Academics for hire

by Henry on October 29, 2013

The Nation “ran a story about academics for hire”:http://www.thenation.com/article/176809/schools-sale a few days ago. Its opening paragraphs:

Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.” …

What isn’t contained in Zywicki’s university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony is the law professor’s other job: he is a director of the Global Economics Group, a consulting business that boasts in a brochure that its experts have been hired by industry to influence the CFPB and other regulatory agencies. Nor does Zywicki advertise Global’s client list, which includes some of the biggest names in the financial industry, among them Visa, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Last summer, Zywicki’s firm was retained for $500 an hour on behalf of Morgan Drexen, a debt-relief company accused by the CFPB of deceiving consumers and charging illegal upfront fees. None of these potential conflicts of interest, however, have been disclosed during the course of Zywicki’s anti-CFPB advocacy in the media or in government. … While sponsored research groups are something of a mainstay of Beltway lobbying campaigns, Dodd-Frank has created unique incentives for companies to hire professors to represent their point of view.

Many CT readers will be familiar with Professor Zywicki’s blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy. Which leads to a question that I would be interested to see Professor Zywicki answer (perhaps in the context of a more general response to the Nation article, which I had expected him to have written already – hence my delay in putting up this post). Has Professor Zywicki ever billed any clients of the Global Economics Group, or anyone else with whom he has a financial relationship, for blogposts on the Volokh Conspiracy or for other and/or more general forms of blogging activity?

While it’s hardly dispositive, if one “searches the VC on relevant terms”:http://www.volokh.com/?s=dodd-frank&submit, Zywicki blogs actively and enthusiastically on topics directly connected to the paid advocacy agenda that Fang discusses in his article. Very likely, this is simply because he has strong beliefs about these topics. Yet it would be good to know the one way or the other. As an occasional reader of the Volokh Conspiracy, I’d read his blogging differently if it were being directly underwritten by clients of the expertise-and-advocacy-for-hire group that he works with, and I imagine that other readers would too. If he hasn’t in fact billed anyone in this way, I’ll be happy to publish any statement as an addendum to this post.

As an aside, if one wants to read more on academia-for-hire, Zywicki’s bete-noire, Elizabeth Warren “wrote a very good piece”:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=332162 before she went into politics.

Update: At this stage, I think it’s reasonable to surmise that Professor Zywicki, for whatever reason, prefers to leave people draw their own conclusions than to clarify whether he has, or has not, blogged for hire without disclosing it. So it goes.

{ 107 comments }

1

GiT 10.29.13 at 8:20 pm

2

GiT 10.29.13 at 8:21 pm

3

Brett 10.29.13 at 8:29 pm

I’d look at him more skeptically, too, but I think it’s probably a reverse relationship. He likely had strong opinions on the topic before ever getting hired, and they hired him specifically because he was a professor espousing the arguments they also wanted to make in Congress. It’s sort of like how contesting parties in court will hire people to testify as expert witnesses, except without rules against perjury.

4

Brett 10.29.13 at 8:30 pm

Actually, I just re-read that, and I’m wrong.

He wasn’t hired to do this. He’s a chairman of a consulting group, which means that he likely realized he could make money selling his testimony and expertise to companies who share his policy goals.

That makes me much more suspicious of “shill” status, although it could still be the equivalent of an expert witness for hire.

5

Brett 10.29.13 at 8:38 pm

Sorry, third post-

Zywicki’s apparently been pro-Wall Street and anti-Financial Sector regulation since at least 2005, so it goes back further than when he began consulting. He argued in support of a US credit card bankruptcy law that would make it harder for credit card debtors, making the usual arguments you’d expect about how making it harder for debtors to discharge their debts would make it easier on the rest of us in terms of credit card terms.

6

Jerry Vinokurov 10.29.13 at 9:44 pm

Whoa, a GMU prof hiring himself out to right-wing interests?! Who could have foreseen this?

7

Anderson 10.29.13 at 9:51 pm

This does not lower my opinion of Todd Zywicki.

8

SoU 10.29.13 at 9:58 pm

what is with the George Mason law and econ professors?

9

Anderson 10.29.13 at 10:03 pm

8: they give “con law” a new meaning.

10

Manta 10.29.13 at 10:18 pm

“Nor does Zywicki advertise Global’s client list, which includes some of the biggest names in the financial industry, among them Visa, Bank of America and Citigroup.”

This is rank ingratitude: shouldn’t he thank the people paying him?

O for the good old times, when a scholar or poet or novelist would write a glowing dedication to his patron.
To amend for it, he should put Visa or BoA or Citigroup as characters in his next play.

11

Bloix 10.29.13 at 10:41 pm

Law professors are particularly bad, because the lawyer’s ethos is to advocate vigorously for a client. Obviously judges and professors are supposed to comply with different ethical standards, but the notion that taking a paid position in support of a client’s preconceived position is ethical in the first place is universal in law.

Couple this with the fact that law professors are not really scholars. Zywicki’s highest degree is a J.D., which is an undergraduate degree in spite of the name (it was the LL.B. at most schools until the late 1960’s). And this is universally the case – very few law professors have Ph.D.’s or J.S.D.’s. You don’t do independent academic research and you get no inculcation of academic ethics when you study for your J.D. – to the contrary, you’re taught zealous representation of the client’s interests within the elastic bounds of legal ethics. There’s no dissertation defense, no need to publish a book for tenure, and law professors do not write for peer-reviewed publications (which barely exist – the prestigious law reviews are uniformly student-run). So the whole apparatus of academic scholarship doesn’t apply.

