Economics – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 21 Feb 2018 18:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Economics – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 Efficiency Can Be Redistributive http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/efficiency-can-redistributive/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/efficiency-can-redistributive/#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2018 14:47:17 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12129 Many economists advocate a “congestion tax” because it improves allocative efficiency. People who value the use of a road less than the total costs (including external congestion effects on other...

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Many economists advocate a “congestion tax” because it improves allocative efficiency. People who value the use of a road less than the total costs (including external congestion effects on other drivers) “should” put off their use of the road.

But moving from one regime (ration using time) to another (ration using price) has distributional consequences.  It’s tempting to think we are talking Coase Theorem, but in fact we are talking Kaldor-Hicks-Scitovsky, which is another thing entirely.

Should Manhattan charge a congestion tax, or just charge Uber?

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Two New Publications http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/two-new-publications/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/two-new-publications/#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 06:24:51 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12115 My chapter on “Anarchism and Libertarianism” is forthcoming in Nathan Jun, ed., Brill’s Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2017), at the usual insane Brill price. In the chapter...

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My chapter on “Anarchism and Libertarianism” is forthcoming in Nathan Jun, ed., Brill’s Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2017), at the usual insane Brill price. In the chapter I explore the relationship between libertarianism (in the free-market sense) and the anarchist movement, including the question whether anarcho-capitalism counts as a genuine form of anarchism. (My C4SS colleague Kevin Carson has a chapter in the book as well.)

According to the publisher, I’m only allowed to make 25 hard copies of the chapter – but I’m also allowed to post a copy online, so long as it’s on my personal website. That seems to me a bit like saying “No smoking allowed in this room, but it’s okay to set the bed on fire.” But okay, here’s a link to the chapter.

(My reference to capitalist labour markets as “oligopolistic” was supposed to be “oligopsonistic.” The editors changed it to “oligopolistic,” which of course has the opposite meaning; I changed it back in galleys, but it ended up “oligopolistic” in the final published text nonetheless. Sigh.)

I also have a chapter on “Minarchism on Seasteads” in Victor Tiberius, ed., Seasteads: Opportunities and Challenges for Small New Societies (Zurich: VDF, 2017). I explore options for constraining a seastead minarchy (essentially by incorporating as many anarchist features as possible; those who remember my articles from the FNF/LNF days will find my proposals familiar). Here’s the link.

(The version I’ve posted is the galley proofs with my corrections. No, of course the corrections did not make it into the final published text. Sigh again.)

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Scaling Down http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/scaling-down/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/scaling-down/#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 06:07:34 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12111 Of interest to those involved in either the debate over free-market anarchism or the debate over the relation between government intervention and economies/diseconomies of scale (or both): In a recent...

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Of interest to those involved in either the debate over free-market anarchism or the debate over the relation between government intervention and economies/diseconomies of scale (or both):

In a recent article titled “Do Economies of Scale Exist in Private Protection? Evaluating Nozick’s ‘Invisible Hand’,” Brian Meehan argues that contrary to those (like Nozick) who think that even in the absence of violent conflict a competitive market for security firms in a stateless society would tend to evolve toward monopoly, state regulation of private security firms actually tends to result in an increase in firm size and a decrease in number of firms.

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Anderson V. Munger Cage Match!!! http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/anderson-v-munger-cage-match/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/anderson-v-munger-cage-match/#comments Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:29:04 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12068 Okay, no. It was orderly and respectful. And she’s probably right. But Liz Anderson WAS kind enough to have a discussion/debate about her new book, Private Government. The video is...

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Okay, no. It was orderly and respectful. And she’s probably right.

But Liz Anderson WAS kind enough to have a discussion/debate about her new book, Private Government.

The video is here. Thanks to Bookmarks/Public Square for the opportunity!

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Immigration Points and the Fatal Conceit of Central Planning http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/08/immigration-points-fatal-conceit-central-planning/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/08/immigration-points-fatal-conceit-central-planning/#comments Thu, 10 Aug 2017 15:02:50 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11991 (Please excuse the improper spacing in this piece. Weird glitch. Don’t know how to fix it.) If you think Trump’s (or Canada’s or whatnot’s) points system for immigration is a...

