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Chicago Profs Oppose Milton Friedman Institute:

A proposal to create a Milton Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago appears to have created some controversy, as reported here and here. 101 professors at the University signed a letter raising concerns about the new center. In particular, they raised concerns that it would be a "right-wing think tank" and would reinforce popular perceptions that the University of Chicago lacks ideological diversity.

Daniel Drezner has looked into the complaints about the proposed Center, and suggests an alternative explanation for the opposition: "The Milton Friedman Institute will distribute the bulk of its benefits to the department of economics, the law school, and the business school." I suspect Friedman would appreciate Drezner's take, particularly insofar as it applies a Friedman-esque analysis to the Friedman Institute's opposition.

dearieme:
"the University of Chicago lacks ideological diversity": and there was me, thinking that it might be the only leading US university that didn't.
7.12.2008 1:33pm
cjwynes (mail):
You can go to any college in the country and worship at the altar of Keynes. Hell, you can still learn Marx, even though his economic theories were totally ripped to shreds well over a hundred years ago by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk.

If you want any other perspective on economics you can go to...? U of Chicago, George Mason... is that it?
7.12.2008 2:21pm
Commenterlein (mail):
cjwynes,

rest assured that you will learn your Friedman in pretty much any econ department in the US. Certainly at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford. You seem to confuse the existence of (neo-) Keynesians with the absence of neoclassical economists. Neoclassical economics, even though not as dominant as 10 years ago, continues to be the leading school of economic thought in this country.
7.12.2008 2:34pm
Mr. X (www):
I feel like I've seen this before.
7.12.2008 3:03pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Hell, you can still learn Marx, even though his economic theories were totally ripped to shreds well over a hundred years ago by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk.


Will you find Marx in the Economics department? My impression is that Marx is more likely to turn up in Political Science and Sociology. How many places teach Marxist economics?
7.12.2008 3:32pm
frankcross (mail):
My experience with economics departments is that they are pretty diverse and certainly contain few Marxists. While studies have shown that they are more liberal than conservative, there are lots of conservatives, and I bet their liberal leanings are mostly on non-economic social issues. On economic questions, I suspect they are more conservative than left.
7.12.2008 3:54pm
Brian G (mail) (www):

they raised concerns that it would be a "right-wing think tank" and would reinforce popular perceptions that the University of Chicago lacks ideological diversity.


Take a second to think about that. They don't want right-wingers over diversity concerns. What a joke. As I saw in college and law school, diversity means liberals of all stripes, and nothing else.
7.12.2008 4:02pm
Toby:
The word from my duaghter, who just graduated from U of C was that here professors and class mates "were really into Marx. I mean really into Marx". Departments in question were Sociology, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, English,...

So I can see why the opprofs would be concerned with Diversity if there was a portion of campus not know for being neo-Marxian...
7.12.2008 4:33pm
MnZ:

While studies have shown that they are more liberal than conservative, there are lots of conservatives, and I bet their liberal leanings are mostly on non-economic social issues. On economic questions, I suspect they are more conservative than left.


I would disagree with that assessment. There are plenty of strong economic interventionists among liberal economists. Marxism is ignored by many modern economists largely because the almost all economists of all political stripes have come to reject the labor theory of value. Without the labor theory of value, Marxist economics does not make a great deal of sense.
7.12.2008 4:43pm
U of C Student 2010:
Any U of C law professors on the list opposed?
7.12.2008 5:53pm
jim47:
At my elite liberal arts college I encountered no Marxist economics in the Econ department, but plenty of Marxist economics in the politics department. The Econ profs were more respectful of Keynes than needed and less respectful of the Austrians and monetarists than I would have liked, but all of them were taught accurately, so the quality of their ideas spoke for itself.
7.12.2008 5:57pm
BT:
So the two articles report that Bruce Lincoln, a divinity professor and Robert Kendrick, a music professor, lead the charge against Friedman and that the 101 co-signers represent about 8% of the full time faculty. They also quote a computer professor Yali Amit who is against the idea. It would be interesting to find out Amit's religious and cultural background to see how that might play out in this drama.

Lincoln lets the cat out of the bag when he uses the term, "right-wing" to describe the possible tilt of the centers politics. Something tells me that the good professors Lincoln and Kendrick would be delighted if they changed the name to Che's Place. I also wonder what departments the other 98 co-signers came from? Many from that bastion of conservatism, Social Work, no doubt.
7.12.2008 6:03pm
Snarky:
According to Drezner:

It appears that the reason for the opposition is hidden. And of course, Drezner does not actually need any evidence for this point. All he needs is theory that we have no reason to think is applicable in this particular circumstance as a determinative force in the motivations for the opposition.