BTW, take a look at what passes for a c.v. among law professors. This is Zywicki’s – if you’re an academic, you’ll be astonished at what’s there – and even more astonished at what’s not there (hint: search for the words “books” and “articles”).

http://mason.gmu.edu/~tzywick2/cv.html

12

ZM 10.29.13 at 11:05 pm

@11 “Obviously judges and professors are supposed to comply with different ethical standards”

That is not this fellow’s understanding of the standards professors are set or that they keep to at all (unless he’s changed his mind since 2007):
“. And I’m certainly in a funny position to some extent like some other members of the panel my vocation is as a professor but my avocation is as a trustee which I think of as meaning I know all the tricks of the professors when I sit on the board, but I kind of switch hats.”

13

Anderson 10.29.13 at 11:08 pm

11: agreed, but I (a lawyer) submit that law profs shouldn’t be academics. Law school is a trade school, like learning to be a plumber. Ideally, it would be taught by practitioners, not by pseudo-professors.

Academic study of law is great, but it should be in the college of arts & sciences, maybe with some cross-over for a few electives in law school. (But since law school should be 2 yrs not 3, there should be little need for esoteric electives.)

14

LFC 10.29.13 at 11:30 pm

bloix @11

A little overstated, b/c depends on what slice of legal academia you’re talking about. At the more ‘elite’ rungs, an increasing # of law profs have PhDs. Also, “you don’t do independent academic research” as a law student may be, again, somewhat overdrawn. My impression, which cd be wrong, is that most law students write at least one research paper of some substance, either as a requirement or in an elective course. (I wrote a couple of papers as a law student many yrs ago, and not at a ‘top-tier’ law school, either. [N.B. I am not a practicing lawyer].)

It’s true that law profs don’t usu. need a book for tenure, but typically (or at least v. often) they need a really long law-review article.

And re the statement “couple this with the fact that law professors are not really scholars.” Again, too sweeping. Many aren’t, but some are. Indeed, *some* law profs have published more books than *some* political scientists, historians, etc.

None of which is to defend Zywicki, who sounds like a [fill in the blank].

15

Bruce Wilder 10.29.13 at 11:31 pm

Henry: “Very likely, this is simply because he has strong beliefs about these topics. ”

Brett: “I’d look at him more skeptically, too, but I think it’s probably a reverse relationship. He likely had strong opinions on the topic before ever getting hired, . . . ”

I’m not really seeing the reasoning here. Would anyone have Todd Zywicki’s opinions or “philosophy”, who wasn’t getting paid for it?

16

LFC 10.29.13 at 11:35 pm

p.s.
all of which is separate from Anderson’s pt that law profs shdn’t be academics. That’s a whole other issue.

17

Matt 10.29.13 at 11:54 pm

The last thing I want to do in life is defend Todd Zywicki, but Bloix’s 11 is, at least, misleading in this bit: if you’re an academic, you’ll be astonished at what’s there [one his cv] – and even more astonished at what’s not there (hint: search for the words “books” and “articles”).

Zywicki has, in fact, published lots of articles and some books, even, but they are on a distinct page, which you can find here:

http://mason.gmu.edu/~tzywick2/publications.html

Whether they are any good or not is something that I’ll leave to others to consider, but it’s certainly not the case that he has no published articles or books.

(And, while most law professors don’t have advanced degrees other than a JD, an increasingly large number do. Zywicki himself has an MA in economics in addition to his JD, for what that’s worth. And, a law degree, even when called an LLB, hasn’t been an undergrad degree in the US for more than 100 years, so that’s really a misleading statement, too. There is a lot to dislike about Zywicki, and I’m usually the first in line to dislike it, but there is no point in saying misleading or just wrong things.)

18

adam.smith 10.29.13 at 11:57 pm

@Bruce – there are people who found objectivist clubs in College, and tons of kids volunteered for Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign, so most definitely yes.
I agree that it’s generally both a better and a more common strategy for business/lobby groups to find academics who agree with them and cultivate them rather than to try to bribe academics to change their opinion. True believers are going to be more convincing and less risky.

19

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 12:07 am

And, a law degree, even when called an LLB, hasn’t been an undergrad degree in the US for more than 100 years

It’s a first professional degree. Not so different.

20

Matt 10.30.13 at 12:57 am

It’s a first professional degree. Not so different.

I don’t think it’s worth arguing about, but no one go around saying that a MS in computer science or engineering or a MFA or a MPA or a MD or a MBA is “really an undergrad degree” or “not so different” from one, despite the fact that those are “first professional degrees”. (In some of those fields, they are also the most typical teaching degrees, too.)

Is a JD equivalent to a PhD? As someone with both degrees, I can say, easily, that it’s not. But the “it’s really an undergrad degree”, or even the “not so different” claim, doesn’t seem to me to hold water.

That said, this is a distraction from the main point of the post, so I hope people won’t let their personal hobby-horses about legal education or the JD degree or the law profession or the like lead too far away from the main topic.

21

Anderson 10.30.13 at 1:01 am

“so I hope people won’t let their personal hobby-horses … lead too far away from the main topic.”

