimony counted for more in court. The law was class concious.

Then we had centuries of reform. We had 'Common Law'. By the time of our revolution the idea that all were equal before the law was a very American kind of idea. We were proud that unlike England we did not have a class system.

Today we seem to be on the threshold of a similar sytem of privileges and rights based on race. Let me give an example. If there were a domestic riot of somekind and a breakdown of public order, the authorities might very well impose a cufew. That makes good sense for black male teens but makes little or no sense for elderly Chinese women. I can envision a time when we have race specific policies for curfews and similar measures.

It seems to be starting in schools. It could be that the idea of equality before the law was an idea that only flourished between the fifteenth century and the twenty first.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm GMT

"But filling out a few very simple forms and having their test scores and grades scores automatically forwarded to a list of possible universities would give them at least the same chance in the lottery as any other applicant whose academic skills were adequate."

They get a lot of applications. I am guessing they chuck about 1/2 or more due to the application being incomplete, the applicant did not follow instructions, the application was sloppy, or just obviously poor grades/test scores. The interview and perhaps the essay and recommendations are necessary to chuck weirdos and psychopaths you do not want sitting next to King Fahd Jr. So the "byzantine" application process is actually necessary to reduce the number of applicants to be evaluated.

Kelly November 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm GMT

I have a friend who went to Stanford with me in the early 80s. She has two sons who recently applied to Stanford. The older son had slightly better grades and test scores. The younger son is gay. Guess which one got in?

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm GMT

Bryan,

If you were in Columbia's GS school, (or even if you were CC/SEAS/Barnard) you ought to reach out to some of on-campus and alumni veteran's groups. They can help you maneuver through the school. (I know there's one that meets at a cafe on 122 and Broadway) CU can be a lonely and forbidding place for anyone and that goes double for GSers and quadruple for veterans.

You ought to give it another go. Especially if you aren't going somewhere else that's better. Reach out to your deans and make a fuss. No one in the bureaucracy wants to help but you can force them to their job.

FN November 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm GMT

Mr. Unz, the issues of jewish/gentile intermarriage and the significance of jewish-looking names do indeed merit more consideration than they were given in this otherwise very enlightening article.

What would the percentage of jews in Ivy-League universities look like if the methodology used to determine the percentage of jewish NMS semifinalists were applied to the list of Ivy League students (or some available approximation of it)?

Ben K November 29, 2012 at 12:24 am GMT

For background: I'm an Asian-American who worked briefly in legacy admissions at an Ivy and another non-Ivy top-tier, both while in school (work-study) and as an alum on related committees.

Mendy Finkel's observations are spot on. Re: her 1st point, personal "presentation" or "branding" is often overlooked by Asian applicants. An admission officer at another Ivy joked they drew straws to assign "Night of a 1000 Lee's", so accomplished-but-indistinguishable was that group.

A few points on the Asian analysis:

1. I think this analysis would benefit from expanding beyond HYP/Ivies when considering the broader meritocracy issue. Many Asians esteem technical-leaning schools over academically-comparable liberal arts ones, even if the student isn't a science major. When I was in college in the 90′s, most Asian parents would favor a Carnegie Mellon or Hopkins over Brown, Columbia or Dartmouth (though HYP, of course, had its magnetic appeal). The enrollment percentages reflect this, and while some of this is changing, this is a fairly persistent pattern.

2. Fundraising is crucial. The Harvard Class of '77 example isn't the most telling kind of number. In my experience, Jewish alumni provide a critical mass in both the day-to-day fundraising and the resultant dollars. And they play a key role, both as givers and getters, in the signature capital campaign commitments (univ hospitals, research centers, etc.). This isn't unique to Jewish Ivy alumni; Catholic alumni of ND or Georgetown provide similar support. But it isn't clear what the future overall Asian commitment to the Ivy "culture of fundraising" will be, which will continue to be a net negative in admissions.

Sidenote: While Asians greatly value the particular civic good, they are uneasy with it being so hinged to an opaque private sector, in this case, philanthropy. That distinction, blown out a bit, speaks to some of the Republican "Asian gap".

3. I would not place too much weight on NMS comparisons between Asians and Jews. In my experience, most Asians treat the PSAT seriously, but many established Jews do not – the potential scholarship money isn't a factor, "NMS semifinalist" isn't an admissions distinction, and as Mendy highlighted, colleges don't see the scores.

On a different note, while the "weight" of an Ivy degree is significant, it's prestige is largely concentrated in the Northeast and among some overseas. In terms of facilitating access and mobility, a USC degree might serve you better in SoCal, as would an SMU one in TX.

And like J Harlan, I also hope the recent monopoly of Harvard and Yale grads in the presidency will end. No doubt, places like Whittier College, Southwest Texas State Teachers' College, and Eureka College gave earlier presidents valuable perspectives and experience that informed their governing.

But thank you, Ron, for a great provocative piece. Very well worth the read.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 12:28 am GMT

Hey Ron, your next article should be on the military academies, and all those legacies that go back to the Revolutionary War. How do you get into the French military academy, and do the cadets trace their family history back to the soldiers of Napoleon or Charles Martel or whatever?

M_Young November 29, 2012 at 1:46 am GMT

"Thus, there appears to be no evidence for racial bias against Asians, even excluding the race-neutral impact of athletic recruitment, legacy admissions, and geographical diversity."

Yes, at UCLA, at least up to 2004, Asian and white admits had nearly identical SATs and GPAs.

Further, it just isn't the case that Asians are so spectacular as people seem to think. Their average on the SAT Verbal is slightly less than whites, their average on SAT Writing is slightly more. Only in math do they have a significant advantage, 59 points or .59 standard deviation. Total advantage is about .2 over the three tests. Assuming that Harvard or Yale admit students at +3 standard deviations overall, and plugging the relative group quantiles +(3, 2.8) into a normal distribution, we get that .14% of white kids would get admitted, versus .26% of Asian kids. Or, 1.85 Asian kids for every one white kid.

But, last year 4.25 times as many whites as Asians took the SAT, so there still should be about 2.28 times as many white kids being admitted as Asians (4.25/1.85).

On GPA, whites and Asians are also pretty similar on average, 3.52 for Asians who took the SAT, 3.45 for whites who took the SAT. So that shouldn't be much of a factor.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 4:04 am GMT

I am a Cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point and generally pretty familiar with trans-national Academy admissions processes. There's an excellent comparative study of worldwide military academy admissions that was done in the late '90′s you might find interesting (IIRC it was done by a group in the NATO Defence College) and I think you will find that although soldiers are often proud of their family histories to a fault, it is not what controls entrance to the officer corps in most countries.

"Legacy" is definitely meaningless in US Military Academy admissions, although can be very helpful in the separate process of securing a political appointment to attend the Academy once accepted for admission and in an Army career. West Point is not comparable to the Ivy League schools in the country, because (ironically) the admissions department that makes those comparisons lets in an inordinate number of unqualified candidates and ensures our student body includes a wide range of candidates, from people who are unquestionably "Ivy League material" to those who don't have the intellect to hack it at any "elite" institution.

Prior the changes in admissions policies and JFK ordering an doubling of the size of the Corps of Cadets in the '60′s, we didn't have this problem. But, I digress. My point is, the Academy admissions system is very meritocratic.

Todd November 29, 2012 at 5:49 am GMT

Thank you for the great article.

I am a Jewish alum of UPenn, and graduated in the late 90s. That puts me almost a generation ago, which may be before the supposed Jewish decline you write about. I was in an 80%+ Jewish fraternity, and at least 2/3 of my overall network of friends at Penn was also Jewish. As was mentioned earlier, I have serious qualms with your methods for counting Jews based upon last name.

Based upon my admittedly non-scientific sample, the percentage of us who had traditionally Jewish last names was well under half and closer to 25%. My own last name is German, and you would never know I am Jewish based solely upon my name (nor would you based upon the surname of 3/4 of my grandparents, despite my family being 100% Jewish with no intermarriages until my sister).

By contrast, Asians are much easier to identify based upon name. You may overcount certain names like Lee that are also Caucasian, but it is highly unlikely that you will miss any Asian students when your criterion is last name.

Admittedly I skimmed parts of the article, but were other criterion used to more accurately identify the groups?

Interesting November 29, 2012 at 7:02 am GMT

Great article.

The Jewish presence is definitely understated by just looking at surnames. As is the American Indian.

My maternal grandfather was Ashkenazi and his wife was 1/2 Ashkenazi and 1/4 Apache. He changed his name to a Scots surname that matched his red hair so as to get ahead as a business man in 20s due to KKK and anti-German feelings at the time. Their kids had two PHDs and a Masters between them despite their parents running a very blue collar firm.

My surname comes from my dad and its a Scottish surname although he was 1/4 Cherokee. On that side we are members of the FF of Virignia. Altogether I am more Jewish and American Indian than anything else yet would be classified as white. I could easily claim to be
Jewish or Indian on admissions forms. I always selected white. I was NMSF.

Both my sister and I have kids. Her husband is a full blood Indian with a common English surname. One of my nieces made NMSF and another might. My sisters kids do not think of themselves as any race and check other.

My wife is 1/4 Indian and 3/4 English. My kids are young yet one has tested to an IQ in the 150s.

Once you get West of the Appalachians, there are a lot of mutts in the non-gentile whites. A lot of Jews and American Indians Anglicized themselves a generation or two ago and they are lumped into that group – as well as occupy the top percentile academically.

A Jew November 29, 2012 at 7:44 am GMT

Interesting article with parts I would agree with but also tinged with bias and conclusions that I would argue are not fully supported by the data.

I think more analysis is needed to confirm your conclusions. As others have mentioned there may be problems with your analysis of NMS scores. I think graduate admissions and achievements especially in the math and sciences would be a better measure of intellectual performance.

Now, I didn't attend an Ivy League school, instead a public university, mainly because I couldn't afford it or so I thought. I was also a NMS finalist.

But I always was of the opinion that except for the most exceptional students admission to the Ivies was based on the wealth of your family and as you mentioned there are quite a few affluent Jews so I imagine they do have a leg up. Harvard's endowment isn't as large as it is by accident.

It is interesting that you didn't discuss the stats for Stanford.

Lastly, I think your solution is wrong. The pure meritocracy is the only fair solution. Admissions should be based upon the entrance exams like in Asia and Europe.

There are plenty of options for those who don't want to compete and if the Asians dominate admissions at the top schools so be it.

Hopefully, all of this will be mute point n a few years as online education options become more popular with Universities specializing in graduate education and research.

Leon November 29, 2012 at 10:24 am GMT

Ron Unz on Asians (ie Asian Americans): "many of them impoverished immigrant families"

Why do you twice repeat this assertion. Asians are the wealthiest race and most of the wealthiest ethnic groups tracked by the Census Bureau, which includes immigrants.

A potentially bigger issue completely ignored by your article is how do colleges differentiate between 'foreign' students (overwhelmingly Asian) and American students. Many students being counted as "Asian American" are in reality wealthy and elite foreign "parachute kids" (an Asian term), dropped onto the generous American education system or into boarding schools to study for US entrance exams, qualify for resident tuition rates and scholarships, and to compete for "American" admissions slots, not for the usually limited 'foreign' admission slots.

Probably people from non-Asian countries are pulling the same stunt, but it seems likely dominated by Asians. And expect many more with the passage of the various "Dream Acts"

So American kids must compete with the offspring of all the worlds corrupt elite for what should be opportunities for US Americans.

Weighty Commentary November 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm GMT

New York PSAT data:

http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/NY_12_05_02_01.pdf

In New York Asian-Americans make up 9.5%, whites 50.4%, Latinos 18.3% and African-Americans 15.7%.

California PSAT data:

http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/CA_12_05_02_01.pdf

In California Asian-Americans make up 19.7% of PSAT takers, and whites make up 31.9%, with 37% Latino and 5.7% African-American.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm GMT

Am I the only one that finds the comparison of Asians (a race) to Jews (a religion) as basis for a case of discrimination completely flawed? I got in at Harvard and don't remember them even asking me what my religion was.

The value of diversity is absolutely key. I have a bunch of very good Asian friends and I love them dearly, but I don't believe a place like CalTech with its 40% demographics cannot truly claim to be a diverse place any more.

nooffensebut says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment November 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm GMT

Regarding the SAT, we do know more than just differences of averages between whites and Asians. We have some years of score distributions . As recently as 1992, 1.2% of whites and 5.1% of Asians scored between 750 and 800 on the math subtest. As recently as 1985, 0.20% of whites and 0.26% of Asians scored in that range on the verbal/critical reading subtest.

On a different form of the writing subtest than is currently used, 5.0% of whites and 3.0% of Asians scored greater than 60 in 1985. We also know that, as the white-Asian average verbal/critical reading gap shrank to almost nothing and the average math gap grew in Asians' favor, the standard deviations on both for Asians have been much higher than every other group but have stayed relatively unchanged and have become, in fact, slightly lower than in 1985.

Therefore, Asians probably greatly increased their share of top performers.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm GMT

@Milton F.: "Perhaps, by ensuring that "the best" students are not concentrated in only 8 universities is why the depth and quality of America's education system remains the envy of the world."

Hardly. America's education system is "the envy" because of the ability for minorities to get placement into better schools, not solely for the education they receive. Only a very select few institutions are envied for their education primarily, 90% of the colleges and universities across the country are sub-standard education providers, same with high schools.

I would imagine you're an educator at some level, more than likely, at one of the sub-standard colleges or even perhaps a high school teacher. You're attempting to be defensive of the American education system, when in reality, you're looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Working from within the system, rather than from the private sector looking back, gives you extreme tunnel vision. That, coupled with the average "closed mindedness" of educators in America is a dangerous approach to advancing the structure of the American education system. You and those like you ARE the problem and should be taken out of the equation as quickly as possible. Please retire ASAP or find another career.

Rob Schacter November 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm GMT

Aside from the complete lack of actual ivy league admission data on jewish applicants, a big problem with unz's "jewish affirmative action" claim is how difficult such a policy would be to carry out in complete secrecy.

Now, it would be one thing if Unz was claiming that jews are being admitted with similar numbers to non-jewish whites, but in close cases, admissions staff tend to favor jewish applicants. But he goes much further than that. Unz is claiming that jews, as a group, are being admitted with lower SAT scores than non-jewish whites. Not only that, but this policy is being carried out by virtually every single ivy league college and it has been going on for years. Moreover, this preference is so pervasive, that it allows jews to gain admissions at many times the rate that merit alone would yield, ultimately resulting in entering classes that are over 20% Jewish.

If a preference this deep, consistent and widespread indeed exists, there is no way it could be the result of subjective bias or intentional tribal favoritism on the part of individual decision makers. It would have to be an official, yet unstated, admissions policy in every ivy league school. Over the years, dozens (if not hundreds) of admission staff across the various ivy league colleges would be engaging in this policy, without a single peep ever leaking through about Jewish applicants getting in with subpar SAT scores. We hear insider reports all the time about one group is favored or discriminated against (we even have such an insider account in this comment thread), but we hear nothing about the largest admission preference of them all.

Remember, admissions staffs usually include other ethnic minorities. I couldn't imagine them not wondering why jews need to be given such a big boost so that they make up almost a quarter of the entering class. Even if every member of every admissions committee were Jewish liberals, it would still be almost impossible to keep this under wraps.

Obviously, I have never seen actual admission numbers for Jewish applicants, so I could be wrong, and there could in fact be an unbreakable wall of secrecy regarding the largest and most pervasive affirmative action practice in the country. Or, perhaps, the ivy league application pool contains a disproportionate amount of high scoring jewish applicants.

Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm GMT

As some who is Jewish from the former Soviet Union, and who was denied even to take an entrance exam to a Moscow college, I am saddened to see that American educational admission process looks more and more "Soviet" nowadays. Kids are denied opportunities because of their ethnic or social background, in a supposedly free and fair country!

But this is just a tip of the iceberg. The American groupthink of political correctness, lowest common denominator, and political posturing toward various political/ethnic/religious/sexual orientation groups is rotting this country inside out.

Worse things are yet to come.

Julia November 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm GMT

"Similarly, Jews were over one-quarter of the top students in the Physics Olympiad from 1986 to 1997, but have fallen to just 5 percent over the last decade, a result which must surely send Richard Feynman spinning in his grave."

Actually, Richard Feynman famously rejected genetic explanations of Jewish achievement (whether he was right or wrong to do so is another story), and aggressively resisted any attempts to list him as a "Jewish scientist" or "Jewish Nobel Prize winner." I am sure he would not cared in the slightest bit how many Jews were participating in the Physics Olympiad, as long as the quality of the students' work continued to be excellent. Here is a letter he wrote to a woman seeking to include him in a book about Jewish achievement in the sciences.

Dear Miss Levitan:

In your letter you express the theory that people of Jewish origin have inherited their valuable hereditary elements from their people. It is quite certain that many things are inherited but it is evil and dangerous to maintain, in these days of little knowledge of these matters, that there is a true Jewish race or specific Jewish hereditary character. Many races as well as cultural influences of men of all kinds have mixed into any man. To select, for approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory.

Such theoretical views were used by Hitler. Surely you cannot maintain on the one hand that certain valuable elements can be inherited from the "Jewish people," and deny that other elements which other people may find annoying or worse are not inherited by these same "people." Nor could you then deny that elements that others would consider valuable could be the main virtue of an "Aryan" inheritance.

It is the lesson of the last war not to think of people as having special inherited attributes simply because they are born from particular parents, but to try to teach these "valuable" elements to all men because all men can learn, no matter what their race.

It is the combination of characteristics of the culture of any father and his father plus the learning and ideas and influences of people of all races and backgrounds which make me what I am, good or bad. I appreciate the valuable (and the negative) elements of my background but I feel it to be bad taste and an insult to other peoples to call attention in any direct way to that one element in my composition.

At almost thirteen I dropped out of Sunday school just before confirmation because of differences in religious views but mainly because I suddenly saw that the picture of Jewish history that we were learning, of a marvelous and talented people surrounded by dull and evil strangers was far from the truth. The error of anti-Semitism is not that the Jews are not really bad after all, but that evil, stupidity and grossness is not a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general. Most non-Jewish people in America today have understood that. The error of pro-Semitism is not that the Jewish people or Jewish heritage is not really good, but rather the error is that intelligence, good will, and kindness is not, thank God, a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general.

Therefore you see at thirteen I was not only converted to other religious views but I also stopped believing that the Jewish people are in any way "the chosen people." This is my other reason for requesting not to be included in your work.

I am expecting that you will respect my wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Feynman

Ben K November 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

@Rob Schacter – your last point is basically spot-on. The Ivies are fairly unique in the high proportion of Jewish applicants. History, geographical bias, and self-selection all play a role. I think the overall preference distortion is probably not as wide as Unz claims, but you will see similar tilts at Stanford, Northwestern, etc. that reflect different preference distortions.

@Leon, two quick points.

1st – the census tracks by household, which generally overestimates Asian wealth. Many families have three generations and extended members living in one household (this reflects that many of them work together in a small family business).

2nd – most of the time, it's clear in the application (the HS, personal info, other residency info, etc.) which Asian applicants are Asian-American and which are "Parachute Kids". But the numbers are much smaller than one might think, and the implication depends on the school.

At Ivies, parachute kids (both Asian and not) tend to compete with each other in the application pool, and aren't substantially informing the broader admissions thesis in this article. I'm not saying that's right, just saying it's less material than we might think.

They more likely skew the admissions equation in great-but-not-rich liberal arts colleges (like Grinnell) and top public universities (like UCLA), which are both having budget crises and need full fare students, parachute or not. And for the publics, this includes adding more higher-tuition, out-of-state students, which further complicates assertions of just whose opportunities are being lost.

I will bring this back to fundraising and finances again, because the broader point is about who is stewarding and creating access: so long as top universities are essentially run as self-invested feedback loops, and position and resource themselves accordingly (and other universities have to compete with them), we will continue to see large, persistent discrepancies in who can participate.

Eric Rasmusen November 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm GMT

When I applied to Harvard College back in 1976, I was proud of my application essay. In it, I proposed that the US used the Israeli army as a proxy, just as the Russians were using the Cuban army at the time.
Alas, I wasn't admitted (I did get into Yale, which didn't require free-form essay like that).

This, of course, illustrates the point that coming from an Application Hell instead of from central Illinois helps a student know how to write applications. It also illustrates what might help explain the mystery of high Jewish admissions: political bias. Jews are savvier about knowing what admissions officers like to hear (including the black and Latino ones, who as a previous commentor said aren't likely to be pro-semite). They are also politically more liberal, and so don't have to fake it. And their families are more likely to read the New York Times and thus have the right "social graces" as we might call them, of this age.

It would be interesting to know how well "true WASPS" do in admissions. This could perhaps be estimated by counting Slavic and Italian names, or Puritan New England last names. I would expect this group to do almost as well as Jews (not quite as well, because their ability would be in the lower end of the Legacy group).


David in Cali November 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm GMT

The missing variable in this analysis is income/class. While Unz states that many elite colleges have the resources to fund every student's education, and in fact practice need-blind admissions, the student bodies are skewed towards the very highest percentile of the income and wealth distribution. SAT scores may also scale with parents' income as well.

Tuition and fees at these schools have nearly doubled relative to inflation in the last 25-30 years, and with home prices in desirable neighborhoods showing their own hyper-inflationary behavior over the past couple of decades (~15 yrs, especially), the income necessary to pay for these schools without burdening either the student or parents with a lot of debt has been pushed towards the top decile of earners. A big chunk of the upper middle class has been priced out. This could hit Asian professionals who may be self made harder than other groups like Jews who may be the second or third generation of relative affluence, and would thus have advantages in having less debt when starting their families and careers and be less burdened in financing their homes. Would be curious to see the same analysis if $$ could be controlled.


David in Cali November 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm GMT

I would also like to add that I am a late '80′s graduate of Wesleyan who ceased his modest but annual financial contribution to the school after reading The Gatekeepers.


Rebecca November 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm GMT

If I had a penny for every Jewish American I met (including myself) whose first and last name gave no indication of his religion or ethnicity, I'd be rich. Oh–and my brother and I have four Ivy League degrees between us.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm GMT

I almost clicked on a different link the instance I came across the word "elite" , but curiosity forced my hand.

Just yesterday my mom was remarking how my cousin had gotten into MIT with an SAT score far below what I scored, and she finished by adding that I should have applied to an ivy-league college after high school. I as always, reminded her, I'm too "black for ivy games".

I always worked hard in school, participated in olympiads and symposiums, and was a star athlete. When it came to applying for college I found myself startled when forced to "quantify" my achievements in an "application package". I did not do or engage in these activities solely to boost my chances of gaining admission into some elite college over similarly-hardworking Henry Wang or Jess Steinberg. I did these things because I loved doing them.

Sports after class was almost a relaxation activity for me. Participating in math olympiads was a way for me to get a scoop on advanced mathematics. Participating in science symposiums was a chance for me to start applying my theoretical education to solve practical problems.

The moment I realized I would have to kneel down before some admissions officer and "present my case", outlining my "blackness", athleticism, hard work, curiosity, and academic ability, in that specific order I should point, in order to have a fighting chance at getting admitted; is the moment all my "black rage" came out in an internal explosion of rebellion and disapproval of "elite colleges".

I instead applied to a college that was blind to all of the above factors. I am a firm believer that hard work and demonstrated ability always win out in the end. I've come across, come up against is a better way to put it, Ivy-league competition in college competitions and applications for co-ops and internships, and despite my lack of "eliteness" I am confident that my sheer ability and track record will put me in the "interview candidate" pool.

Finally, my opinion is: let elite schools keep doing what they are doing. It isn't a problem at all, the "elite" tag has long lost its meaning.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm GMT

The difficulty with using Jewish sounding last names to identify Jewish students works poorly in two ways today. Not only, as others have pointed out, do many Jews not have Jewish sounding last names, but there are those, my grandson for example, who have identifiably Jewish last names and not much in the way of Jewish background.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm GMT

Interesting reading. The article opens a deceptively simple statistical window into a poorly understood process - a window which I would guess even the key participants have never looked through. I especially appreciated the insights provided by the author's examination of Asian surname-frequencies and their over-representation in NMS databases.

Though this is a long and meticulously argued piece, it would have benefited from a more thorough discussion of the statistical share of legacies and athletic scholarships in elite admissions.

Perhaps, though, it would be better to focus on increasing meritocracy in the broader society, which would inevitably lead to some discounting of the value of educational credentials issued by these less than meritocratic private institutions.

It is precisely because the broader society is also in many key respects non-meritocratic that the non-meritocratic admissions practices of elite institutions are sustainable.


Anon November 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm GMT

Despite the very long and detailed argument, the writer's interpretation of a pro-Jewish admissions bias at Ivy-league schools is worryingly flawed.

First, he uses two very different methods of counting Jews: name recognition for counting various "objective" measures such as NMS semifinalists and Hillel stats for those admitted to Harvard. The first is most likely an underestimate while the latter very possibly inflated (in both cases especially due to the very large numbers of partially-Jewish students, in the many interpretations that has). I wonder how much of his argument would just go away if he simply counted the number of Jews in Harvard using the same method he used to count their numbers in the other cases. Would that really be hard to do?

Second, he overlooks the obvious two sources that can lead to such Asian/Jewish relative gaps in admissions. The first is the different groups' different focus on Science/Math vs. on Writing/Culture. It is very possible that in recent years most Asians emphasize the former while Jews the latter, which would be the natural explanation to the Caltech vs Harvard racial composition (as well as to the other stats). The second is related but different and it is the different group's bias in applications: the same cultural anecdotes would explain why Asians would favor applying to Caltech and Jews to Harvard. A natural interpretation of the data would be that Jews have learned to optimize for whatever criteria the Ivy leagues are using and the Asians are doing so for the Caltech criteria.

Most strange is the author's interpretation of how a pro-Jewish bias in admissions is actually put into effect: the application packets do not have the data of whether the applicant is Jewish or not, and I doubt that most admission officers figure it out in most cases. While it could be possible for admissions officers to have a bias for or against various types of characteristics that they see in the data in front of them (say Asian/Black/White or political activity), a systematic bias on unobserved data is a much more difficult proposition to make. Indeed the author becomes rather confused here combining the low education level of admissions officers, that they are "liberal arts or ethnic-studies majors" (really?), that they are "progressive", and that there sometimes is corruption, all together presumably leading to a bias in favor of Jews?

Finally, the author's suggestion for changing admittance criteria is down-right bizarre for a conservative: The proposal is a centralized solution that he aims to force upon the various private universities, each who can only loose from implementing it.

Despite the long detailed (but extremely flawed) article, I am afraid that it is more a reflection of the author's biases than of admissions biases.


Allan November 30, 2012 at 3:00 am GMT

Both the article and the comments are illuminating. My takeaways:

1) Affirmative action in favor of blacks and Hispanics is acknowledged.

2) Admissions officers in the Ivy League appear to limit Asian admissions somewhat relative to the numbers of qualified applicants.

3) They may also admit somewhat more Jewish applicants than would be warranted relative to their comparative academic qualifications. The degree to which this is true is muddled by the difficulty of identifying Jews by surnames, by extensive intermarriage, by changing demographics within the Jewish population, by geographic factors, and by the propensity to apply in the first place.

4) (My major takeaway.) White Protestants and Catholics are almost certainly the sole groups that are greatly under-represented relative to their qualifications as well as to raw population percentages.

5) This is due partly to subtle or open discrimination.

6) I would hypothesize that a great many of the white Protestants and Catholics who are admitted are legacies, star athletes, and the progeny of celebrities in entertainment, media, politics, and high finance. White Protestant or Catholic applicants, especially from the hinterlands, who don't fit one of these special categories–though they must be a very large component of Mr Unz's pool of top talent–are out of luck.

7) And everyone seems to think this is just fine.

The inner and outer ring idea seems to me an excellent one, though the likelihood of it happening is next to nil, both because some groups would lose disproportionate access and because the schools' imprimatur would be diminished in
value.

The larger point, made by several respondents, is that far too many institutions place far too much weight on the credentials conferred by a small group of screening institutions. The great advantage of the American system is not that it is meritocratic, either objectively or subjectively. It is that it is–or was–Protean in its flexibility. One could rise through luck or effort or brains, with credentials or without them, early in life or after false starts and setbacks. And there were regional elites or local elites rather than, as we increasingly see, a single, homogenized national elite. Success or its equivalent wasn't something institutionally conferred.

The result of the meritocratic process is that we are making a race of arrogant, entitled overlords, extremely skilled at the aggressive and assertive arts required to gain admission to, and to succeed in, a few similar and ideologically skewed universities and colleges; and who spend the remainder of their lives congratulating each other, bestowing themselves on the populace, and destroying the country.

No wonder we are where we are.


WG November 30, 2012 at 11:53 am GMT

This article is the product of careful and thoughtful research, and it identifies a problem hiding in plain sight. As a society, we have invested great trust in higher education as a transformative institution. It is clear that we have been too trusting.

That the admissions policies of elite universities are meritocratic is hardly the only wrong idea that Americans have about higher education. Blind faith in higher education has left too many people with largely worthless degrees and crushing student-loan debt.

Of course, the problems don't end with undergraduate education. The "100 reasons NOT to go to grad school" blog offers some depressing reading:

http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

The higher education establishment has failed to address so many longstanding internal structural problems that it's hard to imagine that much will change anytime soon.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm GMT

Jack above makes the following point:

"I believe that this article raises – and then inappropriately immediately dismisses – the simplest and most likely reason for the over-representation of Jewish students at Ivy League Schools in the face of their declining bulk academic performance:

They apply to those schools in vastly disproportionate numbers."

Here's the problem with that point. What Ron Unz demonstrates, quite effectively, is that today's Jews simply don't measure up to either their Asian or their White Gentile counterparts in terms of actual performance when they get into, say, Harvard. The quite massive difference in the proportions of those groups who get into Phi Beta Kappa renders this quite undeniable. What is almost certain is that policies that favored Asians and White Gentiles over the current crop of Jewish students would create a class of higher caliber in terms of academic performance.

If indeed it's true that Jews apply to Harvard in greater numbers, then, if the desire is to produce a class with the greatest academic potential, some appropriate way of correcting for the consequent distortion should be introduced. Certainly when it comes to Asians, college admissions committees have found their ways of reducing the numbers of Asians admitted, despite their intense interest in the Ivies.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm GMT

One way of understanding Unz's results here might be not so much that today's Jewish student is far less inclined to hard academic work than those of yesteryear, but rather that others - White Gentiles and Asians - have simply caught up in terms of motivation to get into elite schools and perform to the best of their abilities.

Certainly among members of the upper middle class, there has been great, and likely increasing, emphasis in recent years on the importance of an elite education and strong academic performance for ultimate success. This might well produce a much stronger class of students at the upper end applying to the Ivies.

It may be that not only the Asians, but upper middle class White Gentiles, are "The New Jews".


Howard November 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm GMT

I don't always agree with, Mr. Unz, but his expositions are always provocative and informative. As far as the criticisms of his data set go, he openly admits that they are less than ideal. However, the variances are so large that the margin of error can be excused. Jews are 40 TIMES more likely to be admitted to Harvard than Gentile whites. Asians are 10 times more likely. Of course, it could be possible that Jews, because of higher average IQs, actually produce 40 times as many members in the upper reaches of the cognitive elite.

Given Richard Lynn's various IQ studies of Jews and the relative preponderance of non-Jewish and Jewish whites in the population, however, whites ought to have a 7 to 1 representation vis-a-vis Jews in Ivy League institutions, assuming the IQ cutoff is 130. Their numbers are roughly equivalent instead.

Because Ivy League admissions have been a hotbed of ethnic nepotism in the past, it seems that special care should be taken to avoid these improprieties (or the appearance thereof) in the future. But no such safeguards have been put in place. David Brooks has also struck the alarm about the tendency of elites to shut down meritocratic institutions once they have gained a foothold: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/brooks-why-our-elites-stink.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

Clannish as the WASPs may have been, they were dedicated enough to ideals of fairness and equality that they opened the doors for their own dispossession. I predict that a new Asian elite will eventually eclipse our Jewish elite. Discrimination and repression can restrain a vigorously ascendant people but for so long. When they do, it will be interesting to see if this Asian cohort clings to its longstanding Confucian meritocratic traditions, embodied in the Chinese gaokao or if it too will succumb to the temptation, ever present in a multiethnic polity, of preferring ethnic kinsmen over others.

Does anyone know how a minority such as the Uighurs fares in terms of elite Chinese university admissions?


Daniel November 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm GMT

This may sound like special-pleading, but it's not clear that full-scale IQ measures are meaningful when assessing and predicting Jewish performance. Jewish deficits on g-loaded spatial reasoning task may reflect specific visuo-spatial deficits and not deficits in g. As far as I know, no one doubts that the average Jewish VIQ is at least 112 (and possibly over 120). This score may explain jewish representation which seems to exceed what would be projected by their full-scale iq scores. Despite PIQ's correllation to mathematical ability in most populations, we ought also remember that, at least on the WAIS, it is the VIQ scale that includes the only directly mathematical subtest. We should also note that Jewish mathematicians seem to use little visualization in their reasoning (cf. Seligman

That said, I basically agree that Jews are, by and large, coasting. American Jews want their children to play hockey and join 'greek life' and stuff, not sit in libraries . It's sad for those of us who value the ivory tower, but understandable given their stigmatiziation as a nerdish people.


Nick November 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm GMT

I wonder if it would be at all possible to assess the political biases of admissions counselors at these schools by assessing the rates at which applicants from red states are admitted to the elite universities. I suppose you would have to know how many applied, and those data aren't likely to exist in the public domain.


