Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It’s Time For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Revisit the London School Of Economics And Also Host A Conference Of Leading American And British Economists At Windsor Castle

Shortly after the Financial Crisis of 2008, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II went to the London School of Economics and asked its professors “Why didn’t you see this coming?”  They never really gave her a satisfactory answer.

It’s time for Her Majesty to revisit the LSE and also host a conference of leading American and British economists to ask several additional questions.

“You keep warning of the economic dangers of Trump’s tariffs.  So why is the U.S. economy booming and the U.S. and European stock markets at or near all-time highs?”

“Why is money pouring back into the United States if Trump’s tariffs will wreck the U.S. economy?”

“Why are new manufacturing jobs being created in the U.S. after President Obama said the era of new manufacturing jobs is over and they will never come back to the U.S.”

“Why are interest rates so low in the face of large budget deficits and a growing public debt?”

“Why can’t you people ever admit that you were wrong, that your theories aren’t working, and that you can’t analyze data and predict future economic activity with any reasonable degree of accuracy?”

“Why are you obsessed with inequality and redistribution of income when countries that carried out those policies met with economic ruin and impoverished their people?”

“Why do you insist on tenure and lifetime employment for yourselves when the globalization and large-scale immigration you support disrupt the lives and jobs of so many of your countrymen?”

These are enough questions for a daylong conference.  Please prepare your replies in writing, which, along with the conference proceedings, will be published for the record.

PS.  Just imagine how embarrassing her questions would be if she asked the foreign policy experts of American and British universities and think tanks how they so badly messed up the Middle East?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Markets In Undergraduate Stanford Degrees

At its June 14-15, 2018, meeting, Stanford’s Board of Trustees approved the Provost’s Annual Budget for 2018-2019.  Schedule 10 in the Appendix (page 116) lists the top 20 majors with the largest number of baccalaureate degrees awarded over the past 10 years, from 2007-08 through 2016-17.  Elsewhere one can find the number of degrees granted by all 61 Stanford degree-granting departments/programs (hereafter departments).

The top 20 departments awarded 1,427 degrees,  82.2% of 1,737 total degrees granted in 2016-17.  The lower 41 departments collectively awarded 17.8% of all degrees. 

STEM

To  no one’s surprise, Computer Science was first by more than double the department in 2nd place.  273 degrees were awarded, up from 66 ten years ago (+207).

Human Biology was in 2nd place, down from 229 in 2008-09 to 130 (-99).

In 3rd and 4th place, Engineering and Mechanical Engineering conferred 186 degrees, up from 128 ten years ago.  Degrees conferred in these two majors have remained relatively stable since 2012-13 (+58).

Science, Technology, and Society was in 5th place, up from 24 to 86 (+62).

Biology was in 7th place, down from 140 to 79 (-61).

Symbolic Systems in 8th place, up from 28 to 63 (+35).

Electrical Engineering in 10th place, up from 37 to 61 (+24).

Management Science and Engineering in 12th place, unchanged at 54.

Mathematical and Computational Science in 14th place, up from 16 to 42 (+26).

Chemical Engineering in 17th place, up from 18 to 35 (+17).

Mathematics in 18th place, down from 36 to 32 (-4).

Earth Systems in 19th place, down from a peak of 53 in 2011-12 to 29 (-24). 

In 20th place, a new field of Bioengineering, which commenced in 2016-15, awarded 27 degrees (+27).

Adding up the net increase in STEM degrees encompassing 2007-08 through 2016-17 comes to 298.  The total number of STEM degrees awarded was 957, 55.1% of all undergraduate degrees.

Student choices have shifted to high earning science and tech fields, rather than spend four years contemplating the arts and humanities.

Social Sciences and Humanities

Fasten your seat belts.

Economics in 6th place, down from 165 to 83 (-82).

Psychology in 9th place, down from 80 to 62 (-18).

International Relations in 11th place, down from 107 to 61 (-46).

Political Science in 13th place, down from 96 to 53 (-43).

History in 15th place, down from a peak of 67 in 2012-13 to 41 (-26).

English in 16th place, down from a peak of 75 in 2008-09 to 40 (-35).

Total decline in Humanities and Social Sciences (HH&S) degrees awarded comes to 250.  Total SS&H degrees in 2016-17 were 470, a much smaller 27.2% of all undergraduate students in the top 20.

Stanford is concerned over the decline of SS&H, desperately seeking undergraduates who will major in those fields.