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(Please excuse the improper spacing in this piece. Weird glitch. Don’t know how to fix it.)

If you think Trump’s (or Canada’s or whatnot’s) points system for immigration is a good idea, you seem awfully confident in the government’s ability to engage in central planning.

 

Now, Trump is a mercantilist with little understanding of economics. But to my surprise, quite a few libertarians and supposed “free market economic conservatives” seem on board with his points plan. But here’s the problem:
Most of you recognize government is too stupid to plan shoe production. You need price signals and competitive mechanisms to tell you what, where, and how to produce. You can’t make a five-year plan for the whole economy because the economic problem constantly changes.

But many people who recognize that flip around say, “Oh, but no worries. We can figure out exactly how many and what kind of laborers the economy needs for the next five years using this artificial points scale.”

 

The best way to know whether “the economy needs an immigrant” is simple: If we allow people to hire the immigrant, do they choose to do so? If we allow people to rent houses or apartments to the immigrant, do they choose to do so? Let them do it, sit back, and let the market do its thing.

Now, granted, the government may have a legitimate worry about being able to afford certain kinds of welfare programs and publicly provided goods which immigrants might consume. But if that’s a worry, then find a keyhole solution. We don’t nationalize guitar production just because we worry about affording public schools for luthiers’ kids; similarly, we shouldn’t nationalize laborer production because of that worry.
Now, if you think the system improves upon the status quo, that’s fine. That’s not an argument that the system is good, just that’s better than what we had before.

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MacLean on Nutter and Buchanan on Universal Education http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/06/maclean-nutter-buchanan-universal-education/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/06/maclean-nutter-buchanan-universal-education/#comments Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:26:22 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11892 Finding examples of misleading, incorrect, and outright butchered quotes and citations in Nancy MacLean’s new book about James Buchanan, Democracy in Chains, has become the academic version of Pokemon Go this...

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Finding examples of misleading, incorrect, and outright butchered quotes and citations in Nancy MacLean’s new book about James Buchanan, Democracy in Chains, has become the academic version of Pokemon Go this week. I now offer one small contribution of my own, plus a few other thoughts about one piece of her argument.

For those unfamiliar, MacLean argues that Buchanan’s work, and public choice, more broadly, emerged in highly segregated Virginia in the shadow of Brown v. Board of Education as a way to attack the expansion of federal government power and defend the elitist Southern Agrarian privileges of a white plutocracy. Their program of limiting absolute democracy and majority rule through constitutional provisions (a truly bizarre and radical idea, I realize) was grown in the soil of segregation. She paints Buchanan and the whole public choice tradition as enemies of democracy who have now joined forces with the Koch brothers in a stealth, fifth column attack on American democracy in particular. Putting aside that there is no documented connection between Buchanan and the Southern Agrarians, a connection that makes no sense anyway given Buchanan’s commitment to analytical egalitarianism, is there any truth to the claim that the Brown v. Board context was even relevant?

MacLean argues there is, and bases that on a 1959 paper by G. Warren Nutter and Buchanan titled “The Economics of Universal Education” in which they lay out a number of ways that universal education could be provided, including via a Friedman-style voucher system. They describe the different characteristics of the alternative systems, and clearly conclude that “the public must choose which characteristics it prefers” (9). They add “As economists we do not presume to make a choice of one system over another…Our purpose is to lay bare the facts as we see them, so that they will receive their due weight in any decisions that will be made through the democratic process” (11).

Hardly enemies of democracy in the paper, Nutter and Buchanan see their task (as Buchanan did for his whole career) as offering analyses that could inform the deliberations of the democratic process, both at the level of the constitutional rules and the games that take place within those rules. Nutter and Buchanan also reject, as Buchanan always did, any privileged role for the economist in that process: “Each citizen speaks for himself on such matters, and each citizen’s opinion weights as heavily as any other’s, no matter what his position in society – whether farmer, lawyer, educator, or minister” (1). Hardly the words of an anti-democratic elitist plutocrat.

