“Two incompatible sacred values in American universities” Jon Haidt, Hayek Lecture Series

On October 6, 2016, Professor Jonathan Haidt gave a Hayek Lecture at Duke. The event was co-sponsored by the programs in the History of Political Economy (HOPE), Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (PPE), and American Values and Institutions (AVI). The event was open to the public, but also served as a guest lecture in Professor Jonathan Anomaly’s PPE course.
Professor Haidt argues that conflicts arise at many American universities today because they are pursuing two potentially incompatible goals: truth and social justice. While Haidt thinks both goals are important, he maintains that they can come into conflict.
According to some versions of social justice, whenever we observe a disparity of outcomes between races, genders, or other groups, we should infer that injustice has been done. Haidt challenges this view of social justice and shows how it sometimes leads to violations of truth, and even justice.
Haidt concludes that universities should be free to pursue whatever goals – truth or social justice – they want, but that they should make it clear which of these two goals is their “telos” – their highest purpose. He ends with a discussion of his initiative, HeterodoxAcademy.org, to bring more viewpoint diversity to universities in order to improve research and learning.

History is Just Another Word for Land Speculation

It’s always good to know your roots, to know what you’re up against, to know what to keep and what to change.

The saying was, land speculators “produce more poverty than potatoes and consume more midnight oil in playing poker than of God’s sunshine in the game of raising wheat and corn.” —Prof. Benjamin Hibbard, the earliest land scholar, 1924 (or even earlier).

Ever wonder where those names for towns and downtown streets come from? The names of US universities? Even the names of some military bases?

The successful land dealer of one generation became the banker, the local political oracle and office holder, or the county squire of the next. Scarcely a city or country town in the West but had its first family whose fortune had been made by shrewd selection of lands and their subsequent sale or rental to later comers.”— 1942, Historian Paul W. Gates (1901–1999), widely considered to be the foremost authority on US land policy who wrote 10 books and 75 academic articles.

America has always been a nation of real estate speculatorsReal estate speculation was an integral part of the winning of the west, the construction of our cities, and the transformation of American home life, from tenements to mini-mansions.” — 2013, Economist Edward L. Glaeser of Harvard University and NBER

The original US Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, funded the new, federal US Government with a tax on land. About a decade later, some Founding Fathers met again, yet without Congressional authority and in secret, to replace the land tax with tariffs, at the behest of land speculators, which most of them were. Ben Franklin lost a bundle speculating in land— which may be what motivated him later in life to support the physiocrats, the thinkers who advocated a single tax on land value instead of on people’s labor or capital goods, like houses. (Daniel Friedenberg’s Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Land, 1992)

Soon after the colonies protested the taxes that the British levied on them, the farmers of western Pennsylvania protested the tax on their product — whiskey. As a replacement tax, the frontier sodbusters advocated a levy on land. Back then, people clearly saw that a tax on the value of land would collect much more revenue in cities like Philadelphia, where locations were very spendy (still are), than in the countryside like backwoods Pennsy, where land is dirt cheap. To quell the Whiskey Rebellion, president George Washington — the nation’s richest man and biggest landowner — put into the field four times as many soldiers as he ever led against the British (Nathan Miller’s Stealing From America, 1992).

For the first decades of its existence, the young US government supported itself not only with tariffs but also by selling western lands. Most of the sales of prime land were not to settlers but to speculators who eventually sold the fertile land to settlers. If the US had cut out the middle man, it could have directed all those sale proceeds into the public treasury. However, most often the employees of the government’s land office were in cahoots with the speculators; everybody knew what was going on (Everett Dick, The Lure of the Land, 1970). Further, the government did not have to sell the land but could have leased it, just as the modern state of Israel does today. Or, if selling, government could tax or otherwise levy land at its annual rental value (functionally, no different from leasing it).

One of the favorite places to found a city is by the mouth of a river: London on the Thames. New York on the Hudson. New Orleans on the Mississippi. On the Pacific Coast, the major river that drains the western half of North America is the Columbia. Near it’s mouth sits Portland, yet that city is not the region’s premier city. That title belongs to rival Seattle. How did that happen? Recognizing their natural advantage, the founders of Portland kept their prices for land high. The city fathers of Seattle undercut them—and soon outgrew the city to their south, by leaps and bounds. It’d be as if Philadelphia outgrew New York (which did not happen).

