Monday, September 26, 2016

"Members of the Intellectual Professions Are Quite Atypical"

"So it is natural for academics to view a borderless world as the moral and political ideal—natural, but still stupid and lazy. Make-believe cosmopolitanism is particularly stupid and lazy in the case of academics who fancy themselves progressives. In the absence of a global government that could raise taxes to fund a global welfare state, the free movement of people among countries would overburden and destroy existing national welfare states, or else empower right-wing populists to defend welfare states for natives against immigrants, as is happening both in the U.S. and Europe.
"The views of intellectuals about social reform tend to be warped by professional and personal biases, as well. In the U.S. the default prescription for inequality and other social problems among professors, pundits, and policy wonks alike tends to be:  More education! Successful intellectuals get where they are by being good at taking tests and by going to good schools. It is only natural for them to generalize from their own highly atypical life experiences and propose that society would be better off if everyone went to college—natural, but still stupid and lazy. Most of the jobs in advanced economies—a majority of them in the service sector—do not require higher education beyond a little vocational training. Notwithstanding automation, for the foreseeable future janitors will vastly outnumber professors, and if the wages of janitors are too low then other methods—unionization, the restriction of low-wage immigration, a higher minimum wage—make much more sense than enabling janitors to acquire BAs, much less MAs and Ph.Ds."

Michael Lind at The Smart Set reminds intellectuals how they differ from the bulk of the population.

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