Alex November 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm GMT

One major flaw with this article's method of determining Jewish representation: distinctive Jewish surnames in no way make up all Jewish surnames. Distinctive Jewish surnames happen to be held by only 10-12% of all American Jews. In fact, the third most common American Jewish surname after Cohen and Levy is Miller. Mr. Unz' methodology does not speak well for itself, given that he's comparing a limited set of last names against a far more carefully scrutinized estimate.

I'm not suggesting his estimate of national merit scholars and the like is off by a full 90%, but he's still ending up with a significant undercount, possibly close to half. That would still mean Jews may be "wrongfully" over-represented are many top colleges and universities, but the disproportion is nowhere near as nefarious as he would suggest.


Ben K November 30, 2012 at 11:18 pm GMT

@Nick – the "red state" application and admission rates isn't useful data.

Short answer: There are many reasons for this, but basically, historical momentum and comfort play a much bigger role in where kids apply than we think. I assure you, far more top Nebraska HS seniors want to be a Cornhusker than a Crimson, even though many would find a very receptive consideration and financial aid package.

Long answer: 1st, although this article and discussion have been framed in broad racial/cultural terms, the mechanics of college admissions are mostly local and a bit like athletic recruiting – coverage (and cultivation) of specific regions and districts, "X" high school historically deliver "X" kinds of candidates, etc. So to the degree we may see broader trends noted in the article and discussion, some of that is rooted at the HS level and lower.

2nd, in "red states", most Ivy applicants come from the few blue or neutral districts. E.g.: the only 2 Utah HS's that consistently have applicants to my Ivy alma mater are in areas that largely mirror other high-income, Dem-leaning areas nationwide rather than the rest of Utah.

3rd, but, with some variation among the schools, the Ivy student body is more politically balanced than usually assumed. Remember, most students are upper-income, Northeastern suburban and those counties' Dem/Rep ratio is often closer to 55/45 than 80/20.

But to wrap up, ideology plays a negligible role in admissions generally (there's always an exception); they have other fish to fry (see below).

@soren in Goldman's post ( http://bit.ly/TrbJSB ) and other commenters here:

"Quota against Asians" is not entirely wrong, but it's too strong because it implies the forward intent is about limiting their numbers.

Put another way, Unz believes the Ivies are failing their meritocractic mission by over-admitting a group that is neither disadvantaged nor has highest technical credentials; and this comes at the expense of a group that is more often disadvantaged and with higher technical credentials. The Ivies would likely reply, "well, we define 'meritocractic mission' differently".

That may be a legitimate counter, but it's also what needs more expansion and sunlight.

But Unz' analysis has a broader causation vs correlation gap. Just because admissions is essentially zero-sum doesn't mean every large discrepancy in it is, even after allowing for soft biases. I've mentioned these earlier in passing, but here are just a couple other factors of note:

Admissions is accountable for selection AND marketing and matriculation – these are not always complementary forces. Essentially, you want to maximize both the number and distribution (racial, geographic, types of accomplishment, etc.) of qualified applicants, but also the number you can safely turn down but without discouraging future applications, upsetting certain stakeholders (specific schools, admissions counselors/consultants, etc.) or "harming" any data in the US News rankings. And you have a very finite time to do this, and – not just your competition, but the entire sector – is essentially doing this at the same time. You can see how an admissions process would develop certain biases over time to limit risks in an unpredictable, high volume market, even if rarely intended to target a specific group. Ivy fixation (but especially around HYP) is particularly concentrated in the Northeast – a sample from several top HS' across America (public and private) would show much larger application and matriculation variations among their top students than would be assumed from Unz's thesis. Different Ivies have different competitors/peers, which influences their diversity breakdowns – to some degree, they all co-compete, but just as often don't. E.g.: Princeton often overlaps with Georgetown and Duke, Columbia with NYU and Cooper Union, Cornell with SUNY honors programs because it has some "in state" public colleges, etc.

There's much more, of course, but returning to Unz's ethnographic thesis, I have this anecdote: we have two friends in finance, whose families think much of their success. The 1st is Asian, went to Carnegie Mellon, and is a big bank's trading CTO; the 2nd is Jewish, went to Wharton, and is in private equity.

Put another way, while both families shared a pretty specific vision of success, they differed a lot in the execution. The upper echelon of universities, and the kinds of elite-level mobility they offer, are much more varied than even 25 years ago. While the relative role of HYP in our country, and their soft biases in admission, are "true enough" to merit discussion, it's probably not the discussion that was in this article.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm GMT

Alex,

While you may have a point as to the difficulty in some cases of identifying a Jewish surname, the most important thing methodologically is that the criteria be performed uniformly if one is comparing Jewish representation today vs. that of other periods. I can't think, for example, of any reason that Cohens or Levys or Golds should be any less well represented today as opposed to many years ago if indeed there has not been an underlying shift in numbers of Jews in the relevant categories. (Nor, for that matter, should issues like intermarriage affect the numbers much here - for every mother whose maiden name is Cohen who marries a non-Jew with a non-Jewish surname, and whose half Jewish child will be counted as non-Jewish, there is, on average, going to be a man named Cohen who will marry a non-Jew, and whose half Jewish child will be counted as Jewish.)


Bud Wood November 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm GMT

One might suppose that all this "inequity" and "discrimination" matters if we're keeping score. However, seems to me that too much emphasis is typically placed on equality whereas real criteria in productive and satisfying lives are neglected. Kind'a like some people wanting bragging rights as much, if not more, than wanting positive reality.

I guess I just went about my way and lived a pretty god life (so far). Who knows?; maybe those "bragging rights" are meaningful.

Bud Wood
Grad – Stanford Elec Engrg.


Neil Schipper December 1, 2012 at 4:54 am GMT

Thought provoking article.

Ditto to many comments about the "last name problem", even if its correction weakens but doesn't invalidate the argument. (One imagines, chillingly, a new sub-field: "Jewish last name theory", seeking to determine proportionalities of classic names validated against member/donor lists of synagogues and other Jewish organizations.)

Regarding the 20% inner ring suggestion, it suffers from its harsh transition. Consider a randomized derating scheme: a random number between some lower bound (say 0.90) and 1.00 is applied to each score on the ranked applicant list.

The added noise provides warmth to a cold test scores list. Such an approach nicely captures the directive: "study hard, but it's not all about the grades".

By adjusting the lower bound, you can get whatever degree of representativeness relative to the application base you want.

That it's a "just a number" (rather than a complex subjectivity-laden labyrinth incessantly hacked at by consultants) could allow interesting conversations about how it could relate to the "top 1% / bottom 50%" wealth ratio. The feedback loop wants closure.


Alex December 1, 2012 at 6:12 am GMT

You missed my point, candid. A relatively small proportion of Jews, intermarried or otherwise, have distinctive Jewish names. I didn't make that 10-12% figure up. It's been cited in numerous local Jewish population studies and is used in part (but certainly far from whole) to help estimate those populations. It's also been significantly dragged down over the years as the Jewish population (and hence the surname pool) has diversified, not just from intermarriage, but in-migration from groups who often lack "distinctive Jewish surnames" such as Jews from the former Soviet Union. Consider also that for obvious reasons, Hillel, which maintains Jewish centers on most campus, has an incentive to over-report by a bit. Jewish populations on college campuses in the distant past were easier to gather, given that it was far less un-PC to simply point blank inquire what religious background applicants came from.

Again, I'm not saying there isn't a downward trend in Jewish representation among high achievers (which, even if one were to accept Unz's figures, Jews would still be triple relative to were they "should" be). But Unz has made a pretty significant oversight in doing his calculations. That may happen to further suit his personal agenda, but it's not reality.


Anonymous December 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm GMT

This is interesting, but I suspect mostly bogus, based on your not having a decent algorithm for discovering if someone's Jewish.

I'm not sure what exact mechanism you're using to decide if a name is Jewish, but I'm certain it wouldn't have caught anyone, including myself, in my father's side of the family (Sephardic Jews from Turkey with Turkish surnames), nor my wife's family, an Ellis Island Anglo name. Or probably most of the people in her family. And certainly watching for "Levi, Cohen and Gold*" isn't going to do anything.

And none of us have even intermarried!


conatus December 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm GMT

Isn't the point about Jewish over representation in the Ivy League about absolute numbers?

Yes the Jewish demographic has a higher IQ at 115 to the Goyishe Kop 100 but Jewish people are only 2% of the population so you have 6 million Jewish people vying with 200 million white Goys for admission to the Ivy League and future control of the levers of power. That is a 33 times larger Bell curve so the right tail of the Goys' Bell curve is still much larger than the Jewish Bell curve at IQ levels of 130 and 145, supposedly there are seven times more Goys with IQs of 130 and over 4 times more Goys with IQs of 145. So why the equality of representation, one to one, Jewish to white Goy in the Ivy Leagues?


Andrew says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm GMT

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-phu-quoc-nguyen/asian-american-students_b_2173993.html I hope everyone can participate in gaining admittance and everyone can improve the system legally. Real repair is needed.


Amanda December 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm GMT

Russell K. Nieli on study by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford (mentioned by Unz):

"When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed. Their diversity-enhancement value was obviously rated very low."

..


Scott Locklin says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm GMT

Having worked with folks from all manner of "elite" and not so elite schools in a technical field, the main conclusion I was able to draw was folks who went to "elite" colleges had a greater degree of entitlement. And that's it.


Shlomo December 2, 2012 at 4:27 am GMT

If all of the author's suspicions are correct, the most noteworthy takeaway would be that Jewish applicants have absolutely no idea that they are being given preferential treatment when applying to Ivys.

Not that they think they are being discriminated against or anything, but no Jewish high school student or their parents think they have any kind of advantage, let alone such a huge one. Someone should tell all these Jews that they don't need to be so anxious!

Also, I know this is purely anecdotal but having gone to an ivy and knowing the numbers of dozens of other Jews who have also gone, I don't think I have ever witnessed a "surprise" acceptance, where someone got in with a score under the median.


Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 5:22 am GMT

I don't doubt for a minute that it's increasingly difficult for Asian students to get into so-called "elite" universities. Having grown up in that community, I know a lot of people who were pressured into applying at Harvard and Yale but ended up *gasp* going to a very good local school. My sarcasm aside, we can't really deny that having Harvard on your CV can virtually guarantee a ticket to success, regardless of whether or not you were just a C student. It happens.

But what worries me about that is the fact that I know very well how hard Asian families tend to push their children. They do, after all, have one of the highest suicide rates and that's here in the US. If by some means the Asian population at elite universities is being controlled, as I suspect it is, that's only going to make tiger mothers push their children even harder. That's not necessarily a good thing for the child's psyche, so instead of writing a novel here, I'll simply give you this link. Since the author brought up the subject of Amy Chua and her book, I think it's a pretty fitting explanation of the fears I have for my friends and their children if this trend is allowed to continue.

http://www.asianmanwhitewoman.com/jocelyn/editorial/tiger-mother-rebuttal-why-east-west-mothers-are-superior/


Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm GMT

to respond to Alice Zindagi
Asian American does not have higher suicide rate.

http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/asian-american/suicide.aspx


Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm GMT

As a former admissions staff person at Princeton, I always sigh when I read articles on elite college admissions processes which build cases on data analysis but which fail to consult with admissions experts on the interpretation of that data.

I am neither an expert in sociology, nor am I a statistician, but I have sat in that chair, reading thousands of essays, and I have a few observations:

The most selective part of any college's admissions process is the part where students themselves decides whether or not to apply. Without data on the actual applicant sets, it is, at the least, misleading to attribute incongruities between the overall population's racial/ethnic/income/what-have-you characteristics and the student bodies' make-ups entirely to the admission decisions. The reality is that there is always a struggle in the admission offices to compensate for the inequities that the applicant pool itself delivers to their doorsteps. An experienced admission officer can tell you that applicants from cultures where academics and education are highly valued, and where the emphasis on a single test is quite high, will generally present with very high SAT scores. Race does not seem to be correlated, but immigrant status from such a culture is highly correlated. (This may partially explain Unz's observation of a "decline" in Jewish scores, although I also do not believe that the surname tool for determining which scores are "Jewish" holds much water.) One of the reasons that such students often fare less well in holistic application processes is that the same culture that produces the work ethic and study skills which benefit SAT performance and GPA can also suppress activities and achievement outside of the academic arena. Therefore, to say that these students are being discriminated against because of race is a huge assumption. The true questions is whether the students with higher test scores are presenting activity, leadership and community contributions comparable to other parts of the applicant pool which are "overrepresented". All of these articles seem to miss the point that a freshman class is a fixed size pie chart. Any piece that shrinks or grows will impact the other slices. My first thought upon reading Unz' argument that the Asian slice shrank was, "What other pieces were forced to grow?" Forced growth in another slice of the class is the more likely culprit for this effect, much more likely than the idea that all of the Ivies are systematically discriminating against the latest victim. I could go on and on, but will spare you! My last note is to educate Mr. Unz on what an "Assistant Director" is in college admissions. Generally that position is equivalent to a Senior Admission Officer (one step up from entry level Admission Officer), while the head of the office might be the Dean and the next step down from that would be Associate Deans (not Assistant Directors). So while Michelle Hernandez was an Assistant Director, she was not the second in charge of Admissions, as your article implies. A minor distinction, but one which is important to point out so that her expertise and experience, as well as my own, as AN Assistant Director of Admission at Princeton, are not overstated.

A last personal note: During Princeton's four month reading season, I worked 7 days a week, usually for about 14 hours a day, in order to give the fullest, most human and considerate reading of each and every applicant that I could give. I am sure that the admission profession has its share of incompetents, corruptible people and just plain jerks, and apparently some of us are not intelligent enough to judge the superior applicants . . . . But most of us did it for love of the kids at that age (they are all superstars!), for love of our alma maters and what they did for us, and because we believed in the fairness of our process and the dignity with which we tried to do it.

The sheer numbers of applicants and the fatigue of the long winters lend themselves to making poor jokes such as the "Night of 1000 Lee's", but a good dean of admission will police such disrespect, and encourage the staff, as mine did, to read the last applicant of the day with the same effort, energy and attention paid to the first. We admission folk have our honor, despite being underpaid and playing in a no-win game with regard to media coverage of our activities. I am happy to be able to speak up for the integrity of my former colleagues and the rest of the profession.


Michael O'Hearn says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm GMT

My own position has always been strongly in the former camp, supporting meritocracy over diversity in elite admissions.

When these Ivy League institutions were first begun in the colonial period, they were not strictly speaking meritocratic. The prevailing idea was that Christocentric education is the right way to go, both from an eschatological and a temporal perspective, and the central focus was on building and strengthening family ties. The Catholic institutions of higher learning took on the vital role of preserving Church tradition from apostolic times and were thus more egalitarian and universalist. The results went far beyond all expectations.

Nothing lasts forever. Your premise misses the essential point that the economy is for man and not vice-versa.


Michael O'Hearn says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 3, 2012 at 3:09 am GMT

Perhaps this should have been titled The Reality of American Mediocrity ?


Janet Mertz December 4, 2012 at 12:56 am GMT

Many of the statements in this article relating to Jews are rather misleading: for while the Hillel data regarding percentage of students who self-identify as Jews may be fairly accurate, the numbers the author cites based upon "likely Jewish names" are a gross under-count of the real numbers, leading to the appearance of a large disparity between the two which, in reality, does not exist. The reason for the under-count is that a large percentage of American Jews have either Anglicized their family name or intermarried, resulting in their being mistaken for non-Hispanic whites. Thus, one ends up with incorrect statements such as "since 2000, the percentage (of Jewish Putnam Fellows) has dropped to under 10 percent, without a single likely Jewish name in the last seven years". The reality is that Jews, by Hillel's definition of self-identified students, have continued to be prominent among the Putnam Fellows, US IMO team members, and high scorers in the USA Mathematical Olympiad. I have published a careful analysis of the true ethnic/racial composition of the very top-performing students in these math competitions from recent years (see, Andreescu et al. Notices of the AMS 2008; http://www.ams.org/notices/200810/fea-gallian.pdf ). For example, Daniel Kane, a Putnam Fellow in 2002-2006, is 100% of Jewish ancestry; his family name had been Cohen before it was changed. Brian Lawrence was a Putnam Fellow in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011; his mother is Jewish. Furthermore, many of the non-Jewish Putnam Fellows in recent years are Eastern European or East-Asian foreigners who matriculated to college in the US; they were not US citizen non-Jewish whites or Asian-Americans, respectively. Rather, my data indicate that in recent years both Jews and Asians have been 10- to 20-over-represented in proportion to their percentage of the US population among the students who excel at the highest level in these math competitions. The authors conclusions based upon data from other types of competitions is likely similarly flawed.


mannning December 4, 2012 at 6:28 am GMT

The title of this piece captured me to read what it was all about. What was discussed was admissions into elite colleges as the only focus on "meritocracy" in America. That leaves the tail of the distribution of high IQ people in America, minus those that make it into elite colleges, to be ignored, especially those that managed to be admitted to Cal Tech, or MIT, or a number of other universities where significant intellectual power is admitted and fostered. this seems to further the meme that only the elite graduates run the nation. They may have an early advantage through connections, but I believe that the Fortune 400 CEO's are fairly evenly spread across the university world.


Eric Rasmusen December 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm GMT

A couple more thoughts:

(1) Jews are better at verbal IQ, Asians at math. Your measures are all math. That woudl be OK if all else were equal across time, but especially because Jews care a lot about admissions to Ivies, what we'd expect is that with growing Asian competition in math/science, Jews would give up and focus their energy on drama/writing/service. I wonder if Jewish kids are doing worse in music competitions too? Or rather- not even entering any more.

(2) For college numbers, adjustment for US/foreign is essential. How many Asians at Yale are foreign? It could well be that Asian-Americans are far more under-represented than it seems, because they face quota competition from a billion Chinese and a billion Indians. Cal Tech might show the same result as the Ivies.

(3) A separate but interesting study would be of humanities and science PhD programs. Different things are going on there, and the contrast with undergrads and with each other might be interseting.

MEH 0910 December 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm GMT

Half Sigma wrote about this Ron Unz article :

I also learned that Jews are no longer as prominent in math and science achievement, and that's not surprising to me at all, because everyone in the elite knows that STEM is for Asians and middle-class kids. Jewish parents have learned that colleges value sports and "leadership" activities more than raw academic achievement and nerdy activities like math olympiads, and that the most prestigious careers are value transference activities which don't require science or high-level math.

You should re-read my critique of Amy Chua's parenting advice . Jews have figured out that's crappy advice for 21st century America.

biaknabato December 6, 2012 at 12:59 am GMT

The higher representation of Jews in the Ivies compared to Asians who have better average academic records compared to Jews (applicants that is ) in the Ivies is due to the greater eligibility of Jews for preferences of every kind in the Ivies. In a typical Ivy school like Harvard, at least 60% of the freshman class will disappear because of the vast system of preferences that exists. There is no doubt that there is racial animus involved despite the denials of the Ivies and other private universities despite the constant denials involved like that of Rosovsky who happens to be a historian by training. Jews are classified as white in this country, hence there would presumably greater affinity for them among the white Board of Trustees and the adcom staff. This is in contrast to Asians who do not share the same culture or body physiogonomy as whites do.

I had read the Unz article and the Andrew Goldman response to it. I just do not agree with Unz with his solutions to this problem. First of all private schools are not going to give legacy preferences and other kinds of preferences for the simple reason that it provides a revenue stream. Harvard is nothing but a business just like your Starbucks or Mcdonald's on the corner.

Around the world private universities regarded as nothing but the dumping ground of the children of the wealthy, the famous and those with connections who cannot compete with others with regards to their talent and ability regardless of what anyone will say from abroad about the private universities in their own country. Bottomline is in other countries , the privates simply do not get the top students in the country, the top public school does. People in other countries will simply look askance at the nonsensical admissions process of the Ivies and other private schools, the system that the Ivies use for admission does not produce more creative people contrary to its claims.

The Goldman response has more to do with the humanities versus math . My simple response to Andrew Goldman would be this : a grade of A in Korean history is different from a grade of A in Jewish history, it is like comparing kiwis and bananas. The fast and decisive way of dealing with this problem is simply to deprive private schools of every single cent of tax money that practices legacy preferences and other kinds repugnant preferences be it for student aid or for research and I had been saying that for a long time. I would like to comment on the many points that had been raised here but I have no time.

Eric Rasmusen December 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm GMT

The solution to a lot of problems would be transparency. I'd love to see the admissions and grade data of even one major university. Public universities should be required to post publicly the names, SAT scores, and transcripts of every student. Allowing such posting should be a requirement for admission.

The public could then investigate further if, for example, it turned out that children of state senators had lower SAT scores. Scholars could then analyze the effect of diversity on student performance.

Of course, already many public universities (including my own, Indiana), post the salaries of their professors on the web, and I haven't seen much analysis or muckraking come out of that.

Anonymous December 8, 2012 at 12:29 am GMT

One factor hinted at in the article, but really needing to be addressed is the "school" that is being attended.

By this, I mean, you need philosophy students to keep the philosophy department going. When I was in college 20 years ago, I was a humanities major. I took 1 class in 4 years with an Asian American student. 1 class. When I walked through the business building, it was about 50% Asian.

Could Asian-American students only wanting to go to Harvard to go into business, science, or math be skewing those numbers? I don't know, but it's just a thought to put out there.

Anonymous says: • Website December 9, 2012 at 12:44 am GMT

You are preaching to the choir! I blog on this extensively on my Asian Blog: JadeLuckClub. This has been going on for the last 30 years or more! All my posts are here under Don't ID as Asian When Applying to College:

http://jadeluckclub.com/category/asian-in-america/dont-id-as-asian-when-applying-to-college/

biaknabato December 12, 2012 at 7:42 am GMT

All private schools basically practice legacy prefrences and other kinds of preferences and this practice has been going on in the Ivies since time immemorial. The income revenue from these gallery of preferences will certainly not encourage the Ivies to give them up.

In many countries around the world, private universiites are basically the dumping ground for the children of the wealthy , the famous and the well connected who could not get into the top public university of their choice in their own country. This no different from the Ivies in this country where these Ivies and other private universities are just a corral or holding pen for the children of the wealthy, the famous and the well connected and the famous who could not compete with others based on their won talent or ability.

Abroad you have basically 3 choices if you could not get into the top public university of that country , they are:

  1. Go to a less competetive public university
  2. Go to a private university
  3. or go abroad to schools like the Ivies or in other countries where the entrance requirements to a public or private university are less competetive compared to the top public universities in your own home country.

You can easily tell a top student from another country, he is the guy who is studying in this country under a government scholarship ( unless of course it was wrangled through corruption ). the one who is studying here through his own funds or through private means is likely to be the one who is a reject from the top public university in his own country. That is how life works.

I am generally satisfied with the data that Ron provided about Jews compared to Asians where Jews are lagging behind Asians at least in grades and SAT scores in the high school level, from the data I had seen posted by specialized schools in NY like Stuy , Bronx Sci, Brook Tech, Lowell (Frisco ) etc.

Ron is correct in asserting that the Ivies little represents the top students in this country. Compare UCLA and for example. For the fall 2011 entering freshman class at UCLA , there were 2391 domestic students at UCLA compared to 1148 at Harvard who scored above 700 in the Math portion of the SAT and there were 439 domestic students who scored a perfect 800 in the Math portion of the SAT at UCLA, more than Harvard or MIT certainly. For the fall 2012 freshman classs at UCLA the figure was 2409 and 447 respectively.

We can devise a freshman class that will use only income, SATS,grades as a basis of admissions that will have many top students like UCLA has using only algorithms.

The central test of fairness in any admissions system is to ask this simple question. Was there anyone admitted under that system admitted over someone else who was denied admission and with better grades and SAT scores and poorer ? If the answer is in the affirmative, then that system is unfair , if it is in the negative then the system is fair.

Anonymous December 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm GMT

I like the comments from Chales Hale. (Nov. 30, 2012) He says: "Welcome to China". It said all in three words. All of these have been experienced in China. They said there is no new things under the sun. History are nothing but repeated, China with its 5000 years experienced them all.

biaknabato December 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm GMT

I meant that there were 439 domestic students in the fall 2011 freshman class at UCLA and 447 domestic students in the fall 2012 freshman class at UCLA who scored a perfect score of 800 in the Math portion of the SAT. In either case it is bigger than what Harvard or MIT has got.

In fact for the fall 2011 of the entire UC system there were more students in the the freshman class of the entire UC system who scored above 700 in the Math portion of the SAT than the entire fall 2011 freshman of the Ivy League (Cornell not included since it is both a public and a private school )'

As I mentioned earlier there were 2409 domestic students in the fall 2012 UCLA freshman class who scored above 700 in the Math portion of the SAT. We know that Harvard had only 1148 domestic students in its fall 2011 freshman class who scored above 700 in the Math portion of the SAT, why would Harvard ever want to have that many top students like Berkeley or UCLA have ? The answer to that is simple , it has to do with money. For every additional student that Harvard will enroll it would mean money being taken out of the endowment .

Since the endowment needs constant replenishment. Where would these replenishment funds come from ? From legacies,from the children of the wealthy and the famous etc. of course . It would mean more legacy admits, more children of the wealthy admitted etc.
That would mean that the admission rate at Harvard will rise, the mean SAT score of the entering class will be no different from the mean SAT scores of the entering freshman classes of Boston University and Boston College
down the road. With rising admission rates and lower mean SAT scores for the entering freshman class that prospect will not prove appetizing or appealing to the applicant pool.

Harvard ranks only 8th after Penn State in the production of undergrads who eventually get Doctorates in Science and Engineering. Of course Berkeley has the bragging rights for that kind of attribute.

biaknabato December 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm GMT

In the scenario I had outlined above, it would mean that the mean SAT score of the Harvard freshman class will actually go down if it tried to increase the size of its freshman class and that kind of prospect ia unpalatable to Harvard and that is the reason as to why it wants to maintain its current " air of exclusivity ".

There is another way of looking at the quality of the Harvard student body. The ACM ICPC computer programming competition is regarded as the best known college competition among students around the world , it is a grueling programming marathon for 2 or 3 days presumably. Teams from universities around the world vie to win the contest that is dubbed the "Battle of the Brains " What is arguably sad is that Ivy schools, Stanford and other private schools teams fielded in the finals of the competition are basically composed of foreign students or foreign born students and foreign born coaches.

The University of Southern California team in this competition in its finals section was made up of nothing but foreign Chinese students and a Chinese coach. The USC team won the Southern California competition to win a slot in the finals. Apparently they could not find a domestic student who could fill the bill. However the USC team was roundly beaten by teams from China and Asia,Russia and Eastern Europe. The last time a US team won this competition was in 1999 by Harvey Mudd, ever since the US had gone downhill in the competition with the competition being dominated by China and Asia and by countries from Eastern Europe and Russia. Well I guess USC's strategy was trying to fight fire with fire (Chinese students studying in the US versus Chinese students from the Mainland ), and it failed.

Been there December 13, 2012 at 5:32 am GMT

Thank you Mr. Unz for scratching the surface of the various forms of corruption surrounding elite college admissions. I hope that your next article further discusses the Harvard Price (and Yale Price and Brown Price etc). The recent press surrounding the Hong Kong couple suing the person they had retained to pave their children's way into Harvard indicates the extent of the problem. This Hong Kong couple just were not savvy enough to lay their money down where it would produce results.
Additionally, a discussion of how at least some North Eastern private schools facilitate the corrupt process would be illuminating.
Finally, a more thorough discussion of whether the Asian students being admitted are US residents or nationals or whether they are foreign citizens would also be worth while and reveal. I suspect, an even lower admit percentage for US resident citizens of Asian ethnicity.
For these schools to state that their acceptances are need blind is patently untrue and further complicates the admissions process for students who are naive enough to believe that. These schools should come clean and just say that after the development admits and the wealthy legacy admits spots are purchased, the remaining few admits are handed out in a need blind fashion remembering that many of admit pools will already be filled by the development and wealthy legacy admits resulting in extraordinarily low rates for certain non-URM type candidates (I estimate in the 1% range).

Anonymous December 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm GMT

"By contrast, a similarly overwhelming domination by a tiny segment of America's current population, one which is completely misaligned in all these respects, seems far less inherently stable, especially when the institutional roots of such domination have continually increased despite the collapse of the supposedly meritocratic justification. This does not seem like a recipe for a healthy and successful society, nor one which will even long survive in anything like its current form."

I completely agree that it is not healthy for one tiny segment of our population to basically hold all the key positions in every major industry in this country. If Asians or Blacks (who look foreign) all of a sudden ran education, media, government, and finance in this country, there would be uproar and resistance. But because Jewish people look like the majority (whites), they've risen to the top without the masses noticing.

But Jewish people consider themselves a minority just like blacks and Asians. They have a tribal mentality that causes stronger ethnic nepotism than most other minority groups. And they can get away with it because no one can say anything to them lest they be branded "jew-hunters" or "anti-semists."

The question is, "where do we go from here?" True race-blind meritocracy will never be instituted on a grand scale in this country both in education and in the work force. One group currently controls most industries and the only way this country will see more balance is if other groups take more control. But if one group already controls them all and controls succession plans, how will there ever be more balance?

Larry Long says: • Website December 14, 2012 at 4:33 am GMT

If Jews become presidents or regents of universities, that's a credit to their ability. Nothing sinister there.

But when Jews (or anyone) buy into an institution to create the 'Goldman School of Business', or when they give large donations, that is not a credit to anyone's ability and there may well be something sinister there.

It is no secret that corporations and individuals look for influence, if not control, in return for cash. The same thinking can easily affect admissions policy.

It's always the same. In spite of all the jingoism about "democracy" and "freedoms" and the "free market capitalist system", the trail of money obfuscates and corrupts. It is still very true that whoever pays the piper, calls the tune. And naive to believe otherwise.

How recent was it that Princeton cancelled its anti-Semitism classes for lack of participation, and at least one Jewish organisation was screaming that Princeton would never get another penny from any Jew, ever.

That is close to absolute control of a curriculum. I give you money, and you teach what I want you to teach.

How far is that from I give you money and you admit whom I want you to admit? Or from I give you money and you hire whom I want?

A university that is properly funded by the government – "the people" – doesn't have these issues because there is nothing you can buy.

Operating educational institutions as a business, just like charities and health care, will always produce this kind of corruption.

Two other points:

1. It occurred to me that the lowly-paid underachiever admissions officers might well have been mostly Jewish, and hired for that reason, and that in itself could skew the results in a desired manner.

2. I think this is a serious criticism of the othewise excellent article:

At the end, Ron Unz wants us to believe that a $30-billion institution, the finest of its kind in the world, the envy of the known universe and beyond, the prime educator of the world's most prime elites, completely abandons its entire admissions procedures, without oversight or supervision, to a bunch of dim-witted losers of "poor human quality" who will now choose the entire next generation of the nation's elites. And may even take cash payments to do so.

Come on. Who are you kidding? Even McDonald's is smarter than this.

Anonymous December 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm GMT

Some of the comments suggest major problems with estimating who is Jewish. But the authors information is underpinned by data collected by Jewish pressure groups for the purpose of ensuring the gravy train keeps flowing. It's either their numbers, or the numbers are consistent with their numbers.

Anonymous December 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm GMT

This article, to me, is shocking and groundbreaking. I don't think anyone has gone this in-depth into this biased and un-meritocratic system. This is real analysis based on real numbers.

Why is this not getting more coverage in the media? Why are people so afraid to talk about this?

Achaean December 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm GMT

There is an excellent analysis of this article at The Occidental Observer by Kevin MacDonald, "Ron Unz on the Illusory American Meritocracy". The MSM is ignoring Unz's article for obvious reasons.

tomo December 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm GMT

I don't know if there's any truth behind the idea that Japanese Americans have become lazy relative to their Korean and Chinese counterparts. I've grew up in Southern California, a part of the country with a relatively high percentage of Japanese Americans, yet I've know very few other Japanese Americans in my life. I can recall one Japanese American classmate in jr. high, and one Japanese classmate in my high school (who returned to Japan upon graduating). Even at the UC school I attended for undergrad, I was always the only Japanese person in the every class, and the Japanese Student Association, already meager in numbers, was almost entirely made up of Japanese International students who were only here for school.

If, in fact, 1% of California is made up of Japanese Americans, I suspect they are an aging population. I also think many 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese Americans are only partially Japanese, since, out of necessity, Japanese Americans have a very high rate of out marriage.

Anonymous December 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm GMT

The carefully researched article makes a strong case that there is some discrimination against Asian-Americans at the Ivy League schools.

On the other hand, I don't see how a percentage of 40-60% Asian-Americans at the selective UC schools, even given the higher percentage of Asian-Americans in California, does not perhaps reflect reverse discrimation, or at least affirmative action on their behalf. To be sure one way or the other, we would have to see their test scores AND GPA, apparently the criteria that the UC schools use for admission, considered as well in the normalization of this statistical data.

Lynn December 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm GMT

The replies to date make some good points but also reflect precisely the biases pointed out in the article as likely causing the discussed distortions.

1) use of name data in achievement vs use of Hillel data for Ivy admits: definitely an issue but is this only one of the measures used in this study. Focusing only on this obscures the fact that Jewish enrollment as measured over time by Hillel numbers (apples to apples) increased significantly over the past decade while the percent of Jewish high school age students relative to other groups declined. One explanation for this surge could be that Jewish students became even more academically successful than they have been in the past. The achievement data using Jewish surnames is used to assess this thesis in the absence of other better data. Rejecting the surname achievement data still leaves a huge enrollment surge over time in Jewish attendance at the Ivies relative to their percentage of the population.