To see the scope of the problem afflicting Stanford, 25 SS&H departments awarded between 1-10 degrees, 7 awarded between 11-20 degrees, and 1 awarded between 21-26 degrees, 33 in all.  Stanford has several dozen departments in which faculty outnumber awarded undergraduate degrees.

In marked contrast, 7 STEM departments awarded between 1-10 degrees, only 1 department granted between 11-20 degrees, and none granted between 21-26 degrees, 8 in all.

Can Stanford stop the bleeding of SS&H majors?  Only if it recruits more students who major in SS&H.

Maybe SS&H graduates should get a refund of all tuition and fees paid upon graduation?  Maybe Stanford should cap enrollment in STEM as is done in the UC system?

Maybe it should buy out some tenured SS&H faculty with attractive severance packages to better match faculty numbers with degrees awarded.  Maybe SS&H departments with few majors should stop flooding the markets with  new doctorates in fields with little demand?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Political Diversity Of Stanford Students: 94% Voted Democrat For Governor and U.S. Senator, only 4% voted Republican

California is a Blue State.  The San Francisco Bay Area is Dark Blue.  Stanford University, where your friendly proprietor has worked and lived for more than 40 years, is Deep Dark Blue.

By acreage, Stanford is the second largest university in the world.  From its founding in 1891, portions of its land have been used to construct housing for faculty and staff.  Over 125 years, Stanford faculty and the University have built about 650 single-family homes, 250 condominiums, and 40 duplexes.  (Several hundred more housing units are nearing completion and several hundred more are in the planning or early stage of construction.)

Stanford has 2,219 members of the professoriate faculty and several top administrators who are eligible to purchase a campus residence.  About 40% live in the “faculty ghetto.”  The other 60% are scattered about neighboring towns and suburbs (Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Jose, San Francisco, and others).  It seems reasonable to assume that the political predilections of on- and off-campus faculty and are similar.

California’s 2018 primaries were held on June 5.  Four precincts (Santa Clara County Precincts 2542, 2544, 2545, and 2546) circumscribe Stanford University.

Precincts 2542 and 2544 consist of graduate and undergraduate student housing.  Some students are registered to vote using their campus address.  Most are registered at their home address.

Precinct 2545 consists solely of faculty/staff (F/S) housing.  Precinct 2546 is a mix of student and F/S housing

Here are the results for Governor and U.S. Senator, the two most important races in California.

Governor:

Precinct 2545 (all F/S):  Democrats 234 (88.0%), Republicans 31 (11.7%), Other 1 (0.3%).

Precinct 2546 (F/S and students):  Democrats 356 (94.9%), Republicans 12 (3.2%), Other 7 (1.9%).

Precinct 2544 (all students):  Democrats 155 (93.4%), Republicans 8 (4.7%), Other 3 (1.8%).

Precinct 2542 (all students):  Democrats 129 (94.2%), Republicans 6 (4.4%), Other 2 (1.4%).

U.S. Senator:

Precinct 2545:  Democrats 232 (87.9%), Republicans 27 (11.5%), Other 5 (1.9%).

Precinct 2546:  Democrats 354 (96.2%), Republicans 11 (3.0%), Other 3 (0.8%)

Precinct 2542:  Democrats 127 (96.2%), Republicans 3 (2.3%), Other 2 (1.5%)

Precinct 2544:  Democrats 154 (93.9%), Republicans 5 (3.0%), Other 5 (3.0).

F/S voters are 7-8 percentage points more Republican than students.  One reason is that F/S voters are older and more conservative.  Some of these Republican voters are in their 70s and 80s.

Stanford has achieved undergraduate student diversity in terms of race (only about a third is non-Hispanic White), ethnicity, gender and gender preference, nationality, religion, disability, and socioeconomic status.  Political and ideological diversity is nowhere to be found.  Universities talk a lot about the importance of diversity of ideas but have done little to achieve it.

Diversity is said to help students learn from each other—so long as the dominant political views are not challenged!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Finland Is The Happiest Country In The World


To borrow a phrase from John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

Let’s start with the weather.  It’s cold, dark, and dreary most of the year.  I first arrived in Helsinki in late May 1981.  The buds on the trees were just starting to open.  Even the long glorious days of summer can be wet and chilly.  The Finns cannot be happy about the weather.

