1/Here's a Substack post about the Ivy Leagues, and our unhealthy obsession with them, and what that says about our society.

2/Americans are OBSESSED with the Ivies and a few other small elite private schools.

The bribery scandal.

The Asian discrimination lawsuit.

Cornell changing the name of its English department.

Every story about the Ivies is Big News.
3/@mattyglesias writes that Ivies should let in more poor kids. He's right, of course...BUT, they won't.

4/The economic incentives of elite private schools are all against letting in poor kids.
5/But OK, let's step back and ask ourselves WHY we're so obsessed with who gets into Harvard or Yale.

These schools are TINY. All together, they educate less than 0.5% of America's college students!!

All the undergrads at Harvard could fit into Michigan Stadium 15 TIMES OVER.
6/Now OK, maybe that's a very elite half percent, and we care about the composition of our elite, etc. etc.

But there is no way in which marginal changes to the Ivy League student body composition will change anything about education, opportunity, or inequality in America.
7/Should the Ivies let in a lot more students? Double their undergrad student body? Quadruple it?

Yes, they absolutely should. But first of all, they won't, since selectivity -- fanciness for the sake of being fancy -- is their whole shtick.
8/But also, it's questionable whether quadruple the size of the Harvard graduating class would even improve educational outcomes.

Economics research casts strong doubt on whether elite schools actually boost students' future outcomes.

9/In fact, there are lots of rankings of colleges' effectiveness in generating social mobility, and Ivies and pseudo-Ivies don't rank highly on any of them.

10/Now let's step back and ask a bigger question: What is the point of elite private universities in the first place?

The only answer is: Matching.

Send the best people to the best jobs, and productivity will benefit, blah blah blah.
11/But I mean...to some extent we're just matching rich kids with jobs in finance and consulting.

How socially valuable of an activity is that? I don't know.
12/And as @tylercowen writes in his excellent book The Complacent Class, which you should definitely read, our society has over-indexed on matching.

13/Not only does isolating and concentrating our rich and talented people have diminishing returns, it also seems like it will have some pretty negative side effects.
14/And this brings me to my final point: American culture is far too obsessed with the elite.

We're obsessed with winner-take-all jobs (including academia!), Instagram influencers, superstar companies, megabillionaires.
15/It feels like American society has become this theater where a few Glittering People dance on a stage and everyone else watches from the cheap seats.

I don't like it.
16/Of course, we should try to reverse actual inequality in order to make the Glitterati less important and the Everyperson more important again.

Redistribution, unions, and all that stuff. Hire more people from Howard and Cal State Long Beach for top positions. Etc.
17/But when it comes to education, I think we should talk less about Harvard and Stanford, and more about HBCUs and Cal State and CUNY schools.

Fortunately, Joe Biden -- a guy I am growing to really like -- is doing this.


18/We in the commentariat should hop on that bandwagon. We should think less about Harvard and more about the schools that really matter for American opportunity, equality, and prosperity!


Anyway, if you like articles like these, remember to sign up for my Substack's free email list. 😊


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More from @Noahpinion

24 Feb
1/Today's @bopinion post is about the "strong dollar policy", and how it might give way to a balanced (i.e. more competitive) dollar policy.

2/"Strong dollar" is actually a misnomer, since it actually makes U.S. exporters weaker. The trade deficit, which has returned to historic highs, is almost certainly a reason people are worrying that the dollar is too uncompetitive. ImageImage
3/Janet Yellen has wisely refused to back a "strong dollar" policy (Mnuchin sort of did the same, but it was hard to tell).

Read 9 tweets
22 Feb

I'm afraid that the "believe the experts" people are going to be super strident about telling people that being vaccinated doesn't change anything (which is wrong), and as a result the "don't believe the experts" people are going to think the vaccines are worthless.
The other day I had someone scold me for saying "vaccines work", saying actually it's VACCINATION that works.

That's nuts of course. VACCINES WORK.
Of course these are the same people who were yelling at us not to wear cloth masks in April 2020, because there was "no evidence that masks work" (wrong!), and wearing a cloth mask might motivate some stranger to use an N95 that could have gone to a hospital.

Remember that?
Read 5 tweets
21 Feb
Clubhouse has unbundled the "discussion" part of Twitter from the "news" part. That's good. People who just want to talk now have a place to talk without being subject to constant dunking, reply-guying, etc.
Substack, meanwhile, has unbundled the "long-form writing" part of Twitter. It's just a better place to lay out your thoughts. Of course other blogging services like Medium help with this too. But Substack's email list integration helps broadcast to a large-ish audience.
The smallish number of people who denounce Clubhouse and Substack are going to fail. Their denunciations might keep a few people off the platforms for a while, but eventually people will realize these are good platforms, and will simply migrate there.
Read 5 tweets
19 Feb
1/OK, here's a thread about my beloved home state of Texas.

I strongly believe that Texas CAN be The Future if it wants to. But not if it clings to dying technologies.

2/Texas governor Greg Abbott is going on TV and lying through his teeth about the causes of the blackouts!

3/And this is providing fuel for culture-warrior liars like Tucker Carlson to go on a crusade against renewable energy:

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19 Feb
1/Here's a thread about the column that Larry Summers called "the year's most naive".

2/Inflation is low. So why are Summers and a couple other people (like Olivier Blanchard) warning that government borrowing and spending could lead to rampant inflation?

Heck, the spending they're scared about is smaller than the CARES Act!

3/Well, my (charitable) answer is that they are afraid of a POLICY REGIME CHANGE.

To most people, "regime change" sounds like a war, but in econ, it means a change in the way policymakers make policy.
Read 19 tweets
18 Feb
By the way, this appears to be a reboot of the theory of "race suicide" from the early 20th century. W.S. Wallace claimed that immigrants caused native-born people to work harder and have fewer kids, this negating the effect of immigration on population.

But note that Wallace argued that immigration lowers fertility by making people work HARDER! Carney argues that immigration lowers fertility by REDUCING work.

Remember, the only thing that matters to the anti-immigration people is the policy conclusion: Brown Men Bad.
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