Keeping up with the FITs, 7/22
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Woke intimidation on campus; Timothy Taylor on "blockbusting"; Vitalik Buterin on BalajiLand; Timothy Taylor on Economists' parents;
The American students suggested that most of their peers were just like them: eager to learn, debate, and compete — all in a civil manner. What they worried about was a minority of students, professors and administrators who spoil the experience of college for everyone by grandstanding, virtue signalling, and enforcing the tenets of progressive orthodoxy. Those in student government and student media certainly didn’t represent the majority, they said. Their union policies and mantras spoke only to the small group inside their autocratic bubble.
Kick that minority out. If they are so determined to undermine the function of the university, then they don’t belong there. No more Enabling.
Blockbusting was made illegal in 1968. For a couple of decades before that, it worked like this: A real estate company would pick out a predominantly white neighborhood in a city. It would start advertising through the neighborhood that it was “changing,” to use a gentle term, or it would be more explicit that blacks were buying houses in the neighborhood. Some of the white residents would sell their houses and relocate. The real estate firm would sell these houses to blacks, often at a considerable mark-up. White residents in these neighborhoods were apparently unwilling or unable to sell to blacks directly, and thus accepted a lower prices for their houses. The process unspooled from there, with the real estate firm increasingly able to play on white bigotry to buy houses cheaply and then to play on limited real estate options for blacks to sell to them at higher prices.
The neighborhood where I went to elementary school was blockbusted while we were away with my father on sabbatical. We never owned a house, so we did not experience any of the tension of deciding whether to stay or move. One of my mother’s best friends persuaded my mom that we needed to move to a “better” (i.e., more affluent) school district. I was heartbroken.
My college economics professor, Bernie Saffran, tried to expose the weakness of the intention heuristic by arguing that rent control is bad and blockbusting is good. The argument against rent control was standard economics. The argument for blockbusting is that it enabled blacks to buy homes that they wanted.
I want to see immersive lifestyle experiments around healthy living. I want to see crazy governance experiments where public goods are funded by quadratic funding, and all zoning laws are replaced by a system where every building's property tax floats between zero and five percent per year based on what percentage of nearby residents express approval or disapproval in a real-time blockchain and ZKP-based voting system. And I want to see more technological experiments that accept higher levels of risk, if the people taking those risks consent to it. And I think blockchain-based tokens, identity and reputation systems and DAOs could be a great fit.
…Network states, with some modifications that push for more democratic governance and positive relationships with the communities that surround them, plus some other way to help everyone else? That is a vision that I can get behind.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen. I’m still reading Balaji’s book.
the picture that emerges is that PhD programs in economics seem notably less open to the range of parental backgrounds than other fields. Moreover, that lack of openness is being enforced and replicated by admissions committees in economics PhD programs.
The paper to which he refers has received a lot of coverage. Economics Ph.D programs, even more than programs in other disciplines, are populated largely by children of parents with advanced degrees. I think that one reason for this is that economics is a difficult subject. You need the sort of mathematical ability that is required in STEM fields, but you also need a broader set of mental abilities. The overall cognitive requirements are really high, so it helps to come from parents with a lot of cognitive ability.
Also, for any field, the decision to get a Ph.D has two dimensions. How much do I care about the field? And how much do I want to be an academic? With economics, there are a lot of alternatives to becoming an academic, so it may be parents who are academics who incline you away from business school or some other path. But if the field that interests you is physics or philosophy, the academic path beckons regardless of what your parents are doing.
"White residents in these neighborhoods were apparently unwilling or unable to sell to blacks directly, and thus accepted a lower prices for their houses."
People selling their houses for 1/2 what they are worth so someone else can flip them and get rich quick because they aren't willing to sell to a black person strains credulity. Quite frankly, its the kind of BS that should get laughed at.
RE: “Kick that minority out.”
And who’s going to do that? Academic administration has been professionalized (i.e. it is populated by people who have a tenuous connection with the faculty - carpetbaggers) and that asserted silent majority has not incentivized it to act against the intolerant minority. Didn’t Taleb write about the intolerant minority always winning?