Did you know that half of the people in the world living north of Helsinki, 60 degrees latitude, is Finnish?  Helsinki, on the southern tip of Finland, sits about halfway up Hudson Bay and Canada.

In my subsequent visits to Finland in 2000, 2002, and 2006, I never saw a Finn give a good belly laugh, or even smile.  A people that do not laugh cannot be happy.  Do a search for adjectives and nouns characterizing Finnish personality.  I think dour just about sums it up.

Finnish consumption per capita of coffee is the highest in the world.  Finns need an injection of caffeine to get from one hour to the next.

Food!  A few Michelin-starred restaurants serving the “Nordic” cuisine have popped up in recent years, but you might need to sell the family silver to pay for dinner.  Otherwise, ghastly.  In my experience, Russian restaurants are the best places to dine.

Culture.  Sibelius.

Language.  Incomprehensible (although most Finns speak good English).

Adult beverages. Mum’s the word.

Now to the most important reason.  The West is in the midst of a great  movement to increase diversity in top positions in all walks of life.  Diversity is almost impossible to find in Finland (although there is a no-go zone of Somalis living between the airport and downtown Helsinki).

The most recent population estimate of Finland is 5,516,872 (March 2018).  The foreign born population amounts to 6.5% of all Finns.  Those born in such Muslim countries as Iraq and Somalia amount to 6.9% of the foreign born, or .44% of the population.  Those born in Asian countries make up 8.2% of the foreign born, or .53% of the general population  Together they sum to .97%, just under one percent of the Finnish population.  The overwhelming majority of foreign born, 5.5% of Finland’s population, are from the former Soviet Union, Estonia, Sweden, and other European countries.

To all intents and purposes, there is no diversity in Finland.  It’s understandable.  Who would want to migrate to Finland when Germany, Italy, Greece, and even Sweden are better choices.

In the absence of diversity, Finns cannot be happy.

Having said all that, I’ve loved my visits to Finland as they were all in summer with the one in late May.  White nights are a wonderful experience.  Downtown Helsinki is easy to explore on foot.  The surrounding archipelago is gorgeous.

PS.  Please, no harsh comments from native Finns, those married to Finns, those who have relatives and good friends in Finland, or moved to Finland.  The reason is that you have no sense of what it is to be happy. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Warning To Business Men and Women Seeking The Democrat Nomination for 2020: DON’T

If you try to pull a Democrat Party Trump, a political outsider running for president, you will be crushed!  The Democrat Academic Political Media Industrial Complex will destroy you.  Your purpose is to give money.  It’s just that simple.

Several dozen news sites have identified men and women from outside the political world who might be thinking about a run.

Mark Cuban:  charged with sexual misconduct
Mark Zuckerberg.  allowed Facebook data to be misused for political purposes
Sheryl Sandberg.  ditto
Howard Schultz. hateful symbols have appeared on Starbuck coffee cups
Tom Steyer
George Clooney
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson
Oprah Winfrey
Kanye West
Bill Gates

It doesn’t matter if the charges are true or not.  The allegations will terminate a possibly candidacy.

If any of the bottom six rear his/her head seriously considering a run, that individual will be savaged within 24 hours.  A dozen or more Democrat politicians are in the queue for 2020.  They will not allow an outsider to take away their prize.

A word to the wise.  Open your wallet, but stay out of politics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Red Guards 2.0 With American Characteristics For The Current Era

A large number of (self-defined) oppressed groups are actively fighting the White heteronormative male patriarchy for influence and power.  At present their influence is dissipated in fragmentation, with each group seeking its own redress.

What’s needed for greater success is to unify this myriad of intersectional communities into a brigade under a unified chain of command.

The solution is a little Red Book 2.0, modeled after Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, first published in 1964. Each community should compile its slogans into a chapter (Mao’s quotations were categorized into 33 chapters).  The chapters should then be collated into a little Red Book 2.0 With American Characteristics.  (A photo of President Barack Obama could be placed on the inside front cover for inspiration.)  Then activists could wave their little Red Book 2.0 when shouting slogans at the privileged.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a partial list of chapters that might be included in little Red Book 2.0.