The hierarchy of cities was flipped again elsewhere by speculator greed. The natural pass thru the Rocky Mountains is by Cheyenne Wyoming. When railroads started extending westward, speculators figured the iron horse had no choice but to pass through Cheyenne so they kept the price for land high. To their south, the city fathers of Denver undercut them, attracted the railroad, and outgrew their rival to the north. Today, Cheyenne remains a town while Denver is a major American city.

Such is the counterproductive power of land speculation. Conversely, there is a potent, productive stimulant: the public recovery of land value. When Johannesburg South Africa was dying after the nearby mines played out, the city fathers shifted their property tax to fall only on land, not on buildings. So owners developed vacant lots and kept their parcels at highest and best use. Johannesburg grew to become the financial capital of Africa. Its rival city to the south, Cape Town, situated on one of the most strategic ports on the planet, lagged behind. It was as if Albany New York had eclipsed New York City—unfathomable.

“History is bunk,” Henry Ford said. Many Americans have expressed anti-intellectual sentiments. Yet it is good to know one’s roots, what one is up against, and what to keep and what to change. To his credit. Ford also said,“We ought to tax all idle land the way Henry George said—tax it heavily, so that its owners would have to make it productive.”

“We ought to tax all idle land the way Henry George said—tax it heavily, so that its owners would have to make it productive.”—Henry Ford

Will academia tell this tale? One of the major business schools in the US is Wharton’s at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The Whartons were one of the early major land speculators. So were the Roosevelts. Later, so was Leland Stanford. And more recently James Irvine (University of California at Irvine). So don’t hold your breath. Instead, for more on the link between speculators and universities, see Dr. Mason Gaffney’s Corruption of EconomicsInformation such as this won’t be fed to you, You have to look for it.

Ever wonder where those names for downtown streets come from? The names of US universities? Even the names of some military bases?

Speculators Are Us. This is a brief, partial History of the United States from the POV of those who benefited the most from it.

Many of today’s liberals have been bought off with wages or promises of a luxurious life.

Many liberals were simply bought off.

Indeed, many liberal thinkers have become extremely wealthy, and have no desire to change the system that gave them their wealth.

Institutions that were always a home to liberal thinkers, such as universities and churches, now offer salaries large enough to encourage liberals not bite the hand that feeds them by criticizing the system.

Professors at elite schools, such as Harvard University or Princeton University, can earn up to $180,000 per year. With an income like that, it’s tempting to abandon advocating for reforms that could end the gravy train. They’re also less likely to pass on liberal values to their students.

Of course, non-liberal institutions, such as corporations, are just as eager to buy off critics by offering huge rewards to those who remain on the sidelines and stay out of a corporation’s way.

Labor union leaders, for instance, can earn huge salaries or even become junior partners at large companies, but only if they promise to keep their criticism of corporate interests to a minimum.

The perks of a cushy job might make it easy to stay quiet, even if you know that your fellow workers are being exploited.

Whether a consequence of blind faith, big wages or corporate promises, however, the result is the same: the liberal class has failed to protect us from corporate domination.

But what does this mean for the future?

When College Rapists Graduate

If they’re not held accountable at school, what’s to stop them from becoming the villain of another woman’s #MeToo story once they enter the work force?

Among other changes, her proposed rule would require schools to dismiss all incidents that do not meet an extremely narrow definition of sexual harassment: “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access” to education. As Dana Bolger, a co-founder of Know Your IX, a national youth-led campaign against sexual violence, has pointed out, some courts have ruled that a rape does not meet this standard.

The rule would essentially eliminate schools’ responsibility to respond to incidents off campus, which make up 95 percent of sexual assaults of female students, according to the Department of Justice. Moreover, schools would not be legally responsible for addressing any sexual harassment that is not reported to a school official designated to deal with that issue.

The overall effect of the proposed rule — which supporters say would restore due-process rights to those accused of sexual assault and harassment — would be to make reporting, already an uphill battle for raped and harassed students, feel even more futile.

..“It is completely illogical that at a time when the public is finally coming to terms with the reality of how prevalent sexual violence is thanks to initiatives like Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, the DeVos administration is simultaneously attempting to weaken Title IX protections for survivors.”

It’s safe to assume that most perpetrators of sexual violence who have come to public notice through #MeToo didn’t suddenly become abusers after landing jobs in newsrooms and board rooms and on movie sets. Their idea that one can abuse with impunity is learned, and in many cases it is learned where most things are learned — at school.