2) many comments accept that the numbers show disproportionate acceptance and enrollment growth but simply then go on to assert that Jewish students really are smarter (absolutely or in gaming the system) relying on anecdotal evidence that is not at all compelling. All definitions of "smarter" contain value judgments". Back in the '20s the argument was that the Ivies should rely more on objective testing to remove bias against the then high testing Jewish students; now the writers argue conveniently wthat the new subjective tests that are applied to disproportionately admit Jewish students over higher scoring Asians and non-Jewish Caucasians are better measures. In both cases, there is still an issue of using a set of factors that disproportionately favors one group. In all such cases of significant disproportionate admits, the choice of the factors used to definemmerit and their application should be carefully evaluated for bias. The burden of proof should shift to those defending the status quo in this situation. In any event, it is clear that given the large applicant pool, there is no shortage of non-Jewish caucasians and Asians who are fully qualified, so if the desire was there for a balanced entering class, the students are available to make it happen

3) the numbers don't break down admissions between men and women. When my child was an athletic recruit to Harvard, we received an ethnic breakdown of the prior year's entering class. I was surprised to discover that the Caucasian population skewed heavily male and the non-white/Asian population skewed heavily female. It seemed that Harvard achieved most of its ethnic diversity that year by admitting female URMs, which made being a Caucasian female the single most underrepresented group relative to its percentage in the school age population. I'm curious if this was an anomaly or another element of bias in the admissions process.

Titanium Dragon December 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm GMT

I will note that there is one flaw in this whole argument, and that flaw is thus:

Harvard and Yale aren't the best universities in the country. As someone who went to Vanderbilt, I knew people who had been to those universities, and their evaluation was that they were no better – and perhaps actually worse – than Vanderbilt, which is "merely" a top 25 university.

While there is a great deal of, shall we say, "insider trading" amongst graduates of those universities, in actuality they aren't actually the best universities in the country today. That honor probably goes to MIT and Caltech, which you note are far more meritocratic. But most of the other best universities are probably very close in overall level, and some of them might have a lot of advantages over those top flight universities.

Or to put it simply, the Ivy League ain't what it used to be. Yeah, it includes some of the best universities in the country, but there are numerous non-Ivy League universities that are probably on par with them. This may indeed be in part a consequence of some of what you have described in the article, as well as a sense of complacency.

I suspect that in twenty or thirty years a lot of Ivy League graduates are going to feel a lot less entitled simply because there has been an expansion of the top while they weren't paying attention.

Anonymous December 21, 2012 at 9:06 am GMT

I'm against the Ivies going up to 30-50% Asian but I'm also against the over-representation of a tiny minority group. This country is going to go downhill if we continue to let one group skirt a fair application process just because they possess money and influence. Who will stand up for fairness and equality?

McRoss December 22, 2012 at 12:49 am GMT

Many of those commenting above don't seem to be picking up on Unz's evidence of bias against white Gentiles, which by meritocratic measures is far worse than the bias against Asian Americans.

A drop of 70 PERCENT??? What's going on? Why is so much of the discussion that this article has spawned focused only on Asian Americans and (secondarily) Jews?

Anonymous December 22, 2012 at 4:11 am GMT

National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are chosen based on per-state percentiles.

What this means is that NMS semifinalist numbers would be skewed _against_ a high-performing demographic group to the extent that group's demographics concentrate geographically. Mr. Unz acknowledges that geographical skewing of Jewish populations is huge. However, he ignores its effect on the NMS semifinalist numbers he uses as a proxy for academic performance on a _national_ level to predict equitable distributions at _national_ universities.

Please somebody explain to me how this oversight isn't fatal to his arguments

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 3:22 am GMT

Surely the author must be aware that approximately half the children with "Jewish" names are not fully Jewish. Over half of the marriages west of the Mississippi are reportedly mixed. Many non-Jews have last names that start with "Gold". Just these two facts make the entire analysis ridiculous. Hillel does not keep statistics on how Jewish a student is, while many of Levys and Cohens are not actually Jewish. What would we call Amy Chua's daughters? Jewish or Asian? It is therefore impossible to tease out in a multi-racial society who is who.

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 9:12 am GMT

Mr. Unz,

I am an elementary school teacher at a Title One school in northern California. I supported your "English for the Children" initiative when it was introduced.
However, the law of unintended consequences has kicked in, and what exists now is not at all what you (or anyone else, for that matter) had intended.
The school day was not lengthened to create a time slot for English language instruction. Instead, history and science classes were elbowed aside to make way for mediocre English language instruction. These usually worthless classes have crowded out valuable core academic instruction for English language learners.

To make matters worse, while English language learners are in ESL classes, no academic instruction in science or history can be given to "regular" students because that would lead to issues of "academic inequity." In other words, if the Hispanic kids are missing out on history, the black kids have to miss out on it, too.

As a teacher, I hope you will once again consider bringing your considerable talents to focus on the education of low-income minority children in California.

Sincerely,
Shelly Moore

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm GMT

Fascinating and disturbing article.

Could it be that the goal of financial, rather than academic, achievement, makes many young people uninterested in competing in the science and math competitions sought out by the Asian students? I wonder about the different percentages of applicants to medical school versus law or business.
I must also add that I am surprised that the author used the word "data" as singular, rather than plural. Shouldn't he be stating that the data ARE, not IS; or SHOW, not SHOWS.

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm GMT

The author perhaps pays an incredible amount of attention to those with strengths in STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering, and math), even though the proportion of all native-born white students majoring in these fields has plummetted in recent decades. That means that he overlooks a shift in what kinds of training is considered "prestigious," and that this might be reflected in the pursuits of students in high school. Perhaps there is a movement away from Jewish students' focus on Math Olympiad because they are in no way interested in majoring in math or engineering fields, instead preferring economics or business. Is that the fault of the students, or of the rewards system that corporate America has set up?

Jobs in STEM fields pay considerably less than do jobs in numerous professions - investment banking and law. So that is why ~ 40% of the Harvard graduating class - including many of its Jewish students - pursue that route. But to rely on various assessments of math/science/computing as the measure of intelligence fails to incorporate how the rewards structure in our society has changed over time.

I teach at an Ivy League university, and believe that many of the authors' arguments have merit, but there are also many weaknesses in his argument. He sneers at Steinberg and the other sociologists he cites for not quite getting how society has changed - but he clearly doesn' tunderstand how other aspects of our society have changed. Many of our most talented undergrads have no desire to pursue careers in STEM fields. Entrance into STEM jobs even among those who majored in those fields is low, and there is very high attrition from those fields, among both men and women. Young adults and young professionals are voting with their feet. While our society might be better off with more Caltech grads and students interested in creating our way to a better future rather than pursuing riches on wall street, one cannot fault students for seeking to maximize their returns on their expensive education. That's the system we have presented them with, at considerable cost to the students and their families.

Personally, what I found profoundly disturbing is not the overrepresentation of Jewish students or the large presence of Asians who feel they are discriminated against, but the fact that Ivy League schools have not managed to increase their representation of Blacks for the last 3 decades. We all compete for the same talent pool. And until the K-12 system is improved, Black representation won't increase without others screaming favoritism. The other groups - high performing Asians, middle class Jews - will do fine, even if they don't get into Ivy League schools but have to "settle" for elite private schools. But if the Ivy Leagues are the pathway to prestige and power, than we're not broadening our power base enough to adequately reprewsent the demographic shifts reshaping our nation. more focus on that, please.

Anonymous says: • Website December 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm GMT

I've been an SAT tutor for a long time in West Los Angeles (a heavily Asian city), and I feel that at least some of Asians' over-representation in SAT scores and NMS finalists is due to Asian parents putting massive time and money into driving their children's success in those very statistics.

In my experience, Asian parents are more likely than other parents to attempt to ramrod their kids through test prep in order to increase their scores. For example, the few students I've ever had preparing for the PSAT - most students prepare only for the SAT - were all Asian.

Naturally, because it's so strange to be preparing for what is supposed to be a practice test, I asked these parents why their 9th or 10th grade child was in this class, and the answer was that they wanted to do well on the PSAT because of its use in the NMS! Similarly, many Asian immigrants send their children to "cram school" every day after regular school lets out (and I myself have taught SAT at one of these institutions), essentially having their students tutored in every academic subject year-round from early in elementary school.

Because whites are unlikely to do this, it would seem to me that the resulting Asian academic achievement is analogous to baseball players who use steroids having better stats than baseball players who do not.

It seems reasonable that the "merit" in "meritocracy" need not be based solely on test scores and grades, and that therefore a race-based quota system is not the only conclusion that one can draw from a decrease in the attendance rate of hard-driving test-preppers. Maybe the university didn't want to fill its dorms with grade-grubbers who are never seen because they're holed up in the library 20 hours a day, and grade-grubbers just happen to be over-represented in the Asian population?

Unz's piece analyzes only the data that lead up to college - when the Asian parents' academic influence over their children is absolute - whereas the Ivy League schools he criticizes are most concerned with what their students do during and after college. Is the kid who went to cram school his entire life as likely to join student organizations? To continue practicing his four instruments once his mom isn't forcing him to take lessons 4 days a week? To start companies and give money to his university? Or did he just peak early because his parents were working him so hard in order to get him into that college?

That's an article I'd like to read.

Dismalist December 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm GMT

The analysis is a tour de force!

However, the remedies considered are not. It is silly to believe that all abilities can be distilled into a small set of numbers, and anyway, no one knows what abilities will succeed in marketplaces. The source of the problem is the lack of competition in education, including higher education, a situation written in stone by current accreditation procedures. The solution to the problem is entry. Remember Brandeis U? With sufficient competition, colleges could take whomever they pleased, on whatever grounds, and everyone would get a chance.

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm GMT

Concerning the drop in non-Jewish white enrollment:

I am a recent graduate of a top public high school, where I was a NMS, individual state champion in Academic Decathlon, perfect ACT score, National AP Scholar, etc. etc. Many of my friends – almost exclusively white and Asian – had similar backgrounds and were eminently qualified for Ivy. None of us even applied Ivy, let alone considered going there. Why? At $60,000/yr, the cost is simply not worth it, since none of us would have been offered anything close to substantial financial aid and our parents were unable/unwilling to fully fund our educations. Meanwhile, my Asian friends applied to as many Ivies as they could because it was understood that (a) their parents would foot the bill if they got in or (b) they would take on a large debt load in order to do it.

This article discounts financial self-selection, which (at least based on my own, anecdotal evidence) is more prevalent than we tend to think.

Anonymous December 26, 2012 at 12:18 am GMT

Three points:

  1. The author ignores the role that class plays in setting kids up for success. At one point he notes, "Given that Asians accounted for just 1.5 percent of the population in 1980 and often lived in relatively impoverished immigrant families. . ." When I was at Harvard in the mid-1980s, there were two distinct groups of Asian students: children of doctors, academics, scientists and businesspeople who came from educated families in China, Korea and Vietnam, and therefore grew up with both strong educational values and parental resources to push them; and a much smaller group of kids from Chinatown and Southeast Asian communities, whose parents were usually working class and uneducated. The second group were at a severe disadvantage to the first, who were able to claim "diversity" without really having to suffer for it.
  2. I would expect you'd see the same difference among higher-caste educated South Asian Brahmins and Indians from middle and lower castes or from places like Guyana. It is ridiculous to put South Asians and East Asians in the same category as "Asian." They have different cultural traditions and immigration histories. Ask any Indian parent what race they are and they'll answer "Caucasian." Grouping them without any kind of assessment of how they might be different undermines the credibility of the author.
  3. The takeaway is not that affirmative action is damaging opportunities for whites, but that whites are losing against Asians. The percentage of Hispanic and Black students at leading schools is still tiny. Hence, if invisible quotas for Asians are lifted, there will be far fewer white students at these schools. This isn't because of any conspiracy, but because white students are scoring lower than the competition on the relevant entry requirements. I would love to see an article in this publication titled, "Why White Students Are Deficient." How about some more writing about "The White Student Achievement Gap?"
Simon December 26, 2012 at 2:35 am GMT

As parents of 2 HYP grads, We can tell you from experience that Asian students are not under-represented in the Ivies today. (In fact, I think they are slightly over represented, for the same reasons and stats the author cited).

True, if one looks at stats, such as SAT, scientific competition awards etc, it seems to imply that a +35% enrollment of Asian students is warranted. However, these indicators are just a small part of a "holistc" approach in predicting the success of a candidate not only in the next 4 years, but the individual's success in life and be able to impact and contribute to society later.

I have seen candidates of Asian background, who score almost full mark in SAT but was less than satisfactory in all other aspects of being a potential achiever in life.

Granted, if one wants to be an achiever in science and technology, by all means go with Caltech and MIT. But if one wants an real "education" and be a leader later on in life, one has to have other qualities as well (skin color is NOT one of them). Of course, history, and current cultural and political climate may influence the assessment of such qualities because it is highly subjective. (Is is unfair to pick a pleasant looking candidate over a lesser one, if the rest are the same?)

That is why an interview with the candidates is a good way to assess a potential applicant. I always encourage my children to conduct interviews locally for their alma mater.

I just hope that the Ivies do not use this holistic approach to practice quota policies.

Oh btw I am Asian.

S

Anonymous December 26, 2012 at 2:42 am GMT

Here's a quote from a friend just today about this related topic: "Just like the Catholic church in the middle ages recruited the smartest peasants in order to forestall revolutionary potential, and to learn mind bending religious dogma to befuddle the remaining peasants, current practice is much the same. To twist Billy Clinton's mantra, "its the economy stupid", No ,"its the co opted brains"! "

We can substitute economics dogma to the befuddlement mix. The bottom line is every ruling elite has co-opted the top 1%-5% of high wage earners, to make the pyramid work. Sociology writing is all over this. Veblen, Weber, etc. We can see this little group created everywhere minerals or natural resources are coveted by private empires.

The universities are doing exactly what they are supposed to do to protect the interests of the Trustees and Donors who run them for a reason. They are a tool of, not a cause of, the inequality and over-concentration. It is interesting how the story goes into hairsplitting and comparing Asians to others, etc. But, the real story is a well understood sociology story. This article explains why Napoleon established free public education after the French Revolution.

Anonymous December 26, 2012 at 2:53 am GMT

This is a fascinating article. So much data. So many inferences. It's hardly surprising to any parent of high school students that college admissions are only marginally meritocratic. Whether that's a good a thing or a bad thing is an open question. I think meritocracy has a place in college admissions. But not the only place. Consider athletics, which are themselves almost exclusively meritocratic. Only the best among the best are offered Division I scholarships. The same, I think, applies to engineering schools, the physical sciences, and (to a lesser degree), elite law schools. It also applies to auto-mechanics, plumbers, and electricians. Regarding the humanities (a field in which I hold a PhD), not so much. I think Unz's beef is less with admissions policies per se (which I agree are mind-bogglingly opaque) than with the status of elite institutions. I also think, and I may be wrong, that Unz appears heading down the Bobby Fisher highway, intimating that those pesky Jews are

Anonymous December 26, 2012 at 4:19 am GMT

America never promised success through merit or equality. That is the American "dream." America promises freedom of religious belief and the right to carry a gun.

Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm GMT

This is a fascinating and extremely important article which I am very eager to discuss privately with the author, having spent my whole life in higher education, albeit with a unique perspective. I was flabbergasted the findings about Jewish and non-Jewish white representation, and intrigued, all the more so since my own ancestry is evenly divided between those two groups. I do want to make one criticism, however of something the author said about the 1950s which I do not think is correct.

At one point in the article the author makes the claim that the breakdown of Ivy League Jewish quotas in the 1950s reflected the power of Jews in the media and Hollywood. The statistics he gives about their representation there may be correct, but the inference, I believe, is unsustainable. The Proquest historical database includes the Washington Post, New York Times, and many other major newspapers. I did a search for "Harvard AND Jewish AND quota" for the whole period 1945-65 and it turned up only 20 articles, not one of which specifically addressed the issue of Jewish quotas at Harvard and other Ivy League schools. The powerful Jews of that era had reached their positions by downplaying their origins–often including changes in their last names–and they were not about to use their positions overtly on behalf of their ethnic group. (This could be, incidentally, another parallel with today's Asians.) Those quotas were broken down, in my opinion, because of a general emphasis on real equality among Americans in those decades, which also produced the civil rights movement. The Second World War had been fought on those principles.
I could not agree more that the admissions policies of the last 30 years have produced a pathetic and self-centered elite that has done little if any good for the country as a whole.

Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 27, 2012 at 4:48 am GMT

It is really refreshing to see in print what we all know by experience, but I have to wonder out loud, what is our higher purpose? Surely, you have a largely goal than merely exposing corruption in the academy. Lastly, I have to wonder out loud, how would the predicament of the working class fit into your analysis? I thank you for this scathing indictment of higher ed that has the potential to offer us a chillingly sobering assessment.

Jordan December 27, 2012 at 5:12 am GMT

This is why we need to reinstate a robust estate tax or "death tax" as conservatives derisively call it. To break the aristocracy described in this article. No less than Alexis de Tocqueville said that the estate tax is what made America great and created a meritocracy (which now is weaker and riddled with loopholes, thus the decline of America). Aristocracies dominated Europe for centuries because they did not tax the inheritance.

Anonymous December 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm GMT

The day when I learned so many Chinese ruling class' offspring are either alumni or current students of Harvard (the latest example being Bo GuaGua), it was clear to me Harvard's admission process is corrupt. How would any ivy college determine "leadership" quality? Does growing up in a leader's family give you more innate leadership skills? Harvard obviously thinks so.

Therefore, it's not surprising that Ron said the following on this subject. " so many sons and daughters of top Chinese leaders attend college in the West ..while our own corrupt admissions practices get them an easy spot at Harvard or Stanford, sitting side by side with the children of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush." I hope world peace will be obtained within reach in this approach.

The chilling factor is a hardworking Chinese immigrant's child in the U.S. would have less chance of getting into ivies than these children of privileged.

It was also very disappointing to see another Asian parent whose children are HYP alumni saying too many Asians in ivies, despite the overwhelming evidence showing otherwise.

Peter December 28, 2012 at 3:37 am GMT

Perhaps it's to be expected given the length of the article (over 22,000 words), but so many of the objections and "oversights" raised in the comments are in fact dealt with – in detail and with a great deal of respect – by Unz in the article itself.

For example, this:

National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are chosen based on per-state percentiles.

What this means is that NMS semifinalist numbers would be skewed _against_ a high-performing demographic group to the extent that group's demographics concentrate geographically. Mr. Unz acknowledges that geographical skewing of Jewish populations is huge. However, he ignores its effect on the NMS semifinalist numbers he uses as a proxy for academic performance on a _national_ level to predict equitable distributions at _national_ universities.

Please somebody explain to me how this oversight isn't fatal to his argument

because geographical skewing of Asian populations is also huge, yet we don't witness the same patterning in admissions data pertaining to Asian students. As the article states: "Geographical diversity would certainly hurt Asian chances since nearly half their population lives in just the three states of California, New York, and Texas."

Unz goes on to note: "Both groups [Jews and Asians] are highly urbanized, generally affluent, and geographically concentrated within a few states, so the 'diversity' factors considered above would hardly seem to apply; yet Jews seem to fare much better at the admissions office."

So there's your answer.

And aside from the fact that your "basic question" has a very simple answer, it's just ludicrous in any case to suggest that the validity of the entire article rests on a single data point.

Anonymous December 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm GMT

There is no doubt this is more of a political issue than the academic one. If only merit is considered then asian american would constitute as much as 50% of the student population in elite universities. Politically and socially this is not a desired outcome. Rationale for affirmative action for the african americans and hispanics is same – leaving a large population is in elite institution is not desired, it smacks of segregation.

But the core issue remains unsolved. Affirmative action resulted in higher representation but not the competitiveness of the blacks. I am afraid whites are going the similar path.

Anonymous December 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm GMT

Anyone famliar with sociology and the research on social stratification knows that meritocracy is a myth; for example, if one's parents are in the bottom decile of the the income scale, the child has only a 3% chance to reach the top decile in his or her lifetime. In fact, in contrast to the Horatio Alger ideology, the U.S. has lower rates of upward mobility than almost any other developed country. Social classses exist and they tend to reproduce themselves.

The rigid class structure of the the U.S. is one of the reasons I support progressive taxation; wealth may not always be inherited, but life outcomes are largely determined by the class position of one's parents. In this manner, it is also a myth to believe that wealth is an individual creation;most financially successful individuals have enjoyed the benefits of class privilege: good and safe schools, two-parent families, tutors, and perhaps most important of all, high expecatations and positive peer socialization (Unz never mentions the importants of peeer groups, which data show exert a strong causal unfluence on academic performance).

And I would challenge Unz's assertion that many high-performing Asians come from impovershed backgrounds: many of them may undereport their income as small business owners. I believe that Asian success derives not only from their class background but their culture in which the parents have authority and the success of the child is crucual to the honor of the family. As they assimilate to the more individualist American ethos, I predict that their academic success will level off just as it has with Jews.

Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 2:31 am GMT

1. HYP are private universities: the success of their alumni verifies the astuteness of their admissions policies.
2. Mr. Unz equates "merit" with "academic". I wonder how many CalTech undergrads would be, or were, admitted, to HYP (and vice-versa).
3. I would like ethnic or racial stats on, for several examples, class officers, first chair musicians*, job holders, actors^, team captains, and other equally valuable (in the sense of contributing to an entering freshman class) high-school pursuits.*By 17, I had been a union trombonist for three years; at Princeton, I played in the concert band, the marching band, the concert orchestra, several jazz ensembles, and the Triangle Club orchestra.^A high school classmate was John Lithgow, the superb Hollywood character actor. Harvard gave him a full scholarship – and they should have.

Rosell December 29, 2012 at 8:00 am GMT

What if we were one homogeneous ethnic group? What dynamic would we set up then?

I suggest taking the top 20% on straight merit, based on SAT scores, whether they crammed for them or not, and take the next 50% from the economically poorest of the qualified applicants (1500 – 1600 on the SAT?) by straight ethnicity percentages to directly reflect population diversity, and 30% at random to promote some humility, and try that for 20 years and see what effects are produced in the quality of our economic and political leadership. And of course, keep them all in the dark as to how they actually got admitted.

Maybe one effect is that more non-ivy league schools will be tapped by the top recruiters.

Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm GMT

Jewish wrote:

"Surely the author must be aware that approximately half the children with "Jewish" names are not fully Jewish. Over half of the marriages west of the Mississippi are reportedly mixed. Many non-Jews have last names that start with "Gold". Just these two facts make the entire analysis ridiculous. Hillel does not keep statistics on how Jewish a student is, while many of Levys and Cohens are not actually Jewish. What would we call Amy Chua's daughters? Jewish or Asian? It is therefore impossible to tease out in a multi-racial society who is who."

Well, there are several arguments to be made. First, unless you are advocating that there has been a mass adoption of words like "Gold" in non-Jewish last names these past 10, 15 years, that argument sinks like a stone. Second, by selecting for specifically Jewish last names, intermarriage can be minimized but not eliminated. How many kids with the lastname "Goldstein" was a non-Jew in the last NMS? Not likely a lot of them.

Intermarriage can account for some fog, but not all, not by a longshot. Your entire argument reeks of bitter defensiveness. You have to come to grips that Jews have become like the old WASPs, rich, not too clever anymore, and blocking the path forward for brighter, underrepresented groups.

Sucks to be you.

Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm GMT

With all due respect, I was worried that I would get an answer that lazily points to the part of the essay that glosses over this point (which mind you I had combed through carefully before posting my question). However, I was hoping that in response someone might respond who had thought a little more carefully about the statistical fallacy in Unz's essay: that far-reaching statements about nation-wide academic performance can be drawn directly from per-state-percentiles.

Yes, Asian Americans, like Jews, have concentrations. But their geographical distributions differ. Yes, it might be possible that upon careful analysis of relative distributions of populations and NMS semifinalists in each state Unz might be able to draw a robust comparison: he might even come up with the same answer. The point that I made is that he doesn't even try.

Given the lengths Unz goes to calculate and re-calculate figures _based_on_ the assumption of _equal_ geographic distributions among Asians and Jews, it is - and I stand by this - a disservice to the reader that no effort (beyond hand-waving) is made to quantitatively show the assumption is at all justified.

Jewess December 30, 2012 at 2:02 am GMT

The statistical analysis used in this article is flawed. The author uses last names to identify the religion (or birth heritage) of NMS semifinalists? Are you serious? My son was a (recent) National Merit Finalist and graduated from an ivy league university. His mother is Jewish; his father is not, thus he has a decidedly WASP surname and according to the author's methods he would have been classified as WASP. With the growing numbers of interfaith and mixed-race children how can anyone draw conclusions about race and religion in the meritocracy or even "IQ" argument? Anecdotally, my son reported that nearly half his classmates at his ivy league were at least one-quarter Jewish (one or more parents or one grandparent). To use last names (in lieu of actual demographic data) to make the conclusion that Jews are being admitted to ivies at higher rates than similarly qualified Asians is irresponsible.

Anonymous January 2, 2013 at 2:49 am GMT

Essentially, the leftist forces in this country are trying to put the squeeze on white gentiles from both directions.

Affirmative action for underachieving minorities to take the place of white applicants.

Meritocracy for highly achieving Asians to push down white applicants, while never mentioning that full meritocracy would push out other minorities as well (that's not politically correct).

The whole thing has become more about political narrative than actual concern for justice. I want you to know that as an Asian man who graduated from Brown, I sympathize with you.

Anonymous January 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm GMT

Very interesting article. The case that East Asian students are significantly underrepresented and Jewish students overrepresented at Ivy League schools is persuasive, although not dispositive. The most glaring flaw in the analysis is the heavy reliance on performance on the PSAT (the discussion of the winners of the various Olympiad and Putnam contests has little informational value relevant to admissions, since those winners are the outliers on the tail of the distribution), which is a test that can be prepped for quite easily. Another flaw is the reliance on last names to determine ethnicity, which I doubt works well for Jews, although it probably works reasonably well for East Asians.

Unfortunately, the article is also peppered with (very) thinly supported (and implausible) claims like Asians are better at visuospatial skills, worse at verbal skills, and that the situation is reversed for Jews. This kind of claim strikes me as racial gobbledygook, and at least anecdotally belied if one considers the overrepresentation of Jews among elite chess players, both in the US and worldwide.

In any event, the fundamental point is that the PSAT (as is the case with all standardized tests) is a fixed target that can be studied for. Whether one chooses to put in 100s of hours studying for the PSAT is not, and should not be, the only criterion used for admissions.

I find the relative percentage of East Asians and Jews at schools like MIT (and also Caltech and Berkeley, although obviously those are in part distorted by the heavy concentration of East Asians in California) as compared to HYP as strong evidence that the admissions process at HYP advantages Jews and disadvantages East Asians.

I suspect, though, that the advantages Jews enjoy in the admissions process are unconscious and unintentional, whereas the disadvantages suffered by East Asians are quite conscious and intentional.

Anonymous January 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm GMT

The graph entitled "Asians Age 18-21 and Elite College Enrollment Trends, 1990-2011″ is misleading. It contrasts percentage of enrolled Asian students vs. the total number of the eligible Asian applicants. Therefore, it led to a flawed argument when comfusing number vs. percentage . For proof, if a similar graph of Hispanic student percentage vs. eligible applicants were drawn, it would appear that they were discriminated against as well. So would be the Black!

Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment January 21, 2013 at 5:03 am GMT

Hi

well, even a fair and objective admission criteria can have devastating consequences. here at IIT, we admit about 1 in 100. this has the same effect on student ethics, career options and so on. in fact, even worse, since IIT is an engineering college, the very definition of engineering in India has now distorted as serving international finance or distant masters in a globalized world. our own development problems remain unattended.

see http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~sohoni/RD.pdf

also, the above is a part of the current trend of knowledge concentration, i.e., a belief that only a few universities can impart us "true" knowledge or conduct "true" research.
see http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~sohoni/kpidc.pdf

regs, milind.

Anonymous January 24, 2013 at 1:21 am GMT

This is a very valuable article. It deals with a subject that has received too little attention. I believe that cultural bias in many cases outweighs the racial bias in the selection program. Time and again, I have seen young people with great potential being selected against because they are culturally different from what the selectors are looking for (often people who are like them culturally). The article's mentioning that students who participated in R.O.T.C., F.F.A. and/or 4H are often passed over is a good illustration.

It was interesting to note that the girl who wrote an essay on how she dealt with being caught in a drug violation found acceptance. I suspect that a student with similar academic qualifications who wrote an essay on the negative aspects of drug use would not be so lucky.

LMM

Thos. January 27, 2013 at 3:39 am GMT

comes news that Yale President Levin's successor will be Peter Salovey, tending to confirm Unz's observations regarding the grossly disproportionate number of Jewish presidents at Ivy League schools.

JF January 29, 2013 at 10:36 am GMT

All very interesting but I am among the National Merit Scholars from California who has a not obviously Jewish name despite having two Jewish parents. It was changed in the 1950s due to anti-Semitism and an urge to assimilate. A lot of other names can be German or Jewish for example. I suspect in light of that and intermarriage cases where the mom is Jewish and the dad is not, not to mention a lot of Russian names, you may be undercounting Jews among other things. Although to be fair, you are probably also undercounting some half-Asians given most of those marriages have a white husband and Asian wife.

Raymond February 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm GMT

I'm an Asian HYP grad. I applaud this article for being so extremely well researched and insightful. It's an excellent indictment of the arbitrariness and cultural favoritism concentrated in the hands of a very small group of unqualified and ideologically driven admissions officers. And I hasten to add that I am a liberal Democratic, an avid Obama supporter, and a strong proponent of correcting income inequality and combating discrimination in the workplace.

To me, the most compelling exhibit was the one towards the end which showed the % relative representation of enrolled students to highly-qualified students (I wish the article labeled the exhibits). This chart shows that in the Ivies, which administer highly subjective admission criteria, Jews are overrepresented by 3-4x, but in the California schools and MIT, which administer more objective criteria, Jews are overrepresented by only 0-50%, a range that can easily be explained by methodology or randomness.

This single exhibit is unequivocal evidence to me of systematic bias in the Ivy League selection process, with Jews as the primary beneficiary. I tend to agree with the author this this bias is unlikely to be explicit, but likely the result of cultural favoritism, with a decision-making body that is heavily Jewish tending to favor the activities, accomplishments, personalities, etc. of Jewish applicants.

The author has effectively endorsed one of the core tenets of modern liberalism – that human beings tend to favor people who look and act like themselves. It's why institutions dominated by white males tend to have pro-white male biases. The only twist here is that the decision-making body in this instance (Ivy League admissions committees) is white-Jewish, not white-Gentile.

So if you're a liberal like me, let's acknowledge that everyone is racist and sexist toward their own group, and what we have here is Jews favoring Jews. We can say that without being anti-semitic, just like we can say that men favor men without being anti-male, or whites favor whites without being anti-white.

Anonymous February 8, 2013 at 4:47 am GMT

Just some puzzling statistics: In p. 32, second paragraph, it is mentioned "The Asian ratio is 63% slightly above the white ratio of 61 percent", then in the third paragraph "However, if we separate out the Jewish students, their
ratio turns out to be 435 percent, while the residual ratio for non-Jewish whites drops to just 28 percent, less than half of even the Asian figure", leading to the conclusion that "As a consequence, Asians appear under-represented relative to Jews by a factor of seven, while non-Jewish whites are by far the most under-represented group of all". Not very clear on the analysis!

Let me try to make a guess on the calculation of this statistics ratio: Assume that all groups in NMS will apply, with mA=Asians, mJ=Jews, mW=Whites be the respective numbers in NMS. Suppose that nA, nJ, and nW are those Asians, Jews, and Whites finally admitted. Then if the statistics ratio for G means ((nG)/(mG))/(mG/mNMS), where mNMS is the total number in the NMS, then the ratio will amplify the admission rate (nG/mG) by (mNMS/mG) times and becomes very large or very small for small group size. For example, for a single person group, being admitted will give a ratio as large as mNMS, and a zero for not being admitted. Why can this ratio be used for comparing under-representation between different groups?

Anonymous February 14, 2013 at 12:29 am GMT

Very well. Loved the fact that the author put a lot into reseaching this piece. But i would like to know how many asians who manage to attend this ivy schools end up as nobel leaurets and professors?? This demonstrates the driving force behind the testscore prowess of the asians-financial motivation. The author talks about asians being under-represented in the ivies but even though they manage to attend then what?? do they eventually become eintiens and great nobel leurets or great cheese players. Also what is the stats like for asian poets, novelist, actors.etc Pls focus should be given on improving other non-ivy schools since we have a lots of high SAT test scores than high running universities.

Al February 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm GMT

Look at Nobel prizes, field medals and all kind of prizes and awards that recognize lifetime original academic contributions. Not many asians there yet. Perfect grades or SAT scores does not guarantee creativity, original thinking, intelectual curiosity or leadership. The problem is that those things are hard to measure and very easy to fake in an application.

Fred February 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm GMT

Loved all the research in the article and I am on board with the idea that moving in the tiger mother direction will kill creativity in young people. And I agree with the observation that our country's top leadership since 1970 or so has been underwhelming and dishonest especially in the financial services industry which draws almost entirely from the Ivies.

However, I am not so convinced that the over representation of Jewish students in the Ivy league is created by intentional bias on the part of Jewish professors or administrators at these institutions. Is it possible that admissions officers select Jewish applicants at such a high rate because they are more likely to actually attend? Once a family of four's income exceeds $160k the net price calculation for a year at Harvard jumps up pretty quickly. By the time you hit annual income of $200k you are looking at $43k/yr or $172k for 4 years. And at the lower income levels, even if a family has to pay just $15k a year, how will they do that if they are struggling to make it as it is? Do they want/does their student want to graduate with $60k worth of debt? Why not choose a great scholarship offer from a state university to pay nothing at all or go to community college for 2 years and then on to the state public institution?

