Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Peter Wood’s Must-Read Article


On NRO today, Peter Wood contributes this article on the philosophical imbalance in most colleges and universities between professors whose convictions are leftist and those few whose are not.

Peter is quite right. American college students often go through their years of study hearing repeatedly the numerous tropes about the evils of America, of capitalism, private property and so on. They will rarely if ever hear those notions disputed since the small number of professors with conservative or libertarian leanings pretty much stick to teaching their courses in, oh, accounting or finance. They aren’t preaching to the students. So as far as the imbalance of political messages received by students, it is probably much worse than just the imbalance between leftist and rightist professors.

My complaint isn’t that college students are not getting a Pollyanna “everything about America is and always has been great” message. Rather, it is that they only hear the “we need to have more laws and government programs to deal with our problems” message. Take the issue of poverty. Students will often hear about how bad it still is in the United States. Fine. But will they ever hear even a smidgen of the case made by many economists that there would be far less poverty today if it weren’t for a litany of government laws and programs that get in the way of economic progress generally and which specifically impede poor people from bettering their conditions? Probably not. All they get is the intellectually feeble line that we need still more government activism.

It’s the same with any other issue — health care, the environment, the mortgage debacle. The leftist faculty will almost invariably champion statist solutions, never subjecting them to any of that “critical thinking” they so proudly proclaim is the wonderful benefit to students of taking their classes.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review