“You might be an economist . . .

. . . if you sing the praises of free markets while working for a public university.”

I forget who said that (Yoram Bauman?), but I thought of it again after seeing the Cato Institute’s full-page ad in today’s (Jan. 28 ) New York Times, against a fiscal stimulus package.   It was signed by a few hundred economists, the overwhelming majority of whom teach at state schools (as do I).  I didn’t have time to get an exact count, but the first ten were all at state schools, as were about eighty percent of those above the fold.  Given that the gist of the ad was that we need to reduce the “burden of government,” maybe they could offer to help shrink or privatize their schools?

At least one person on the list, Jeffrey Miron, is consistent in opposing state-funded higher education (which he has done in past op-eds) while teaching at a private university.  For most of the rest, I think the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy said it better than I can.)

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One Response to ““You might be an economist . . .”

  1. Rich Says:

    Note that individuals maximize utility; if to do so means to work for the state, then that is what an individual will choose to do. An individual may still work for the state and understand that what he or she does would be done better in a private market. Of course individuals who work for the state and think the state inefficient will have an added cost to their choice of labor! But that is likely not enough to offset the benefits of the employment.

    In the case of education, in many instances, it is difficult for extensive private education to compete with public education–the latter simply gets too much subsidization. The choice for these free-market economist then comes down to “educate the public in economics and work for the state” or “don’t do either.” Phrased this way, one may understand why some behave hypocritically.

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