Abortion rights
Antifa
BLM
DACA
Discrimination
Diversity
Environmentalism
Feminism
Global Warming
Global Warriors
Identity
Inclusion
Inequality
Intersectionality
LBGT
Low-income
Marxist left
MeToo
Minorities
Safe spaces
Sustainable
SJW
Trigger Warning
Unconscious bias

I was in Hong Kong in September 1966 at the onset of the local Red Guard movement, which was unleashed as part of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.  We (my spouse and I) were visiting relatives in Hong Kong, who had made plans to leave for Australia in October 1966.  They lived in Cosmopolitan Dock, which was surrounded by a Chinese-populated neighborhood.  Each time we rode into and out of the Dock, gangs of youths waved little Red Books at us chanting pro-Mao slogans.

Riots broke out in Hong Kong in summer 1967.  After months of disruption, Hong Kong’s police crushed the movement as mainland Red Guards and Mao watched quietly from across the border.  (It took another decade for the Chinese army to extinguish the mainland Red Guard movement.)  China’s earnings of foreign exchange in Hong Kong were too important to the mainland to allow chaos and violence to shut down Hong Kong’s economy.  Conservatives who have been shouted down at American universities and escorted off campus with police protection will understand this experience.

American universities are still in the early stage of Red Guards 2.0 for two reasons.  First, unlike the Black Power movement of the 1960s, this time is different.  The movement extends way beyond Black Power due to Harvey Weinstein and others like him.  #MeToo has exposed the hypocrisy of Hollywood, the media, and politicians.

Second, the professoriate of American universities is overwhelmingly White males.  At Stanford, for example, Women and Minorities make up only 28% and 29% respectively of the faculty.  In general, female and minority academics are more liberal than White males, especially older White males set to retire over the next 10-15 years.  As their increasingly female and minority replacements settle in, universities will lean even more to the left on social, economic, and political issues.  From the universities this narrative will spread through K-12 education, the media, Hollywood, business, and government at all levels.

The Black Power movement of the 1960s ­­faded away after a decade, almost exactly as long as it took for the Red Guard movement to dissipate in China.  Perhaps the multi-dimensional character of the Red Guards 2.0 movement in America will last much longer, for a generation or more, until it transforms the American cultural landscape.

This is an exceptionally interesting time to be a historian.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Words Vs. Deeds: Comparing Trump With Bush/Obama

How shall I criticize thee?  Let me count the ways.  Here is a list, in alphabetical order, of some of the harsh words that liberal Democrat and conservative Republican (anti-Trump) members of the Academic Political Media Industrial Complex (the establishment) use to describe President Donald Trump:

bigot
bullying
corrupt
deranged
disgusting
disturbing
egotistical
erratic
ignorant
impulsive
inarticulate
incompetent
liar
misogynist
moron
narcissistic
negative
problematic
stupid
unacceptable presidential behavior
unqualified
unstable
worst president

What about the words used to describe presidents George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.  Bush came in for his share of liberal criticism, but nothing remotely close to that of Trump.  Obama was uniformly praised.  To liberals, Obama walks on water.  To conservatives, save a very few, barely a peep of criticism could be read or heard.  Silence was acquiescense.

Perhaps some comparisons can put these markedly different treatments in perspective.

First, foreign policy.  Bush and Obama launched three wars:  Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.  During their 16 years in office, U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan numbered 8,360.  Tens of thousands more were wounded, some requiring life care.  Several million civilians were displaced.  Trillions of dollars were spent.  Iran has gained influence in Iraq.  The Taliban still control large areas in Afghanistan.  Not a pretty picture.

Trump inherited this mess.  From his inauguration to March 15, 2018, U.S. war zone fatalities total 47.  Secretary of Defense James Mattis, fired by Obama, has stabilized the situation in both countries.

Second, economic policy.  Bush presided over the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Obama presided over the slowest post-recession recovery in decades.  Both presided over stagnant wages.  Between them, the national debt increased 300% (quadrupled), from $5 trillion to $20 trillion.

President Trump is presiding over the strongest job growth in decades.  He has managed, after decades, to cut the corporate tax rate to internationally competitive levels.  He has rolled back incentive-destroying regulations.

Third, social policy.  Obama set race relations back fifty years.  Trump has reached out to Blacks and Hispanics, who now enjoy the lowest unemployment rates since records have been kept.

I come from an older generation, guided by such phrases as “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me."

Now words are more damaging than deeds.  It’s alright to launch wars and shatter an economy, but  not to tweet!  I prefer tweets to wars and a financial crisis.

Is there anything that Trump can do to receive praise, however faint?  The only thing I can think of is for Trump to follow Nixon into history by resigning the presidency.  However, any such praise he receives at the moment will be short-lived and quickly give way to never-ending historical damnation.