There are many options for top students who can compete at the Ivy level. If I am an admissions officer looking to fill slots left over after minority admissions (ones poor enough to get the education for free and thus to say yes), legacies, athletic recruits, and the few super special candidates, wouldn't I choose those most likely to take me up on the admissions offer and protect my yield number? Might an easy way to get this done be to consult a demographic tool showing net worth by zip code? And to stack the yield odds a little more in my favor might I also choose families with Jewish appearing last names knowing they would be extremely likely to accept my offer since I obviously have recent history to show me that these families say yes to our prices? I think this is a much more plausible explanation then assuming some secret quota in force at these schools.

I am a conservative but I cannot believe Jewish liberals would go that far just to ensure more Jewish liberals attend their institutions or to keep conservative white non Jewish middle income students out. Dollars and cents and the perception a yield number conveys about the desirability of a school are what is at work here in my humble opinion.

Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm GMT

There is a very simple solution. There is no legal definition of race. Simply check the "Negro" (or "African-American" or whatever it is called today) box on the application form. You don't look it? Neither do many others, because your ancestry is really mixed. This may get you in. It won't hurt your chances, which are essentially zero before you check that box. At the very least, it will make it harder for the bigots in the admissions office to exercise their bigotry.

Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm GMT

"Look at Nobel prizes, field medals and all kind of prizes and awards that recognize lifetime original academic contributions. Not many asians there yet. Perfect grades or SAT scores does not guarantee creativity, original thinking, intelectual curiosity or leadership. The problem is that those things are hard to measure and very easy to fake in an application."

Last year, 75% of Ph.D candidates where foreign born, most of which were either Indian or Chinese. You should rely on statistics that are more current and relevant.

Doom March 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm GMT

Wow, another article on how corrupt higher eduation is.

Folks, open your eyes a bit. Online education is growing massively; sharing this growth are websites that write academic papers (even Ph.D. theses) on demands .these websites in toto have nearly as many customers as there are online students.

Harvard is unusual in that they actually banned students for cheating. Every investigation of cheating on campus shows it exists on a massive scale, and reports of half or more of a class cheating are quite common in the news.

The reason for this is simple: administrators care about retention, nothing else. Faculty have long since gotten the message. I've taught in higher education for nearly 25 years now, and I've seen many faculty punished for catching cheaters; not once has there been any reward.

Over 90% of remedial students fail to get a 2-year degree in three years, yet administration sees no issue with talking them into loans that will keep them in debt forever. Admin sees no issue with exploiting the vulnerable for personal gain, of course.

Here's what higher education is today: desperate people take out loans to go to college. They use the money to pay the tuition, and they use the money to buy academic papers because they really aren't there for college, they're there for the checks. Their courses are graded by poorly paid faculty (mostly adjuncts), again paid by those checks. The facutly are watched over by administrators to make sure there is no integrity to the system and again, admin is paid by those checks (in fact, most of the tuition money goes to administrators).

Hmm, what part of this could be changed that would put integrity back into the system?

Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 10:18 pm GMT

I think your sources who claim to be familiar with China are very wrong concerning entrance into Chinese universities, especially those so-called upper tier unis. It is well known amongst most Chinese students who take the gaokao, the all-or-nothing university entrance examination, bribes, guanxi (connections) and just being local, are often better indicators of who will be accepted.

• Replies: @KA Same and some more in India.
In India it is politics of the gutter. Someone can get to medical school and engineering school even if he or she did not qualify,if scored say 3 points out of 1000 points as long as he or she belonged to lower caste of Hindu. The minimum requirements they have to fulfill is to pass the school leaving examinations with science subjects .A passing level is all that matters . The process then continues (in further education -master , training, post doctoral, and in job and in promotion)
While upper caste Hindu or Christian or Muslim may not be allowed despite scoring 999 out of 1000. It is possible and has happened.
Unfortunately the lower caste has not progressed much. Upper caste Hindus have misused this on many occasions and continue to do do by selling themselves as lower caste with legal loopholes .Muslim or Christians can't do that for they can't claim to be Hindu
Bobby March 13, 2013 at 1:57 am GMT

Ron Unz is a brilliant man. He created software that made him rich, and has written articles on all kinds of subjects. But apparently, Ron shares a problem with a very tiny number of humanity. Ron is one of those oddball characters, that, no matter where the truth leads him, he simply has to express it, regardless of political correctness. He did this in California with the debate on English,etc.

Compared to the administrators of these Ivy League Institutions, Ron is a mental giant, not even near being in the same class as these supposedly important but in reality, worthless beurocrats.

Thom March 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm GMT

If ten million Gentile whites and Asians changed their surname to Kaplan, Levy, Golden, Goldstein, Goldman, it obviously would throw a monkey wrench into the process of ethnic favoritism.

To paraphrase Unz - the "shared group biases" of Ivy League college admission officers that have "extreme flexibility and subjectivity", does harm white Gentiles and Asians, but only because the process lacks objective, meritocratic decision making, and in its place is a vile form of corrupt cronyism and favoritism.

Anonymous March 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm GMT

An Asian speaking here, I agree that America isn't a meritocracy, but has it ever been? It seems like this article's falling for the oldest trick in the book - looking back at the "good old days". I'd argue that now more than ever, the barrier to entry is lower than ever, and that every individual can rise to the occasion and innovate for the better. Places like Exeter (my alma mater) aren't just playgrounds for the rich - I'm not extremely wealthy, and neither were my classmates. Most of us were even on financial aid. Don't just point fingers at institutions to account for shortcomings - if you had the stroke of fortune to be born in a nation with such opportunity, with hard work and CREATIVITY and INNOVATION, anything is possible.

Has anyone thought about why the test-prep business has expanded so much? It's to feed into the very same system that you're complaining about. Be the change you wish to see in the world, not a victim of it. To many of the Asians out there, I'd say get over your 4.0 GPA and 2400 SAT score and be unique for once.

Michael N Moore March 28, 2013 at 7:52 pm GMT

To put Unz's findings in social and historical perspective, it is important to understand where Jewish academics come from. The Eastern European Jews who immigrated to Northeast US in the Twentieth Century ran into an immigrant world dominated by Catholics and particularly Irish Catholics. The Irish, who were as "hungry" as the Jews got control over government and its ancillary economic benefits. I wasn't there at the time, but I imagine we Irish did not do much to help Jewish immigrants compared with Catholic immigrants.

One area abandoned by the Catholic Church was public and secular education. The Church formed its own educational Catholic ghetto. Jewish immigrants adopted the public-secular educational world as their own and became strong adherents of education as the key to Americanization. Education became their small piece of turf. The only memorable political conflict between Jews and AfricanAmericans in New York City was over control of the public schools.

Just as the Irish react against affirmative action for non-Irish in government jobs, the descendants of these Jewish immigrants react to the plagiarism of their assimilation plan by the Chinese/Koreans. When you have de facto Irish affirmative action you don't want de jure African American affirmative action. When you have Jewish "meritocracy" you don't want Asian meritocracy.

The result is what you see today. The Irish still have a stranglehold on government related jobs in the Northeast with a smattering of minorities ("New Irish") and the Jews try to protect their secular education turf from the "New Jews". It's just business. Don't take it personally.

marc April 7, 2013 at 4:12 pm GMT

All I can say is see a book: "Ivy League Fools and Felons"' by Mack Roth. Lots of them are kids of corrupt people in all fields.

But I disagree that opportunity is being closed off to most Americans. Here in North Dakota I work for a high school graduate, self made trucking millionaire. Five years ago she was a secretary in Iowa. But she got off her butt and went to where the money is circulating. Just my 2 cents

Anonymous April 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm GMT

Sorry, but quick correction regarding rankings (and I only have to say this because I go to MIT). Technically, MIT and Caltech are *both* ranked the same. The only reason why Caltech appears on the list before MIT is because it come before it alphabetically to suggest otherwise would be untrue. When you look at individual departments, you'll find that MIT consistently ranks higher than that of Caltech in all engineering disciplines and most scientific disciplines. Also, personally speaking, MIT has a far better humanities program that Caltech (especially in the fields of economics, political science, philosophy, and linguisitics). We do have a number of Pulitizer Prize winners who teach here.

Also generally, in academic circle, MIT is usually viewed with higher regard than Caltech, although that isn't to say Caltech isn't a fantastic school (it really and truly is–I loved it there and I wish more people knew more about it)

Rand April 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm GMT

One observation about methodology that struck me while reading this:

The Jewish population of universities is being evaluated based on Hillel statistics, with the "Non-Jewish white" population being based on the white population minus the Jewish population.

This can be problematic when you consider that these population are merging at a pretty high rate. (I don't have much information here, but this is from the header of the wikipedia article: "The 1990 National Jewish Population Survey reported an intermarriage rate of 52 percent among American Jews.")

What percentage of partially Jewish students identify as "Jewish" or does Hillel identify as Jewish? If you're taking a population that would have once identified as "white" and now identifying them as Jewish, obviously you'll see some Jewish inflation, and white deflation. And when a large percentage of this population bears the names "Smith", "Jones", "Roberts" etc., you're obviously not going to see a corresponding increase in NMS scores evaluated on the basis of last names.

Of course, I have no idea what methodology Hillel is using, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's an inflated one.

NotAmerican April 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm GMT

Thank you Mr. Unz for this provocative article. It isn't the author's first one on Jewish & Asian enrollment at Ivy League colleges. I remember another one, in the 1990s I believe.

According to what I read, less and less American Jews apply for medical school nationwide, and Jewish women are very educated, but it comes also with a low birthrate and high median age. It makes the recent spike in Jewish admissions at Harvard College all the more curious, intriguing.

This month, the NY Times published a list of the highest earners in the hedge fund industry in 2012, and 8 out of 10 were Jewish. Are certain universities aggressively seeking donations from this super rich demographic since the 2000s?

History has a way of repeating itself.

NotAmerican April 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm GMT

I'm referring to HYP(Harvard-Yale-Princeton)'s history, during the Gilded Age for example.

Ira April 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm GMT

The young American Jew is not like his grandparents. They are just as fun loving and lazy as any other. This is the result of a lack of perceived persecution that use to keep the group together. In the major cities, half of the young people leave the tribe through intermarriage. This is human nature. The Rabbis changed the rules some time ago to define a Jew as coming from the mother, so the Jewish man would marry a Jewish woman, instead of a woman outside of the tribe. Read the Bible. In David's time, the men had an eye for good looking women outside of the tribe(like all men). Now days, the young people just laugh at the Rabbi's words.

Instead of the old folks liberal ideas of race and ethnic divisions, let us change it to go by economic class. According to liberal thought, intelligence is equally distributed throughout all economic classes, so higher education admissions should be by economic class, and not the old divisive ideas of race and ethnic background. After all, affirmative action programs are institutionalized racism and racial profiling.

• Replies: @KA Yes . You have points . This is one of the fears that drove the Zionist to plan of Israel in 1880 . It was the fear of secular life free from religious persecution and freedom to enjoy life to its fullest in the post industrial non religious Europe guided by enlightenment that drove them embrace the religious ethnic mix concept of statehood.
N. Joseph Potts April 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm GMT

These and many other ills would be alleviated if government would stop: (a) banning aptitude tests or even outright discrimination as determinants of employment; (b) subsidizing private institutions such as Harvard; and (c) close down all government schools, starting with state institutions of "higher learning."

I know, pie in the sky. But the author's suggestions by comparison are mere Band-Aids.

Clark Coleman May 14, 2013 at 4:13 am GMT

Great analysis, but pie-in-the-sky prescription, which was presumably just intended to be thought provoking. If you want to know why Harvard would never adopt the author's recommendation, just read what he wrote:

"But if it were explicitly known that the vast majority of Harvard students had merely been winners in the application lottery, top businesses would begin to cast a much wider net in their employment outreach, and while the average Harvard student would probably be academically stronger than the average graduate of a state college, the gap would no longer be seen as so enormous, with individuals being judged more on their own merits and actual achievements. A Harvard student who graduated magna cum laude would surely have many doors open before him, but not one who graduated in the bottom half of his class."

I wonder why Harvard officials would desire this outcome?

Anonymous May 23, 2013 at 4:00 am GMT

So a lot of ivy league presidents with Jewish-sounding names somehow influence admissions staff who may not have Jewish-sounding names to favor undeserving applicants because they also have Jewish-sounding names? And this is because of some secret ethnic pride thing going on? And nobody's leaked this conspiracy to the outside world until our whistle blowing author? The guy's a nut job.

foo May 31, 2013 at 5:31 am GMT

Benj Pollock says: [...stuf...]

What a weird ad-hominem attack! One of the weakest I have seen..you should really be calling the author an "anti-semite" shouldn't you ?

Anonymous July 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm GMT

All of your statistics are highly suspect due to the enormous, and rapid annual increase in Jewish intermarriage. I do not have the statistics, but over many years, it certainly appears that Jewish men are far more likely to intermarry than Jewish women (the lure of the antithesis to their Jewish mother??) and to complicate matters further, Jewish men seem to have a predilection for Asian women, at least in the greater NY Metro Area. But that still does not represent the majority of Jewish men marrying Christians. QED. More Jewish last names, for children who are DNA wise only half Jewish than non Jewish names for the intermarried. And if one wanted to get really specific, the rapidly rising intermarriage is diluting the "Jewish" genetic pool's previously demonstrable intelligence superiority., strengthened by the fact that most couples use the Jewish fathers last name.
These observations are in no way associated with how the various Jewish denominations define 'Jewish"

Methinks the statistics are highly flawed.

NB says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm GMT

I have posted a critique of Unz's article here: http://alum.mit.edu/www/nurit

Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman discusses it here: http://andrewgelman.com/2013/10/22/ivy-jew-update/

In short: Unz substantially overestimated the percentage of Jews at Harvard while grossly underestimating the percentage of Jews among high academic achievers, when, in fact, there is no discrepancy.

In addition, Unz's arguments have proven to be untenable in light of a recent survey of incoming Harvard freshmen conducted by The Harvard Crimson, which found that students who identified as Jewish reported a mean SAT score of 2289, 56 points higher than the average SAT score of white respondents.

Walter Sobchak December 11, 2013 at 3:43 am GMT

I have a couple of thoughts about this article:

First. I was thrilled to see your advocacy of admissions by lottery. I have advocated such a plan on various websites that I participate in, but you have written the first major article advocating it that I have seen. Congratulations.

Just a small quibble with your plan, I would not allow the schools any running room for any alternatives to the lottery. They have not demonstrated any willingness to administer such a system fairly. After a few years of pure lottery it would be time to evaluate it and see if they should be allowed any leeway, but I wouldn't allow any variation before that.

I would hypothesize that one effect of a lottery admissions plan would be a return to more stringent grading in the class rooms. It would be useful to the faculty to weed out the poor performers more quickly, and the students might have less of an attitude of entitlement.

Second, I am glad that you raised the issue of corruption of the admissions staffs. It would be a new chapter in human history if there was no straight out bribe taking of by functionaries in their positions. My guess is that the bag men are the "high priced consultants". Pay them a years worth of tuition money and a sufficient amount will flow to the right places to get your kid in to wherever you want him to go.

Third, three observations about Jewish Students.

First, Jews are subject to mean reversion just like everybody else.

Second, the kids in the millennial generation were, for the most part, born into comfortable middle class and upper class homes. The simply do not have the drive that their immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents had. I see this in my own family. My wife and I had immigrant parents, and we were pretty driven academically (6 degrees between us). Our kids, who are just as bright as we were, did not show that same edge, and it was quite frustrating to us. None of them have gone to a graduate or professional school. They are all working and are happy, but driven they aren't.

Third, Hillel's numbers of Jewish students on their website should be taken cum grano salis. All three of our kids went to Northwestern U. (Evanston, IL) which Hillel claimed was 20% Jewish. Based on our personal observations of kids in their dorms and among their friends, I think the number is probably 10% or less.

Finally, the side bar on Paying Tuition to a Hedge Fund. I too am frustrated with the current situation among the wealthy institutions. I think that it deserves a lot more attention from policy makers than it has received. The Universities have received massive benefits from the government (Federal and state) - not just tax exemptions, but grants for research and to students, subsidized loans, tax deductions for contributions, and on, and on. They have responded to this largess by raising salaries, hiring more administrators, spending billions on construction, and continually raising tuitions far faster than the rate of inflation. I really do not think the tax payers should be carrying this much of a burden at a time when deficits are mounting without limit.

Henry VIII solved a similar problem by confiscating assets. We have constitutional limits on that sort of activity, but I think there a lot of constitutional steps that should be considered. Here a few:

1. There is ample reason to tax the the investment gains of the endowments as "unrelated business taxable income" (UBTI, see IRS Pub 598 and IRC §§ 511-515) defined as income from a business conducted by an exempt organization that is not substantially related to the performance of its exempt purpose. If they do not want to pay tax on their investments, they should purchase treasuries and municipals, and hold them to maturity.

2. The definition of an exempt organization could be narrowed to exclude schools that charge tuition. Charging $50,000/yr and sitting on 30G$ of assets looks a lot more like a business than a charity.

3. Donations to overly rich institutions should be non deductible to the donors. Overly rich should be defined in terms of working capital needs and reserves for depreciation of physical assets.

jholloway August 23, 2014 at 4:40 am GMT

Ron,

Is the proposed mechanism that Jewish university presidents create a bias in the admissions department?

That could be tested by comparing Jewish student percentages between schools with Christian and Jewish presidents. If Christian presidents produce student bodies with a high proportion of Jews, then Jewish ethnocentrism is not the cause. (We'd have to find a way to control for presidents' politics.)

If admissions departments are discriminating in favor of liberals, that will boost the proportion of all liberals, including many Jews, but it will be political discrimination, not ethnic discrimination. (Both are bad, but we should be accurate.)

Liberals see a discrepancy in ethnic outcomes and consider it proof of ethnic discrimination. Are we doing the same thing?

KA October 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm GMT

After Russian emancipation, the Jews from Pale settlement spread out and took up jobs in government services, secured admissions in technical and medical schools, and established positions in trade in just two decades. Then they started interconnecting and networking more aggressively to eliminate competition and deny the non-Jews the opportunities that the non Jews rightfully claimed. This pattern was also evident in Germany after 1880 and in Poland between interwars .

The anti-Jewish sentiment seen in pre revolutionary Russia was the product of this ethnic exclusivisity and of the tremendous in-group behaviors .

KA October 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm GMT
@Ira The young American Jew is not like his grandparents. They are just as fun loving and lazy as any other. This is the result of a lack of perceived persecution that use to keep the group together. In the major cities, half of the young people leave the tribe through intermarriage. This is human nature. The Rabbis changed the rules some time ago to define a Jew as coming from the mother, so the Jewish man would marry a Jewish woman, instead of a woman outside of the tribe. Read the Bible. In David's time, the men had an eye for good looking women outside of the tribe(like all men). Now days, the young people just laugh at the Rabbi's words.

Instead of the old folks liberal ideas of race and ethnic divisions, let us change it to go by economic class. According to liberal thought, intelligence is equally distributed throughout all economic classes, so higher education admissions should be by economic class, and not the old divisive ideas of race and ethnic background. After all, affirmative action programs are institutionalized racism and racial profiling.

Yes . You have points . This is one of the fears that drove the Zionist to plan of Israel in 1880 . It was the fear of secular life free from religious persecution and freedom to enjoy life to its fullest in the post industrial non religious Europe guided by enlightenment that drove them embrace the religious ethnic mix concept of statehood.

KA October 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm GMT
@Anonymous I think your sources who claim to be familiar with China are very wrong concerning entrance into Chinese universities, especially those so-called upper tier unis. It is well known amongst most Chinese students who take the gaokao, the all-or-nothing university entrance examination, bribes, guanxi (connections) and just being local, are often better indicators of who will be accepted.

Same and some more in India. In India it is politics of the gutter. Someone can get to medical school and engineering school even if he or she did not qualify, if scored say 3 points out of 1000 points as long as he or she belonged to lower caste of Hindu. The minimum requirements they have to fulfill is to pass the school leaving examinations with science subjects .A passing level is all that matters . The process then continues (in further education -master , training, post doctoral, and in job and in promotion)

While upper caste Hindu or Christian or Muslim may not be allowed despite scoring 999 out of 1000. It is possible and has happened. Unfortunately the lower caste has not progressed much. Upper caste Hindus have misused this on many occasions and continue to do do by selling themselves as lower caste with legal loopholes .Muslim or Christians can't do that for they can't claim to be Hindu

Ivy October 16, 2014 at 3:20 am GMT

Takeaways:
Jews are really good at networking and in-group activity. They have centuries of practice, and lived a meritocratic existence of self-sorting in the Pale and elsewhere.
That is evident to all who look.

Other groups have different approaches, and different organizational or affiliation bonds, based on their history, culture and other factors.

NE Asians share some traits, and both value education as a way to improve themselves and to some extent their groups.
S Asians will demonstrate their own approach, focusing heavily on STEM.

Expect demographics to win out, given 2.5B Asians versus a smaller NAM or NE European-base populace.

Anonymous November 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm GMT

Thanks for the informative article. Your proposal sounds reasonable. Another option would be to attempt to vastly decrease the significance of these elite private schools. Why should we allow undemocratic little fiefdoms to largely control entry into our country's ruling class? It would probably be considerably more fair, more transparent and more efficient to pour a lot of resources into our public universities. If Berkeley, Michigan, UVA, UMass, etc. were completely free, for instance–or if they provided students with living expenses as well as free tuition, the quality of their students would conceivably surpass that of the Ivy League's, and over time the importance and prestige of Harvard, Stanford, etc. would diminish. Instead, we are subsidizing students at elite private colleges more than those at public colleges–an absurd state of affairs (see this article, whose author is a bit of an ideologue but who is right on this issue: http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Robert-Reich/2014/1014/How-the-government-spends-more-per-student-at-elite-private-universities-than-public ).

Truth December 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm GMT

Mr. Unz; thank you for the long, informational and scholarly article. I read the whole thing, and from Sailer I am familiar with your reputation as a certified genius. I must admit however, after the 5-10,000 words you had written, I was a bit shocked that your answer to how to improve elite University enrollment, was to FLIP A FIGURATIVE COIN.

I expected some chart with differential equations that I would have to consult my much more intelligent brother, the electrical engineer to explain to me. Not that it does not make a lot of sense.

The issue with your solution is that you go from a three class university:
1) Legacy Admits
2) Non athletic, black admits
3) everyone else

to a much-more rigid, two class university:

1) academic admits
2) coin-flip admits

One tier being one of the smartest 15-18 year olds in the world, the other being "somewhat better than good student at Kansas State."

Talk about a hierarchy!

Anonymous March 11, 2015 at 3:34 am GMT

My brother works at a little ivy league school. Well endowed because the parents Dun and Bradstreet reports are at the top of the selection sheets with parents jobs also. Extra points for finance and government jobs at executive levels.

This article was excellent and reinforced everything he has told me over the years. One thing he did mention i would like to add. Asians, which for years were their choice for filling minority quotas, are horrible when it comes to supporting the alma mater financially during the fund drives. This information was confirmed by several other schools in the area when they tried a multi-school drive in the far east and south east asia to canvas funds and returned with a pitiful sum.

Joe Franklin August 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm GMT

Diversity is a scheme that is the opposite of a meritocracy. Diversity is a national victim cult that generally demonizes gentiles, and more specifically demonizes people that conform to a jewish concocted profile of a nazi.

Why would anyone use the word diversity in the same sentence as the word meritocracy?

Joe Franklin August 29, 2015 at 4:42 pm GMT

"Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?" Why would anybody claiming to be intelligent include meritocracy and diversity in the same sentence?

Part White, Part Native September 1, 2015 at 6:45 am GMT

@Sean Gillhoolley Harvard is a university, much like Princeton and Yale, that continues based on its reputation, something that was earned in the past. When the present catches up to them people will regard them as nepotistic cauldrons of corruption.

Look at the financial disaster that befell the USA and much of the globe back in 2008. Its genesis can be found in the clever minds of those coming out of their business schools (and, oddly enough, their Physics programs as well). They are teaching the elite how to drain all value from American companies, as the rich plan their move to China, the new land of opportunity. When 1% of the population controls such a huge portion of the wealth, patriotism becomes a loadstone to them. The elite are global. Places like Harvard cater to them, help train them to rule the world....but first they must remake it.

I agree, common people would never think of derivatives , nor make loans based on speculation .

Gandydancer December 26, 2015 at 1:43 am GMT

"Tiffany Wang['s] SAT scores were over 100 points above the Wesleyan average, and she ranked as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist "

"Julianna Bentes her SAT scores were somewhat higher than Tiffany's "

Did Ms. Wang underperform on her SATs? NMS semifinalist status depends purely on the score on a very SAT-like test being at a 99.5 percentile level, as I understand it (and I was one, albeit a very long time ago) and I gather from the above that her SAT scores did not correspond to the PSAT one. That is, merely " 100 points above the Wesleyan average" doesn't seem all that exceptional. Or am I wrong?

Mr. Unz several times conflates NMS semifinalist status with being a top student. Which I most definitely was not. It's rather an IQ test. As was the SAT.

[Dec 04, 2016] Neoliberalism as cancer

Notable quotes:
"... you will suffer metabolic injury so great that you will perish, as the cancer pumps out various toxins, like 'Free Market Fundamentalism', 'Western moral values' or 'Exceptionalism'. ..."
"... That is that the Rightwing Authoritarian Personality, or whatever other euphemism you care to use, suffer some or all of the well-known features of psychopathy ie the absence of human empathy and compassion, unbridled greed and narcissistic egomania, unscrupulousness and a preference for violence. ..."
"... From Obama down through Harper, Cameron, Abbott, Satanyahoo et al to the very dregs of politics and MSM propaganda, it is a vast field of human perfidy, differing only in the degree of their malevolence. ..."
thesaker.is

Mulga Mumblebrain on September 17, 2015 · at 11:17 pm UTC

Erebus, that would be like trying to cage a cancer. If you do not then excise the cancer, you will suffer metabolic injury so great that you will perish, as the cancer pumps out various toxins, like 'Free Market Fundamentalism', 'Western moral values' or 'Exceptionalism'.

Cut the tumour out, plus the chemotherapy of somehow rescuing the non-malignant members of the cancer societies from the inhuman habits inculcated in them from birth (ie gross materialism, unbridled greed, cultural and racial superiority, addiction to crass 'tittietainment' etc) and even a few escaping cancer cells can cause metastasis elsewhere.

What is really needed is a miracle, a 'spontaneous remission' where the individual cells in the Western cancer suddenly transform themselves into non-malignant, human, organisms again. There might be some good signs, such as the rise of Corbyn in the UK, the eclipse of Harper, the character of Pope Francis, but there is a Hell of a way to go, and not much hope of success.

Mulga Mumblebrain on September 17, 2015 · at 11:07 pm UTC

David, I agree. The central problem facing humanity is that the planet has become dominated by evil psychopaths. There is a mountain of literature that explains what one can see with one's own eyes.

That is that the Rightwing Authoritarian Personality, or whatever other euphemism you care to use, suffer some or all of the well-known features of psychopathy ie the absence of human empathy and compassion, unbridled greed and narcissistic egomania, unscrupulousness and a preference for violence.

The situation in the world today, geo-political, economic and ecological is a battle between good and evil. Many people refuse to face that reality, because it is frightening, and presages a dreadful global death struggle or the collapse of human civilization and probable species extinction. But denying the hideous reality won't make it go away. What we have seen over recent decades in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Congo etc is evil in action, and we had better acknowledge that reality.

From Obama down through Harper, Cameron, Abbott, Satanyahoo et al to the very dregs of politics and MSM propaganda, it is a vast field of human perfidy, differing only in the degree of their malevolence.

[Dec 04, 2016] Neoliberalism and Why its Bad for All of Us

The full version of this paper with a complete bibliography is also available electronically.
Notable quotes:
"... The buck is constantly and systematically passed to those least able to carry it – large-scale problems (e.g. national debts) are sent down the pipeline to smaller units; devolution without the resources to implement it, combined with competition for resources, choices without resources, responsibility without power, power without structure. ..."
"... "See-Judge-Act" ..."
"... resistance have happened over the last 5 years or so – views about how effective they have been vary. But as Christians, we are called to show solidarity with those who resist a dehumanising and very powerful status quo. ..."
"... And, above all, we should recognise that a very small space in which to act is not no space at all – challenging TINA – that neoliberalism is the only view on the block is itself action of a kind – sometimes opening up a space opens up new possibilities. What we shouldn‟t so, at least, is to close them down! ..."
Mar 07, 2015 | Diocese of Liverpool
Introduction: When is an economy not an economy? When it's a caravan park! So What is It? Several key elements to what Neoliberalism is: Behind these features are a series of underlying assumed principles – an ideology of neo-liberalism: 2

So What's Wrong with it?

  1. It is internally contradictory
    • There is no such thing as a free market
    • Even the original neoliberals recognise this – competition regulates the market – there is no one view of what "competitive" is
    • The ordoliberals certainly recognise it – role of government to create the perfectly competitive market
    • The view taken of competition based on price tends to monopolies, a "race to the bottom," and uniformity (Amazon, Sky, Apple )
  2. Its effects are not as the theory predicted, and have often been damaging:
    • There has been no "trickle down" effect of wealth (in fact, wealth has redistributed upwards)
    • It has entailed much "creative destruction" of institutional frameworks and powers, divisions of labour social relations, attachments to the land and habits of the heart.‟ (David Harvey, Short History of Neo-Liberalism, p 3)
    • It has pushed, and is pushing, the reach of the market into ever more spheres of human life, „the saturation of the state, political culture and the social with market rationality.‟ (Wendy Brown: American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism and De-Democratization (Political Theory 34 (2006), p 695)
  3. It has a view of human beings as 'specks of human capital,' who can be 'plugged in' to markets of various kinds, (or who plug themselves in)
    • the hero of neoliberalism is the entrepreneur – we are all becoming more and more required to be „entrepreneurs of the self‟ – to invest in ourselves/make something of ourselves, „cultivate and care for‟ ourselves and, increasingly – measure our performance.
    • The caravan park analogy –we are required to „plug ourselves in‟ – to pay the price of doing so, and to accept the cost.
    • Our „belonging‟ becomes passive plugging in – rather than active participation.
    • Traditional forms of solidarity are wiped out.
    • Specks of human capital are eminently sacrificable, even if they have done all the „right things‟ – there are no guarantees, and individuals are expected to bear the risk of their entrepreneurial activity themselves (investing many hours in „training‟ and „upskilling,‟ often with no financial or institutional support and with no guarantee of better employment practices – i.e. gain (more skilled workforce) is privatized and risk is distributed downwards, labour is bound and capital released.
    • Austerity politics is the natural outcome of this – people are told virtue is sacrifice for the sake of a productive economy, but with no protection.
    • Despite opposition to „big government,‟ isolated and vulnerable individuals are eminently governable, subject to new forms of power whilst having smaller and
    • smaller spaces in which to resist it. People are easily integrated into a project that is quite prepared to sacrifice them.
So why is it bad for all of us? So what is to be done? Justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, in quite resting places. (Isaiah 32.16-18)

Further Reading:

The full version of this paper with a complete bibliography will be available electronically after the conference.

[Nov 18, 2016] Privatization of education, Chicago way

Notable quotes:
"... For over a decade now, Chicago has been the epicenter of the fashionable trend of "privatization"-the transfer of the ownership or operation of resources that belong to all of us, like schools, roads and government services, to companies that use them to turn a profit. Chicago's privatization mania began during Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration, which ran from 1989 to 2011. Under his successor, Rahm Emanuel, the trend has continued apace. For Rahm's investment banker buddies, the trend has been a boon. For citizens? Not so much. ..."
"... the English word "privatization" derives from a coinage, Reprivatisierung, formulated in the 1930s to describe the Third Reich's policy of winning businessmen's loyalty by handing over state property to them. ..."
"... As president, Bill Clinton greatly expanded a privatization program begun under the first President Bush's Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Hope VI" aimed to replace public-housing high-rises with mixed-income houses, duplexes and row houses built and managed by private firms. ..."
"... The fan was Barack Obama, then a young state senator. Four years later, he cosponsored a bipartisan bill to increase subsidies for private developers and financiers to build or revamp low-income housing. ..."
"... However, the rush to outsource responsibility for housing the poor became a textbook example of one peril of privatization: Companies frequently get paid whether they deliver the goods or not (one of the reasons investors like privatization deals). For example, in 2004, city inspectors found more than 1,800 code violations at Lawndale Restoration, the largest privately owned, publicly subsidized apartment project in Chicago. Guaranteed a steady revenue stream whether they did right by the tenants or not-from 1997 to 2003, the project generated $4.4 million in management fees and $14.6 million in salaries and wages-the developers were apparently satisfied to just let the place rot. ..."
Nov 18, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. :

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/11/privatization-of-public-infrastructure.html

PGL on Chicago's parking meters. Yes Democratic Mayor Daley made a bad deal. If Trump does invest in infrastructure is this the kind of thing he'll be doing, selling off public assets and leasing them back again, aka privatization?

Seems like two different things. Here's an In These Time article from January 2015 by the smart Rick Perlstein.

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17533/how_to_sell_off_a_city

How To Sell Off a City

Welcome to Rahm Emanuel's Chicago, the privatized metropolis of the future.