Way to RUIN the Internet, man …

22

Bruce Wilder 10.30.13 at 1:07 am

adam.smith @ 18

I feel a little silly explaining to someone, who calls himself “adam smith” that there’s this little thing, called, “capitalism”, in which people invest in anticipation of selling some good or service. That Todd Zywicki made sunk cost investments in his credentials, reputation, rhetoric, analytic skills, relationships, etc. isn’t evidence of anything, but foresight and entrepreneurship.

I don’t personally have any expectation that he should be an unpaid volunteer on behalf of his politics. Or, that anyone devoting a lot of time to politics should. Some people’s politics are such that there’s not much of a business model for being anything, but an unpaid volunteer, but that’s a problem for society, not any particular credit to the individual. Anyway, that’s not the case for Todd Zywicki. His politics is an asset, just like his law degree and considerable talents.

Look, there’s a good argument for taxing economic rents and using the proceeds to fund worthwhile investments, like universities, where idealists can pursue Truth or some such, without commercial interests subverting that activity. That’s not the George Mason University model, as I would think would be obvious.

Some scholastic argument about whether his opinions are, somehow, someway “prior” (either logically or in time) to his making money from his advocacy just strikes me as bizarre. (And, the content of Todd’s politics just heightens the bizarreness for me.)

23

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 1:14 am

I don’t think it’s worth arguing about, but no one go around saying that a MS in computer science or engineering or a MFA or a MPA or a MD or a MBA is “really an undergrad degree” or “not so different” from one

Yes they do for some of those. Your law degree is not all that fancy. Sorry.

24

Anderson 10.30.13 at 1:27 am

22: yes, but if he’s getting paid for his VC posts and keeping it secret, that’s tacky at best.

(Some of his posts have comments turned off; I wonder if that’s a tell?)

25

Matt 10.30.13 at 1:35 am

Your law degree is not all that fancy. Sorry.

Oh, Substance. Please, don’t be so silly. If I cared to argue that any of my degrees were “fancy”, it would be the PhD, no the law degree, but no on is arguing this. I’m just trying to oppose what I see to be dumb arguments. If I heard someone say that an MS in computer science or an MPA was “really an undergrad degree” I’d say they were making a dumb argument there, too.

26

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 1:47 am

If I heard someone say that an MS in computer science or an MPA was “really an undergrad degree” I’d say they were making a dumb argument there, too.

I would agree for the MS! Not necessarily for the MPA or a law degree though. There really are lots of people spending time figuring out what a first professional degree is and what they mean, and some compare them to undergraduate education. And some of those arguments will be dumb, but it sure isn’t “no one” that thinks a JD is comparable to undergraduate education and that’s that.

27

Matt 10.30.13 at 1:53 am

it sure isn’t “no one” that thinks a JD is comparable to undergraduate education and that’s that.

Of course, I can see that some people think that, and that’s why I didn’t say that one one thinks it about a JD. They are just wrong, though. There’s no plausible way that an MS in computer science or electrical engineering is clearly not comparable to an undergrad degree where a JD is. When people say a JD is comparable to an undergrad degree, they are just making a foolish or ill-informed mistake.

28

adam.smith 10.30.13 at 2:06 am

Bruce – I’m not clear what your point is. Are you saying it doesn’t matter whether TZ has his believes because he gets paid for them or whether he gets paid for them because he has them? (calling arguments about them being prior “scholastic” would suggest that you think it just doesn’t matter)
Or are you saying that it’s pretty clear he invested in them because of – at a minimum – the promise that they were going to pay off? (as your little diddy about capitalism and investing in a good expecting to sell it later would suggest).

I don’t really disagree with the first version of this argument, with the exception of potential direct pay-for-blogpost agreements as Andersons per @24 says. It’s a corrupt system either way.

The second version of the argument I find patently absurd, presupposing a degree of rational expectations that would make Lucas proud and also very much at odds with smart, young libertarians I’ve met (and at times taught).

29

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 2:07 am

There’s no plausible way that an MS in computer science or electrical engineering is clearly not comparable to an undergrad degree where a JD is.

Of course there is, and that’s why people argue about it. If I can take anything as an undergrad degree and get into a JD and write no thesis, then it’s obvious that the MS in computer science who IS writing a thesis and adding to original scholarship and needs prerequisite expertise to enter the program is doing a different thing.

30

Bloix 10.30.13 at 2:13 am

“When people say a JD is comparable to an undergrad degree, they are just making a foolish or ill-informed mistake.”

In every other common law country in the world, the law degree is granted by undergraduate degree-granting institutions. Law is an undergrad major, no different from accounting or engineering. (I disagree with those who say that law is plumbing. It’s not – it’s accounting.)

I went to a reputable law school, and there was literally nothing that I needed a BA for in taking the course of study.

You can tell that law school is simply an undergraduate program that requires a BA or BS for no reason by the fact that you don’t need any prerequisites for law school. Any old bachelors degree will do – from physics to anthropology to business administration.

31

Matt 10.30.13 at 2:28 am

then it’s obvious that the MS in computer science who IS writing a thesis and adding to original scholarship

Many MA and MS degrees are taught degrees only, and almost none of them “add to original scholarship”.

In every other common law country in the world, the law degree is granted by undergraduate degree-granting institutions.

