David Warsh on Tyler Cowen
By Arnold Kling
Sometimes Cowen, 48, seems to have nothing but outside interests, as his readers know from Marginal Revolution
Noting that Cowen directs the Mercatus Center, recently mentioned in the context of Jane Mayer’s conspiratorial portrayal of the Koch brothers, Warsh writes,
If anything, Mercatus appears to have avoided some of the pitfalls that have made the Hoover Institution such a dependable source of irritation to Stanford University.
This suggests that there is a story about Hoover which I am not in on.
My view on the funding of left and right is that if you include government funding, the left enjoys a huge funding advantage. A single government contract for Jonathan Gruber to lend his technocratic hand in government regulation of health insurance or for Mark Zandi to bless the stimulus with precise estimates of multipliers exceeds what one can earn in a lifetime by writing essays on expert failure. Compared with the amount of money that the government spends on statist propaganda and on promoting research that argues for more state power, the funding of conservative think tanks is miniscule.
The issue is similar to campaign finance reform. The typical Congressman or Senator spends more on one earmark than his or her opponent spends on a campaign. Yet what we call “campaign finance reform” is focused on reducing the latter.
I do not know any economist on either side who I would accuse of altering his opinions to increase his earning power. But if you do want to prostitute yourself, then my advice is to join the left, not the right. The left is where you are more likely to get tenure and really large research contracts.
Daniel Klein has more on the life of left and right in academia.