BY RICK PERLSTEIN

In June of 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a new appointment to the city's seven-member school board to replace billionaire heiress Penny Pritzker, who'd decamped to run President Barack Obama's Department of Commerce. The appointee, Deborah H. Quazzo, is a founder of an investment firm called GSV Advisors, a business whose goal-her cofounder has been paraphrased by Reuters as saying-is to drum up venture capital for "an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards."

GSV Advisors has a sister firm, GSV Capital, that holds ownership stakes in education technology companies like "Knewton," which sells software that replaces the functions of flesh-and-blood teachers. Since joining the school board, Quazzo has invested her own money in companies that sell curricular materials to public schools in 11 states on a subscription basis.

In other words, a key decision-maker for Chicago's public schools makes money when school boards decide to sell off the functions of public schools.

She's not alone. For over a decade now, Chicago has been the epicenter of the fashionable trend of "privatization"-the transfer of the ownership or operation of resources that belong to all of us, like schools, roads and government services, to companies that use them to turn a profit. Chicago's privatization mania began during Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration, which ran from 1989 to 2011. Under his successor, Rahm Emanuel, the trend has continued apace. For Rahm's investment banker buddies, the trend has been a boon. For citizens? Not so much.

They say that the first person in any political argument who stoops to invoking Nazi Germany automatically loses. But you can look it up: According to a 2006 article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the English word "privatization" derives from a coinage, Reprivatisierung, formulated in the 1930s to describe the Third Reich's policy of winning businessmen's loyalty by handing over state property to them.

In the American context, the idea also began on the Right (to be fair, entirely independent of the Nazis)-and promptly went nowhere for decades. In 1963, when Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater mused "I think we ought to sell the TVA"-referring to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the giant complex of New Deal dams that delivered electricity for the first time to vast swaths of the rural Southeast-it helped seal his campaign's doom. Things only really took off after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's sale of U.K. state assets like British Petroleum and Rolls Royce in the 1980s made the idea fashionable among elites-including a rightward tending Democratic Party.

As president, Bill Clinton greatly expanded a privatization program begun under the first President Bush's Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Hope VI" aimed to replace public-housing high-rises with mixed-income houses, duplexes and row houses built and managed by private firms.

Chicago led the way. In 1999, Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Democrat, announced his intention to tear down the public-housing high-rises his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, had built in the 1950s and 1960s. For this "Plan for Transformation," Chicago received the largest Hope VI grant of any city in the nation. There was a ration of idealism and intellectual energy behind it: Blighted neighborhoods would be renewed and their "culture of poverty" would be broken, all vouchsafed by the honorable desire of public-spirited entrepreneurs to make a profit. That is the promise of privatization in a nutshell: that the profit motive can serve not just those making the profits, but society as a whole, by bypassing inefficient government bureaucracies that thrive whether they deliver services effectively or not, and empower grubby, corrupt politicians and their pals to dip their hands in the pie of guaranteed government money.

As one of the movement's fans explained in 1997, his experience with nascent attempts to pay private real estate developers to replace public housing was an "example of smart policy."

"The developers were thinking in market terms and operating under the rules of the marketplace," he said. "But at the same time, we had government supporting and subsidizing those efforts."

The fan was Barack Obama, then a young state senator. Four years later, he cosponsored a bipartisan bill to increase subsidies for private developers and financiers to build or revamp low-income housing.

However, the rush to outsource responsibility for housing the poor became a textbook example of one peril of privatization: Companies frequently get paid whether they deliver the goods or not (one of the reasons investors like privatization deals). For example, in 2004, city inspectors found more than 1,800 code violations at Lawndale Restoration, the largest privately owned, publicly subsidized apartment project in Chicago. Guaranteed a steady revenue stream whether they did right by the tenants or not-from 1997 to 2003, the project generated $4.4 million in management fees and $14.6 million in salaries and wages-the developers were apparently satisfied to just let the place rot.

Meanwhile, the $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation drags on, six years past deadline and still 2,500 units from completion, while thousands of families languish on the Chicago Housing Authority's waitlist.

Be that as it may, the Chicago experience looks like a laboratory for a new White House pilot initiative, the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD), which is set to turn over some 60,000 units to private management next year. Lack of success never seems to be an impediment where privatization is concerned.

...

[Nov 18, 2016] Study Finds 1 in 3 Student Loan Holders With Payments Due Are Late With Payments and More Than Half Regret Their Borrowing

Notable quotes:
"... "Nearly half of young Americans start their working lives with student debt, and 43 million Americans carry student loans. A new study by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University School of Business found that many borrowers are struggling to make student loan payments and regret their borrowing. ..."
"... GFLEC's newly published policy brief reports that most borrowers did not fully understand what they were taking on when they obtained student loans. Additionally, 54 percent of student loan holders did not try to figure out what their monthly payments would be before taking out loans. And 53 percent said that if they could go back and redo the process of taking out loans, they would do things differently. " ..."
Nov 18, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

FreeMarketApologist November 17, 2016 at 8:11 am

In other news (but isn't everything political?):

Released earlier this week from George Washington University School of Business: "Study Finds 1 in 3 Student Loan Holders With Payments Due Are Late With Payments and More Than Half Regret Their Borrowing"

"Nearly half of young Americans start their working lives with student debt, and 43 million Americans carry student loans. A new study by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University School of Business found that many borrowers are struggling to make student loan payments and regret their borrowing.

GFLEC's newly published policy brief reports that most borrowers did not fully understand what they were taking on when they obtained student loans. Additionally, 54 percent of student loan holders did not try to figure out what their monthly payments would be before taking out loans. And 53 percent said that if they could go back and redo the process of taking out loans, they would do things differently. "

(via the securities regulator, FINRA): http://www.finra.org/newsroom/2016/study-finds-1-3-student-loan-holders-payments-due-are-late-payments-and-more-half

Direct link to the paper: http://gflec.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GFLEC-Brief-Student-loan-debt.pdf )

Benedict@Large November 17, 2016 at 9:29 am

Odd. I was looking at the comment by Bannon about Spanish young adult unemployment (a serious problem, as he says) and thinking, well, at least we don't have anything like that here.

No, our young adults aren't unemployed, are they? They are simply working to hand over major parts of their future to their debt bosses.

And it really is so much better that way. After all, if ours were unemployed, they might take to the streets like the Spaniards are doing.

[Nov 14, 2016] In-Person Coaching at University versus Technology Proactive, Constant Contact Matters naked capitalism

Nov 13, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
by Lambert Strether Lambert here: Apparently, then, Neoliberal U plans to build "trust-based relations" and offer "personalised attention" by gutting tenured faculty, shifting the teaching load to contingent faculty, redistributing salaries to administrators, and socking money into fancy facilities. Let me know how that works out.

By Philip Oreopoulos, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Toronto, and Uros Petronijevic, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, York University. Originally published at VoxEU .

Questions over the value of a university education are underscored by negative student experiences. Personalised coaching is a promising, but costly, tool to improve student experiences and performance. This column presents the results from an experiment comparing coaching with lower cost 'nudge' interventions. While coaching led to a significant increase in average course grades, online and text message interventions had no effect. The benefits of coaching appear to derive from the trust-based nature of relationships and personalised attention.

Policymakers and academics share growing concerns about stagnating college completion rates and negative student experiences. Recent figures suggest that only 56% of students who pursue a bachelors' degree complete it within six years (Symonds et al. 2011), and it is increasingly unclear whether students who attain degrees acquire meaningful new skills along the way (Arum and Roska 2011). Students enter college underprepared, with those who procrastinate, do not study enough, or have superficial attitudes about success performing particularly poorly (Beattie et al 2016).

Personalised Coaching to Improve Outcomes

A promising tool for improving students' college outcomes and experiences is personalised coaching. At both the high school and college levels, an emerging recent literature demonstrates the benefits of helping students foster motivation, effort, good study habits, and time-management skills through structured tutoring and coaching. Cook et al. (2014) find that cognitive behavioural therapy and tutoring generate large improvements in maths scores and high school graduation rates for troubled youth in Chicago, while Oreopoulos et al. (forthcoming) show that coaching, tutoring, and group activities lead to large increases in high school graduation and college enrolment among youth in a Toronto public housing project. At the college level, Scrivener and Weiss (2013) find that the Accelerated Study in Associates Program – a bundle of coaching, tutoring, and student success workshops – in CUNY community colleges nearly doubled graduation rates and Bettinger and Baker (2014) show that telephone coaching by Inside Track professionals boosts two-year college retention by 15% across several higher-education institutions.

While structured, one-on-one support can have large effects on student outcomes, it is often costly to implement and difficult to scale up to the student population at large (Bloom 1984). Noting this challenge, we set out to build on recent advances in social-psychology and behavioural economics, investigating whether technology – specifically, online exercises, and text and email messaging – can be used to generate comparable benefits to one-on-one coaching interventions but at lower costs among first-year university students (Oreopoulos and Petronijevic 2016).

Several recent studies in social-psychology find that short, appropriately timed interventions can have lasting effects on student outcomes (Yeager and Walton 2011, Cohen and Garcia 2014, Walton 2014). Relatively large improvements on academic performance have been documented from interventions that help students define their long-run goals or purpose for learning (Morisano et al. 2010, Yeager et al. 2014), teach the 'growth mindset' idea that intelligence is malleable (Yeager et al. 2016), and help students keep negative events in perspective by self-affirming their values (Cohen and Sherman 2014). In contrast to these one-time interventions, other studies in education and behavioural economics attempt to maintain constant, low-touch contact with students or their parents at a low cost by using technology to provide consistent reminders aimed at improving outcomes. Providing text, email, and phone call updates to parents about their students' progress in school has been shown to boost both parental engagement and student performance (Kraft and Dougherty 2013, Bergman 2016, Kraft and Rogers 2014, Mayer et al. 2015), while direct text-message communication with college and university students has been used in attempts to increase financial aid renewal (Castleman and Page 2014) and improve academic outcomes (Castleman and Meyer 2016).

Can Lower-Cost Alternatives to One-On-One Coaching Be Effective?

We examine whether benefits comparable to those obtained from one-on-one coaching can be achieved at lower cost by either of two specific interventions (Oreopoulos and Petronijevic 2016). We examine a one-time online intervention designed to affirm students' goals and purpose for attending university, and a full-year text and email messaging campaign that provides weekly reminders of academic advice and motivation to students. We work with a sample of more than 4,000 undergraduate students who are enrolled in introductory economics courses at a large representative college in Canada, randomly assigning students to one of three treatment groups or a control group. The treatment groups consist of:

A one-time, online exercise completed during the first two weeks of class in the autumn; The online intervention plus text and email messaging throughout the full academic year; and The online intervention plus one-on-one coaching in which students are assigned to upper-year undergraduate students who act as coaches.

Students in the control group are given a personality test measuring the Big Five personality traits.

Figure 1 summarises our main results on course grades. Overall, we find large positive effects from the coaching programme, amounting to approximately a 4.92 percentage-point increase in average course grades; we also find that coached students experience a 0.35 standard-deviation increase in GPA. In contrast, we find no effects on academic outcomes from either the online exercise or the text messaging campaign, even after investigating potentially heterogeneous treatment effects across several student characteristics, including gender, age, incoming high school average, international-student status, and whether students live on residence.

Figure 1 . Main effects of interventions

Our results suggest that the benefits of personal coaching are not easily replicated by low-cost interventions using technology. Many successful coaching programmes involve regular student-coach interaction facilitated either by mandatory meetings between coaches and students or proactive coaches regularly initiating contact (Scrivener and Weiss 2013, Bettinger and Baker 2014, Cook et al. 2014, Oreopoulos et al. forthcoming). Our coaches initiated contact and built trust with students over time, in person and through text messaging. Through a series of gentle, open-ended questions, the coaches could understand the problems students were facing and provide clear advice, ending most conversations with students being able to take at least one specific action to help solve their current problems.

Our text messaging campaign offered weekly academic advice, resource information, and motivation, but did not initiate communication with individual students about specific issues (e.g. help with writing or an upcoming mid-term). The text-messaging team often invited students to reply to messages and share their concerns but was unable to do this with the same efficacy as a coach, nor were we able to establish the same rapport with students. Our inability to reach out to all students and softly guide the conversation likely prevented us from learning the important details of their specific problems. Although we provided answers and advice to the questions we received, we did not have as much information on the students' backgrounds as our coaches did, and thus could not tailor our responses to each student's specific circumstances.

Our coaches were also able to build trust with students by fulfilling a support role. Figure 2 provides an example of how the coaching service was more effective than the text messaging campaign in this respect. The text messages attempted to nudge students in the right direction, rather than provide tailored support. The left panel of Figure 2 shows three consecutive text messages, in which we provide a tip on stress management, an inspirational quote, and a time-management tip around the exam period. As in this example, it was often the case that students would not respond to such messages. In contrast, the student-coach interaction in the right panel shows our coaches offering more of a supportive role rather than trying to simply nudge the student in a specific direction. The coach starts by asking an open-ended question, to which the student responds, and the coach then guides the conversation forward. In this example, the coach assures the student that they will be available to help with a pending deadline and shows a genuine interest in the events in the student's life.

Figure 2 . Distinguishing the text-messaging campaign and the coaching programme

Coaches also kept records of their evolving conversations with students and could check in to ask how previously discussed issues were being resolved. Although we kept a record of all text message conversations, a lack of resources prevented us from conducting regular check-ups to see how previous events had unfolded, which likely kept us from helping students effectively with their problem and from establishing the trust required for students to share additional problems.

Concluding Remarks

In sum, the two key features that distinguish the coaching service from the texting campaign are that coaches proactively initiated discussion with students about their problems and could establish relationships based on trust in which students felt comfortable to openly discuss their issues. Future work attempting to improve academic outcomes in higher education by using technology to maintain constant contact with students may need to acknowledge that simply nudging students in the right direction is not enough. A more personalised approach is likely required, in which coaches or mentors initially guide students through a series of gentle conversations and subsequently show a proactive interest in students' lives. These conversations need not necessarily occur during face-to-face meetings, but the available evidence suggests that they should occur frequently and be initiated by the coaches. While such an intervention is likely to be costlier than the text messaging campaign in our study, it is also likely to be more effective but still less costly than the personalised coaching treatment.

References in the original post . allan November 13, 2016 at 7:00 am

"Personalised coaching is a promising, but costly, tool to improve student experiences …"

… that used to be called, in the long ago time before the App Store, office hours.
Back in the day when there were these non-administrative inefficiencies called tenure track faculty.
Surely Mechanical Turk can find a disruptive application in this space.

lyle November 13, 2016 at 8:25 am

However also way back when few students bothered to go to faculty office hours. (early 1970s) . In addition how many students go to the departmental seminars in their major field? Again undergraduate attendance at them is low.

Or join clubs in their major field that invite faculty to come talk about their research (which is easy to get a prof to do to talk about his research). (Today of course you could do seminars and the like via podcasts etc).

However of course the mentoring also takes student time which may also be scarce.

[Nov 06, 2016] Bernie Sanders Supporter Bashes Hillary Clinton from Her Own Stage 'Trapped in World of Elite,' 'Lost Grip of Average Person'

Notable quotes:
"... He opened his remarks by bashing Donald Trump on student loan debt, but then surprisingly turned to bashing Hillary Clinton from her own stage. "Unfortunately, Hillary doesn't really care about this issue either," Vanfosson said. "The only thing she cares about is pleasing her donors, the billionaires who fund her campaign. The only people that really trust Hillary are Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup can trust Hillary, the military industrial complex can trust Hillary. Her good friend Henry Kissinger can trust Hillary." ..."
"... "She is so trapped in the world of the elite that she has completely lost grip on what it's like to be an average person," Vanfosson continued. "She doesn't care. Voting for another lesser of two evils, there's no point." ..."
www.breitbart.com

Just a few days before the general election, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton and her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) still can't unite her party. Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her Democratic primary rival, are disrupting her campaign's efforts to take on GOP nominee Donald J. Trump, and in Iowa on Saturday one prominent Sanders backer was actually escorted out of a Clinton campaign event for urging those present not to vote for Clinton-for which he was cheered by the crowd.

Kaleb Vanfosson, the president of Iowa State University's Students for Bernie chapter, bashed Hillary Clinton and told rally-goers at her own campaign event not to vote for her. He was cheered.

He opened his remarks by bashing Donald Trump on student loan debt, but then surprisingly turned to bashing Hillary Clinton from her own stage. "Unfortunately, Hillary doesn't really care about this issue either," Vanfosson said. "The only thing she cares about is pleasing her donors, the billionaires who fund her campaign. The only people that really trust Hillary are Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup can trust Hillary, the military industrial complex can trust Hillary. Her good friend Henry Kissinger can trust Hillary."

The crowd at the Clinton-Kaine event erupted in applause.

"She is so trapped in the world of the elite that she has completely lost grip on what it's like to be an average person," Vanfosson continued. "She doesn't care. Voting for another lesser of two evils, there's no point."

At that point, a Clinton staffer rushed on stage and grabbed the young man by the arm to escort him off the stage and out of the event.

[Nov 06, 2016] Michael Hudson on Meet the Renegades

Notable quotes:
"... In fact, I would posit that the Ivy League, especially Yale, Princeton, Harvard and MIT, are the principal crime factories in America today. ..."
"... Brownback is in Kansas; UMKC is in Missouri. There is a Kansas City in Kansas, and another Kansas City in Missouri. Missouri is not as red as KS, but it's still a red state. ..."
"... UMKC is part of the state system and most likely receives no funding from the city. It was home to New Letters, a respected literary magazine edited by poet John Ciardi. I hail from Kanasa City and always thought of UMKC as a decent commuter school, mostly catering to the educational needs of adult city dwellers. But the evolution of both the Econ and jazz studies departments lead me to suspect things have changed. Whether that's by design or through organic happenstance I don't know. ..."
"... Couldn't a Marxian analysis of capitalism as a whole also shed some light on this issue? I think Hudson is pretty much right but I think, like Sanders, he's offering a reformist option as opposed to a full on critique of the entire system. ..."
"... Not that a revolution is the option you necessarily want to go with, I just think that Marx's criticism of capitalism has useful information that could help with shaping the perspective here. ..."
Nov 05, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Michael Hudson spends a half hour with Meet the Renegades explaining his views on money, finance, economic training, rentier capitalism, and how debt overhangs operate. Hudson fans will recognize his regular themes. This is a good segment for introducing people you know to Hudson and to heterodox economic ideas.

EndOfTheWorld November 5, 2016 at 5:52 am

I've always found it interesting that both Hudson and Bill Black are on the faculty of UMKC, which is a state university in a pretty conservative state. It's possible that some of the funding for UMKC comes from the municipality of Kansas City, MO, but that town has never been known as a hotbed of radical intellectuality either.

Distrubed Voter November 5, 2016 at 6:21 am

Joseph Campbell didn't teach at an Ivy League either. Conformity starts with the faculty in your own department … and the Ivy League is as status quo and status conscious as it gets.

craazyboy November 5, 2016 at 8:43 am

The Ivy League are not much different than privately held corporations when you consider who their alma materi are, how much money the alma materi have, and where Ivy League endowments come from.

sgt_doom November 5, 2016 at 1:31 pm

In fact, I would posit that the Ivy League, especially Yale, Princeton, Harvard and MIT, are the principal crime factories in America today.

Please recall that the dood who financed Liberty Lobby and other white supremacist nonsense was Koch family patriarch, Fred Koch, who was a trustee at MIT. (Ever hear Noam Chomsky complain about that????? Of course not!)

a different chris November 5, 2016 at 8:40 am

Ah but is it really an inherently conservative state fiscally, or just socially? That is, are the people like Brownback appealing to one sort of conservatism and using that to do a "trust me" on the other sort?

I would say it's not unreasonable for anybody to delegate something they are not so sure of to somebody they trust for other reasons.

EndOfTheWorld November 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

Brownback is in Kansas; UMKC is in Missouri. There is a Kansas City in Kansas, and another Kansas City in Missouri. Missouri is not as red as KS, but it's still a red state.

Randy November 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

UMKC is part of the state system and most likely receives no funding from the city. It was home to New Letters, a respected literary magazine edited by poet John Ciardi. I hail from Kanasa City and always thought of UMKC as a decent commuter school, mostly catering to the educational needs of adult city dwellers. But the evolution of both the Econ and jazz studies departments lead me to suspect things have changed. Whether that's by design or through organic happenstance I don't know.

Moneta November 5, 2016 at 8:59 am

If you are not on the money makers' distribution list, it would make sense to find other ways to get some of that loot if you can't the traditional way…

You can be conservative in your social values but want change, i.e. liberalism, in the way the monetary system distributes the money.

Steve H. November 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

Thank Warren Mosler, wouldn't be there without his direct support.

EndOfTheWorld November 5, 2016 at 7:32 am

Well, little UMKC can claim to be pretty much "cutting edge" in economics with these two stalwarts on their faculty.

Benedict@Large November 5, 2016 at 9:32 am

The UMKC is also the home of the Kansas City School of Economics, more commonly known as the MMT School. Neither Hudson nor Black are MMTers per se, but both have grown by their affiliation with the school.

Amateur Socialist November 5, 2016 at 9:14 am

Thanks for sharing this excellent interview. Watching it I realized the people I actually admire more than Hudson are his students. They must care more about learning the truth than securing wealth and job prospects on wall street.

susan the other November 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

fun to learn how Hudson fired Greenspan way back when

EndOfTheWorld November 5, 2016 at 11:08 am

lol "Free trade" is Orwellian word usage.

King Arthur November 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

Couldn't a Marxian analysis of capitalism as a whole also shed some light on this issue? I think Hudson is pretty much right but I think, like Sanders, he's offering a reformist option as opposed to a full on critique of the entire system.

Not that a revolution is the option you necessarily want to go with, I just think that Marx's criticism of capitalism has useful information that could help with shaping the perspective here.

BecauseTradition November 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm

The solution is write down the debt. Michael Hudson

Why not Steve Keen's "A Modern Jubilee" since non-debtors have been cheated by the system too?

Steve in Dallas November 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I asked Yves Smith at the Dallas meetup last week (paraphrasing) "Do you meet with Michael Hudson and Bill Black… is the independent media community, or any community, organizing around Michael Hudson and Bill Black… to not only support and promote Hudson's and Black's perspectives but to help develop their concepts and 'fine tune' their messaging?" I said to Yves "Hudson and Black are clearly the leaders we desperately need to rally behind and push into Washington… they clearly know what needs to be done… a PR machine needs to be developed… to get their messages out to our families, friends, and acquaintances… unfortunately, the current messaging is not good enough… I can't get my family, friends, and others to engage and echo the messaging to their family, friends, etc."

Michael Hudson has been good at repeating his central message… 'by increasing land, monopoly, and finance rent costs… the 1% are a highly organized mafia methodically looting our economy… effectively raping, pillaging and consequently destroying every component of our social structures'.

Very unfortunately, Bill Blacks central message seems to have been lost for years now… he doesn't repeat his central message… 'the crimes must be stopped… there is no alternative… looting criminals MUST be publicly exposed, investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, punished and their loot returned to society… by letting cheaters prosper, organized white-collar crime, perpetrated by the top-most leaders of our public and private institutions, has become an epidemic… the very fabric of civil society is being destroyed… we have no choice… the criminals must be stopped… and the only way to do that is to publicly expose, investigate, indict, prosecute, punish, and take back what is ours'.

In 2008, when I tuned out of the mainstream media and tuned into the independent media, I thought the messages from Michael Hudson ("they are organized criminals… this is what they're doing…") and Bill Black ("the criminals must be stopped… here's how we stopped the Savings & Loan criminals…) would resonate and become common knowledge. I quickly discovered that it didn't even resonate with close family and friends. Why???

I will send out this video… Michael Hudson at his best, speaking-wise. I don't expect to get any reaction… why?… very frustrated…

Ivy November 5, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Amen. Once you start noticing, it becomes hard to stop. In looking hard for a silver lining to the current election storm clouds, public awareness of the MSM seems to have nudged a few toward slightly more objectivity, although I may just be wishing for that after media fatigue ;)

[Oct 22, 2016] Capitalism and any other form of social organization based on profit seeking, in principle, is unsustainable within a closed system, such as planet Earth, without periodic destruction of its material wealth and human population

Notable quotes:
"... Social mobility is the kind of equality professional and managerial elites support. ..."
"... High rates of social mobility are not inconsistent with systems of stratification that concentrate power and privilege in a ruling elite. Certainly the circulation of elites strengthens the idea of hierarchy furnishing it with fresh talent and legitimating their ascendancy as a function of merit rather than birth. ..."
"... Look at the root of the problem: capitalism is a profit seeking competition based social organization. This is not meant as a judgement, but it can be demonstrated that capitalism and any other form of social organization based on profit seeking, in principle, is unsustainable within a closed system, such as planet Earth, without periodic destruction of its material wealth and human population. ..."
Oct 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Jim October 21, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Social mobility is the kind of equality professional and managerial elites support. Our present society seems quite mobile and highly stratified.

Historically social mobility became an interpretation of opportunity only after more hopeful interpretations of opportunity (yeoman idea– your own plot of land– rather than Horatio Alger) began to fade out of the American experience (sometime after 1890 when social stratification could no longer be ignored).

High rates of social mobility are not inconsistent with systems of stratification that concentrate power and privilege in a ruling elite. Certainly the circulation of elites strengthens the idea of hierarchy furnishing it with fresh talent and legitimating their ascendancy as a function of merit rather than birth.

Social policy that would support a wider distribution of land would give a significant support to a parents' ability to bequeth property to their children–as seen, for example, in the Homstead Act.

Think tradition of Jefferson, Lincoln and Orestes Brownson.

PhilU October 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I just listened to this podcast yesterday. It's Glenn Loury not William Darity, Jr. unless they had practically the same life. But there are at least a dozen lines that are verbatim from the podcast. http://loveandradio.org/2016/10/the-enemy-within/

Nekto October 21, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Look at the root of the problem: capitalism is a profit seeking competition based social organization. This is not meant as a judgement, but it can be demonstrated that capitalism and any other form of social organization based on profit seeking, in principle, is unsustainable within a closed system, such as planet Earth, without periodic destruction of its material wealth and human population. And this destruction becomes increasingly severe and threatening to the existence of the entire system as this social organization, such as capitalism, evolves.

As far as the fundamental premise 'that everyone can prosper in the individual race for wealth given equal starting opportunities are provided' is not questioned all these studies calling for creation of "truly equal opportunities" will only exacerbate the problem, which is being practically done (explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unknowingly) by many famous liberal economists, including Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, Bill Black, Michael Hudson, etc., who are trying to find the ways to fix and improve capitalism without touching the fundamentals.

This is not to say that social economic reforms that practically improve the lives of millions poor people are wrong or useless. Fighting cancer can be helpful, but only until and unless it kills the host. So, all these studies, policies, proposals, etc. can be helpful and productive only if clear awareness of the nature of the disease (capitalism) they are trying to treat exists.

[Oct 20, 2016] The real driver of inequality, then, is not an individuals level of education and productivity, but the resources that parents and grandparents are able to transmit.

Notable quotes:
"... In ['William Darity, Jr.'s] his view, the capacity of parents and grandparents to invest in their children is contingent on their wealth position" [ iNet ]. ..."
"... "What drives white-collar criminals? Often, these are successful people who possess great wealth, have impeccable education, and hold much influence within their respective industries, yet they risk it all by breaking the law" [ ProMarket ]. "Incentives specifically play a big role in fostering white-collar crime, according to Soltes, especially when financial managers are pressured to succeed and have to make rapid decisions one after the other, their potential victims far from view. 'I was doing exactly what I was incentivized to do. We wouldn't have gone through all this trouble if we just wanted to cheat,' says Enron CFO Andrew Fastow in the book.'" ..."
Oct 20, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"In ['William Darity, Jr.'s] his view, the capacity of parents and grandparents to invest in their children is contingent on their wealth position" [ iNet ].

"The real driver of inequality, then, is not an individual's level of education and productivity, but the resources that parents and grandparents are able to transmit." Hence: "[S]tratification economics." Might go down easier than "class warfare," I dunno.

"What drives white-collar criminals? Often, these are successful people who possess great wealth, have impeccable education, and hold much influence within their respective industries, yet they risk it all by breaking the law" [ ProMarket ]. "Incentives specifically play a big role in fostering white-collar crime, according to Soltes, especially when financial managers are pressured to succeed and have to make rapid decisions one after the other, their potential victims far from view. 'I was doing exactly what I was incentivized to do. We wouldn't have gone through all this trouble if we just wanted to cheat,' says Enron CFO Andrew Fastow in the book.'"

"Mike Konczal has an interesting piece on how the progressives are unlikely to win over Trump's base of white, male, working class voters – even if they take their concerns to heart and propose policies that will help them… Konczal might well be right, but I want to entertain the possibility that he is wrong" [ Dani Rodrik ]. I will say that Konczal knows how to generate buzz. More:

"Konczal might well be right, but I want to entertain the possibility that he is wrong…. If left-liberals take for granted that the white middle class is essentially racist, hate the federal government, oppose progressive taxation, don't think big banks and dark money are a problem … and so on, then indeed many of the remedies that progressives have to offer will fail to resonate and there is little that can be done. But why should we assume that these are the givens of political life?

A large literature in social psychology and political economy suggests that identities are malleable as are voters' perceptions of how the world works and therefore which policies serve their interests. A large part of the right's success derives from their having convinced lower and middle class voters that the government is corrupt and inept. Can't progressives alter that perception?

Note that Rodrik has exactly the same conflation of "progressive," "left," and "liberal" that Konczal does. Je repete : Liberals (and conservatives) want to divide the working class, and they use their distinctive flavors of identity politics to do so. The left wishes to unite them. And both liberals and conservatives will deny that identity is malleable (Clinton's "irredeemables") not only because to admit that would smash any number of rice bowls, but because it would smash their social functions as factions. What should give the left hope in Rodrik's rejoinder - hope that Konczal is, quite naturally, attempting to strangle in its cradle - is the notion that identity is malleable; Occupy, with the 99% concept, proved that. Thomas Frank, with his 10%, takes the same approach. Of course, 99 and 10 don't add to 100, so there's some analytical work to be done, but the way forward beyond identity politics is clear.

[Oct 20, 2016] For-Profit Colleges Stay Quietly on Offense

Oct 20, 2016 | www.truth-out.org
For-profit colleges may be playing defense in the public perception, but they have not given up their offensive game, if their recent contributions to Congress are any indication.

For-profit education colleges and trade groups donated more than $1.4 million to federal candidates, parties and elected officials during the first eight months of 2016, according to the most recent tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. Lobbyists for the sector spent an additional $2.6 million. (Nonprofit colleges are not permitted to donate to candidates.)

The top recipients in Congress are, or were, running for election, and all but one of the incumbents have a leadership position on or are members of one of the powerful committees that help determine the flow of federal money to for-profit colleges. The top three recipients can count for-profit sector groups among their top campaign contributors.

2016 1020chart1

For-profit colleges and advocates gave $657,531 to 139 incumbents and candidates running for the House of Representatives. Click HERE for list of House members and candidates (by amount of contribution). There were 54 Senators and candidates for the Senate who received contributions, for a total of $378,758 between January and August of this year. Click HERE for list of Senators and candidates (by amount of contribution.)

More than a third of the money donated to sitting Senators has gone to members of the Armed Services committee and most of that went to its powerful chairman, John McCain (R-AZ). Last year the Pentagon banned the biggest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, from recruiting on military bases and receiving federal tuition, citing deceptive practices. But McCain lobbied loud and hard and succeeded in reversing the ban in January.

Republicans running for Congress scooped up 72 percent of contributions from the for-profit education sector during the first eight months of this year. That's a change from 2010, when they only received 39 percent of contributions. The Presidential race this year, however, has favored the Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

2016 1020chart2

Some of the biggest donors so far this year are for-profit institutions that have drawn scrutiny from federal agencies for high student debt levels and low graduation rates. Bridgepoint, at the top of the list, is under investigation by the Justice Department; it also must pay millions of dollars in fines to resolve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's accusation that its private student loan advertisements misled students. Corinthian Colleges filed for bankruptcy last year and this year was forced to pay massive fines for defrauding students.

2016 1020chart3

Meredith Kolodner is a staff writer at The Hechinger Report. She previously covered schools for the New York Daily News and was an editor at InsideSchools.org and for The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. She's also covered housing, schools, and local government for the Press of Atlantic City and The Chief-Leader newspaper and her work has appeared in the New York Times and the American Prospect. Kolodner is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and an active New York City public school parent. She is grateful to her 11th grade English teacher who persistently gave her Cs on essays until she finally stopped burying the lead.

Related Stories

[Oct 13, 2016] CUNY, All Too CUNY Or, what happens when higher-ed hoodlums arent brought to heel

Oct 13, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

Crooked Timber

on October 10, 2016 In August, I blogged about a New York Times story on a corruption investigation of City College President Lisa Coico. On Friday, the Times reported that Coico abruptly resigned. Today, the Times has a long piece on the corruption and potential criminality that led to Coico's resignation (upon threat of firing).

On the one hand, the piece paints a portrait of a college president so fantastically corrupt, it's almost comical.