So what? It’s not in the US. Different countries have different educational systems. That a British undergrad degree is three years doesn’t make “really” half way between a BA and an AA. It’s just silly to draw these conclusions It’s also true that for many other professional degrees there are not formal prerequisites. But again, this is a silly and tired dispute that I’ll not add more to (especially to someone who couldn’t see that Zywicki’s publications were simply listed on a different page, clearly labeled “publications!)

32

Neil Levy 10.30.13 at 2:29 am

“In every other common law country in the world, the law degree is granted by undergraduate degree-granting institutions”.

Traditionally, law has been an undergraduate degree in Australia, but some of the most prestigious law schools now offer it as a post-graduate qualification only.

33

Cranky Observer 10.30.13 at 2:34 am

Nicely executed thread derail.

Cranky

34

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 2:35 am

Many MA and MS degrees are taught degrees only, and almost none of them “add to original scholarship”.

I agree that many MA and MS degrees are taught degrees only, which is why I wrote about a thesis. A lot of those MA and MS degrees, though, require someone who knows about the subject, whereas a JD requires someone who is good at getting a BA. Advantage: taught MA and MS.

35

AlanDownunder 10.30.13 at 2:41 am

Adjectival law is law.
Normative “law” belongs in economics, sociology, pol sci, divinity etc departments.

36

LFC 10.30.13 at 2:44 am

In e.g. the British system, one can study medicine or law as an undergrad. The British system is perhaps somewhat stronger w/r/t secondary education and, concomitantly, also requires one to specialize earlier. The U.S. system is different. Yes, one needs specific prereqs for med school and not for law school in the U.S., but both are intended to prepare one to practice a profession. The law degree cd be an undergrad degree in the US but it isn’t, for historical and other reasons. I don’t think the argument about whether it’s “really” an undergrad degree makes much sense. There may be people who study curricula and education who have developed criteria to distinguish undergrad and grad degrees, but I’m not sure I see the pt of the exercise.

37

LFC 10.30.13 at 2:46 am

posted 36 before seeing Matt’s 31 — sorry for repetition

38

Mark Field 10.30.13 at 2:47 am

I laughed out loud at #7.

39

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 2:51 am

I don’t think the argument about whether it’s “really” an undergrad degree makes much sense.

Such arguments make more sense among the immigrant community.

40

ezra abrams 10.30.13 at 2:55 am

all this snottyness about PhDs..
http://xkcd.com/435/

41

AlanDownunder 10.30.13 at 3:08 am

Speaking of Volokh conspirators, Jonathan Adler gets equal time in comments here:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/02/koch-brothers-media-beck-greenpeace#comment-140443720

42

Matt 10.30.13 at 3:08 am

One last bit, just to point out that this part, too, is wrong for a reason other than what Neil adds:
In every other common law country in the world, the law degree is granted by undergraduate degree-granting institutions. Law is an undergrad major, no different from accounting or engineering.

This isn’t true of Canada. In Canada, you need at least 2 years of undergrad, almost always 3 years, and at the good schools a full undergrad degree before you are admitted. So, it’s just false that in “every other common law country” things are as Bloix says. It is important to try to get things right.

43

js. 10.30.13 at 4:16 am

Such arguments make more sense among the immigrant community.

Huh. Which one? This business with the JD is anyway a bizarre sort of argument. Institutionally speaking, a JD is obviously not a BA (or a BS), nor anything like it. I don’t see what anyone gains by introducing some other sort of metric according to which it’s “really” like a BA. You think law should just be another undergrad major like philosophy or chemistry and that that’s the only law degree one should need? That at least makes sense, but it doesn’t seem to be what people are saying.

(And compare: One can can become a perfectly good programmer without any sort of institutional training at all. Lots of people do after all. So a CS degree isn’t really any kind of degree at all. Surely one doesn’t need it anymore than one needs a BA to go to law school.)

44

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 4:42 am

Huh. Which one?

The one composed of people with education trying to work.

I quite like that lawyers have to get some other education. I think it’s good for them and for society as a whole. More power to the pre-professional BA, that is if it can be provided without destroying the students with debt. Breadth of knowledge is a good thing and there should be more of it.

So a CS degree isn’t really any kind of degree at all.

I’m not headed down that path. I like computer science degrees because they produce papers detailing how 3D models get produced and I’m not talented enough to get there on my own. But the CS folks should be FORCED TO READ BUNYAN SHAKESPEARE!

45

SoU 10.30.13 at 4:59 am

re: sentiments amounting to ‘not surprised to see a lawyer advocate a position for $’

i am not sure that fully captures what is going on today, as there are other influential academics in economics who have taken similar turns. i wonder if this is more of a ‘sign of the times’, (or perhaps a conscious political strategy) than an outgrowth of the law profession’s specific patterns of socialization.

(that being said, i am sure that there is an element of the latter as well. to any of the lawyerly types above, i’d like to hear your opinion on this, rather than this silly debate over whether a JD is a “real” degree)

46

Dr. Hilarius 10.30.13 at 5:03 am

Lawyers representing clients are expected to advocate for their client’s interests, within ethical limits, and lawyers need not agree with a client’s position. But that is very different from a law professor holding himself out as an authority based upon his research and academic position while concealing his personal stake in the legislation at hand.