MacLean sees this paper as an attempt by the two scholars to undermine public education in Virginia in order to keep the effects of pre-Brown segregation while still complying with the law. That is, she sees it as evidence of the racism at the core of arguments for free markets and public choice analyses of the failures of government. This is despite the fact that Nutter and Buchanan explicitly defend a role for government in education, including “compelling attendance, fixing minimum standards, and financing cost” (3). They also never mention race in the paper, as she acknowledges, but their use of the technical language of economics and their race-neutrality is seen by her as evidence of their attempt to generate racist outcomes by stealth. (As is often the case with conspiracy theory-style thinking, the evidence against the conspiracy is actually evidence for it.)

One might also note that supporting Brown also means that one is thwarting the desires of democratic majorities, at least at the state and local level. For all of MacLean’s ringing defenses of majority rule and the importance of the democratic process, it’s fascinating that she sees the foundation of the arguments of democracy’s supposed opponents as a rejection of a Supreme Court decision that told local and state majorities that they couldn’t have the segregated schools they wanted.

One might also note that the argument Nutter and Buchanan make is nearly identical to that of J. S. Mill in On Liberty. Is Mill, who was arguably among the 19th century’s great opponents of racism and supporters of analytical egalitarianism, now also to be seen as a secret racist with a plan to subvert democracy?

Toward the end of the paper, Nutter and Buchanan respond to numerous objections to a voucher plan. One criticism at the time was that it would harm education and drive employers out of the state. In MacLean’s summary of their response, she writes (67):

Corporations would not care who ran the schools, they said, as long as good education was available. “All that matters” for the economy, the two scholars maintained, was that the state government support some school system “cheaply and efficiently.” How that schooling was provided was immaterial.

Note the way in which the quoted material makes it appear as though what Nutter and Buchanan were saying was that it would be good if governments supported school systems “cheaply and efficiently,” nicely fitting her narrative (and that of many on the left) that libertarians just want to reduce spending on education. They don’t care much about kids actually getting educated. (She says as much in the book in several places.)

Here’s the actual passage from the Nutter and Buchanan paper (17-18), which is more subtle and has a different meaning than MacLean suggests:

Other things equal, communities with good, efficiently run schools will be more attractive to employees, actual and prospective, than other communities. But we fail to see what this has to do with who runs the schools, whether a state agency or private parties. We doubt that there is a strong attachment to state schools, as such. If a mixed system of private and state schools provides universal education at least as cheaply and efficiently as a pure system of state schools, this would seem to be all that matters.

MacLean takes “cheaply and efficiently” to refer to the level of state support provided. Nutter and Buchanan clearly use that phrase to refer not to the level of state support per se, but to the ability of any system to use resources wisely to produce a given quality of education. Her reading makes it seem like Nutter and Buchanan think that “all that matters” is that state support be “cheap and efficient.” But what they are clearly arguing is “all that matters” is which system delivers the desired level of universal education using the fewest resources.

Nutter and Buchanan are using the economist’s notion of efficiency – how to generate a desired outcome at least cost – whereas MacLean can only think in terms of a supposed desire to spend a little as possible in and of itself. The “least cost” and therefore most efficient system might be one that spends more in absolute terms if it generates a higher level of a highly desired output. A system that spent twice as much on education but got three times the quality/quantity of education as the next best system might be “cheaper and more efficient” if we value education highly enough as compared to other uses of those resources. Again, Nutter and Buchanan are not saying to use as few resources as possible in and of itself; they are asking which alternative system of education gives us the most bang for the buck. And they want “the democratic process” to decide which one we should adopt. MacLean’s selective quoting does not allow the reader to see the full context of Nutter and Buchanan’s argument.

Is the idea that we should provide a given quality and quantity of a valuable good or service using the least valuable resources possible really that shocking or hard to understand?