Violent sexual behavior that goes unchecked during college does not reach a natural end at graduation. In fact, many perpetrators of sexual violence are serial offenders: Of men who acknowledge using sexually violent or coercive behaviors, around one in five report committing repeat assaultsAnother study found that men reporting a history of sexually aggressive behavior commit, on average, more than six sexual assaults.

Examples of school perpetrators who skirted accountability and then offended after graduation are already emerging. Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape as a student at Florida State University and is now a professional football player, reached a settlement with an Uber driver who said he sexually assaulted her in her car in 2016.

But the path from perpetrator of school sexual violence to workplace abuser need not be inevitable. Interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy have proved to be highly effective in preventing perpetrators from reoffending. Far from being unfair, responding seriously to perpetrators of school sexual violence is tough kindness. As the world grows increasingly intolerant of violent sexual behavior, early intervention and clear messages about appropriate behavior can prevent perpetrators from reoffending and facing more long-term career, legal and personal consequences.

While I obtained a restraining order against the man who assaulted me in college, he graduated and got a coveted job, where he’ll only have more and more power as time goes on. While I hope he’ll never become the villain of another woman’s #MeToo story, I am not optimistic. The proposed rules make it even more likely that men like him will leave their college campuses and enter the work force believing they can abuse women and be assured “Nothing wrong occurred.”

 

Comments

As a Harvard alumna and a survivor of sexual assault, I applaud Leaders’ activism to hold our institution accountable. Not just the undergraduate colleague but particularly Harvard Business School, where men demean, degrade, harass and assault women on a scale I’ve never witnessed prior to enrolling in classes there. These are the men going on to run America and the world’s economies… woe to the women who will suffer their crimes.

Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them

One of the hardest things to accept for all of us who want Donald Trump to be a one-term president is the fact that some things are true even if Donald Trump believes them! And one of those things is that we have a real trade problem with China. Imports of Chinese goods alone equal two-thirds of the global U.S. trade deficit today.

.. he’s so weirdly obsessed with protecting “manly” industries like coal, steel and aluminum that affect our allies more than China — and he’s built such a chaotic policymaking process and unilaterally surrendered so much leverage to Beijing — that he can’t be relied upon to navigate the China trade issue in our national interest.

.. David Autor, the M.I.T. economist who’s done some of the most compelling research on the impacts of China trade

.. the “shock” that China delivered to U.S. lower-tech manufacturers in the years right after Beijing joined the World Trade Organization in 2001

.. roughly 40 percent of the decline in U.S. manufacturing between 2000 and 2007 was due to a surge in imports from China primarily after it joined the W.T.O.

.. it led to the sudden loss of about one million factory jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump won all of those states.

.. This “China shock,” said Autor, led not only to mass unemployment but also to social disintegration, less marriage, more opioid abuse and more people dropping out of the labor market and requiring government aid.

.. “International trade creates diffuse benefits and concentrated costs,”

..  has created identifiable losers in trade-impacted industries

.. We assumed that China would “reform and open” after it joined the W.T.O.,

.. Instead, China “reformed and closed.” So China kept a 25 percent tariff on new cars imported from the U.S. (our tariff is 2.5 percent)

.. China grew its companies behind a wall of protection, fed them with state funds and, when they were competitive enough, unleashed them on the world

..  “Chinese and foreign makers are about to start sending huge numbers of fully built cars to the U.S. We are about to see a big increase in the U.S. trade deficit in automotive in the next several years.”

.. U.S. tech firms, like Apple, that want to offer cloud services to Chinese citizens have to store the data in China on servers operated by a Chinese partner. The U.S. has no such regulation.

.. “if they don’t accept demands to partner with Chinese companies and store data in China, then they risk losing access to the lucrative Chinese market, despite fears about trade secret theft and the rights of Chinese customers.”

.. “no US auto company is allowed to own even 50% of their own factory in China, but there are five 100% China-owned EV auto companies in the US.”

.. American electric vehicle (E.V.) companies operating in China are forced to have a Chinese partner and transfer technology to them.

.. they are also playing by a set of rules that others would be naïve to ignore.

.. So what would a smart American president do? First, he’d sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. TPP eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports

.. focused on protecting what we do best — high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property.