I would note that the often proffered defense of “everyone is entitled to counsel” (usually coming up in the context of defending some sociopathic corporate conduct) is total bullshit in civil cases. There is no constitutional right to counsel in civil cases and no attorney is obligated to take on any particular civil client. It’s a matter of choice and money. Goldman Sachs is not similarly situated to Clarence Gideon.

47

L2P 10.30.13 at 5:16 am

“You can tell that law school is simply an undergraduate program that requires a BA or BS for no reason by the fact that you don’t need any prerequisites for law school. Any old bachelors degree will do – from physics to anthropology to business administration.”

Same for PhDs actually. You don’t need a BA in English to get a phd in English. I got one with a bs in Econ.

What’s your point? That an advanced degree without a thesis is crap? A lot of MDs would like to have a word with you.

48

bad Jim 10.30.13 at 7:44 am

From the linked article:

“If someone is commenting on a regulation,” says the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison, “there’s no requirement for disclosure.”

The same problem exists with congressional testimony thanks to an ethics procedure change by House Republicans in 2011, which removed a requirement that those giving expert testimony reveal their private sector ties. So-called “Truth in Testimony” forms now ask only if an expert witness has received earmarks or government grants, allowing many Wall Street–sponsored professors to assume the guise of academic neutrality.

That’s odd. Government sponsorship is automatically suspect, but no other interest?

49

Bruce Wilder 10.30.13 at 7:49 am

adam smith: Are you saying it doesn’t matter whether TZ has his [beliefs] because he gets paid for them or whether he gets paid for them because he has them?

I’m saying that asking whether his beliefs came first or the prospect of getting paid came first, is a silly question. It’s the chicken or the egg. He has his opinions, and he gets paid for expressing them. This has never been anything, but obvious.

Is it a “corrupt” system? Well, it’s a plutocracy. Resources are allocated by the plutocrats to the manufacture of propaganda that serves the plutocrats. George Mason University isn’t that far from Fox News or the Cato Institute or American Enterprise Institute. Or, really, parts of any American university. Glenn Hubbard is at Columbia; Larry Summers is at Harvard. Do they get paid for carrying water for the plutocracy? Of course. Does Chris Auld think it an invalid criticism to point out that economists are shills for corporations and the mega-wealthy? (See Quiggin’s post, Oct 25) Well, duh.

The Nation runs what is basically a dog bites man story, because the Nation is (kinda, sorta) opposed to the plutocracy, and wants to discredit Todd Zywicki and Todd Zywicki’s advocacy of bad public policy that serves plutocratic interests, by drawing attention to the paid service he does to the plutocracy. It serves to throw into high relief the nature and implications of the arguments Todd Zywicki makes; he apologizes for, and enables plutocratic domination.

Whether the hour he spends writing a post on Volokh Conspiracy is a billable hour, at GMU or with the “consulting” gig, is utterly meaningless, not least because it is like asking whether this particular tree is part of a forest. Money is fungible. And, his opinions serve the function they do.

And, what function is that? Well, an important part of their service to plutocratic domination is to control the conversation in ways that legitimate the policies. Neoliberal policy is the result of so much money going into the production of conservative libertarian ideology, but part of the dynamic of the process turns on occupying the time and attention of those, who cannot be bought directly by the plutocrats, and that dynamic depends on granting the Todd Zywicki’s legitimacy.

I’ve tried to make the point in many previous comments that the dialectic between conservative libertarians and neoliberals has driven the ideaspace in economic policy for a couple of generations. I don’t think anyone could “buy” Brad DeLong or Mark Thoma, but it doesn’t really matter, because GMU’s Tyler Cowen keeps them so busy.

It’s unpleasant to contemplate, but I would offer the hypothesis that when Henry writes, “I’d read his blogging differently if it were being directly underwritten . . . “, he’s wondering outloud whether he will have to wake up and smell the coffee, whether he will have to give up an addiction to an artificial sweetener with a bitter aftertaste that causes cancer. I’m guessing, he’ll keep the addiction in the end, rather than read Todd’s blogging “differently”.

50

William Timberman 10.30.13 at 8:34 am

This reminds me of the my liberal friends who fear that Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald are not the kind of people that we should trust with important national security information. Usually they add a harrumph at the beginning, or at the end, to indicate the level of seriousness with which they’ve considered Greenwald and Snowden’s qualifications and found them wanting.

The thing about hegemony is, given the choice between being feted no matter where you go, well-paid no matter what you say, and, on the other hand, being threatened with marginalization at best, and assassination at worst, makes it so easy to become the kind of person everyone expects/respects. Who wants to be an outcast if they can honorably avoid it? Questioning Washington and New York’s malleable definition of honorable is what The Nation is on about here. Fair play to its editors, but surely the moral equivalent of flamethrowers, perhaps even flamethrowers themselves, would be more useful. Arguable, I suppose, when one contemplates the likely collateral damage, but certainly something stronger than asking politely who’s paying them would be appropriate.

51

William Timberman 10.30.13 at 8:45 am

Apologies for the butchered grammar above. It’s late here. I suppose I should apologize for the tone as well, but somehow I can’t bring myself to at this point. Maybe when the sun comes up again I’ll feel more charitable.