This is an example of a running problem with the book. MacLean has, by her own admission, very little knowledge of economics. In addition, her knowledge of Buchanan’s system of thought comes mostly from his autobiography Better than Plowing, The Calculus of Consent, and two secondary sources that are highly critical and have their own problems of good faith interpretation. In the most generous reading, she is misunderstanding arguments and chopping up quotes because she simply doesn’t understand what Buchanan and his collaborators are up to. In the least generous reading, she has a theory and she’s going to cut up the evidence to fit that theory. If one believes that modern libertarians are the enemies of democracy, progress, equality, and all that’s good in the world, and MacLean clearly does, then the evidence will always be read, and sometimes constructed, in ways that support the argument on the side of the angels.

Unfortunately, anyone who takes the time to read the actual sources she’s working from, or who understands public choice theory, can see this exercise for what it is: a travesty of scholarly standards (no, Charles Dickens’ novels do not count as data about the economic conditions of the 19th century) and a smear job on one of the great minds of the 20th century.

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Democracy and Prosperity http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/democracy-and-prosperity/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/democracy-and-prosperity/#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 16:31:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11812 Tom Christiano, a leading theorist of democracy, has just reviewed Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy. In it, he accuses Jason of having an ill-equipped micro-theory that fails to account for the...

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Tom Christiano, a leading theorist of democracy, has just reviewed Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy. In it, he accuses Jason of having an ill-equipped micro-theory that fails to account for the phenomena Jason addresses. In particular, Tom thinks that the book cannot explain why actual democracies are as successful as they are. He doubts such success could have been led by Jason’s hobbits and hooligans. Here’s Tom:

[T]he modern democratic societies of Europe, North America, and East Asia have actually been quite successful; and the democratic element in them is a large part of what seems to explain that. First, there is a great deal of data marking out the remarkable differences between reasonably high quality democracies and other kinds of societies. Brennan mentions these but I don’t think he takes the full measure of the evidence. Democracies do not go to war with one another and respect the rules of war better than other societies.  They are responsible for the creation of the international trade system, the international environmental law system, and the human rights regime.  In fact, democracies do massively better on basic human rights than other societies, and it appears to be more their majoritarian character that explains this than their systems of checks and balances. Democracies prevent famines and, since the onset of universal suffrage, have developed powerful welfare states that have been enormously productive, have greatly reduced poverty, and have smoothed out the disastrous economic crises that occurred in their more free market ancestor societies.  Further, they have generally protected the interests of workers and lower economic classes, done a better job at producing public goods than other societies and generally have higher rates of per capita growth than their free market ancestors. Most of us hope for much more progress than this, but these achievements are extraordinary and are hard to square with the idea that hooligans and hobbits are at the helm.

 

Of course, I will let Jason defend himself. Here I want to examine the larger issue raised by Tom’s macro-theory: why are actual democracies successful?

There are reasons to doubt the accuracy of Tom’s story. Modern democracies have three components: a rights-constrained majoritarian component (universal suffrage and bill of rights), a redistributive component (the welfare state), and a capitalist component (robust markets). I do not quarrel with Tom’s observation that actual democracies do much better in terms of, well, democracy and human rights. But Tom thinks that these societies’ majoritarian and redistributive components are the key contributors to economic success, including poverty alleviation. This is entirely unclear to me and to those who have addressed the issue. For one thing, the Latin American experience shows that democracy and redistribution do not always lead to success. For another, the “free-market ancestors” managed to exclude many people from the market. So I think it is plausible (to put it mildly) that the great leap in prosperity and poverty alleviation occurred when modern democracies established secure property rights and allowed everyone the opportunity to better themselves through trade, as Deirdre McCloskey has claimed.

It may well be that, as Tom suggests, the introduction of universal suffrage is part and parcel of the ethics of equality that allowed everyone to attempt success. But it is much less clear that, with important exceptions such as publicly-funded education, redistributive institutions have contributed to the great enrichment and poverty alleviation in the modern world, and especially in successful democracies. Plausibly, these impressive achievements stem from the unprecedented opening of domestic and international markets, that is, from the capitalist component of successful democracies. Certainly, economic theory seems more congenial to this explanation (see here and here, and Lomasky’s and my discussion here.) If development economists are right, Tom’s argument sounds like a post hoc propter hoc fallacy.