.. China was not in TPP. It was a coalition built, in part, to pressure Beijing into fairer market access, by our rules. Trump just gave it up for free.

.. “Since you like your trade rules so much, we’re going to copy them for your companies operating in America: 25 percent tariffs on your cars, and your tech companies that open here have to joint venture and share intellectual property with a U.S. partner — and store all their data on U.S. servers.”

.. Having a really tough trade negotiation with China on manufacturing and high technology, but doing it in secret, makes sense to me.

Starting a public trade war with our allies over aluminum and steel that raises the costs for our manufacturers, that doesn’t protect our growth industries and that loses allies that we need to deal with China makes absolutely no sense.

.. We needed to be, and still need to be, much more serious, and generous, about creating “wage insurance” and community reinvestment policies for people and places whose employers are suddenly wiped out by a trade shock.

.. tax incentives, Pell grants, community colleges — to create the conditions for every American to be constantly upgrading skills

.. Too much of the economic discussion of late “has been focused on the 1 percent versus the 99 percent,” observed Autor. “It’s become a kind of ‘inequality porn’

.. You lose sight of the fact that there is a dramatic rise in the economic return to tangibly acquiring skills — skills that are available and should be within everyone’s reach.”

.. The lack of real meritocracy in our country today, he added, “is not about the returns to realized skills. It is about the inequality in the ability to acquire those skills.

.. If you get educated in America today, and have a good work ethic, you are going to be rewarded.’

.. What does education do? It gives you a skill set and enables you to adapt to change better.

And cities and towns anchored by universities tend to reinvent themselves more easily; they’re engines of adaptation.

Know-Nothings for the 21st Century

If you’re a student of history, you might be comparing that person to a member of the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-immigrant group that at its peak included more than a hundred members of Congress and eight governors. More likely, however, you’re suggesting that said person is willfully ignorant, someone who rejects facts that might conflict with his or her prejudices.

.. The parallels between anti-immigrant agitation in the mid-19th century and Trumpism are obvious. Only the identities of the maligned nationalities have changed.

After all, Ireland and Germany, the main sources of that era’s immigration wave, were the shithole countries of the day. Half of Ireland’s population emigrated in the face of famine, while Germans were fleeing both economic and political turmoil. Immigrants from both countries, but the Irish in particular, were portrayed as drunken criminals if not subhuman. They were also seen as subversives: Catholics whose first loyalty was to the pope. A few decades later, the next great immigration wave — of Italians, Jews and many other peoples — inspired similar prejudice.

.. Yet conservative professors are rare even in hard sciences like physics and biology, and it’s not difficult to see why. When the more or less official position of your party is that climate change is a hoax and evolution never happened, you won’t get much support from people who take evidence seriously.

But conservatives don’t see the rejection of their orthodoxies by people who know what they’re talking about as a sign that they might need to rethink. Instead, they’ve soured on scholarship and education in general. Remarkably, a clear majority of Republicans now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on America.

So the party that currently controls all three branches of the federal government is increasingly for bigotry and against education. That should disturb you for multiple reasons, one of which is that the G.O.P. has rejected the very values that made America great.

.. Think of where we’d be as a nation if we hadn’t experienced those great waves of immigrants driven by the dream of a better life. Think of where we’d be if we hadn’t led the world, first in universal basic education, then in the creation of great institutions of higher education. Surely we’d be a shrunken, stagnant, second-rate society.

.. Moretti argues, rightly in the view of many economists, that this new divergence reflects the growing importance of clusters of highly skilled workers — many of them immigrants — often centered on great universities, that create virtuous circles of growth and innovation. And as it happens, the 2016 election largely pitted these rising regions against those left behind

.. one way to think of Trumpism is as an attempt to narrow regional disparities, not by bringing the lagging regions up, but by cutting the growing regions down. For that’s what attacks on education and immigration, key drivers of the new economy’s success stories, would do.

Alabama Football Follies

Dr. Ray Watts, the president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, announced that after a strategic review, the school had decided to stop fielding a football team. The main reason for Watts’s decision was financial: two-thirds of the athletic department’s $30 million budget came from a combination of university funds and student fees. When a consultant concluded that the subsidy would have to more than double over the next five years for the football team to be competitive, Watts said, Enough. “We could not justify subsidizing football if it meant taking away from other priorities,” he told me at the time.