52

Mao Cheng Ji 10.30.13 at 8:54 am

Well, of course professor Todd Zywicki could be a crank, an enthusiast who would’ve happily advocated the things he does for free. Sitting, all untidy and smelly, and on a park bench somewhere, and screaming that people who declare bankruptcy get away with murder. Or something. It doesn’t really matter, but it’s kind of interesting.

He is a lawyer though. I’ve dealt with lawyers. Hard to imagine one of them being a crank.

53

Gareth Wilson 10.30.13 at 8:59 am

If TZ gave away all his money and moved to a tarpaper shack in the woods, would you take his arguments more seriously? Presumably you wouldn’t, you would still think he was completely wrong. Which means the money is irrelevant to your disagreement with his arguments.

54

Phil 10.30.13 at 9:10 am

In every other common law country in the world, the law degree is granted by undergraduate degree-granting institutions.

In the UK an LLB is an undergraduate degree, but it doesn’t qualify you either as a lawyer or as a legal academic. To practice law you need to get another qualification on top of an LLB. As for teaching law, any institution worth its salt will be looking for people who have gone the bachelor’s/master’s/doctorate route, same as in town; if they’ve also qualified as lawyers along the way, so much the better.

55

Patrick S 10.30.13 at 9:56 am

Also, this: a long article by Lisa Margonelli on anthropologist Janine Wedel’s research into ‘Flexians’, folks who move all-too-easily between government, consulting, academe and think-tanks. I like the sound of her ‘Shadow Influence Project’.
http://www.psmag.com/politics/meet-flexians-government-business-media-money-power-wall-street-65029/
Some nuance to the article though as with the rise of a ‘network society’ it seems impossible to completely stop this kind of multiple-hat-wearing – Wedel seems to be driving at ways to understand and manage the risks better though.

56

RosencrantzisDead 10.30.13 at 10:24 am

@54,

But a J.D. doesn’t entitle you to practice law either. You still have to pass a Bar Exam and, typically, a J.D. or other approved degree is a prerequisite for sitting that. In the UK (and Ireland), you would have to do a further course of study (whether it be LPC/BVC or some such). Either way, both degrees do not entitle you to be a lawyer in and of themselves.

Of course, all of this arises largely because law degrees are cash cows for universities the world over. They are quite popular and the overheads are low (all you need is a room and a person who can talk – maybe a whiteboard/projector). US Schools seem to be ahead of the game by managing to get law students to pay out twice.

I have to say it had never occurred to me that US law journals were not peer-reviewed. In the UK, the norm is for peer-reviewed, academic-run journals.

57

praisegod barebones 10.30.13 at 10:24 am

Given the subject matter of this thread, I note Wedel’s institutional affiliation with amusement.

58

ajay 10.30.13 at 11:04 am

In the UK an LLB is an undergraduate degree, but it doesn’t qualify you either as a lawyer or as a legal academic. To practice law you need to get another qualification on top of an LLB.

In England and Wales, either a Legal Practice Course if you want to be a solicitor, or a Bar Professional Training Course to be a barrister.

Just to confuse matters still further, it’s also possible to do a BA in something else, then do a one-year Law Conversion Course, then do your Legal Practice Course or Bar Professional Training Course.

So a UK lawyer will have
(either LLB, or ((BA or BSc) plus Law Conversion Course))
plus
(LPC or BPTC).

59

ZM 10.30.13 at 11:13 am

“If TZ gave away all his money and moved to a tarpaper shack in the woods, would you take his arguments more seriously? Presumably you wouldn’t, you would still think he was completely wrong. Which means the money is irrelevant to your disagreement with his arguments.”
Making wrongheaded statements (a succession of them if I understand it) is one thing.
Trying to discern the intentions of the person making wrongheaded statements is another thing.
Like when Henry writes in his foreign affairs piece that most US politicians are naively contradictory and unaware of their janus like disposition – rather than than manipulative or calculating (neither of these preclude stupidity I would like to note). Wrongheaded I think. His intentions…

60

MPAVictoria 10.30.13 at 12:14 pm

” Not necessarily for the MPA or a law degree though”
Awww Substance. Why do you have to do me like that?

61

Barry 10.30.13 at 12:25 pm

Henry, is there any chance that you could delete all comments about whether or not a JD is a graduate/real/whatever degree?

62

rea 10.30.13 at 12:25 pm

The law review article I co-wrote was perhaps not “peer reviewed” in the same way a physics paper would be, but there was certainly an editorial process in the course of which it was critically reviewed by an student editor, who interacted with us and made us justify our conclusions. And of course, it was “peer reviewed” in the sense that Newton or Darwin were peer reviewed–peers of the authors could read the article and publish criticism of it, if so motivated.

63

oldster 10.30.13 at 12:31 pm

adam smith:
“Are you saying it doesn’t matter whether TZ has his [beliefs] because he gets paid for them or whether he gets paid for them because he has them?”

Of course, there is the possibility that TZ and the other hired hacks at George Mason will tell us that the prospect of money has no incentivizing force on anyone’s behavior.

That would certainly be good for a laugh.

But so long as they hold to their official views about homo economicus, they should admit that the prospect of getting paid a lot of money to believe P (or pretend to do so) will have a large effect on people’s tendency to believe P (or pretend to do so).

64

Anderson 10.30.13 at 1:25 pm

7: good, I was afraid I’d been too subtle for once.

… “I disagree with those who say that law is plumbing. It’s not – it’s accounting.”

