Monday, November 28, 2005

With a Whimper, Not a Bang

Back from conferencing and turkey munching . . . so where were we?

When last we left Mr. Hyman, he was promising us to show how conservatives were being routinely victimized by liberal profs run amok. After three straight commentaries, all Hyman had come up with was an anecdote about a student at Georgia Tech who claimed one professor was biased against her because of her outspoken conservative beliefs. But as we saw, other students in the class came forward to say the conservative student in question had done poorly in the class based on her own performance and had been insistently baiting the professor.

So, one expected something significant in the two editorials that wrapped up the week-long cri du coeur from Hyman about the fate of conservatives on campus. But we sure didn’t get it.

Instead, after building up our hopes for something interesting, Hyman simply revisited the Georgia Tech case. The only addition was to bring another voice into the conversation, that of Dr. Christine Ries, whom Hyman quoted approvingly.

Ries’s comments were rather bland (she, for example, specifically doesn’t call of the so called “Academic Bill of Rights” mentioned by Hyman in earlier editorials), but she does give some credence to the idea that professors are blurring the lines between their politics and their academic work.

A few other things one should know about Ries: first, she is a professor of economics Remember that we’ve noted conservatives complaints about ideology only seem to apply to the humanities; the fact that economics and business departments are often home to staunch conservatives (and largely exclude far left ideologies such as socialism) are not acknowledged.

And yes, Ries is certainly a conservative. We know this not just because Hyman is quoting her. She has publicly supported the Bush administration’s tax plan, signing on to
an open letter cheering the president’s 2003 economic plan, calling it “responsible” and predicting that it will create jobs and economic growth. She also publicly signed a similar letter attacking John Kerry’s economic plan in the run-up to the 2004 election. Then there was the open letter she signed supporting Bush’s private account Social Security scheme, a letter used by the Cato Institute in ads pimping for the Bush plan. All these letters were signed by Ries in her capacity as a professor of economics, and the similarity of the listed economists (the vast majority of whom are college teachers) suggests that Ms. Ries is part of an economic seraglio of scholars on whom the administration can count to prostitute themselves whenever Bush & Co. feel the urge to commit class warfare stirring in their collective loins.

Beyond the obvious blurring of Ries’s academic and political roles (which I don’t have a problem with, although her own comments suggest that she should), her support for economic policies that have continued one of the slowest recoveries in economic history and continued the dismal job production record of the current administration (the worst record in this area since Hoover and the Great Depression) suggests she might not exactly be an oracle of economic wisdom.

She’s also not apparently a terribly good administrator, given the fact that
she presided over a “mass exodus” of economics faculty under her tenure as head of the department.

But somehow, despite her overt use of her academic credentials to advocate for specific political causes and questions about her administrative ability, this outspoken conservative has not only survived but thrived in academia.

In the end, the culmination of Hyman’s editorializing not only does nothing to further his case that the average college campus is a bastion of liberal privilege, but in fact tacitly undercuts the very argument he has struggled for days to make.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 2:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could Ries, or for that matter anyone, with even the most rudimentary knowledge of economics, believe that the Bush Neo-Fascist agenda contains any real-world economic plan at all?

With Greenspan's help, they have sown an economic wind that will reap a whirlwind of economic disaster.

Do you think that it is coincidental that the Fed will stop publishing the M3 money supply figures in March, at the same time Iran begins to sell oil in Euros instead of dollars?

What do you think an eighteen year high in the price of gold and a twenty-six year high in the price of platinum says about the world economy?

What does a U.S. trade deficit approaching a TRILLION dollars a year with no end in sight mean?

What about the fact that America has now become a net FOOD importer?

Somebody needs to take the car keys away from the kids and put an adult behind the wheel before we reach another curve in the road!

Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman.
Mike B. in SC


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