Back in the late 1980s, I was working at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., while finishing my dissertation. At that time, I attended Harvard’s public-economics seminar, where weighty and technical papers about tax and budget policy were discussed. Early in the semester, I noticed that many of the Harvard professors went out of their way to criticize a junior professor who also attended. If the fellow said the sky was blue, senior faculty would coalesce around the idea that the sky was red, and wonder what genetic defect might afflict anyone who would think otherwise.
Puzzled that even Harvard’s lack of collegiality could countenance this level of hostility, I asked a friend why everyone was so rude to this professor. My friend said, “That is Larry Lindsey, the most important conservative thinker on the planet right now. He has Reagan’s ear and Thatcher’s, and most everyone on the Harvard faculty hates it.”