Either way, it’s a trade. I had degrees in philosophy and English when I went to law school. I felt kinda dirty that I was now in a school where I was actually learning how to do a job (sort of – but that is a different problem with law school).

… “Henry, is there any chance that you could delete all comments about whether or not a JD is a graduate/real/whatever degree?”

I never understand these conversation police. A blog post & thread are, I had thought, like any other conversation – sometimes it goes off in odd directions, but polite people don’t tell everyone else to STFU and get back to the first thing someone said. Practice at Crooked Timber may differ, but I hadn’t noticed as much.

65

Bloix 10.30.13 at 1:54 pm

I’m really sorry to have derailed the thread. My point was that law professors are perhaps more likely to be guilty than others in their willingness to work for hire due to particular characteristics of the profession and its educational institutions. In trying to be clever I used a fair amount of hyperbole which some people have taken as strict assertions of fact.

And maybe law professors really aren’t that much worse – compared to econ professors, med school professors, business school/finance professors – the rate of prostitution may actually be about the same across the board.

66

Zamfir 10.30.13 at 2:11 pm

How does that dirty feeling work, in practice? I have observed it in people around me, working with physicists or mathematicians, but I don’t quite get how it works.

67

tenacitus 10.30.13 at 2:26 pm

I find the derailement from the original post annoying like Barry I hope the off topic posts will be deleted. Henry raised an ethical issue that has relevance to all academics and journalists. Personally I think that Bruce Wilder’s comment analysis is the correct one. Much as public and corporate decisions are made frequently by people who have conflicts of interest transparency is the first tool that we have. Advocating for transparency is easy though creating structures where it happens is orders of magnitude much harder unfortunately.

68

Mark Field 10.30.13 at 2:26 pm

I was afraid I’d been too subtle for once

Not likely to be a problem. :)

69

Mark Field 10.30.13 at 2:41 pm

Zywicki just put a new post up at VC. Strangely enough, he didn’t enable comments. It’s what all the cool kids are doing nowadays.

70

Belle Waring 10.30.13 at 2:42 pm

There’s generally no cause for people to flounce around demanding everything OT be deleted (unless the subthread is horribly cruel or reveals some fact others would leave hidden or something.) But persistent derailing is a bunch of blog-wrecking bullshit, too. I wouldn’t argue with Henry if he were to say [ahem]: “‘so long as a man rides his HOBBY-HORSE peaceably and quietly along the king’s highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him,’ that’s all very well and good, but enough with the compelling all of us up on the fucking HOBBY-HORSE behind you, so shut up about your Juris motherfucking Doctores and cast aspersions on the character of George Mason’s professoriate like the thinking men and woman you pretend to be.” Wouldn’t take issue, is what I’m saying. I, myself. Wait, I’m often thinking Bloix is a female person for some extraneous floral associations when he is male, right? Thinking men you pretend to be, then. Go on. Cast your aspersions. They will not be before swine or anything, I will be enjoying them, in all likelihood.

Now is the part where I think, John will read this and think, why hasn’t she gone to sleep? He is traveling and I am ill and must sleep at least 12 hours a night, but will not stop reading absent external stimulus [I realize you are shocked as per scene in the famous film Casablanca, in which that ‘beautiful friendship mustache’ guy is pretend shocked]. I am enjoying a copy of “Fantastic Novels” Magazine from April 1941, which contains a full-length $2.00 novel–yet costs only 10 cents! Shit has gone Native American/Uighur/Cthulu/Norse Gods-were-real-people something racial memory reincarnation something PLUS hidden mirage/lake/hyper-oxygenated/warm as milk…thing in Alaska at the bottom of which live the various aforesaid people (commingled in ways too complex to explain in the margins of this comments box) and also fairies, who are also the trolls of Trollheim and stuff. AND CTHULU. Yes. For fucking serious! Only 10 cents! 1941 totally kicked ass, man. OK, John just texted me to stop reading that issue of Fantastic Novels, so I am legit busted now. [Did you see what I did there! Reads Re-reads previously read Korean manhwa for 2 more hours. I mean, I re-read the first two volumes last night, so, like, why waste this chance to…um. Since I have a ton of work tomorrow. Gah. OK, compromise: I’ll read Adventure Time comics on the iPad!] You can see that the worser of a migraine I have and the more tired I am and the later at night it is, the goofier the reading material will be.

71

Trader Joe 10.30.13 at 2:43 pm

On Wall Street publishing analysts are mandated to issue dozens of pages of disclosures of all their different sources of conflict and who is paying them….seems notable that Wall Street is a relative paragon of disclosure relative to the education/lobby/consulting multiplex.

72

Belle Waring 10.30.13 at 2:52 pm

Bloix, I wrote that before your most recent post and didn’t mean to be jumping on you at all–I didn’t particularly remember you as a thread-derailer and was honestly just wondering whether I’d double head-faked myself and you were a woman.

Sensible readers may wonder, “isn’t it just more painful to read things, especially with screens, when your head hurts so badly and your eyes and watering and such?” Yeaaah, but, when I’m reading I don’t have to think about it. Not about anything. Only, painting scenes and recalling sections and becoming engrossed or laughing at awfulness. I put the book down and lie in the dark with a pillow on my head and nothing else to think of and then I want to die. MMMMmm, precious words. Sweet, sweet words.

