Retired economics professor Michael A. Stoller wrote in this morning's News & Record,
Personally, having spent the last 40 years of my life around academics, I am inclined to believe that the overwhelming majority of academic social scientists are liberals because decades of reading, researching teaching, debating, and studying their disciplines for 60 hours a week or more on average has led them to the conclusion that liberal arguments make a lot more sense than conservative arguments in explaining real-world politics and economics.Well, yes -- one would certainly hope that they hold those opinions as a result of serious thought and study rather than on a mere whim, although it's not clear to me why the opinions of scholars who are sheltered within academia's comfortable confines should be more perspicuous than those of business people and politicians who actually run the economy and the state.
But onward. He continues,
In support of my position, I would cite the facts that we have done far better economically (i.e., the '60s and '90s), diplomatically, educationally, and yes, even militarily (unless you consider Iraq a success and Panama, Granada and Desert Storm to be equivalent to World Wars I and II) under liberal administrations.Coming from an economics professor, this just seems bizarre to me.
What about the huge economic expansion in the '50s under Eisenhower? What about the fact that Kennedy jump-started the economy by cutting marginal tax rates? What about stagflation, malaise, and the "misery index" under the economically liberal presidents Nixon and Carter in the '70s, who pursued the Keynsian economics prescribed by academic economists? What about the fact that the drastically lowered marginal tax rates started under Reagan (top rates were cut from the 70% range to the 30s) have been altered only a little by his Democratic and Republican successors becuase they were obviously so successful? What about the fact that stagflation was tamed by adopting the monetary policies of the conservative Milton Friedman, who was a laughingstock among liberal academic economists -- until the successful implementation of his ideas proved that the liberal academics were wrong?
As to social policy, Professor Stoller seems to forget that LBJ's Great Society did much less to reduce poverty than did Republican welfare reform signed by the Great Triangulator, Bill Clinton.
And military policy? Hmmm. There's a war that Prof. Stoller left out. The Vietnam war, started under Kennedy, prosecuted vigorously by Johnson, ended by Nixon: about 50,000 dead soldiers in the cause of defeat.