From Tabarrok Town to Caplan Land: Summers Moves in the Right Direction
By Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok doubts there’s much discrimination against right-wing academics; I beg to differ. Now I’m getting some support from a surprising source: Though he’s still making up his mind, Larry Summers is moving from a Tabarrokian starting point to a Caplanian end point:
To date, Summers said, he has largely viewed the political imbalance as one of “able people making choices.” …If you are a smart person who doesn’t like the world of markets and profits, “you have a much narrower range of choices,” he said, and academic careers may be quite desirable…
At the same time, he added, the extent of the imbalance and some informal research he has conducted “give me pause” and has him wondering about the possibility of bias against right-leaning thinkers…
It’s not that there are no conservative professors, he said, but their share is so small as to raise questions that deserve more attention. Summers wondered if the situation isn’t like it was in the early days of baseball’s racial integration, when people trying to say equality had arrived could point to the relatively equal performance of black and white stars. “But it appeared that there were not any African-American.250 hitters,” Summers said. “The only [black] players who played were stars.”
With a lot of luck, this debate will inspire another thinly-veiled Larry Summers episode of The Simpsons.