Give me a break.

A final point, I do not believe Milton Friedman would approve of this shody analysis. To the extent that he would agree with the following statement: "for an approach that insists on the empirical testing of theoretical generalizations and that rejects alike facts without theory and theory without facts"

Here, we have Dan Drezner's theory. And it is a derogatory one at that. But we do not have any empirical testing or support for it. Not even a little bit.

What is it about Drezner that makes him think it is okay to attack the motives of others without even one iota of evidence?
7.12.2008 6:28pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
8% opposition does not seem to be worthy of much consideration, especially considering the Departments represented.

I suspect most of us non-U of C'ers would be hard pressed to name one U of C professor of anywhere near the standing of Milton Friedman. Why even the current Junior Senator from Illinois doesn't qualify for that distinction yet.
7.12.2008 7:06pm
Karl Stucky (mail):

As I saw in college and law school, diversity means liberals of all stripes, and nothing else.


Yup.
7.12.2008 9:52pm
chsw (mail):
I would like to see the list of professors who opposed the new institute. The jealousy factor in the opposition is still underplayed. Friedman, Becker and others in the UC Econ Department during the 1950's-1980's began to apply economic and econometric analysis to crime, poverty, and other studies considered the exclusive territories of sociology, psychology, anthropology, and political science. Very often, the economists' methodologies produced results that explained phenomena more accurately and more completely than before. Therefore, a list of the faculty and their fields would be illuminating.
7.12.2008 11:21pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Professional jealousy? In a university? Imagine that.
7.13.2008 12:38am
Psalm91 (mail):
Perhaps the opponents are familiar with the sordid record of the "Chicago Boys" in South America.
7.13.2008 1:01am
Bert Campaneris (mail):
According to Drezner:

It appears that the reason for the opposition is hidden. And of course, Drezner does not actually need any evidence for this point. All he needs is theory that we have no reason to think is applicable in this particular circumstance as a determinative force in the motivations for the opposition.


Drezner refers to himself in the third person?
7.13.2008 2:47am
glangston (mail):
Shouldn't the Divinity School more properly be Divinnities School?
7.13.2008 10:28am
anon.y.mous (mail):
One poster asked whether there was anyone on the law faculty represented. Answer: no.

Another asked to see the full list of signatories and fields. The list is here:

link
.

Fields are dominated by anthropology, political science, and the literary humanities (not philosophy).
7.13.2008 5:58pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
"Will you find Marx in the Economics department?"

Try the department of Economics in Brazilian universities. The Econ Department of the University of São Paulo, for example...
7.14.2008 1:55am
Hoosier:
"would be delighted if they changed the name to Che's Place. "

Even better: "Che Stadium"?
7.14.2008 10:52am
johnd:
Bill Poser:

Will you find Marx in the Economics department? My impression is that Marx is more likely to turn up in Political Science and Sociology. How many places teach Marxist economics?


I took introductory micro from David Ruccio, a self proclaimed Marxian at Notre Dame. It actually wasn't a bad class.

Paraphrasing him: I have to know mainstream theories better than their proponents if I want to criticize them.
7.14.2008 4:41pm
Hoosier:
john--ND has had a Marxist econ department for a couple decades. Ruccio isn't alone. But I agree that he can teach orthodox econ as well.

Not surpisingly, ranking trumps ideology at ND: The Marxist orientation of a large percentage of the faculty has resulted in the department's ranking sliding down to (a few years ago) the bottom quintile nationally.

So, the dean split the department into TWO econ departments. 'Econ and Policy' ("Post-Keynsian"/radical) and 'Econ and Econometrics' (quantoids). Only the latter gets to hire new faculty, and the former will die out with the retirement of the Boomers.
7.14.2008 5:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

They don't want right-wingers over diversity concerns. What a joke. As I saw in college and law school, diversity means liberals of all stripes, and nothing else.
My experience undergrad and grad brings to mine the great line from The Blues Brothers. "We've got both kinds of music here--country and western."
7.14.2008 5:33pm
Cliff (mail):
Yah, because they'd have such a huge problem with a Noam Chomskey Institute because it would perpetuate a stereotype of it being a lunatic left organization, right?

/sarc off

And actually, that's unfair to Freidman. Chomskey is everything Freidman is not, meaning, his ramblings have their own internal logic, they aren't, however, exportable in any real sense to the real world.
7.15.2008 4:11am