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Protectionism as Cronyism http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/protectionism-as-cronyism/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/protectionism-as-cronyism/#comments Mon, 08 May 2017 18:05:17 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11780 Supporters of protectionism such as President Trump say that they are trying to save jobs in the United States. What’s wrong, they ask, with showing some solicitude and help to our...

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Supporters of protectionism such as President Trump say that they are trying to save jobs in the United States. What’s wrong, they ask, with showing some solicitude and help to our own workers hurt by foreign competition? Surely we cannot be against that.

The standard reply is that these laws help workers but hurt local consumers and foreign producers and their workers. This causes a net deadweight loss, or unrecovered loss of social welfare.

But this reply, correct as it is, does not go far enough: Protectionist laws harm workers in our own country. This is because when a government protects an industry it aborts the creation of jobs in other industries. As the economy is unable to adjust to the efficiencies of production, resources are artificially directed to the less efficient endeavors. Those resources are unavailable to the industries that need them to grow. The government assists workers in inefficient industries by erecting trade barriers, but in doing so it harms persons who are now unemployed because new industries that would have employed them have been aborted by the strangling effect of those laws. Seen in this light, workers who benefit from protection are not deserving of transfers of wealth in their favor, because protection is harming other workers in that society. Just as the firms obtaining protection get rich at the expense of foreign firms, so the workers in protected industries keep their jobs at the expense of the poor, in their own countries.

In truth, labor unions (and their management) agitating for protection are crony capitalists. A crony capitalist economy is one in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. Success here is measured, for workers, by keeping their jobs. But success is not only success against foreign competition. Protected workers coercively achieve success at the expense of similarly situated workers who have not enlisted the coercion of the state. The public easily believes that the business owners who obtain protection are crony capitalists. The truth is that their workers are crony capitalists too.

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Buy Vlad Tarko’s New Intellectual Biography of Elinor Ostrom http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/buy-vlad-tarkos-new-intellectual-biography-elinor-ostrom/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/buy-vlad-tarkos-new-intellectual-biography-elinor-ostrom/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:32:44 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11324 Vlad Tarko’s Elinor Ostrom: An Intellectual Biography is now available for pre-order on Amazon. This is one of those books that’s guaranteed to make you smarter. Highly recommended. Here are the endorsements, including...

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Vlad Tarko’s Elinor Ostrom: An Intellectual Biography is now available for pre-order on Amazon. This is one of those books that’s guaranteed to make you smarter. Highly recommended.

Here are the endorsements, including mine:

Tarko’s concise intellectual biography of Elinor Ostrom provides readers with an authoritative account of the Bloomington School and is a masterful work of political economy in its own right. The fields of economics, political science, and philosophy would be far better off if Ostrom’s insights were more widely understood, and this book should help to make that happen. (Jason Brennan, Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy, the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University)

This is a masterful account of Ostrom’s work. An inspiring synthesis, of an inspiring intellectual life. (Mark Pennington, Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy, King’s College London)

Tarko does an outstanding job capturing the breadth and depth of Lin’s work to produce a course in the New Institutional Economics, as well as an intellectual history of Lin, Vincent and the many scholars associated with the Workshop in Political theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University.(Robert L. Bish, Professor Emeritus, Economics and Public Administration, University of Virginia)

Vlad Tarko has written more than an intellectual biography of one of the most influential social scientists of her generation. His book is at the same time an insightful introduction and a nuanced interpretation of a fascinating research program with significant applied-level implications. (Paul Dragos Aligica, Senior Research Fellow, George Mason University)

Vlad Tarko’s book adds a valuable perspective on the ideas and work of Elinor Ostrom plus that of Vincent Ostrom and the Bloomington Workshop they established. The extent of their influence, and the reasons for it, come through clearly in these pages. It will be useful for readers looking for an introduction to Elinor’s work, and enjoyable for readers who are already familiar with it. (William Blomquist, Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)

