Links to Consider
Richard Hanania on unpopular affirmative action; John Londregan and others on college administrative bloat; Why McRaney disappointed me; Matt Yglesias on immigration reform;
A 2014 Gallup poll asking about college admissions found 67% support for using only merit even if it meant “few minority students being admitted,” and 28% support for considering race. In March 2022, Pew found that only 7% of Americans thought race should be a major factor in college admissions, compared to 19% who thought it should be a minor factor, and 74% who said it should not be a factor at all. Support for sex preferences was even lower.
I commented: The polls do not tell you the intensity of feeling. A minority of voters who really care about an issue can overwhelm a majority who are mildly on the other side. If everyone who opposed affirmative action felt as strongly about it as Richard Hanania, it would be a magic bullet. But instead it's probably a dud.
John Londregan and others write,
a new cohort of administrators zealous to reshape life on campus and off has fastened itself on institutions of higher learning—promoting their own welfare and power as a class through bureaucratic fads and mindsets that are far removed from the values of critical thinking and free inquiry. The speed of this hostile takeover is astounding.To take just one prominent example, the number of administrators employed by Yale University has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body since 2003, while new managerial jobs have risen by 150% compared with a 10.6% increase in tenure-track jobs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that “noninstructional activities such as admissions, student activities, libraries, and administrative and executive activities” now make up 67% of the expenses of private for-profit four-year institutions.
It is tempting to assume that more administrators are stifling faculty and taking resources away from them. But one should also note that there are a lot of jobs that faculty used to have to do but never liked: fundraising, managing student life, logistical issues (technology, facilities, calendar). Ask faculty if they would like to get rid of administrators if it meant that professors would have to serve on more committees.
A commenter asked me to elaborate on why David McRaney’s latest book disappointed me. I think perhaps it is because I really got a lot out of something he wrote about earlier which he called Asymmetric Insight. That is when you think you understand the motives of your opponent better than the opponent does himself. It is a way of dismissing those with whom you disagree as unreasonable. It is something you should resist doing, because you are often wrong—you are using asymmetric insight as a crutch to avoid having to take another point of view seriously.
But in the new book on changing minds, McRaney talks about how people come to believe conspiracy theories. In doing so, he tiptoes close to and over the line of engaging in asymmetric insight. Yet he does not refer to the idea of asymmetric insight at all, and that left me hanging.
two major pieces of bipartisan legislation, one that came together in 2007 and another in 2013. Both of them almost passed Congress but fell just short. And they both included the following:
Changes to the rules for who could get a visa that better optimized for economic benefits.
An increase in the total number of people who’d be allowed to immigrate legally.
A significant investment in border security and interdiction.
A program whereby long-resident undocumented immigrants could present themselves to the authorities and receive work permits, conditional on passing a background check and paying back taxes and/or some kind of fine.
I see immigration reform as the victim of affective polarization. Politicians were afraid to be seen working with the other side. Doing so could cost you your seat in a primary.
the Democrats have an opportunity here. Rather than lament yet another disingenuous culture war that Republicans are thirsty to wage, Democrats of all ideological stripes should use this moment to celebrate the very places that could become permanent homes for migrants fleeing violence and economic calamity. Since the pandemic-induced crime spike, Trump Republicans have inveighed against big cities, taking up an incendiary and racially coded 20th-century playbook to throw Democrats on the defensive. Few prominent Democrats have offered an adequate counterargument. Now political leaders who care about immigrants should declare, affirmatively and loudly, Yes, send them here.
But they are more focused on finding DeSantis wrong than on doing right.
Arnold's nice guy naivete on display. Re Yglesias, the bipartisan immigration reform legislation was stopped by a massive public outcry that flooded Capitol switchboards. Based on the Reagan era, the public knew that the deal would be a scam; the liberalization measures would be adopted, and nothing would be done on controls.
Re Barkan quote from the madly open borders WSJ, serving the cheap labor demands of business, we saw it beautifully demonstrated in Martha's Vineyard that Democrats no more than others want "yes, send them here." The attack on DeSantis is not shallow political thinking missing a great opportunity to demonstrate their principles, it is that they don't really believe in their principles when it affects themselves.
The simplest explanation on immigrants is that the blue states don't really want them. Not as real people en masse. They want them as a way to virtue signal or as a vote bank, but not as neighbors.
I don't know why this is surprise. This is liberals relationship with blacks in the north forever.
Anyway, polling says that the public favors the busing scheme. In a much more practical skin in the game way, the Texas border counties where Trump wanted to build a wall moved about 20-50 points to the right in the 2020 election. Miami underwent a similar change. Governors in Texas and Florida are being rewarded by voters for these policies, especially by immigrant Hispanics who previously voted democrat. That's the explanation for their actions, not primaries.
The problem with immigration reform is that nobody is allowed to be against legal immigration, even when that's what it's really about. One side would like to expand legal immigration, and when it can't do that simply turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. The other wants to reduce and shift immigration altogether, but has to talk about illegal immigration only to do so.
They don't come to an agreement because they want different things. One side thinks that if it doesn't come to an agreement it can just cheat anyway by default. The other side is calling them out.
As to Affirmative Action, I see it as the basis of Wokeness. Every woke tract begins with "blacks are X% of population, but Y% of Z. this requires ACTION." This was Ibram X Kendi's thesis statement.
In addition, it has to expand. Partly because the quantity and quality of protected groups keeps expanding and changing. But also because if a guy like Kendi can has a sweet ass affirmative action schtick, why not me?! I've seen how much those DEI people make, everyone is going to want in on that grab train. It has to keep growing.
Affirmative Action is meanwhile based on a lie. Therefore it requires other lies to justify. Eventually, the lies expand to take over everything, including truth itself, You get doctors marching in George Floyd rallies while preaching locking everyone else in their home because systematic racism is the real plague. The real threat of affirmative action isn't necessarily the inefficiency of having a couple of incompetent blacks around. It's the justification for why they were around.
When O'Connor put a 25 year time limit on her ruling it was legal mush. But I think what she was really doing was announcing how long it would take for the cognitive dissonance on AA to rip itself apart. When I was growing up I think promises like education reform kept people believing that the tension could be resolved by technocracy, not that they were Charles Murray style intractable.
Wokeness is very unpopular and motivating to voters. How do you keep AA without wokeness? I think its pretty much impossible at this point. It's past its expiration date.