Friday, August 10, 2007

The intelligentsia exposed

In some of my rantings against the global warming propaganda machine, I've argued that the hysteria generated on this topic is a product of the hard-left academia-types who will say or do anything to further their agenda of undermining capitalism and the free market system.

Left-wingers (and others) often scoff at this, saying "how much power do a bunch of professors really have?" and "there are tons of conservatives on college campuses."

This study absolutely should silence those scoffers.

As it turns out, college professors and others in the education field have contributed more money to federal politics than the oil industry and drugmakers, with a nearly unanimous goal of putting a Democrat in the White House.

These professors and such wield tremendous power and are unabashedly using to to advance a far-left agenda.

As a colleague of mine asked: You have to wonder while reading this why the heck schools/nonprofit institutions, some of which get state tax dollars, are donating to any political candidate.


David Parker said...

Hey Skip-

Speaking as one of those dem-voting (although I disavow "far-left") academics, I have two or three cents to add here. First off, I think you're being flattering when you lump all academics under the heading of "intelligentsia." Not all academics are hyper-intelligent, and, more importantly, a lot of the most intelligent people I know are physicians, lawyers, landscapers, shopkeepers, and, heck, even the occasional journalist.

I know that the accusation is that academics live in isolation in the proverbial ivory tower, removed from the realities of the world. I keep waiting for someone to hand me the keys to that tower, but as it turns out I still have a mortgage to pay, a family to feed, and the same worries as most people. College professors, with the exception of a few superstars, are making very middle class salaries (somewhere in the low to mid five figures, for the most part), and many are saddled with huge college loans. We live in middle-class neighborhoods; we worry about schools, crime, and every other community issue. We are not detached sitting in some mahogany-panelled office, listening to Rachmaninoff and navel-gazing.

So in light of this, I'm curious as to just what has been "EXPOSED!" You've exposed the fact that academics support dems more widely than they do republicans. Well, that's been true for a century. I still haven't been able to see how that makes us a menace (if not an absolute boon). The US has long been the only first-world nation where an accusation of being an intellectual is an insult. I have yet to really figure out why. I hear sinister rationale after rationale from parts of the right about why academics lean left. Is it just too frightening to contemplate this possibility: maybe academics vote liberal because we're intelligent, educated, and thoughtful?

Skip Foster said...

The "exposed" is this -- you're right, it's not just navel gazing, it's BIG MONEY! Academicians and such need a "big" in front of their name like "Oil" and "Drug companies."

This consituency is nothing more than a special interest group, futhering an agenda by the exercise of great power.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, except for this -- as I'm sure you know, so many college campuses are seeing heinous intolerance for anything but liberal views. Campus "hate speech" codes have become weapons by which far left types bludgeon those who dare offer right wing views.

As a libertarian, I find some of those right-wing views just as repulsive as some from the left.

But I should be able to count on the "intelligentsia" to protect all speech.

Instead I have read of too many times when "scientists" and "researchers" simply lie or suppress the truth to further their views.

Thomas Sowell has some excellent books on this topic as does John Leo, who wrote for US News and World Report for years.

Thanks for writing

doghouse said...

You say people in the education industry have contributed more money to federal candidates than the oil industry and drugmakers. According to, each of the three industries contributed $19 million in the 2006 cycle. Since 1990, Education has contributed less than either of the others.

You wonder why people in schools and nonprofit institutions, some of which get state tax dollars, donate to political candidates. You may be onto something. Most retirees get tax dollars, don't they? In the 2006 cycle they made $131 million in political contributions.

If we look at contributions by sector in the 2006 cycle, Education's $19 million looks insignificant:
Agriculture $44 million
Communications/Electronics $69 million
Construction $54 million
Defense $16 million
Energy/Natural Resources $46 million
Finance/Insurance/Real Estate $252 million
Health $99 million
Lawyers and Lobbyists $146 million
Transportation $40 million
Other businesses $141 million
Labor $66 million
Single issues $183 million

The study says Education workers contributed almost $30 million to Democrats in the 2004 cycle. (They contributed $7 million to Republicans.) The industry employs 13 million Americans. Only contributions of at least $200 were counted, which means the number that made such contributions to either party was no more than 1/86.

David Parker said...

Doghouse makes excellent points. I would add to that the fact that these academics are making contributions as private citizens, which, surely, they have the right to do. The institutions as entities aren't making them, which makes this a different entity than, say, big oil, big pharma, etc.

While I have the priviledge to teach at a small Christian college now, I spent my graduate school years at Chapel Hill, notorious for its left-leaning views (Senator Strom wanted to put a fence around us and call us the North Carolina Zoo!). I never felt stifled or repressed there as a Christian, and, in fact, my two primary dissertation advisors were devout Christians. Heck, one of my classmates was a very conservative evangelical who is now the English Department Chair at Bob Jones University! He never felt so stifled by the "rabid liberals" in the University that he wanted to leave. Sure, I had faculty and classmates who were Marxists, radical feminists, and atheists, but they never tried to stifle my views (or the views of those to the right of me). We had spirited discussion, sure! I can't tell you how much I miss having some ferociously intelligent New York atheists around to talk with!

The one experience I can think of involving Chapel Hill and the repression of free speech is back in the McCarthy witch hunt days, when the hyper-conservative NC legislature tried to pass a speaker-ban law to keep avowed Marxists from speaking on campuses. The great Frank Porter Graham, then president of UNC, fought against this restriction on free speech. Anecdotalists like Sowell (and Dinesh D'souza) like to grab onto a few outlier incidents and moan "look at the loss of free speech on our campuses." I just don't buy it. I know that "hate-speech" rules overstep their bounds from time to time, but it's not an epidemic.

If you want to examine some real and truly depressing problems of the university system (and there are plenty), read Murray Sperber's "Beer and Circus." You'll come away convinced that undergraduates at big state schools have so little personal exposure to tenured full professors that they couldn't possibly be indoctrinated with ideas left, right, or center.

I've heard plenty about scientists exaggerating or lying to build up their claims, but I've heard a lot more about the Bush administration's stifling of research that produces findings contrary to its agenda.

Finally, I don't see how "I gave some money to Obama" equals "I wish to stifle right wing speech on campus." That's a pretty big logical leap to make. As I said before, do professors lean a little left? Sure. Because we're smart, educated, and think deeply about important issues.