Vald Tarko has provided a brilliant overview of what Lin Ostrom often referred to as her and Vincent’s “polycentric journey”. Along the way she studied local public economies, the wrestling with common-pool resources throughout the world, and the complexity of economic development. Her enduring research legacy is to be found in both her multiple methodologies approach to studying institutional diversity, and the conclusions she drew on the possibility and sustainability of self-governing democratic societies. Tarko’s book is a must read not only to those who want to learn about Elinor Ostrom and her contributions, but to all students of political economy. (Peter J. Boettke, Professor, George Mason University)

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“We’re Not Privileged Enough!” Complain Selfish and Snobbish Adjuncts at Ithaca College http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/10/not-privileged-enough-complain-selfish-snobbish-adjuncts-ithaca-college/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/10/not-privileged-enough-complain-selfish-snobbish-adjuncts-ithaca-college/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:45:26 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11270 The Washington Post recently ran a photo essay “showing what it really means to be adjunct faculty”. The essay featured various adjunct faculty members at Ithaca College standing in front...

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The Washington Post recently ran a photo essay “showing what it really means to be adjunct faculty”. The essay featured various adjunct faculty members at Ithaca College standing in front of chalkboards on which they’d written their grievances, many of which focused on their perceived low pay. In itself, this wouldn’t be worthy of note–complaints from adjuncts about their pay are nothing new.  But what was striking about the complaints voiced by the Ithaca College adjuncts was the selfishness, snobbery, and sense of entitlement that were, at times, nakedly on display.

Several of the adjuncts indignantly noted that they had to supplement their teaching pay by doing part-time manual labour on the side. But if it’s true that they earned more doing manual labour than teaching, shouldn’t this tell them that other people value their work as manual labourers more than they value them as teachers? If this is the case, then, if they truly wanted to serve others, shouldn’t they switch to the jobs where they would serve the needs and desires of others best, leaving teaching for (apparently) construction or agricultural work? That they don’t indicates that they’re not really focused on serving others, but are more focused on satisfying their vanity. And while I think that such a selfish decision is perfectly fine, they shouldn’t then complain that they should be paid more to do the jobs that they choose to do when other, better-paying, jobs are available to them.

But isn’t manual labor just below someone who has a PhD? Some of the adjuncts certainly seem to think so. Now, I’m not going to wax lyrical about the “nobility of labour”. (I perform manual labour almost every day. There’s nothing especially noble about mucking out hundreds of pounds of chicken shit, getting up at dawn in winter to dig out frozen-in coops, or dealing with birds afflicted by mudballs, sourcrop, or eggbinding–all of which are as gross as they sound.)  Yet holding that you’re too good to do the work that millions of people do every day to feed their families as you’ve had the luxury of spending several years getting up at the crack of noon to toil over poststructuralist texts is sheer snobbery.

Of course, the Ithaca adjuncts don’t see their cause in this way. They’re not really fighting to be subsidized to ply their chosen profession free from any concern about the needs and desires of others. No–they’re after “equal pay for equal work”. But, as has been said repeatedly by Philip Magness, Jason Brennan, and others, this is a red herring. Tenure-track faculty do MUCH more than just teach. They’re required to do service work, advise students, sit on committees, and publish, publish, publish. I suspect that the adjuncts are already receiving equal pay for their teaching, and just want pay that is, in Orwellian terms, “more equal” than that received by their more successful colleagues.

None of this is to deny that some adjuncts have legitimate grievances. Adjuncts hired to teach should only be expected to teach–not advise students, sit on committees, or work with administrators to satisfy accreditation requirements by doing unpaid service work. But the Ithaca College adjuncts aren’t complaining about such impositions. They’re just exhibiting some of the worst traits–selfishness, snobbery, entitlement, and a lack of awareness of how others less fortunate than them live–that the public attribute to the professoriate.

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