Ms. Coico, who had an annual salary of $400,000 at that point [2011], was using the college's main fund-raising vehicle, the 21st Century Foundation, to pay tens of thousands of dollars for housekeeping, furniture, seasonal fruits and organic maple-glazed nuts, among other items….By August 2011, according to an email between two school officials, the college had begun to itemize more than $155,000 of her spending in three categories - "college," "personal" and "iffy."
On the other hand, it's just one blood-boiling outrage after another, where the criminality flows, like lava, from the mountain of largesse that Coico was legally allowed in the first place.
The Times also questioned whether Ms. Coico had repaid a $20,000 security deposit for a rental home , or kept the money for herself….Ms. Coico had a housing allowance of $5,000 per month when she was hired, which was increased to $7,500 per month in July 2010. We have adjuncts at CUNY who can't pay their rent. Mostly because the pay is so low, but sometimes, as occurred at Brooklyn College last month, because CUNY can't be bothered to get its act together so that people are paid on time. Yet a college president, who's already earning a $400,000 salary (and remember that was in 2011; God knows what she was raking in upon her resignation) plus a housing allowance of $7500, gets additional help to put down a $20,000 security deposit on a rental home in Westchester?

On top of it all, the article makes plain that CUNY officials have been nervous about and watchful of Coico's spending since her first year at the college:

Behind the scenes, there were also questions about her personal spending going back to the middle of 2011, roughly a year after her appointment….Anxious about the amount she was spending, especially given the fact that many of City College's students come from low-income families and struggle to pay even its modest tuition, some began "questioning its appropriateness, since the president had a substantial housing allowance meant for such things," said one longtime official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being entangled in the investigation.


She was later ordered by Frederick P. Schaffer, CUNY 's general counsel, to repay the college $51,000, or roughly one-third of the expenses in question, because she had not received prior approval for moving and other expenses. She fulfilled that obligation by January 2016.


Ms. Coico was also informed that any furniture bought with foundation funds - including $50,000 worth for a rental home in Larchmont, N.Y. - belonged to City College. Moreover, she was asked to return a $20,000 security deposit at the end of her lease in Larchmont.


Ms. Coico and her husband bought another home in Westchester County in April 2013, property records show. When asked if she repaid the $20,000 deposit, the college declined to comment.



But this summer, The Times took a closer look at her expenses, and reported that CUNY 's Research Foundation , which manages research funds for the entire system, had ultimately covered Ms. Coico's personal expenses from her early years as president. Using Research Foundation funds that way raised concerns because they could include money from federal grants, which are typically earmarked for research-related expenses, such as staff and equipment, and have strict guidelines about how they are used.


…Two weeks after the Times report was published, a subpoena was issued by the office of Robert L. Capers, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York.



The memo in question is just one paragraph long and is bureaucratic in nature.


Addressed to an employee at the provost's office named Luisa Hassan, and dated Sept. 15, 2011, it begins, "As we have discussed," and is attributed to Ron Woodford, a manager at the college's 21st Century Foundation. It goes on to say that some of Ms. Coico's expenses "were inadvertently paid" by that foundation, when they should have been paid by CUNY 's Research Foundation. The memo then asks Ms. Hassan to process an invoice for $155,176 to "rectify the funding source," for what it calls "start-up expenses associated with the appointment of the new president."



Were the memo proved to be backdated or manufactured, the responsible parties could be open to charges such as obstruction of justice, legal experts said.



Given all of this, why has it taken CUNY so long-to the point of a federal investigation being launched -to demand Coico's resignation?


The whole story, in my experience, is CUNY , all too CUNY . Not just the opéra bouffe of corruption but also the creaking machinery of self-correction.


Here you have a garden-variety miscreant, thieving one piece of the pie after another from an institution that has so little to begin with. Even the things Coico did that weren't criminal should have been enough to get her fired. On ethical grounds alone.


But what did CUNY do? Lots of whispering emails, lots of back and forth between cowed and ineffective administrators, culminating each time, it seems, with a polite-and sometimes unheeded-request to Coico that she correct the problem. As if it were all a simple misunderstanding or oversight.


Indeed, in the one instance when CUNY seemed more determined to take action, an extensive internal investigation of just one of Coico's questionable moves led to her being exonerated by the institution. Whether she was in that instance correct in her actions, surely her track record might have raised enough red flags to lead to a much wider investigation rather than a declaration, with much fanfare, of her innocence.


Not once, it seems, until the very last minute-the Times reported on Friday that it was a smoking-gun email from the newspaper that led to the abrupt resignation of Coico, leaving City College with no replacement, save the acting provost, who was herself replacing someone else; all suggesting that Coico's being pushed out was unplanned, unrehearsed, and unprepared for-did CUNY execute a plan to get rid of Coico. From what I can tell (and in my experience, as I said, this is how CUNY often operates), the institution allowed this higher-ed hoodlum to happily continue in her position, secure in the knowledge that if she ever did anything too egregious or got caught, that she'd get a mild entreaty to fix the error.


If there is one potential bit of good news in this story, it's this:


And over the weekend, speculation intensified among staff and faculty members as to whether people close to the president would also be implicated, and whether the federal investigation would spread to other parts of CUNY , the largest public urban university in the country.



One can only hope that that speculation turns out to be true.

Dr. Hilarius 10.10.16 at 9:05 pm

A good example of the failure of university president as CEO model of governance. Model comes complete with ineffectual trustees and administrators.
Brett 10.10.16 at 9:34 pm
Aren't there people above her who are supposed to be watch-dogs on this as well? Did they just not care that she was stealing from the college, because they'd rather not go through the hassle of hiring another college president? Was it okay as long as she was compliant and enthusiastic in making budget cuts?
Tabasco 10.10.16 at 10:54 pm
It seems to be a failure on so many levels: a hiring failure (CEOs who lie, cheat and steal almost always did so in previous jobs); a failure of auditing and accountability systems; a failure of governance; and most of all, a failure of culture. Unless these are fixed, it will happen again.
PJW 10.11.16 at 1:24 am
Horrible.

Iowa State's president has been under fire:
http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/politics_and_administration/campus/article_09652364-8b0a-11e6-ac12-5741764bf660.html

William Timberman 10.11.16 at 3:05 am
From the other coast: Robert Huttenback. Thirty years ago, this was, but having witnessed the whole mess from far too close up for comfort, I suppose I'm not all that surprised at the detailed similarities with the Coico case you're reporting on here. The Wikipedia entry gives only the gist, but the details in all their sleaziness are still available elsewhere on the Web for anyone who has the stomach to wade through them. To quote from our swine of the hour, If you're a star, they let you do it. The depressing thing is that we don't seem to have any institutions left where this casual breach of trust isn't routine.
kidneystones 10.11.16 at 3:39 am
"That's what is done by tin-pot dictators spanning the globe from North Korea to Zimbabwe."

Excellent post, Corey. Yes, I'm aware that the quote is from Beauchamp, but I think it fits just as well, if not better here.

I'm an adjunct with bona fides and a publication history to receive research funding from universities, just not quite often enough. I reference the tin-pot dictators for two reasons.

Tabasco and Brett get to the nub. Ms. Coico and her husband are earning far more than almost all faculty and certainly far more than I. There's an enormous gulf separating Ms.Coico and the adjuncts who can't actually rely on being paid their pennies on time. Suffice to say that Ms. Coico is likely blissfully aware of that gulf and our problems, and much more painfully aware on the enormous gulf separating her and her husband from the world-class grifters she aspires to join, which I suggest is her principal preoccupation.

As the CEO, a large part of her job is groveling for cash before the truly rich. This has to wear on her. And as we've learned, only partisan imbeciles believe that candidate X is the only wealthy person paying well to ensure he/she pays the absolute minimum in taxes, and who (occasionally) moves into the 'grey' areas of compliance. See senior civil servants at both the state and national level.

There are, like it or not, two sets of rules in America, whether that makes America a tin-pot dictatorship or no. If one happens to be poor and a minority one can expect to face the full brunt of the law for even the smallest infraction. And that's if you're not beaten, or shot by 'accident' along the way. If you're wealthy and white, you can do whatever you like until and after, in many cases, you get caught.

The reason, I suggest, that those charged with supervising Ms. Coico did not act earlier is that they did not wish to attract any unwanted legal scrutiny into their own practices, those of their peers, and especially of the donor class who fork over part of the class.

It's their world, we just live in it.

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 3:42 am
Part of class? Yes, why not that too.

William Timberman puts his finger right into the wound.

Sebastian H 10.11.16 at 5:01 am
The whole thing is crazy, but I can't get past the $20,000 security deposit for a rental home.

What kind of a house is that?

Louis Proyect 10.11.16 at 11:19 am
Interesting that she was hired to boost the science department based on her own scientific background. Remind you of another college president out in Illinois?
Alex SL 10.11.16 at 5:35 pm
As a non-native speaker of English, I am wondering not for the first time about how the term corrupt is used in the English world. Is it not correct that corruption means taking money (or some other form of payment) in exchange for doing somebody an undeserved favour, e.g. a professor accepting money to pass a student who should really have been failed? I would have thought that what is described here was embezzlement instead?

Sorry if this is not the most productive contribution, but I am wondering.

steve 10.11.16 at 7:12 pm
Corruption is a general term for premeditated unethical actions. Embezzlement would be a specific criminal change.
J-D 10.11.16 at 8:58 pm
I think it's common for 'corruption' to be used to refer to the misuse of official authority for private benefit; so if somebody has official authority to expend funds for stipulated purposes, and misuses that authority to expend some of those funds for a private benefit unconnected with those stipulated purposes, that could be described as corrupt conduct.
CCNY Drudge 10.12.16 at 12:50 am
What you don't mention but is how despicable it is that a high level administrator tried to set up two low level employees with no decision authority with a faked document. Yes, CUNY administrators should be held accountable for their non-action and sticking their heads in the sand, but don't exonerate the CCNY faculty who closed their eyes for the ethical problems and remained silent, just because of their comfortable teaching hours under this president or other perks, or just because they didn't want to rock the boat, just grumble at the water cooler. They had the academic freedom and union protection, and the majority of them did nothing. They were like the Republican Party facing Trump.
Karl Kolchack 10.12.16 at 1:01 am
A professional colleague of mine was prosecuted and fired for falsifying a relocation voucher…for a grand total of around $2200. Of course, this was way back in 1991, when such garbage was far less tolerated that it seems to be these days.
Alex SL 10.12.16 at 8:48 am
Thanks.
LaRoi Lawton 10.12.16 at 2:12 pm
This demonstrates on so many levels how administrators within CUNY are so poorly managed to the point where they create their own "Game of Thrones." It is no wonder why the current Governor of New York has a negative opinion of CUNY and wants a deeper look at our administrative levels across CUNY. You can bet your last dollar that what the former CCNY President has done, has also infected many of the departments within CCNY and across CUNY. This was no anomaly. The seeds were planted ions ago and watered by the City and State at the expense of our students CUNY was meant to help.
Library Love 10.12.16 at 4:37 pm
This sickens me to no end. I'm a librarian at CCNY and I have taken money out of my own pocket for office supplies etc. for my office and for students. This is just disgusting. I knew she was up to something but I had no idea it was this bad.

[Oct 13, 2016] "The Skills Delusion"

Oct 13, 2016 | www.project-syndicate.org

[Adair Turner, Project Syndicate ].

"Everybody agrees that better education and improved skills, for as many people as possible, is crucial to increasing productivity and living standards and to tackling rising inequality. But what if everybody is wrong?… As for inequality, we may need to offset it through overt redistribution, with higher minimum wages or income support unrelated to people's price in the job market, and through generous provision of high-quality public goods." Of course, Clinton has already foreclosed this possibility; after all, some of the redistribution would go to "irredeemables."

[Oct 08, 2016] Mankiw should be the lead negotiator for the administration, explaining to the dining hall workers why they're paid what they're worth, and no more.

Oct 08, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
allan October 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

"Harvard, In Theory and Practice"

Mankiw should be the lead negotiator for the administration, explaining to the dining hall workers why they're paid what they're worth, and no more.
Maybe he could throw in e-access codes to his textbook as a sweetener.

cnchal October 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm

When the great crime of this millennium happened and Jabba the Hut was in charge of Harvaaaaard, Jabba was getting paid millions to lose billions. Too bad he wasn't paid tens of millions to increase productivty and lose tens of billions, wiping the fountainhead of corruption out.

NY Union Guy October 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

RE: Harvard, In Theory and Practice

This is absolutely deplorable! These folks had to strike for 35K/yr at rich-ass Harvard? Unreal.

Why is it that White Collar types have such contempt for Blue Collar people?

I'm sick and tired of being looked down upon, made fun of, and laughed at because I'm not an office drone. I can't stand how these jokers refer to themselves as "professionals" all the damned time too, as if the rest of us are a bunch of amateurs, blathering all the goddamned time about free market this, free market that, this goodthink cause, that goodthink cause, union bad, gov't bad, private sector good, yada yada.

jypsi October 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm

> Why is it that White Collar types have such contempt for Blue Collar people?

It's an inferiority complex. At some level, every office drone knows that they are completely useless.

Katniss Everdeen October 7, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Absolutely–an inferiority complex. It's why so many white collar types drive pick-up trucks. Makes them look like they know how to do something useful.

polecat October 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm

…the tell is there's nary a scratch on the bed liner !

Kurt Sperry October 7, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Yes, the perfectly unscratched pick-up truck more than a year old. It's such an epic fail because it's "girly" and they were going instead for "manly". Either is, no doubt, a fine thing, but not when epically fail.

cnchal October 7, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Lots of times it's because they have motorized entertainment that only a truck can haul.

polecat October 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

well ..it's 'entertainment' until they break something …. like their body !!

MUST GO FASTER ……

cnchal October 7, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Soon the elite will have the race track option for their supercars, an AV version of track lapping where they strap themselves into the driver's seat and let the car scare the crap out of them.

[Oct 05, 2016] Stupefied after graduation

Notable quotes:
"... Smart young things joining the workforce soon discover that, although they have been selected for their intelligence, they are not expected to use it. They will be assigned routine tasks that they will consider stupid. If they happen to make the mistake of actually using their intelligence, they will be met with pained groans from colleagues and polite warnings from their bosses. After a few years of experience, they will find that the people who get ahead are the stellar practitioners of corporate mindlessness. ..."
"... The Stupidity Paradox ..."
"... they quickly found themselves working long hours on 'boring' and 'pointless' routine work. After a few years of dull tasks, they hoped that they'd move on to more interesting things. But this did not happen. As they rose through the ranks, these ambitious young consultants realised that what was most important was not coming up with a well-thought-through solution. It was keeping clients happy with impressive PowerPoint shows. Those who did insist on carefully thinking through their client's problems often found their ideas unwelcome. If they persisted in using their brains, they were often politely told that the office might not be the place for them. ..."
Oct 02, 2016 | aeon.co
Aeon (RS). " How organisations enshrine collective stupidity and employees are rewarded for checking their brains at the office door."

You don't have to be stupid to work here, but it helps Aeon Essays

Each summer, thousands of the best and brightest graduates join the workforce. Their well-above-average raw intelligence will have been carefully crafted through years at the world's best universities. After emerging from their selective undergraduate programmes and competitive graduate schools, these new recruits hope that their jobs will give them ample opportunity to put their intellectual gifts to work. But they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Smart young things joining the workforce soon discover that, although they have been selected for their intelligence, they are not expected to use it. They will be assigned routine tasks that they will consider stupid. If they happen to make the mistake of actually using their intelligence, they will be met with pained groans from colleagues and polite warnings from their bosses. After a few years of experience, they will find that the people who get ahead are the stellar practitioners of corporate mindlessness.

One well-known firm that Mats Alvesson and I studied for our book The Stupidity Paradox (2016) said it employed only the best and the brightest. When these smart new recruits arrived in the office, they expected great intellectual challenges. However, they quickly found themselves working long hours on 'boring' and 'pointless' routine work. After a few years of dull tasks, they hoped that they'd move on to more interesting things. But this did not happen. As they rose through the ranks, these ambitious young consultants realised that what was most important was not coming up with a well-thought-through solution. It was keeping clients happy with impressive PowerPoint shows. Those who did insist on carefully thinking through their client's problems often found their ideas unwelcome. If they persisted in using their brains, they were often politely told that the office might not be the place for them.

... ... ...

Organisations hire smart people, but then positively encourage them not to use their intelligence. Asking difficult questions or thinking in greater depth is seen as a dangerous waste. Talented employees quickly learn to use their significant intellectual gifts only in the most narrow and myopic ways.

Those who learn how to switch off their brains are rewarded. By avoiding thinking too much, they are able to focus on getting things done. Escaping the kind of uncomfortable questions that thinking brings to light also allows employees to side-step conflict with co-workers. By toeing the corporate line, thoughtless employees get seen as 'leadership material' and promoted. Smart people quickly learn that getting ahead means switching off their brains as soon as they step into the office. ... ... ...

We found many ways that all kinds of organisations positively encouraged intelligent people not to fully use their intelligence. There were rules and routines that prompted them to focus energies on complying with bureaucracy instead of doing their jobs. There were doctors who spent more time 'playing the tick-box game' than actually caring for patients; teachers who spent more time negotiating new bureaucratic procedures than teaching children. We met Hans, a manager in a local government agency: after a visit from a regulator, his office received a list of 25 issues in need of improvement. So Hans's agency developed 25 new policies and procedures. The result: the regulator was happy, but there was no change in actual practice. Such stories showed us how mindless compliance with rules and regulations can detract people from actually doing their jobs. The doctors, teachers and government officials all knew that the rules and regulations they spent their days complying with were pointless diversions. However, they chose not to think about this too much. Instead, they just got on with ticking the boxes.

Another significant source of stupidity in firms we came across was a deep faith in leadership. In most organisations today, senior executives are not content with just being managers. They want to be leaders. They see their role as not just running their business but also transforming their followers. They talk about 'vision', 'belief' and 'authenticity' with great verve. All this sounds like our office buildings are brimming with would-be Nelson Mandelas. However, when you take a closer look at what these self-declared leaders spend their days doing, the story is quite different.

... ... ...

As Jan Wallander, the ex-chairman of Sweden's Handelsbanken, said: 'Business leaders are just as fashion-conscious as teenage girls choosing jeans.' Many companies adopt the latest management fads, no matter how unsuitable they are. If Google is doing it, then it's good enough reason to introduce nearly any practice, from mindfulness to big-data analytics.

,,, ,,, ,,,

One last source of corporate stupidity we came across was company culture. Often, these cultures imprison employees in narrow ways of viewing the world, such as the common obsession with constant change.

... ... ...

What's more, people in corporations have short attention spans. Perpetrators of blunders will likely have moved onwards (often upwards) before their mistakes becomes obvious. 'Always try to outrun your mistakes' was one middle-manager's key career advice.

... ... ...

In a world where stupidity dominates, looking good is more important than being right. Advanced practitioners of corporate stupidity often spend less time on the content of their work and more on its presentation. They know that a decision-maker sees only the PowerPoint show and reads just the executive summary (if they're lucky). They also realise that most stupid ideas are routinely accepted when they're presented well. Decision-makers will likely forget much of the content by the time they walk out the door. And when things go wrong, they can say: 'They didn't read the fine-print.'

Negotiating corporate stupidity also requires assuming that the boss knows best. This means doing what your boss wants, no matter how idiotic. What is even more important is that you should do what your boss's boss wants. You will look like you are loyal and it will save time arguing for your position. When things go wrong, you can blame your boss.

Working in a stupefied firm often means blinding others with bullshit. A very effective way to get out of doing anything real is to rely on a flurry of management jargon. Develop strategies, generate business models, engage in thought leadership. This will get you off the hook of doing any actual work. It will also make you seem like you are at the cutting edge. When things go wrong, you can blame the fashionable management idea.

[Oct 05, 2016] Most junior-level academics are on two-year contracts. The pay is not that great, there are usually no relocation programs since junior-level academics having a family is considered a dire waste of resources

Notable quotes:
"... Most junior-level academics are on two-year contracts. The pay is not that great, there are usually no relocation programs since junior-level academics having a family is considered a dire waste of resources and if one wants to procure something one has to go to meetings with 20++ people who all also want theirs if someone else is getting some. All of these meetings are about managing a flock of spoiled children were a few are being given sweets. Most lower level academics (in the career sense) eventually "fail out" to private business and settle down once they realize that they will never make tenure, not even at a lower ranking university. This usually happens at the age of 30 or so. ..."
"... Very few get full tenure. For those few finally becoming a tenured professor there is *still* the everlasting scrabbling for external funding, perpetual fights with other colleges over internal funding (now at a much higher level and against people truly skilled in the art, said skills acquired through years of dedicated effort in "undoing the competition"), and of course for space, resources and the good students. ..."
"... A few tenured professors can do like Tolkien did: "Fuck this bullshit business, I'll just be writing books which totally tangentially involves my specialty and teach, so they can't sack me". ..."
Oct 05, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Si October 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

You can dress up what is happening in all sorts of ways. When democracy has been stolen, when the political class has been bought and paid for by a small controlling elite, you have a decline into third world economics. The incentives to start businesses in the US have gone because of the worship of the large corporations who are able to pay for the necessary lobbying so that laws are skewed in their favour.

I guess when you sit in the safety of an academic institution, facing up to nothing more challenging than dreaming up ways to either provide intellectual cover for the plunder, or find ways to increase your take of the available government grants, then what you get is the nonsense above.

There is a very obvious paradigm shift going on which the article goes nowhere near. To do of course means that you would cease to be one of the 'insiders' or useful idiots.

fajensen October 5, 2016 at 6:59 am

Obviously, you have never been employed in an academic institution: Unless one is a tenured professor there is no such thing as "safety" in academics.

Most junior-level academics are on two-year contracts. The pay is not that great, there are usually no relocation programs since junior-level academics having a family is considered a dire waste of resources and if one wants to procure something one has to go to meetings with 20++ people who all also want theirs if someone else is getting some. All of these meetings are about managing a flock of spoiled children were a few are being given sweets. Most lower level academics (in the career sense) eventually "fail out" to private business and settle down once they realize that they will never make tenure, not even at a lower ranking university. This usually happens at the age of 30 or so.

Very few get full tenure. For those few finally becoming a tenured professor there is *still* the everlasting scrabbling for external funding, perpetual fights with other colleges over internal funding (now at a much higher level and against people truly skilled in the art, said skills acquired through years of dedicated effort in "undoing the competition"), and of course for space, resources and the good students.

A few tenured professors can do like Tolkien did: "Fuck this bullshit business, I'll just be writing books which totally tangentially involves my specialty and teach, so they can't sack me".

Others will whore themselves out to whoever pays for specific results and maybe end up in a think-tank at 10x or even 50x the academic salary.

Most will just find a way to muddle through and enjoy what they are getting.

Si October 5, 2016 at 11:38 am

Firstly, yes I have.

Secondly I think your summary of who makes it to tenure is pretty accurate and sums up what it takes to get there and to stay there.

I was commenting on the mind-set of the people who wrote the article and their indulgence in a framing which misses so much that it beggars belief.

[Sep 29, 2016] The academic precariat in the UK

Sep 29, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

paul September 29, 2016 at 7:24 am

The precariat article is good, reflecting the depressing industrialisation of education in the UK. Think only low–paid workers get the Sports Direct treatment? You're wrong Guardian. The academic precariat in the UK.
The guardian is all for this in its own workplace,however

Reply
Clive September 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

The Guardian is, increasingly (if you'll pardon the phrase) getting on my tits at the moment. Is there anything worse in the mainstream media than a Progressive In Name Only newspaper?

Reply
paul September 29, 2016 at 7:52 am

The BBC's fair and balanced news and current affairs departments ( driven by its sinister business unit ) are perhaps worse because of its greater reach, but it's a tight race.

Reply
DJG September 29, 2016 at 9:22 am

Clive, intemperate: The agony of the Guardian is indeed interesting. A while back, I read that its site was the most used among English-language newspapers, particularly by U.S. readers looking for some balance.

With regard to the U.S. political coverage, and their rah-rah Clintonism, as evinced by the resurrection of the likes of Jill Abramson, I tend to cut them some slack. I find that many English (in particular, the English) are somewhat tone-deaf about U.S. culture and folkways. I imagine some Guardian Uxonian editors, who once spent a week in NYC with a side trip to LA, and who have actually eaten corn on the cob, thinking that they understand the U.S. Constitution and U.S. politics. But they still don't know how to pronounce Illinois and Arkansas.

The anti-Corbyn hysteria shows detachment from their roots. The Guardian editors should get in a car and head out for a field trip to Manchester (do they recall Manchester?) to find out more about Brexit and Corbyn. A trip to the English nether-regions would do them some good.

And yet I can't complain too much: How often do they present Douthat, Bruni, and Brooks as sages?

[Sep 29, 2016] Georgia Tech's master degree in computer science costs less than one-eighth as much as its most expensive rival - if you learn online.

Sep 29, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Portia September 29, 2016 at 8:05 am

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2016/09/28/st-michaels-facing-15m-deficit/91212534/
I thought the reasoning was interesting:

To keep a little more of that tuition money, the college is considering slightly ratcheting down financial aid. They are also going to offer buyouts to a number of employees later this fall.

"When you have a reduction in your enrollment, you're going to need a proportionate reduction in faculty and staff," Robinson said. "We definitely need to get smaller."

Adding to the problem, there were fewer unrestricted donations - donations that are free to use for whatever the college might need - than expected last year, but more donations overall. Gifts that were received were earmarked for specific programs and buildings on campus, not necessarily for the general fund. (can't put your name on a general fund)

By next year the college won't be able to break even, but by 2018 Robinson and his team expects to present a balanced budget to the Board of Trustees.

Despite the budget issues, the college is still on strong footing and is looking ahead, said Alex Bertoni, spokesperson for the college.

"The college is doing well, and the students here are thriving," he said. "We're going to continue to invest in the long-term. " (that long-term does not look good for a lot of students, to me)

bolding and comments in () mine. I am an eye-roller for sure, and they got a workout here.

Reply
Jim Haygood September 29, 2016 at 8:14 am

The ghastly horror of competition roils the cozy academic cartel:

Georgia Tech's master's [sic] in computer science costs less than one-eighth as much as its most expensive rival - if you learn online.

With one of the top 10 computer science departments in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, Georgia Tech had a reputation to uphold. So it made the online program as much like the residential program as possible.

Tuition for a 30-credit master's in computer science from the University of Southern California runs $57,000. Syracuse, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon charge over $43,000 for the same degree.

Most prestigious colleges are currently sticking with the model that lets them offer degrees for $57,000 instead of the roughly $7,000 that it costs at Georgia Tech.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/29/upshot/an-online-education-breakthrough-a-masters-degree-for-a-mere-7000.html

Creative destruction, comrades: Who is Joe Schumpeter?

Reply
Portia September 29, 2016 at 8:24 am

To be fair, IMO computer science is an ideal online course, coding being something most people do alone. And only the self-disciplined will endure.

[Sep 28, 2016] We No Longer Live in a Democracy Henry Giroux on a United States at War With Itself

Notable quotes:
"... FDR once said, "A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself." This is happening in the United States in the most literal sense, given that our political and economic system are wedded to a market-driven system willing to destroy the planet, while relentlessly undermining those institutions that make a democracy possible. ..."
"... War is no longer an instrument to be used by political powers, but a form of rule, a general condition of the social order itself -- a permanent social relation and organizing principle that affects all aspects of the social order. In fact, the US has moved from a welfare state in the last forty years to a warfare state, and war has now become the foundation for politics, wedded to a misguided war on terror, the militarization of everyday life ..."
"... Politics has become a comprehensive war machine that aggressively assaults anything that does not comply with its underlying economic, religious, educative and political fundamentalisms. ..."
"... The vocabulary of war has become normalized and mobilizes certain desires, not only related to violence and social combat, but also in the creation of agents who act in the service of violence. ..."
"... This retreat into barbarism is amplified by the neoliberal value of celebrating self-interest over attention to the needs of others. It gets worse. As Hannah Arendt once observed, war culture is part of a species of thoughtlessness that legitimates certain desires, values and identities that make people insensitive to the violence they see around them in everyday life. ..."
"... A one-dimensional use of data erases the questions that matter the most: What gives life meaning? What is justice? What constitutes happiness? These things are all immeasurable by a retreat into the discourse of quantification. ..."
"... Reducing everything to quantitative data creates a form of civic illiteracy, undercuts the ethical imagination, kills empathy and mutilates politics. ..."
"... America's obsession with metrics and quantitative data is a symptom of its pedagogy of oppression. Numerical values now drive teaching, reduce culture in the broadest sense to the culture of business and teach children that schools exist largely to produce conformity and kill the imagination. Leon Wieseltier is right in arguing that the unchecked celebration of metrics erases the distinction "between knowledge and information" and substitutes quantification for wisdom. ..."
"... The left appears to have little interest in addressing education as central to how people think and see things. Education can enable people to recognize that the problems they face in everyday life need a new language that speaks to those problems. What is particularly crucial here is the need to develop a politics in which pedagogy becomes central to enabling people to understand and translate how everyday troubles connect to wider structures. ..."
"... We no longer live in a democracy. The myth of democracy has to be dismantled. ..."
"... We have to make clear that decisions made by the state and corporations are not in the general interest. We must connect the war on Black youth to the war on workers and the war on the middle class ..."
"... As Martin Luther King recognized at end of his life, the war at home and the war abroad cannot be separated. Such linkages remain crucial to the democratic project. ..."
www.truth-out.org
Henry Giroux: FDR once said, "A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself." This is happening in the United States in the most literal sense, given that our political and economic system are wedded to a market-driven system willing to destroy the planet, while relentlessly undermining those institutions that make a democracy possible. What this suggests and the book takes up in multiple ways is that the United States is at war with its own idealism, democratic institutions, the working and middle classes, minority youth, Muslims, immigrants and all of those populations considered disposable.

War has taken on an existential quality in that we are not simply at war; rather, as Étienne Balibar insists, "we are in war," inhabiting a war culture that touches every aspect of society. War is no longer an instrument to be used by political powers, but a form of rule, a general condition of the social order itself -- a permanent social relation and organizing principle that affects all aspects of the social order. In fact, the US has moved from a welfare state in the last forty years to a warfare state, and war has now become the foundation for politics, wedded to a misguided war on terror, the militarization of everyday life, and a culture of fear, which have become its most important regulative functions. Politics has become a comprehensive war machine that aggressively assaults anything that does not comply with its underlying economic, religious, educative and political fundamentalisms.

As a comprehensive war machine, the United States operates in the service of a police state, violates civil liberties and has given rise to a military-industrial-surveillance complex that President Eisenhower could never have imagined. For instance, the largest part of the federal budget -- 600 billion dollars -- goes to the military. The US rings the earth with military bases, and the US military budget is larger than those of all other advanced industrial countries combined. And that doesn't count the money spent on the National Surveillance State and intelligence agencies.

... ... ...

What's interesting about the war metaphor is that it produces a language that celebrates what the US should be ashamed of, including the national surveillance state, the military-industrial complex, the war on whistleblowers, the never-ending spectacle of violence in popular culture and endless wars abroad. The vocabulary of war has become normalized and mobilizes certain desires, not only related to violence and social combat, but also in the creation of agents who act in the service of violence.

Violence is not only normalized as the ultimate measure for solving problems, but also as a form of pleasure, especially with regard to the production of violent video games, films and even the saturation of violence in daily mainstream news. Violence saturates American life, as it has become cool to be cruel to people, to bully people and to be indifferent to the suffering of others. The ultimate act of pleasure is now served up in cinematically produced acts of extreme violence, produced both to numb the conscience and to up the pleasure quotient.

This retreat into barbarism is amplified by the neoliberal value of celebrating self-interest over attention to the needs of others. It gets worse. As Hannah Arendt once observed, war culture is part of a species of thoughtlessness that legitimates certain desires, values and identities that make people insensitive to the violence they see around them in everyday life. One can't have a democracy that organizes itself around war because war is the language of injustice -- it admits no compassion and revels in a culture of cruelty.

How does the reduction of life to quantitative data -- testing in schools, mandatory minimums in sentencing, return on investment -- feed into the cultural apparatuses producing a nation at war with itself?

This is the language of instrumental rationality gone berserk, one that strips communication of those issues, values and questions that cannot be resolved empirically. This national obsession with data is symbolic of the retreat from social and moral responsibility. A one-dimensional use of data erases the questions that matter the most: What gives life meaning? What is justice? What constitutes happiness? These things are all immeasurable by a retreat into the discourse of quantification. This type of positivism encourages a form of thoughtlessness, undermines critical agency, makes people more susceptible to violence and emotion rather than reason. Reducing everything to quantitative data creates a form of civic illiteracy, undercuts the ethical imagination, kills empathy and mutilates politics.

The obsession with data becomes a convenient tool for abdicating that which cannot be measured, thus removing from the public sphere those issues that raise serious questions that demand debate, informed judgment and thoughtfulness while taking seriously matters of historical consciousness, memory and context. Empiricism has always been comfortable with authoritarian societies, and has worked to reduce civic courage and agency to an instrumental logic that depoliticizes people by removing matters of social and political responsibility from ethical and political considerations.

America's obsession with metrics and quantitative data is a symptom of its pedagogy of oppression. Numerical values now drive teaching, reduce culture in the broadest sense to the culture of business and teach children that schools exist largely to produce conformity and kill the imagination. Leon Wieseltier is right in arguing that the unchecked celebration of metrics erases the distinction "between knowledge and information" and substitutes quantification for wisdom.

This is not to say that all data is worthless or that data gathering is entirely on the side of repression. However, the dominant celebration of data, metrics and quantification flattens the human experience, outsources judgement and distorts the complexity of the real world. The idolatry of the metric paradigm is politically and ethically enervating and cripples the human spirit.

As you have written and said often, the right takes the pedagogical function of the major cultural apparatuses seriously, while the left not so much. What do progressive forces lose when they abandon the field?

