Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Academic Absurdities

Increasingly, a university education in an elite school is little more than an indoctrination program.  Large numbers of faculty are no longer engaged in activities that most folks would describe as either research or teaching.  Instead, point of view is what matters.  The result: more and more students spend four years tacking on the political perspective of their "mentors," while gaining little in skills useful to compete in a modern economy.

If you want to see this in action, go online to any top 25 school and read the student newspaper.  You will be amazed.  The new codeword is "privilege," usually preceeded by the obvious racial adjective.  As if anyone at an elite school is anything but privileged.  Most of this is an exercise in self-flagellation, since it is rare to see anyone in an elite school anymore who is not comfortably among the one-percenters.

Throughout history, the most radical folks tend to come from "privileged" backgrounds, yet rail against privilege.  Capitalism, on the other hand, draws its winners from all backgrounds and the one-percenters usually phase out within a generation or two.  There is a reason for this.

The level of energy and work ethic necessary to succeed in capitalism usually blots out the accident of birth advantages of a wealthy family.  Accident of birth is the ticket in socialist societies and was a dominant fact of power in Soviet Russia and modern day China, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea.  That's where real "privilege" holds sway.

Free market capitalism is the only institution in the modern world that rewards merit.  Those rewards can be blunted by big government programs that preserve the position of the rich and powerful.  Minimum wage laws, for example, help to keep the poorest among us from having the opportunity to escape poverty.  The wealthy tend to like minimum wage laws.  Note campus activity on the "living wage" -- a great example of how to keep poor people from the possibility of economic progress by substituting one class of workers for another.

Those who claim to represent those in poverty usually oppose anything that could help lift folks out of poverty -- vouchers, repealing minimum wage laws, reducing regulations on small businesses and ending onerous licensing requirements for the poorest entrepreneurs.  I guess it helps to have a large group of poor people if your main vocation is speaking up for the poor -- an activity very different from actually helping the poor get out of poverty.

Meanwhile academics, whose pay corrected for hours worked rivals that of baseball players, continue to drone on about "privilege."  They should know.

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