Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Diversity, Sustainability ~ Campus Ideology

Things I read on the web today:

Jay P. Greene directs us to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

From Diversity to Sustainability: How Campus Ideology Is Born

Here is the money shot as quoted by Greene:

I view this changing of the ideological guard with wariness. Diversity was pretty bad; sustainability may be even worse. Both movements subtract from the better purposes of higher education. Diversity authorizes double standards in admissions and hiring, breeds a campus culture of hypocrisy, mismatches students to educational opportunities, fosters ethnic resentments, elevates group identity over individual achievement, and trivializes the curriculum. Of course, those punishments were something that had to be accepted in the spirit of atoning for the original sin of racism.

But for its part, sustainability has the logic of a stampede. We all must run in the same direction for fear of some rumored and largely invisible threat. The real threat is the stampede itself. Sustainability numbers among its advocates some scrupulous scientists and quite a few sober facilities managers who simply want to trim utility bills. But in the main, sustainability is the triumph of hypothesis over evidence. Its scientific grounding is mostly a matter of models and extrapolations and appeals to authority. Evoking imminent and planet-destroying catastrophe, sustainatopians call for radical changes in economic arrangements and social patterns. Higher education is summoned to set aside whatever it is doing to help make this revolution in production, distribution, and consumption a reality.

Sustainability combines some astonishingly radical ideas with mere wackiness. Many sustainability advocates want to replace free markets (a source, as they see it, of unsustainable growth and exploitation) with some kind of pan-national rule with little scope for private property rights. On the other hand, sustainatopians also busy themselves with eliminating trays from cafeterias and attacking the threat of plastic soda straws. Sustainability thus unites vaunting political ambition and comic burlesque. Both are at odds with patient and open-minded intellectual inquiry.

The diversity movement has always been rife with contradictions. Seeking to promote racial equality, it evolved into a system that perpetuates inequalities. But whatever else it is, the diversity movement thirsts to be part of mainstream America. Its ultimate goal is to make diversity a principle of the same standing as freedom and equality in our national life. The sustainability movement, by contrast, has no such affection for the larger culture or loyalty to the American experiment. It dismisses the comforts of American life, including our political freedom, as unworthy extravagance. Sustainability summons us to a supposedly higher good. Personal security, national prosperity, and individual freedom may just have to go as we press on to our low-impact, carbon-free new order. In this sense, it goes beyond promising to redeem us from social iniquity to redeeming us from human nature itself.

Many campus adherents to sustainability may eventually tire of its puritanical preachiness and its unfulfilled prophecies, but for the moment, sustainability has cachet. Diversity, meanwhile, has aged into a static bureaucracy, and diversicrats increasingly spend their energy polishing the spoons…

Unrelated to this post but still amusing is this from Greg Mankiw's Blog:

Barney Frank, Then and Now

You can tell the man has been playing at the highest level of politics for quite a long time. If Barney Frank claims to love his mother, check it out.

David Brooks on some of the real costs of the State Pension Crisis: (H/T Cafe Hayek)

The Paralysis of the State

Over the past few decades, governments have become entwined in a series of arrangements that drain money from productive uses and direct it toward unproductive ones.

New Jersey can’t afford to build its tunnel, but benefits packages for the state’s employees are 41 percent more expensive than those offered by the average Fortune 500 company. These benefits costs are rising by 16 percent a year.

New York City has to strain to finance its schools but must support 10,000 former cops who have retired before age 50.

California can’t afford new water projects, but state cops often receive 90 percent of their salaries when they retire at 50. The average corrections officer there makes $70,000 a year in base salary and $100,000 with overtime (California spends more on its prison system than on its schools).

States across the nation will be paralyzed for the rest of our lives because they face unfunded pension obligations that, if counted accurately, amount to $2 trillion — or $87,000 per plan participant.

All in all, governments can’t promote future prosperity because they are strangling on their own self-indulgence.

New study: State pensions in dire situation

Cincinnati is on the list. The pain is to come:

A new study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Rochester shows that in the not-too-distant future several state-sponsored pensions will fail to provide promised benefits to pension holders.

Five major cities have current pension assets that can only pay for promised benefits through 2020: Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Jacksonville, Fla.; and St. Paul. An additional 18 cities and counties, including New York City; Cook County, Ill.; and Orange County, Calif., will be solvent through 2020 but not past 2025.

Philadelphia has the most immediate cause for concern, as the city can pay existing promises with existing assets through 2015, less than five years from now, the study states.

The study also states that state and local governments are not far from the point where pension promises will impact governments' ability to operate. Once the funds are liquidated, promised pension payments will compete with other programs and erode a large portion of many municipal budgets.

"The fact that there is such a large burden of public employee pensions concentrated in urban metropolitan areas threatens the long-run economic viability of these cites, as residents can potentially move elsewhere to escape the situation," said professor Rauh, associate professor of finance at the Kellogg School who helped author the study, in prepared remarks.

Rauh estimates each household already owes an average of about $14,000 to current and former municipal public employees in the 50 cities and counties that were studied. This figure only represents the unfunded portion of benefits that have already been promised — not future promises. In New York City, San Francisco and Boston, the total is more than $30,000 per household. In Chicago, the total is more than $40,000 per household.

Can't say we didn't see it coming...


What I have been thinking lately:

I should put a post together on this but I am lazy on my little undiscovered blog.

I have a theory of Democrats accusing Republicans of everything that they do.

Lately it is foreign donations, but that is exactly what Obama did when he eased online credit card donations during his campaign. Clinton took the Chinese money as well. I think Democrats accuse Republicans of things because they know they do them so they assume Republicans do them too.

Think about Astroturf. That phrase comes from the left, but who invented it and perfected it? They call the tea party Astroturf and "fake grass roots" because so much of their blather is all faked and they have been doing it for years.

They accuse Republicans or wanting to raid the Social Security trust fund that is already and emptied from their big government spending. They tell people that Republicans want to cut Medicare while passing Obamacare which is destined to cut Medicare. It seems like everything they accuse people of is something that they already have on their own agenda.

I am going to get more examples of this and I encourage anyone to suggest more. Just a passing thought. Sphere: Related Content

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