In ignoring the power of the pedagogical function of mainstream cultural apparatuses, many on the left have lost their ability to understand how domination and resistance work at the level of everyday life. The left has relied for too long on defining domination in strictly structural terms, especially with regard to economic structures. Many people on the left assume that the only form of domination is economic. What they ignore is that the crises of economics, history, politics and agency have not been matched by a crisis of ideas. They don't understand how much work is required to change consciousness or how central the issue of identification is to any viable notion of politics. People only respond to a politics that speaks to their condition. What the left has neglected is how matters of identification and the centrality of judgment, belief and persuasion are crucial to politics itself. The left underestimates the dimensions of struggle when it gives up on education as central to the very meaning of politics.

The left appears to have little interest in addressing education as central to how people think and see things. Education can enable people to recognize that the problems they face in everyday life need a new language that speaks to those problems. What is particularly crucial here is the need to develop a politics in which pedagogy becomes central to enabling people to understand and translate how everyday troubles connect to wider structures.

What do you want people to take away from the book?

Certainly, it is crucial to educate people to recognize that American democracy is in crisis and that the forces that threaten it are powerful and must be made visible. In this case, we are talking about the merging of neoliberalism, institutionalized racism, militarization, racism, poverty, inequities in wealth and power and other issues that undermine democracy.

We no longer live in a democracy. The myth of democracy has to be dismantled. To understand that, we need to connect the dots and make often isolated forms of domination visible -- extending from the war on terror and the existence of massive inequalities in wealth and power to the rise of the mass incarceration state and the destruction of public and higher education. We have to make clear that decisions made by the state and corporations are not in the general interest. We must connect the war on Black youth to the war on workers and the war on the middle class, while exposing the workings of a system that extorts money, uses prison as a default welfare program and militarizes the police as a force for repression and domestic terrorism. We must learn how to translate individual problems into larger social issues, create a comprehensive politics and a third party with the aim not of reforming the system, but restructuring it. As Martin Luther King recognized at end of his life, the war at home and the war abroad cannot be separated. Such linkages remain crucial to the democratic project.

[Sep 26, 2016] The Financialization of Education and the Student Loan Debt Bubble

Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

DrBob September 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

The Financialization of Education and the Student Loan Debt Bubble

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/10/13/how-the-financing-of-colleges-may-lead-to-disaster/

[Sep 25, 2016] Popular Acceptance of Inequality Due to Brute Luck

Notable quotes:
"... By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU ..."
"... The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group). ..."
"... From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest. ..."
"... Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy. ..."
"... Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo. ..."
"... I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. ..."
"... Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school. ..."
"... But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation. ..."
"... Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest. ..."
"... I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works. ..."
"... The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife. ..."
"... Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all. ..."
"... It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair. ..."
"... Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich. ..."
"... Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library. ..."
"... "The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host" ..."
"... The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article argues that people don't mind inequality due to "brute luck"…but is one man's brute luck another man's rigged system?

By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU

Tax policy to correct inequality assumes that nobody is entitled to advantages due to luck alone. But the public largely rejects complete equalisation of 'brute luck' inequality. This column argues that there is near universal public support for an alternative, benefit-based theory of taxation. Treating optimal tax policy as an empirical matter may help us to close the gap between theory and reality.

... .... ...

In this case, the optimal tax policy aggressively offsets inequality. Only the need to retain incentives to work and the desire to reward extra effort justify allowing inequality to persist.

... ... ...

Brute Luck and Economic Inequality

What explains the gap between scholarly and popular views of the moral status of pre-tax income? A clue might be our attitude to luck.

The view that individuals have no moral claim to their pre-tax incomes relies on the ethical assumption that nobody is entitled to advantages due to factors outside his or her control. Philosophers such as Cohen (2011) call this 'brute luck'. Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling) to a person's economic status, this assumption directly leads to a rejection of moral claims to pre-tax income.

... ... ...

The 2016 US presidential campaign's attention to inequality fits these findings. Some candidates complain of a 'rigged system' and rich individuals and corporations who do not pay their 'fair' share. Critically, gains due to a rigged system or tax avoidance are due to unjust actions, not brute luck. They are due to the toss of a loaded coin, not a fair one.

... ... ...

These are early steps in developing a new approach to tax theory that I have called 'positive optimal taxation'. This approach modifies the standard optimal tax analysis by treating the objective for taxation as an empirical matter. It uses a variety of sources – including opinion surveys, political rhetoric, and analysis of robust policy features – to highlight gaps between the standard theory and prevailing reality of tax policy. It also identifies and incorporates into the theory alternative goals – and the philosophical principles behind them – that better describe the public's views on policy.

.... .... ...

Robert Hahl September 24, 2016 at 6:13 am

"I stole it fair and square" is not a form of brute luck, but I saw no recognition of that fact while skimming the article. Sorry if I missed it.

Adam1 September 24, 2016 at 6:17 am

One piece of logic missing from the research analysis is accounting for the game itself. If I agree to play a game of chance that is fairly played I am by default also agreeing that I accept the possibility that the outcomes will not be equal, otherwise why would I play. It shouldn't be a surprise that in the end people are willing to maintain that inequality because they originally agreed to it by the fact that they agreed to play.

As Yves points out, if you change the scenario where one of the players was allowed to collude with the person executing the game and the other player was informed of this you might get a very different answer. You might even get a punishing answer.

The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group).

DanB September 24, 2016 at 7:34 am

From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest.

Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:21 am

A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

But an economist would, and therein lies the problem. Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo.

I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

John Wright September 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school.

But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation.

Even if we tore down the profession, it could likely regrow to provide the same functionality.

The profession provides a valuable service, as it is valued by the class with power and money throughout the world.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest.

All knowledge and technology works this way. It is the purposeful use of information that matters, not the information itself. The left wastes time, effort, and resources trying to convince people to change their minds. Instead, they need to focus on building things in the real world, using all the economic tools at their disposal.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works.

Maybe the solution is more co-ops and less rhetoric.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:50 am

Using the power of the boycott is another. The powerless need to rediscover what power they truly wield in this system. That was the other failure of the left. Yes, they were actively crushed by corporate power, but the ideas live on. They can only be exterminated through lack of use.

A new ideology needs to be born of the ashes. If the predictions of climate disruption are anywhere near accurate, a proactive, and positive direction can be undertaken. My experience is that caring, healthy people are driven to help others in times of adversity. Well, those times are coming. We are once again going to have to face the choice between choosing abject fear or rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work making everyones lives better.

You don't need corporate sponsorship to do that. They need us more than we need them. In the end, I have a feeling that the current system will come down very quickly. Being prepared for that outcome is what should be driving the actions of those not vested in keeping the status quo going.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

For a historian, making connections between past and present situations is the root of their insight. As in all walks of life, your efforts can gain value to your fellow citizens or they can be used as a tool for your own self interest- whatever that might be. How interesting are these repeating cycles in the human drama.

Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all.

When your viewpoint of the world and your relationship to it shrink to only seeking profits, the depravity of that situation is hidden from view unless shocked back to awareness.

As Peter Gabriel would say- Shock the Monkey

Shock the monkey to life
Shock the monkey to life

Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out' the trees
Now I'm on my knees
Cover me darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Fox the fox
Rat on the rat
You can ape the ape
I know about that
There is one thing you must be sure of
I can't take any more
Darling, don't you monkey with the monkey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Wheels keep turning
Something's burning
Don't like it but I guess I'm learning

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Cover me, when I sleep
Cover me, when I breathe
You throw your pearls before the swine
Make the monkey blind
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Too much at stake
Ground beneath me shake
And the news is breaking

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey to life

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

This is tangential to topic of this thread:
I was particularly struck by your comment about art: "the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated." I recall a similar assertion made in one of Howard Zinn's speeches - sorry I can't recall the exact phrasing of his statement or its context.

I'm retired and found a strange calling to make art - a calling I never listened to when I had to worry about supporting a household. I find it difficult to make art that isn't political, satirical or in some way didactic. Whether anyone else would regard my works as art I don't know and in a way I don't care. Art has become a way in which I must express something inside me I don't understand but whose direction I must follow. I suppose similar feeling drive many expressions of art. Perhaps that explains something of the power of art you refer to.

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 7:12 am

For the erosion in income inequality to be fixed, economic policies need fixed. The disparity between income quintiles will continue to widen. Social unrest will continue to proliferate. This situation will simply never get corrected until the commercial banks are driven out of the savings business (however bizarre one might think that solution is).

Vladimir Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution said: "The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency." Not so. The best way to destroy capitalists is the deregulation of deposit caps for saver-holders' accounts in the commercial banking system. This policy error simply increased the bank's costs with no increase in their income. Bottling up savings, is first observed by the decline in money velocity, then by a decline in AD (secular stagnation), and when the Fed attempts to offset this decline, by an increase in stagflation.

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:43 am

The beliefs come first, then the system reflects these. Creeping individualism and the belief in the self made man will do the trick.

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:52 am

""[V]elocity" is just a dummy variable to "balance" any given equation – a tautology, not an analytic tool."

http://michael-hudson.com/2012/05/paul-krugmans-economic-blinders/

How can the "code" be modified to restrain usurious AND sociopathic behaviour?

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Vi is contrived. Vt is money actually exchanging counterparties. But since Ed Fry discontinued the G.6 debit and demand deposit turnover release in Sept. 1996, the Fed has no rudder or anchor.

Required reserves are a surrogate, though the underweight Vt. But RRs are based on payments (money turning over). And 95 percent of all demand drafts clear thru transaction based accounts.

The "code" you speak of relates to the volume of financial transactions consummated. Financial transactions are not random. Financial speculation is a function of money flows. The volume of bank debits during the housing crisis would have stood out like a sore thumb (as it captured both new and existing real-estate transactions).

Only price increases generated by demand, irrespective of changes in supply, provide evidence of inflation. There must be an increase in aggregate demand which can come about only as a consequence of an increase in the volume and/or transactions velocity of money. The volume of domestic money flows must expand sufficiently to push prices up, irrespective of the volume of financial transactions, the exchange value of the U.S. dollar, and the flow of goods and services into the market economy.

The "administered" prices would not be the "asked" prices, were they not "validated" by (M*Vt), i.e., "validated" by the world's Central Banks.

- Michel de Nostredame

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm

I'm not sure that what you just spewed even makes sense to you, or that you even bothered to read the link provided…but the "code" is about concurrent monetary AND fiscal policy to serve a purpose other than making the rich richer and the poor poorer…

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

If someone gets the waterfront property just because he/she was born first so got there first, he better do something positive for the next generation… The next generation will understand the luck factor as not everyone can be standing in the same spot at the same time, but it will not accept the scrooge.

HotFlash September 24, 2016 at 7:53 am

Prof Weinzieri says

If people are entitled, even in part, to their pre-tax incomes, the optimal tax policy would no longer offset inequality as aggressively. Taxes would, instead, be focused on raising funds for government activities in a way that tries to respect those entitlements.

which seems fair-ish, but also

Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling)

Oh my! Childhood home environment and (gasp!) early schooling are matters of luck? Oh those Haaahvaahd guys! No, professor, winning the lottery is a matter of luck, and can happen to anyone at any point in their life. Being born in poverty, into a class 15% of whose male population is incarcerated or having to go to a crappy school are *systemic* results of deliberate social structures, the elites just prefer to call it "bad luck". Thus we see how the Ivies serve the elites.

Eclair September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

Yes, HotFlash. And these 'deliberate social structures,' the 'red-lining' policies, the wildly unequal sentences for crack versus cocaine, the casual brutality of the prison system (over 200,000 male rapes per year), the laws preventing people who have served their sentence for a felony from voting, public housing, scholarship aid, welfare .. in other words, from living and improving their lives .. are structural violence. And then we are 'surprised' when people who have lived their lives under a regime of these subtle but unrelenting acts of economic, social and spiritual violence, finally hit back.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair.

Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich.

Banana Breakfast September 24, 2016 at 9:49 am

The paper seems totally oblivious to the fact that in the scenario presented, all the gains enjoyed by both players are due to luck. Player B is getting a windfall either way, so there's no sense of real unfairness. The perception would be quite different if it was only the difference between A and B that was assigned randomly, while each had to earn some baseline.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 24, 2016 at 5:28 pm

And I think the "popular acceptance" part is given a huge boost when the young, black, nominally-Democrat president keeps insisting everything is awesome and anyone who says otherwise is "peddling fiction".

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I think this paper goes to great lengths to build a question around the ideas of the fairness behind progressive taxation. This post hardly seems to pose a question worthy of study. Our tax systems so much favor Corporations and the wealthy that considerations of "fairness" are at best comical - and I'm not laughing.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell September 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

The most important problem in economics is the widening Gap between the rich and the rest. A solution is: https://mythfighter.com/2014/11/09/a-brief-reference-what-you-need-to-know-when-discussing-economics/

kgw September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

As William Godwin says, if people actually knew who they were, all would be peaceable…

https://www.amazon.com/Enquiry-Concerning-Political-Justice-Influence-ebook/dp/0140400303/ref=la_B000APJ4OS_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474727648&sr=1-5

From Cold Mountain September 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

Yes, the outcome of self awareness will always be Anarchism. I came be an advocate, not through economics or politics, but thought Buddhism and Daoism. It is a story older than humanity that we are just starting to remember.

So here I am sitting, watching, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:48 pm

What kind of self-knowledge did Hitler find in his imprisonment? It didn't lead to anything I would call peaceable. Was there some inner Hitler he didn't reach in his prison contemplations?

Ivy September 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

If I had only known it was luck, I would not have spent so many late nights in the library during undergrad and grad schools. However, I enjoyed those nights and was enriched by them. Is that taxable?

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

Will future generations, if there are any, be able to look back and reflect," what were these people thinking?"

There is no justification for the levels of inequality and environmental destruction we are experiencing. Period. We can all consider ourselves fools, even for entertaining debating these issues much longer. We need to be discussing concrete actions, not theoretical justifications.

Everyone must face the randomness of the universe every day. The only certainty know is the one WE create as human beings- one and together. Why is it do you think that the elite never break ranks. They are creating their own certainty in an uncertain world. Heads I win, tails you loose. TBTF. Race to the bottom. The new normal. Political capture using the revolving door techniques.

Human evolution is racing toward a crisis point. Ending inequality and world conflict are at the focal point of this outcome. Leaders that continue to use the outdated modes of social control will either drive us over the cliff to destruction, or will loose the ability to control outcomes as their numbers dwindle. The day the revelation is made that the elite are full of crap, is the day change becomes possible.

It seems large social structures will always come crashing down. The weakness in human nature and flaws in our social structures lead to eventual failure. Greed and selfish action is seldom tolerated is smaller structures.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I think there will always be inequality between people on many many dimensions. I am constantly humbled by how much I don't know that other people know, people less well educated and I suspect less intelligent - whatever that means - than I am. I celebrate this inequality and sincerely hope this larger knowledge shared with mine and the knowledge of many others will suffice to address the great challenges we face in the all too near future.

HOWEVER - inequality as a matter of power relations - that is different matter. If I were my great great grandson I could never forgive what I have allowed through my cowardice and intent to have a surviving great great grandson - or granddaughter.

sd September 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

I am not sure I really understand the intention of this paper. The example used, that 20% of $90,000 income must be paid in taxes, and then taking surveys of how that distribution should work seems to ignore whether or not the respondents actually understand basic math.

Why do I say this?

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax. And yet, that's not how most responded. Only 5% selected the easy answer. Which makes me wonder if the targets of the survey even understand basic math.

So I guess I am questioning the questioning….

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Actually the easiest answer is for person A to pay the whole $18,000. He's the one who is getting more money before taxes, and if he pays the $18,000, he's still getting $12,000 more than person B. The "flat tax" is probably the second easiest answer. However, since neither person is doing any tangible work to receive the money, the fairest result is for both to get the same after "taxes". If person A pays $24,000, $18,000 will go to the "state", and $6,000 will go to person B, and both A and B will each get $36,000. Person B can force person A to agree to this, because if they don't agree, then person A only gets $600 and person B gets $300.

If we want to get complicated, then the result should be such that the difference between person A's portion and person B's portion is $300, whether they agree or not. So if they agree, person A would pay $23,850 ($18,000 to the "state" and $5,850 to person B), and person A would get $36,150. In that case, person B would get $35,850. The difference between person A's income and person B's income is $300, just as it would have been if they had not agreed.

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax.

Wait a minute. 20% of $60,000 is $12,000, and 20% of $30,000 is $6,000. Not $15,000 and $3,000.

Anyhow, I still like my solution where person A pays $23,850.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Why not question the $90K - of income? - instead.

In terms of the money and wealth of the people who run our government and economy, and control and direct our lives and the lives of millions of others - $90K barely registers.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:19 pm

I read this post as questioning the basis for progressive taxation - a rationale for taxation we sorely lack.

knowbuddhau September 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I have little faith in studies like these. My first question is always, "What's a respondent?" Define Person, please.

Notice how they're treated as entirely substitutable standardized parts. That is, as if people were molecules or atoms. But try as it might, social science ain't physics. You can't just grab the nearest few people, sit them down at a keyboard to play your game (for credit? for fun? on assignment?) and then substitute their behavior for the behavior of all people everywhere.

Which people, where, under what conditions, and how many? Was the sample representative? Did the author go to prisons, ghettos, farm fields, etc. and ask them? Or was it proximity and ease of access that defined it?

It's the old "college sophomores in the lab" problem. As an undergrad psych student, I saw time and time again how people gamed the system, yet PhD candidates and professors took the data as gospel. It's only too often more a demonstration of ability to work the method, to play the academic game, than testing hypotheses.

Or I guess as coders say, GIGO.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Also you might ask what meaning to attribute to a questionable measure of human opinions about a concept like "what is fair" in an environment completely dominated by promotion of ideas of fairness which to my mind are quite unfair.

So I agree with you and wonder why you don't pres further.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

This post frames inequality in terms of "fairness" and luck/pluck and treats money as some form of prize in an economic "game". I suppose this way of looking at things works up to a point as long as we look to those below us and congratulate our merit while accepting some greater luck of those above us which help rationalize our merit. But any concepts of fairness or the justice things rapidly fractures if we look past those in our own neighborhood. Riding a bubble through the slums here and elsewhere in the world it becomes very difficult to rationalize justice and merit. Looking in the other direction toward the high rises and gated estates and manifestations of wealth I can't even imagine and the fragments of the fairness or justice of things evaporates completely. The "findings" of this post do not scale - at all.

Aside from the living standard which money/wealth affords the notions of "fairness" "merit" and "luck" this post contemplates there is no discussion of other aspects of money/wealth conveniently passed over and ignored.

In our society our money-culture money/wealth is equated with merit. It packages demand for automatic respect and deference. This pecuniary one-size-fits all measure for character, intellect, excellence, creativity, leadership, even physical attractiveness undermines all these values reducing them to commodities of the marketplace.

But the ability of money/wealth to control and command the lives of others and the collective resources of society is far more pernicious. What concept of "fairness" or "justice" can justify this aspect of inequality?

Emma September 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm

JG – Rogge covers this in his book: "World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Poverty_and_Human_Rights ) using the perfect example of the acquisition and management of natural resources.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Your comment to mine leaves me quizzical. Though I value any comments to mine given my wondering how far I am from what is reasonable - global poverty is far beyond the complexity of anything I might address in my comments. I grant global poverty is not a problem beyond solution - but first we need to address the problems of economic philosophy used to justify and enable the gross inequalities of our world.

I have not read Rogge's book. There are far too many books I have not read and of the books i have read there are far too many I have not really understood. I am also concerned by how little this post seems to have stimulated our commentariat - an entity I have come to greatly respect.

Please elaborate on what you mean. I am concerned by this post's lack of consideration of the political power money/wealth confers - something beyond and to some degree outside considerations of poverty and the suffering inequality fosters - even celebrates.

Adar September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

My poor non-economist head reels at this article. OK, it's a mind exercise to determine attitudes toward taxation. But it's completely made up – Fig. 1 Tossing a fair coin, doesn't scan for me, it's like a crap game. At the random flip of a coin, A gets twice as much as B, but where did the $18k penalty come from? Is it arbitrary? Why "could" one have to pay more, and who decides? And where did the $24k figure come from? Seems obvious to me A got twice as much, and so should pay 2 out of 3 parts of the penalty. So, re brute luck and tax policy, if inherited wealth or investment income (i.e. rent) vs. wage income is really what's meant here, please say so.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm

I view this post - at least in part - as questioning the basis for a progressive tax rate based on attitudes toward what is "fair" in turn based on a - sorry - hokey experiment to test attitudes about what is fair. To me the problem is a problem of scale. If we're talking about my place opposed to that of the fellow in the house on the hill or the house down the street - I might - on a good day - buy-in to this post's notions about "fairness". Those notions do NOT scale and they don't give any consideration to the powers of control and command which great wealth confers.

What I can accept in the way of inequality between myself and the guy on the hill does NOT scale when the guy on the hill doesn't live on the hill and only owns the house on the hill as a reminder of his lowly beginnings. He lives in a multi-million dollar 10,000 sq. ft. condominium high in New York City and a similar flat in London, and in Tai Pei and Shanghai and Paris and … and lives in none of them really. And I cannot accept the poverty and oppression found in Camden, New Jersey, Southside Chicago, … in Brazilian favelas or the slums of Seoul.

Doug September 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

Perhaps the failure to scale arises from the compounded flaws that, first, this post is all about "I" and speaks not at all to "we"; and, second, as your comments point out, uses money in typical fashion as the lowest common denominator determining utility and fairness when, 'we' demands a focus on the highest not lowest common denominator (and that's not mathematically or logically convenient).
Further, 'we' must be something more meaningful than a mere agglomeration of "I's". Those are at best 'thin we's' easily seduced into theoretical constructs that, in fact, have nothing to do with the actual experience of 'we' in any meaningful way.

Real, 'thick' we's comprised of actual people who persistently interact and truly know they share some to a lot of their shared fates respond to questions of brute luck, fairness and inequality together (whether democratically or otherwise or blends of ways). They don't determine their shared fates with an eye on abstract individualism grounded in lowest common denominators of 'utility'. They actually care about 'what makes most sense for us together' and balk at devices, questions - indeed swindles - aimed at tearing apart the fabric of 'we'.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 3:47 am

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Milton Freidman's charm, energy and charisma seduced his students and global elites alike into believing he had come up with an economics that could transform the world. His students loved the idea of transforming the world through economics as it made them feel so important. Global elites loved his economics as it worked so well for them and gave a scientific backing for a world that was one that they had always wanted.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of problems with his economics that are making themselves felt today.

His economics was missing:

1) The work of the Classical Economists
2) The true nature of money and debt
3) The work of Irving Fischer in the 1930s

The Classical Economists were the first economists to look at and analyse the world around them, a world of small state, raw capitalism.

They noted how the moneyed classes were always rent seeking and looking to maintain themselves in luxury and leisure, through rent and interest. This sucked money out of the productive side of the economy, reducing the purchasing power within the nation.

They noted how the cost of living must be kept low, to keep the basic minimum wage low, so nations could be competitive in the international arena.

This knowledge is missing today.

The UK dream is to live like the idle, rich rentier, with a BTL portfolio extracting "unearned" rental income from the "earned" income of generation rent.

In the US they removed all the things that kept the cost of living down, not realising these costs would have to be covered by wages. The US now has a very high minimum wage due to soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loans and US businesses are squealing.

The true nature of money and debt were understood in the 1930s when the Chicago Plan was put forward after a thorough investigation into the 1929 bust.

Money and debt are opposite sides of the same coin.
If there is no debt there is no money.
Money is created by loans and destroyed by repayments of those loans.

This knowledge is missing today.

Today's ubiquitous housing boom is like a printing press creating more and more money as the new mortgage debt comes into existence.

The money supply expands and pours into the real economy making everything look really good.

The only thing that is really happening is the inflation of the price of things that exist already, houses. All the debt being created is not productive investment.

The cost of living goes up and more and more money gets sucked into mortgage and rent payments sucking purchasing power out of the economy. The increasing cost of living, raises the basic minimum wage pricing labour out of international labour markets.

Irving Fisher also looked into the 1929 bust and developed a theory of economic crises called debt-deflation, which attributed the crises to the bursting of a credit bubble.

Irving Fisher looked into debt inflated asset bubbles and realised the huge danger they pose to the whole economy. This knowledge is missing today. The ubiquitous housing boom is a debt inflated asset bubble, with huge amounts of debt spread through the whole economy, when it bursts there is hell to pay.

This was first seen in Japan in 1989, its economy has never recovered.

It was repeated in the US and leveraged up with derivatives leading to 2008.

Ireland and Spain have also wrecked their economies with housing bubbles.

There are housing bubbles around the world, ready to burst and pull that nation into debt deflation.

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 5:20 am

Milton Freidman worked at the Chicago School of Economics and was the global ambassador for his dire economics. This dire economics and the University of Chicago were also behind the design of the Euro, no wonder it doesn't work.

"The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host"

Their dire economics predicts the Euro-zone economies will converge into a stable equilibrium.

The reality – the economies are diverging and the poorer nations are going under. It's bad. 2008 – How did that happen?

The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching.

Two people who did see 2008 coming (there aren't many).

Steve Keen – A whole book "Debunking Economics" on this dire neoclassical economics and the problems of not using realistic assumptions on money and debt.

Michael Hudson – Calls it "junk" economics and has written a whole book on the problems of forgetting the world of Classical Economics – Killing the Host.

Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine" goes into the brutality of the Chicago Boys and Berkeley Mafia in implementing their economic vision. A right wing "Khmer Rouge" that descended on developing nations to wipe away left wing thinking.

It's bad and Milton Freidman was behind it.

Skippy September 25, 2016 at 6:20 am

Goes a bit deeper than just the Chicago boys imo…

Marginalist economics tends to be characterised primarily by a couple of distinct axioms that operate 'under the surface' to produce its key results. these are simplistically characterise as: the axiom of methodological individualism; the axiom of methodological instrumentalism; and the axiom of methodological equilibration, where models derived from them have ex-ante predictive power.

This is historically Epicurean philosophy, example, Epicurus wrote,

"The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together."

Which is a reflection of its materialistic atomism which is basically identical with the marginalist focus on atomistic individuals and makes it an atomistic doctrine. Thorstein Veblen where he wrote in his Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?:

"The hedonistic conception of man is that of a lightning calculator of pleasure and pains, who oscillates like a homogeneous globule of desire of happiness under the impulse of stimuli that shift him about the area, but leave him intact. He has neither antecedent nor consequent. He is an isolated definitive human datum."

Which in turn is just Epicurean ontology where everything becomes objects and not subjects where Epicurean ethics involves individuals maximising pleasure and minimising pain - or, as the marginalists would put it, maximising utility and minimising disutility - it simply follows from the basic ontological position that is put forward.

Just to put a more modern perspective on it – see: Note that the patient suffering from schizophrenia tends not to answer the questions directed at him but rather responds with complete non-sequiturs.

"In his book, King lays out how economists have tried to establish supposedly disaggregated "microfoundations" with which to rest their macroeconomics upon. The idea here is that Keynesian macroeconomics generally deals with large aggregates of individuals – usually entire national economies – and draws conclusions from these while largely ignoring the actions of individual agents. As King shows in the book, however, the idea that a macro-level analysis requires such microfoundations is itself entirely without foundation. Unfortunately though, since mainstream economists are committed to methodological individualism – that is, they try to explain the world with reference to what they think to be the rules of individual behaviour – they tend to pursue this quest across the board and those who proclaim scepticism about the need for microfoundations can rarely articulate this scepticism as they too are generally wedded to the notion that aggregative behaviour can only be explained with reference to supposedly disaggregated behaviour."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/philip-pilkington-of-madness-and-microfoundationsm-rational-agents-schizophrenia-and-a-noble-attempt-by-one-noah-smith-to-break-through-the-mirror.html

You might also like – Le Bon, Gustave. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, you can get it free online.

Additionally – The Myth of the Rational Market: Wall Street's Impossible Quest for Predictable Markets – by Justin Fox

Chronicling the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry, Justin Fox's "The Myth of the Rational Market" is as much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk. The book brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing, from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of today. It's a tale that features professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world stage. It's also a tale of Wall Street's evolution, the power of the market to generate wealth and wreak havoc, and free market capitalism's war with itself.

The efficient market hypothesis -- long part of academic folklore but codified in the 1960s at the University of Chicago -- has evolved into a powerful myth. It has been the maker and loser of fortunes, the driver of trillions of dollars, the inspiration for index funds and vast new derivatives markets, and the guidepost for thousands of careers. The theory holds that the market is always right, and that the decisions of millions of rational investors, all acting on information to outsmart one another, always provide the best judge of a stock's value. That myth is crumbling.

Disheveled Marsupial…. Main stream econnomics is an extenuation of much deeper metaphysical and resultant ideological beliefs….

[Sep 22, 2016] Academic Penury Adjunct Faculty as the New Precariat naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage. ..."
"... i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history. ..."
"... Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit. ..."
"... First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice. ..."
"... The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct. ..."
"... Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that. ..."
"... I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. ..."
"... What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? ..."
"... We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over. ..."
"... University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart. ..."
"... This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones. ..."
"... Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions. ..."
Sep 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"The work is there," Wangerin tells me, "they just don't want to pay."

A one-time adjunct and contract lecturer myself, I decide to look into the matter more deeply. Are Wangerin's contentions particular to her own experience or are they more widely shared across the United States? And if they are, what does this mean for higher education?

Information, as it turns out, isn't hard to come by. I write one message to a long-time Twitter contact who also happens to be a contingent faculty member and my inbox explodes. As I sort through my e-mails a picture of higher education begins to emerge and, far removed from the conventional image of pipe-smoking professors in book-lined studies, it is largely one of exploitation and control.

"I am currently teaching one class, and in all honesty, unemployment benefits pay double that," a community college lecturer who wished to remain anonymous told me, "I would be better off not teaching at all."

An art professor from Ohio writes in to tell me that she's just thrown in the towel after more than a decade of work: "My class was canceled two weeks before classes start and I decided to get my Alternative Educator License and teach at the high school level."

I hear of a lecturer whose courses were allocated to someone else after he spoke out about a contract clause that demanded access to his DNA; about an adjunct who could not afford to pay property taxes on the family home after 20 years of teaching; and of someone who was fired after a student complaint that he was a "black racist." "Whatever that means," the adjunct reporting the incident grumbles.

... ... ...

"Education claims to ameliorate class stratification, but it actually reinforces it," says Alex Kudera, who has taught college writing and literature off the tenure track for over twenty years.

It's not hard to see what he means. The average adjunct lecturer receives only $2700 per course taught. While that amount is sometimes portrayed as easy money, in addition to time spent in class lecturers must also prepare course content, create exams and assignments, grade, advise students, and, of course, travel from campus to campus. When academics are employed on a casual basis, such activity is not compensated, meaning that the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage.

Jim Haygood , September 21, 2016 at 6:36 am

'Academics may enjoy more intellectual freedom than many workers, but they also have a duty that does not generally fall on others: to research and to publish the results of that research regardless of how unpopular it may be.'

Proposal for a joint Econ/Law paper

Thesis : US academia is a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization

Synopsis : using de facto antitrust immunity garnered by its politically connected administrators, academia relentlessly hikes tuitions as well as its intake of governmental funding.

Via false and deceptive marketing, students are promised nonexistent benefits from earning a degree, then subjected to a loan sharking racket which indebts them for life, at inflated cartelized prices, without informing them of the non-dischargeability of those debts.

Systemic marketing fraud is further enabled by glossy alumni magazines touting the achievements of tenured faculty, without divulging that a majority of classes are taught by adjuncts.

Recommendations : RICO the entire industry; consolidate it; convict the managers; reopen it under new leadership (former politicians banned for life), under new legislation prohibiting marketing fraud and loan sharking.

Norb , September 21, 2016 at 9:02 am

Seems like the logical solution and the only way to avoid actual collapse of the institutions. This higher education scam can only continue until parental funds are tapped out, which is this current generation of collage age families. New entrants into the workforce, on whole, will not be able to save enough, or have job security to even consider college for their children.

The social contract that the elite are forging ahead with is the bond and willingness to be scammed. It is amazing to see their disbelieving expressions when any form of resistance is encountered. The rational response would be to ease up on the exploitation, but doesn't seem to be happening. Other forces will have to be brought to bear.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 6:48 am

"non-tenure track teaching staff – commonly referred to as adjuncts and contingent faculty – now make up approximately 70% of all teaching staff in American higher education. This means that roughly three out of every four courses a student takes are taught by someone without job security who is working on minimal pay."

Is this actually true? If say some adjuncts are full-time other job & teach only 1 course, some adjuncts are perma-temp FT & teach ~4 courses, & tenure-track teach ~4 courses; then you could have a situation where say
1 portion of teachers that are adjuncts. The article mentioned 70% of ANY teachers teaching at least 1 course in a given semester at Universities are adjuncts

2 portion of courses taught that are taught by adjuncts: A lower number, say 40% of the courses taught at Univs are taught by adjuncts, due to having tenure-track Profs teaching ~4 courses & adjuncts teaching ~1 course each.

The author seems to make a logic error assuming that metric #2 is the same as #1. It may happen to be, but doesn't necessarily need to be.

What actually is the metric #2 number?

I have empathy for the perma-temp FT adjuncts, IMHO it is no different than perma-temp FT workers in other occupations, despite the prestige of Unviersities perhaps somewhat masking its practice.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

You're right that we don't have enough info to know #2 from the article, but I also don't know that you've got it quite right.

