Murray and Me
By Bryan Caplan
Over at Cato Unbound, Murray seems to be missing how much I agree with him:
I guess I’m asking my colleagues to step back from a system that worked
for them and consider the large majority of young people who are not in
their position. The current system imposes severe punishments and
burdens on them. We shouldn’t be doing it if we don’t have damned good
reasons for it.
My key problems with Murray’s essay are his arguments, not his
conclusion. I don’t see that Murray has a coherent story about how the
BA persists despite its inefficiency. The signaling model does tell such a story, so Murray ought to at least take it seriously, and tell us how it relates to his thesis.
If he does embrace the signaling model, though, Murray’s
distributional analysis will probably turn out to be wrong. The main
losers are taxpayers who subsidize the wasteful signaling competition,
and consumers who pay more for the labor that colleges divert away from
the productive part of the economy…
I hope we can get this all straightened out before the debate ends. I fear that Murray’s endured so much unfair criticism in his career that he has trouble believing that I want to help him make his argument stronger. Believe me: I do!