If full time instructors are half-and-half tenure/tenure-track and adjunct (for instance), that would mean that 30% of profs are tenure and 30% are full time adjuncts. That would leave another 40% of the total that are less-than-full time adjuncts. So you'd have a majority of classes being taught by adjuncts. But, of course, we need more info to figure it out for sure, but it seems more likely to me, based on my experience (~ half my classes were taught by adjuncts during my college days, which were in the late nineties-early aughties) that adjuncts represent a firm majority of both personnel and classroom hours.

MooCows , September 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I'm not an adjunct but I'm a non-tenure track faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at a very large university. I teach 8 technical courses a year (3/3/2) while the tenured faculty teach 3 or 4 (2/1/0). We also have adjuncts who typically teach one course a semester.

I bring this up because it could be that, from the author's perspective, I still fall into the adjunct category because my contract must be renewed yearly and the administration can choose not to renew without cause. I would say that non-tenure track faculty are responsible for about 50% of the courses in this department but, being in engineering, our department is small relative to something in the College of Liberal Arts.

upstater , September 21, 2016 at 8:02 am

This fits in, sort of, to this posting… the dean of the B-school, with a $500K salary, a supposed expert on "risk management" at Syracuse University, busted in a prostitution sting:

SU dean arrested in prostitution bust told students: 'Nothing is worth your integrity'

I guess he'll have to hire out at Goldman - aren't they the ones with the running tab at a NYC escort service?

Plenty of adjuncts at Syracuse University, where the tuition is $55K/year.

PlutoniumKun , September 21, 2016 at 8:03 am

More of a question here, as I see the author teaches in Ireland. If Dr. Fuller comes below the line I'd be interested to hear her thoughts on whether the same process is infecting Irish and other European universities. I know if at least one college administrator in Itelamd who loudly proclaims the superiority if the US system. One can only wonder why…

Anon , September 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Superior in what way? Science? Technical research? Economic research?

For the US undergad, adjunct instructors is the norm. (My local community college has 70% adjunct instructors.). My local University has slightly less, but uses more experienced gad students to guide less experienced grad students. In any event, the product/experience has been cheapened.

tony , September 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.

Report: First two years of college show small gains

Morris Berman has pointed out that US college has become a social rather than a learning experience. I suspect this cultural shift has made academics themselves replaceable. Does it really matter who babysits these four-year party retreats?

Robert Dannin , September 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history.

my classes were always bursting to seams, we studied contemporary issues and were focusing on the sub-prime crisis back in 1995. one class toward the end of my lecture, i wrote the math for my salary on the blackboard. it came down to twenty-five cents per student per class, a tiny fraction of their per semester tuition. a student from the business school remarked that i could probably make more panhandling the same hours outside in washington square park. everyone laughed. by the time i got back to the department less than 20 minutes later, the chair invited me into his office. "don't talk about salary issues with your students. GOT IT!" someone had ratted me out. guess i spoiled their day. easier to discuss poor people in the outer boroughs than someone on your doorstep. in the following years i spent my spare time organizing the first adjunct faculty union. door-to-door, button-holing adjuncts on the sidewalk or in the hallways. the less experience they had, the more reluctant they were to get involved for fear of ruining their chances for a F/T tenure track position. they wouldn't listen, when i explained, once an adjunct, always an adjunct. after five more years, they began to see the light and wanted union. then the uaw swooped in, demanding my lists and fealty. they knew nothing about activism on an urban campus and didn't want to listen. when i tried to participate in meetings, i was accused of disrespecting the regional organizer who commuted to the union hqtrs. from her home in litchfield, ct. at one meeting they told us who our "friends" were on campus. yep, heading the list was my dept chair, the good-old red-diaper baby himself. finally, there was a vote, the union won a shitty package that deliberately excluded any new hires. end of the semester the dept chair sends me an email, you're fired! meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

SpringTexan , September 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

Thanks. Wish every adjunct would teach this if this is appropriate to the class. (and mention it in passing if it's not)

Uahsenaa , September 21, 2016 at 11:07 am

I do this with my students as well, noting that about 10% of their tuition goes to me, while the rest goes to the University.

I also like to point out that they pay six six times the tuition compared to what the people running the university did, and that's before you take into consideration that they didn't have to pay an extra 1K in "fees."

If they simply cut me a check for the percentage of their tuition that goes to the class, I'd make upwards of 300K a year.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Robert,

Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you were fired, apparently for exercising you human & Constitutional right to labor-organize.

The fact that your boss was "a labor history Prof" is worst-tier hypocrisy & irony. Reminds me of Constitutional Law Prof 0bama, who continually defecates on the Constitution with his assasination of US citizens overseas program, NSA bulk spying, etc.

I hope you found an alternative job that had better working conditions & a fairer boss.

flora , September 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

This essay is spot-on in every respect. Thanks for posting.

NoBrick , September 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio." CSNY

It seems the "social unrest" stemmed from the collective consciousness permitted by
unrestrained objectivity. The master-client relationship was overwhelmed by repeated
gestures that breached the ordained demeandor of prostrate obedience.

The balance between confusion and illumination (consciousness) must be modified!
After all, successful marketing/propaganda begins where consciousness ends…

Benedict@Large , September 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

I was fortunate enough (a long time ago) to attend an Ivy League university, with my brother attending the same two class years ahead of me. I became frustrated at one point, finding my courses to always be a number of degrees more abstract in what they were teaching than I had anticipated, and sought my brother's advice. "Brown," he said, "doesn't make engineers; they make graduate students." As I would later come to say, we were not taught to be mathematicians or chemists or historian; we were taught to think like them. I can't tell you how valuable that approach to education has turn out to be for me, both professionally and personally, as I've made my way through life. These are things you don't unlearn.

I think about this whenever I read articles (like this one) about the direction of education today, especially but not limited to the college level. These experiences are being lost as we turn our schools into trade schools and our students into mere mechanics; OK at any situation for which they have been specifically trained, but kind of useless for those when that has not been the case. Our elites tell us that this is what the market wants, but I never see any of them actually asking the students, and when I check back at the Ivy, I find that the elites still teach their own the way I was taught. The answer is clear. we are deliberately being divided by education into a world where the children of the elites, whether they have earned it or not, will find no intellectual competition from the classes below them. The Poors really will be stupid, but it will be intentional, and built in to the Nature and Nurture the elites have allowed them to have.

beans , September 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Excellent comment, Benedict. The art of teaching people how to think instead of what to think – the educator who can do this is invaluable, now more than ever.

Punxsutawney , September 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

I might add as well, that many of these adjuncts came out of industry, having lost well paying jobs as operations were moved overseas.

Now working part-time for less than 1/2 of what they were making, if they are lucky!

Bitman , September 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

Few points to add to this excellent article:

1. The shift needed to understand the modern University is to think of it not as an institution of higher learning, but as a processing plant – it produces "students" and "graduates, and adjuncts are the staff assigned the role of processors. The model is industrial. Elite institutions of all sorts have conspired with the University to require professional credentials for more and more of the occupations they staff, in order to assure large flows of people pass through. This also means that larger populations are drawn into the debt system and thereby depoliticized.

2. The most important role an adjunct can play is to bring the issues associated with the industrializing of the university into the classroom. Make students aware of the labor situation, and what they're buying. Explain to them that adjuncts, like nurses in hospitals, are expected to overperform, and that their overperformance is what props up a diseased, corrupt institution. It's very, very important for adjuncts not to get caught up in the official institutional morality that guilts them into overperformance (hospitals are probably the leader in this respect). How much overperformance you indulge in is a personal decision, in my view, but it should never be taken on uncritically.

My own individualized response to this system has been to take on as many classes as I humanly can, so that a) my wages actually compare to those of my tenured colleagues, and b) to demonstrate to students by so doing that the University does not give a shit about their education. No one pays attention to how many courses I teach or how prepared I am to teach them. I've taught hundreds of courses (no exaggeration) and no one ever supervises me or even checks in (It's happened twice in 25 years) .Fact is, I happen to be prepared, but I stress that that is not at all a concern of the University. I've been asked to teach courses in subjects where I have absolutely no expertise, but since I'm teaching undergrads, know how to read, construct a syllabus, and make compelling arguments, I get by, sometimes even comfortably. Many get by this way. But it shouldn't be confused with providing student a good education. And I'm getting too old to maintain the pace, as we all do.

According to the evaluation numbers I'm somehow still providing students with an above-average experience in their courses, but I do so full in the knowledge that I WILL NOT overperform without making the students aware that that is what unfairly is expected of me, even though I'm given none of the resources tenured faculty are given. I cancel classes sometimes, for the express purpose of the fact I need a break (I don;t get sabbaticals). They almost invariably understand. They also are sometimes infuriated that this state of affairs persists, though like adjuncts they fear making waves.

3. Tenured faculty are the enemy (unfortunately) or PT faculty. Eevn the labor activists among them have different class interests than PT faculty at most large universities. Full-time faculty are dominated by the administration and feel themselves to be under siege, but one response to this is that they dominate PT faculty as a means of freeing themselves as much as possible from the industrial-style teaching of large University life. As a rule, they are not willing to equitably share the burdens PT faculty face, and there's no getting around that.

David , September 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit.

First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice.

The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct.

Do these adjuncts believe that a "potentially permanent" position awaits them if they keep going on their present path? Are they being told that by the universities? If so, then they are being deceived. Or, is this just a case of blind optimism and not wanting to give up their dream? In this case, it goes back to being their choice. Or do they want a career as a serial adjunct, and just want the job to be better? The this is just typical employer/employee bargaining and back to their choice.

So, they can agitate for more money, security, authority, etc. which is what they appear to be doing, or they can leave the field for one that is more lucrative, which is what the vast majority of us have done.

http://canonicalthoughts.blogspot.com

reslez , September 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

It's their "choice" to be an adjunct. Really? If there was a true choice wouldn't the vast majority "choose" to be full-time faculty with benefits and equivalent pay? Free marketeers keep using the word "choice", but the choice they offer is usually one where you get to "choose" between homelessness and and marginal survival at $11 an hour. A mighty impressive choice!

Do they "believe" they're going to get a full-time position, because realistic career expectations wouldn't help universities get cheap grad student labor?

Or maybe they end up in grad school like a lot of people I know - because the job market was so terrible that the idea of staying in school for another couple of years was their best "choice" at that point in time? Since the media constantly tells us education is always good, and those who don't have it will fall behind, the idea that more education isn't always better comes as a foreign idea to a lot of 22 year olds. An assembly line of cheap grad student labor then gets funneled into adjunct teaching.

David , September 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that.

I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. Why would they want to give that up? Again, this is an issue of information, which is why I posted my letter. If undergrads knew the actual prospects for grad students after they graduate perhaps they would choose a different path. But, grad school and academia are extremely attractive pursuits for many people so they readily put up with all the impediments in the hope of making it as a professor. The reality is that academia has become an avocation, a hobby, rather than a vocation for most people.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

Here's a thought: maybe if our education system weren't built around fear, we'd be able to present a more united front.

Consider: instructors are tasked with judging students and, if they grade on the curve, punishing some of them regardless of their skill or effort…and often enough this sorting is accomplished through BS methods like high-stakes, time-limited testing. So yeah, sometimes students get resentful of the instructors who get seen as the enemy. And so, they take it out be leaving a bad review.

The reviews, just like the tests and grading systems, are being used to sort and punish profs. Bad reviews from students can be devastating financially and career-wise, as detailed in the article. So profs get scared and therefore fail to ask much of the students, so as to come off as a "nice guy/gal." The students live in fear and don't learn, and the teachers live in fear and don't teach. But what if we did things differently?

What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? What if reviews were done in a way aimed at supporting instructors, rather than censuring them? And what if students were treated the same way. What if, instead of a reprimand and a shaming, students were given support and encouragement (more like Evergreen and Sarah Lawrence)?

Maybe then we'd stop being afraid of each other and be able to support eachother as we demand an answer to the question of how it is that tuitions keep going up while faculty pay keeps going down. Demand in no uncertain terms that the top Admins take major pay cuts or step down so their secretary can take over for them (with a hefty pay raise, of course, but something reasonable ).

That's my two sense.

KYrocky , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over.

University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart.

For decades, political contributions bought politicians who in turn mandated that federal student loans had to be administered by banks, thereby siphoning off billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars that could have otherwise gone to students and universities. The politicians also permit these banks to gouge students on interest rates, to pass laws making it harder or impossible to discharge loan debt through bankruptcy, or to refinance their loans. None of these abuses of students served a public interest. All of these abuses exemplify our current model for how to apply business practices to higher education.

In the business sense, the only concern a University has for its product is its relationship to the revenue stream. A little like the charter school model. Universities have a need for instructors, and in applying the methods of successful business as it is defined today they will seek to fill that labor need at the absolute lowest cost achievable. Those who long for the past are out of luck; universities are never going back. Faculty pay will keep going down as long there are new warm bodies to take the place of those who don't like it, and adjuncts will be squeezed for all that can be wrung from them.

Adjuncts are nameless, faceless, and entirely forgettable as far the University administration is concerned. The administration will blow as much smoke up adjunct's asses as needed to keep their slots filled. Adjuncts are in an abusive relationship, whether they understand it or not. The abuse is never going to end, as the obstacles are not just the administration and the university Board, but the politicians, the big donors, and the attitudes of our society at large.

templar555510 , September 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

What you have so precisely described is yet another Ponzi scheme. Of course it is because that is what post capitalist Capitalism is .

Think of it like this : there is approximately 7 billion of us living on planet Earth and between us we can and do produce enough food, clothing and could produce enough housing ( that's another matter ) for all 7 billion.

So the problem for the capitalist is how do I create the illusion of scarcity upon which Capitalism works. Answer : grab by any and every means possible – legal and illegal , it's all the same thing – the lions share of what already exists ; in other words steal it . That's the 1 % .

And then con the 99% into believing resources are scarce etc, etc and bending to the will of the 1 %.

Jim , September 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Most of us continue to hope that we will eventually find a secure/meaningful position somewhere in one of the major institutions that make-up our society.

This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones.

Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions.

[Sep 16, 2016] University of California's Outsourcing Is Wrong, Says US Lawmaker

Sep 16, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
(computerworld.com) 338 Posted by manishs on Friday September 09, 2016 @01:14PM from the big-questions dept. Earlier this week, University of California hired India-based IT company HCL to outsource some of its work offshore . As part of the announcement, it announced that it was laying off 17 percent of UCSF's total IT staff. The U.S. lawmaker, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA find the outsourcing job "wrong." dcblogs writes: A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA. "How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif). Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services. The affected employees will leave their jobs in February, after they train their contractor replacements.

University of California Hires India-Based IT Outsourcer, Lays Off Tech Workers (computerworld.com) 618

Posted by BeauHD on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @11:30PM from the outsourced dept.
dcblogs writes from a report via Computerworld: The University of California is laying off a group of IT workers at its San Francisco campus as part of a plan to move work offshore. Laying off IT workers as part of a shift to offshore is somewhere between rare and unheard-of in the public sector. The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years. This layoff affects 17% of UCSF's total IT staff, broken down this way: 49 IT permanent employees will lose their jobs, along with 12 contract employees and 18 vendor contractors. This number also includes 18 vacant IT positions that won't be filled, according to the university. Governments and publicly supported institutions, such as UC, have contracted with offshore outsourcers, but usually it's for new IT work or to supplement an existing project. The HCL contract with UCSF can be used by other UC campuses, which means the layoffs may expand across its 10 campuses. HCL is a top user of H-1B visa workers.

[Sep 16, 2016] ITT Tech Is Officially Closing

Sep 16, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
(gizmodo.com) 419 Posted by manishs on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @12:40PM from the goodbye dept. Reader Joe_Dragon shares a Gizmodo report: ITT Technical Institute is officially closing all of its campuses following federal sanctions imposed against the company. The for-profit college announced the changes in a statement: "It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service . With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected."
ITT Tech announced it was closing all of its campuses just one week after it stopped enrolling students following a federal crackdown on for-profit colleges. ITT Tech and other higher education companies like it have been widely criticized for accepting billions of dollars in government grants and loans while failing to provide adequate job training for its students. Last year, ITT Tech received an estimated $580 million in federal money (aka taxpayer dollars), according to the Department of Education.

[Sep 15, 2016] The end of capitalism has begun

Notable quotes:
"... Like Greece is finding out now, if you have to import virtually all your energy and can't export high energy finished products like Germany and Japan, then you are in trouble. ..."
"... Except the problem we have today is NOT Capitalism. Far from it in fact! We are in Neo-Corporatism and have left Capitalism in the past! ..."
"... Conventional oil peaked in 2005. Well, okay, effectively plateaued. We'll probably see the ultimate peak this year. We haven't reached peak debt…yet. What happens when we reach peak energy and peak debt? What happens when we reach Peak Everything? ..."
"... 40 years ago the Limits to Growth study was published, based on a systems dynamics model of the world's population, economic production, resources and pollution, and how they would interact. It forecast the sort of trouble we are now seeing, and its "business-as-usual" scenario predicted system collapse in the mid-21st Century. Governments and society leaders should have taken note back then, but they didn't, and their behaviour shows how poorly "capitalism" does rise to the challenge of global problems - it obfuscates, it denies, it defers, and it goes on doing its own thing regardless in the face of all evidence that it is on a path to destruction. Now we are left with a world that is consuming the equivalent of one and a half planets a year, and still, many are in denial. ..."
"... It sounds hopeful that economists are questioning the assumptions of neoliberalism, but if, as I suggested, the real change is less ideological and more to do with elites preferring to be elite even if in poorly functioning economies and dysfunctional societies, these criticisms may be ignored. Anyway, if we get Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, perhaps then we'll see! But it's up to everyone to keep making and refining the arguments, and to get them across. I think even the most indoctrinated people can change their views very quickly when they encounter good sense. ..."
Jun 20, 2015 | The Guardian

hitandrun 20 Jul 2015 05:58

Spectacularly woolly waffle, much like the Gladwell, but its information value -- if I were pressed to put a price on it -- is that it provides a certain kind of gentleman with late-night bar talk who would otherwise have nothing at all to say for himself, or go on about chaos theory. That's got to be a few quid.

Eduardo Martinez -> JezJez 20 Jul 2015 05:55

You are correct, Capitalism is more efficient than all the other 'isms' in maximising resource and energy extraction. Unfortunately fossil energy is a finite, as we are going to find out shortly. Castles made in sand ......

Eduardo Martinez -> denise2933 20 Jul 2015 05:36

You got it in one, even though your comment was intended to be sarcastic. The UK will not support a population of 64 million without fossil energy. North Sea oil extraction peaked in 2000, World conventional oil extraction plateaued in 2006. These are facts not opinion.

Like Greece is finding out now, if you have to import virtually all your energy and can't export high energy finished products like Germany and Japan, then you are in trouble.
You can no longer afford a first world standard of living.

REALITY is such a bitch.

schauffler -> NadiaJohanisova 20 Jul 2015 05:32

This is an excellent response to what looks like, unfortunately, another boosterish celebration of the "liberating" qualities of a technological regime which is produced by, and dependent upon, the most aggressive, concentrated and uncontrollable form of capitalism pure and simple. The endless iteration of the word "information", as if this denoted something uniform, powerful, desirable or even identifiable, suggests that the author has only a sketchy idea even of his own theory, nor does he deign to discuss -- in the excerpt printed above -- the mechanics of the concentration of capital and the dynamics of perpetual accumulation. As Ms. Johanisova rightly points out, there is no mention made of the gigantic forces manifest in the production and distribution of our information networks and the (ever-increasing) amounts of energy they require to be sustained. Nor are we given any clear idea how "information" will liberate us from dependence on these forces. Does the author think that Samsung, Exxonmobil, Unilever, Maersk Sealand and Koch Industries will somehow be replaced by global co-ops that eschew profit?

malachimalagrowther -> Urgelt 20 Jul 2015 04:52

This was a sane, well-informed and percipient comment. "I have seen the future, and it is bleak." If the past is any guide, the current accumulation of everything in the hands of a very few will be solved neither by information nor wishing it. The inequalities of, for example, the Belle Epoque, were reduced only by war. That is hardly to be wished for, hardly to be avoided anyway. We cannot count on a peaceful extrapolation of trends.


NadiaJohanisova 20 Jul 2015 04:44

I would agree with the main thrust of the argument: that one way out of the current system (or part of it) is via localised and democratically governed systems of mutual support, services and production. I like some of the insights (eg austerity as the first step of the race to the bottom)and feel close to the general values espoused b the author. But I am worried about the authors´s linear Eurocentric evolutionary model of the world, his over-emphasis on technology as driving this change,his naive view of information technology as costless and without power-imbalances and most of all his ignorance of environmental aspects and dimensions of what he discusses.

"Postcapitalism" - Paul Mason should perhaps acknowledge that he has not coined this term (see eg the book JK Gibson-Graham: A post capitalist politics.).
"The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above." The article is Northern-Europe-centered. As far as I know the revolutionary ideals are still very much alive in may parts of the world incl. Southern Europe. Also, it is I think counter-productive to delete government policies from the equation of whatever needs to be done to reach sustainable and equitable societies. The capitalist machine, the growth imperative, the race to the bottom will not go away if we stick our hands in the sand. Nb. Nationalising banks does not = destruction of market.

"Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all". I am not sure of this. It has changed the character of work, contributed to the race to the bottom and while many are unemployed, many are working harder than ever du to the growing power of capital to relocate and thus weaken any legislation . The relationship between work and wages has always been loose (as eg Petr Jehlička has been pointing out in his papers). The idea that we will need no more work is based on not integrating environmental issues into the picture. Like André Gorz in the 1970s, the author does not realise that automation is built on fossil fuels, with all the accompanying problems (global warming, oil peak, imbalance between losers and winners of the race for the last fossil fuels remaining (Alaska, Amazonia...fracking...). Even information technology rests on high energy consumption and large electronic servers made from "stuff".

"The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free." But it does not operate for free, it is supported by volunteer donations. The problem also is that these volunteers are still dependent on jobs in presumably capitalist enterprises. This is why it is so important for the new "commons" and "peer production" to link up with the old "cooperative movement" to create real livelihoods for these people. I have an interesting report on this from a conference in 2014 where they actually did try to link up.

"Yet information is abundant. Information goods are freely replicable. Once a thing is made, it can be copied/pasted infinitely. A music track or the giant database you use to build an airliner has a production cost; but its cost of reproduction falls towards zero. Therefore, if the normal price mechanism of capitalism prevails over time, its price will fall towards zero, too....We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could, if we wanted them to, last forever." I am worried that this is the old Western economic sin of discounting the "material" again: old wine in new bottles. Information can reproduce indefinitely, true. But all clicking on the internet, all playing of tunes via computer etc. has a material/energy cost: production costs of producing the computers, i-pads, mobiles etc. plus the giant servers, energy costs of operating them, cost to the earth of the waste. Tin, tungstam, tantalum for mobiles are mined forcibly by near-slaves in Easten Congo in militia-held territory, illustrating a wider and deeper issue of North-South imbalance.

"There are, of course, the parallel and urgent tasks of decarbonising the world and dealing with demographic and fiscal timebombs." This cannot be done - and thought - "in parallell": Unfortunately (because it is so difficult), the task is to synthesise our insights from all these spheres of we want to build a credible utopia. Environmental issues and "trashing the earth" cannot be relegated to a footnote.


Arthur Robey -> Harry Callahan 20 Jul 2015 01:55

Thank you for your reply Harry, your position is becoming clearer to me.

I am of the opinion that there can never be enough per capita wealth. If we drive this argument to extremes then everyone born will have everything they want and never have to lift a finger. What then the wonders of Calvinistic industry?

I see that you expound the virtues of the lessons of history. But that is precisely what is being argued against. Our predicament has no precedent. History can teach us nothing about the way forward from here. Life sets the exam and then produces the lesson.

An infinitely expanding economy on a finite planet is a mathematical impossibly. Therefore the problem becomes "How many doublings of the economy are enough? " Because any constantly growing function will have a doubling time. If this is not clear to you, may I recommend Professor Bartlett's excellent youtube video on exponential growth and it's inevitable consequences.

The only satisfactory solution to a problem of infinities are other infinities. I won't insult your intelligence by spelling out the obvious conclusion. The results are so clear and so improbable that the only way to convince you will be to allow you to find them for yourself.
And it requires no redistribution of whatever passes for wealth on this poor benighted planet at this moment in time.


Deanna St oriflamme 20 Jul 2015 01:39

"To produce people's control over information, you have to have extremely well-informed and well-educated people, motivated by something more than their own isolated or tribal immediate gratification."

Like Julian Assange you mean?

I agree, most of the comments above state clearly that lots of people read the article so superficially and instantly felt compelled to rewrite-it in their comments almost as long as Mason's without even reflecting at it one moment longer

You don't sound "uneducated, mindless, self-gratifying, isolated narcissists, overwhelmed by corporate-managed information who, when not simply pressing buttons for gratification, take out the failure of videogames and the like to gratify them on others by committing random acts of self-immortalizing violence" so are you sure this is what is happening...? :)

Because during the Crusades the people you describe existed already (minus the buttons and the videogames)


John Muthukat 20 Jul 2015 01:32

WE ARE ENTERING THE POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY

What we are witnessing is not just the beginning of the end of capitalism, but the beginning of the end of Industrial Civilization itself. From many unmistakable omens, it can surely be concluded that industrial civilisation is headed for irreversible collapse; the latest Greek crisis is only just an overflowing syndrome.

Today there is a deep groundswell towards a strong and cynic awareness that the world is fast heading towards a no-win-situation from which it simply has no escape. Many see it as having already started the end without even knowing it. It is on account of a number of symptoms, not just one. They seem to convey the message that the world is un-savable, and that the worst is yet to come. The top votaries on these lines of thinking constitute the top corporate technocrats among others. It is only that they consider it as an open secret and an opportunity to plunder the 'sinking ship', as is evident from the desperate bailout operations by an already bankrupt global economy.

Recently a new study has concluded that industrial civilisation is headed for irreversible collapse? According to a report in The Guardian dated 14 March, 2014, a new study partly sponsored by NASA-funded Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. The study finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilizations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation.

For more on this, please read the essay: The Birth Of Machine And The Death Of Man: http://www.humanfirst.in/


Urgelt 20 Jul 2015 00:24

A comment cannot be an article, so with that restriction understood, I'll try to keep my remarks relatively brief.

The author misses a few very important points.

1. Information can be fenced, and it is being fenced. While this fencing runs counter to a human impulse to share ideas freely, it can be enforced. With guns. And it is being enforced. With guns. In other words, we see not only wealth concentration, but rising information concentration and control, as with increasingly draconian intellectual property regimes and enforcement, national security apparatuses, and criminalizing the possession of information which 'authorities' may possess, but not citizens. Did I mention that the defenders of the status quo have guns? Big ones.

2. Endlessly rising productivity due to advancing technology is driving wealth concentration on a scale never before seen. Jobs, the primary mechanism under capitalism for distributing wealth downward, are increasingly impotent to perform that task - because every year it takes fewer people to do the work required to keep civilization going. The number of people who are 'excess to capitalism's requirements' is rising, and they are being shoved out onto the margins. No-one has proposed a path towards replacing jobs as a mechanism for downward wealth distribution. The world's economists are notoriously silent on this subject, which is perhaps understandable when you realize that most of them are serving the 1%'s ongoing wealth concentration; that's their day job. Speaking vaguely of Wikipedia and cooperative kindergartens and cryptocurrencies does not identify a replacement mechanism for downward wealth distribution.

3. The world population is being radicalized, both in response to overpopulation and in response to wealth concentration (and the increasingly vigorous defense of wealth concentration). The result is growing instability. The trend is uneven, but it is proceeding nearly everywhere. Refugee populations are surging, with no end in sight. Both the defenders of the status quo and radicals are becoming more brutal.

4. The richest among us are consolidating their grips on governments wherever they can to serve their interests. It's really quite pointless to speak of governments acting to encourage the free exchange of information; they are coming down hard on the side of curbing information availability, restricting it to the wealthy and their global security servants.

5. The author thinks the sharing economy will quietly supercede capitalism. That isn't how I see this playing out. Instead, capitalism will shrink as demand is concentrated where the wealth is. We already have enclaves for the wealthy. Soon they will be 'retreats.' 'Fortresses.' The have-nots will be treated with increasing brutality by those protecting their fenced preserves of information and wealth.

6. The worst mistake the author makes is in failing to see how these trends will lead us to inconceivable violence. Endlessly rising productivity, concentration of wealth and increasing radicalization and brutality will shake the stability of our entire civilization. It's not obvious that it will not fall.

7. The last mistake the author makes is in defining a too-rigid equation between information and resources. Factually, resources do have limits, no matter what you know. For example, marine biologists are predicting that by 2050, give or take a few years, there will no longer be any commercially significant populations of edible fish in the world's oceans. A few decades further on, we'll have harvested all edible biomass; all that will be left are inedible species like jellyfish. Species extinctions on land are rising, too, also posing problems for ecosystem productivity and human food production. No information-sharing scheme can put a halt to this advancing resource crunch. Combined with rising population, rising wealth concentration, rising radicalization and brutality, we're in big, big trouble, and I haven't even mentioned what climate change will do to us. Starting up a free kindergarten makes not even a tiny dent in that problem.

Conclusion: at this juncture in human history, it's ridiculous to be talking about utopian visions. We should instead be talking about preventing a Malthusian die-back.


WeeWally wiz99doz 19 Jul 2015 23:29

Capitalism finished a long time ago; if it ever existed. The use of capitalism as a synonym for greedy business is a sad commentary on the lack of language of our day. Capitalism is about capital formation and nothing to do with the ripping off of the masses. That's the role of religions and politicians who encourage everyone to work harder and accept their lot.

Capitalism is an idea born out of Protestantism. If I forgo pleasure today I will have more resources and therefore I can have more pleasure tomorrow.
Business is a simple matter. Find something you love to do and help as many people as possible. They will then throw money at you. Today's businesses, particularly financially based businesses and miners, do not seem to understand this principle and are hell-bent on destroying society and the planet so that they can be the richest survivors. They become rich, briefly in most cases, but never wealthy. Wealthy people do not spend their lives accumulating the riches of the world at the expense of others and there is never enough for the rich but non-wealthy. e.g. How much money does a man need to have before he shows his mother or father, "What a good boy am I?" Wealthy people share their wealth uplifting others and making themselves happy through their good hearts.

No country that has raised itself from under-developed to developed country status, has done so without the exploitatuion of others. We are seeing this process copied once again in Russia, India and China. India is the most disappointing because their peoples claim to understand norality. Accumulation of capital in developing countries is chiefly through corruption which is why The Party turned a blind eye to it for so long. Now that most of the Princeling families are rich they will prevent others following their methods. It's also a great way to get rid of rivals.

Britains think that the Industrial Revolution made them rich but the capital was obtained through slave trading and narcotic sales. The Yanks are so stupid they believe that their revolution was about taxes and not ripping off Native Lands. Capital was further acumulated by the Robber Barons. Australians similarly stole the land and the Chinese have stolen from their own people and now everyone else who is naive enough to trust them. Russia developed at the expense of desperate and innocent workers who gave up their share certificates to devouring oligarchs.

Britain refinanced the world by buying supplies from the Carpetbaggers and ending the Depression in the US. At the end of the war the US had the only factories still standing so used its financial power to enslave much of the world and create two empires: Their own and Stalin's. Britain has only recently escaped its clutches which makes one wonder how it got conned into Middle Eastern adventures. The US has more standing armies than Rome ever dreamed of but has sold its soul to the Chinese for a few pieces of silver. Coincidently the UK also sold out to the Chinese for silver in exchange for opium. The recovery of Hong Kong by the Party had nothing to do with land and was all about silver and face.
Long live capitalism; the real kind.


Steve Craton 19 Jul 2015 23:26

I just graduated with my BA ARCH and B ARCH from architecture school which (mine was, anyway) a hotbed of progressiveness in the name of sustainability and the fact that somebody is going to have to figure out where and how all these humans who won't stop having babies are going to live in a future Earth that may make the movie Mad Max look like a bedtime story. I'm also a card-carrying Democrat with the occasional Libertarian tendencies - for example, I think banning legal firearms will be as effective as the current ban on recreational crack and heroin use, so I disagree with my gun-control pals on the issue.

All that being said; there's never been true capitalism - or true communism or socialism, for that matter. What's bandied about as the "free market" by so-called pundits (usually on a global corporation's payroll) is more the machinations of a bunch of international Zaibatsu. I'm formerly military who went to school after service and did a stint in the private sector, viz, I'm not a starry-eyed kid anymore - but I decided that not only will I use my education and skills to do the kind of small economy things the author discusses, I will also pull a reverse John Gault and let the sociopathic corporations do their thing without me.


Raytrek Raytrek 19 Jul 2015 23:01

Communism has a Capitalist economy, the difference is in how it is regulated as to where wealth and advantage is distributed, that is a matter of enforced law and standards on Leadership, Capitalism existed long before Adam Smith, he just observed the nature of an economy, he even made recommendations that were not entirely adopted by the Aristocratic authority of his time, to our current detriment.


Jim Ballard 19 Jul 2015 22:06

Header :

"The end of capitalism has begun"

Long overdue. But technology lending equal access to prosperity for all on the horizon ? Think again.

This article is loaded with wishful thinking and non sequiturs.

"...capitalism's replacement by postcapitalism will be accelerated by external shocks and shaped by the emergence of a new kind of human being"

Not quite human, I'm afraid.

"First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages."

Yes it has. I for one preached the mantra of "Less work, more money !" back in the late 80s. But there will be a price to pay by someone else. Always.

"Second, information is corroding the market's ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant..."

Yes. Products that really are scarce are being cheapened further by a transient collective of shallow speculators who really do not understand the product. That will change when &