73

Anderson 10.30.13 at 2:55 pm

I have observed it in people around me, working with physicists or mathematicians, but I don’t quite get how it works.

First, you spend years telling yourself that you’re not an idiot for majoring in the humanities, because KNOWLEDGE > $$$, and building up some compensatory snobbery to try to make up for the nagging feeling you’re being an idiot. Then, you drop out of your Ph.D. problem, go to law school, and sit in a classroom full of people 8 years younger than you who are just now beginning to rack up student-loan debt, and gradually settle into “yep, I was an idiot.”

74

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 3:47 pm

I wouldn’t mind a deletion if it happened: not my place and I’m grateful to my hosts.

75

Bloix 10.30.13 at 4:48 pm

“Bloix is a female person for some extraneous floral associations when he is male, right?”

Long ago when we wore onions in our belts and we saved documents on our desktops and file names could only have 6 letters (6? whatever), I used to name work-in-progress with random letter combinations – blix, blox, bloix, etc And when I started down the road to procrastinator hell that is the fate of the committed blog commenter I just chose the silliest one of those as a pseudonym as a sort of false humility. Now I’m stuck with it and I envy all the clever and insightful names that everyone else has. But I dignify my name by observing philosophically that it’s an indication that “I” am not a real person of any sort at all, “I” am merely a random assortment of electrical impulses (and that’s as far as I, a common-as-dirt male middle-aged D.C.-area long-married-to-a-professional-woman two-kids-in-college two-car mortgage-almost-paid-off metro-riding moderately-successful commercial lawyer, can go before I demonstrate my lack of understanding of how this internets thing actually works).

76

Josh G. 10.30.13 at 5:01 pm

GMU needs to lose its accreditation. It’s nothing more than a sockpuppet for the Koch Brothers and other big-money malefactors.

77

adam.smith 10.30.13 at 5:31 pm

GMU isn’t a right-wing place across the board. It has Law, Economics, and the Mercatus center that are to varying degrees Koch puppets (the Mercatus center pretty much in its entirety).

I doubt their creative writing is right-wing, In history, e.g., they have the Center for History and New Media: http://chnm.gmu.edu/ which has produced some cool social history research, free&open source tools, most certainly isn’t a Koch Brothers sock puppet, most of their science looks pretty standard, too, etc.

78

Anderson 10.30.13 at 5:34 pm

Look, it’s not everywhere that one can teach constitutional law at a school actually named after a man who refused to sign the Constitution. Cut ’em some slack!

79

Substance McGravitas 10.30.13 at 5:35 pm

GMU has this neato thing: http://accent.gmu.edu/

80

mattski 10.30.13 at 5:46 pm

Holy shit. Belle got Bloix to spill his sex!!

81

Bloix 10.30.13 at 6:21 pm

Spill my sex? Isn’t there a word for that?

82

Anderson 10.30.13 at 6:53 pm

80 – Genesis 38:9. There are consequences.

83

Chatham 10.30.13 at 7:12 pm

I find the derailement from the original post annoying like Barry I hope the off topic posts will be deleted.

I happen to find the discussion of legal education more interesting than the discussion of Zywicki, so I hope that all on topic post will be deleted.

84

Henry 10.30.13 at 7:49 pm

Have no particular problem with threadjacking here – my post is more a ‘let’s see if he comes out with something’ than an attempt at providing deathless insights for people to marvel at, elucidate or disagree with (although if they want to do the last of these, that’s fine too).

85

Bloix 10.30.13 at 8:17 pm

And back on point – Charles Pierce found something interesting – he quotes this bit from the Nation article:

“an ethics procedure change by House Republicans in 2011 … removed a requirement that those giving expert testimony reveal their private sector ties. So-called “Truth in Testimony” forms now ask only if an expert witness has received earmarks or government grants, allowing many Wall Street-sponsored professors to assume the guise of academic neutrality…

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Sneak_Thieves

I recall the euphemism used by a respected law professor who was paid to write a law review article on a topic of considerable financial importance. The article thanked a conservative foundation for a “grant” that “supported” his “research” – when in fact he billed an hourly rate for writing the thing. No one actually reads law review articles, of course – the point was to create a nominally unbiased piece of scholarship that could be cited in briefs for the companies funding the foundation.

86

bianca steele 10.30.13 at 8:33 pm

What the Internet would be like if threads and subthreads might at any time disappear or move from place to place is an interesting thought experiment. But it’s good to see Barry’s on the job.

87

ZM 10.30.13 at 8:43 pm

@Bloix
Regarding experts, truth and government – something I loathe when reading reports written by experts for the government (if published by government as well) here in Australia, is the blasted disclaimer that it can’t be taken for the truth at the front pieces of the publication.

Eg:
“This document is produced for general information only
and does not represent a statement of the policy of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth of Australia and all persons acting for the Commonwealth preparing this report accept no liability for the accuracy of or inferences from the material contained in this publication, or for any action as a result of any person’s or group’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in relying on this material.”
From the Climate Change Authority’s just released Draft Report

Are things done in the same way by your reported per-lapserian government in the US as well?

88

ZM 10.30.13 at 8:45 pm

Oops

*Reportedly prelapsarian*

89

Bryan 10.31.13 at 7:12 am

The main worry I would have about academics moonlighting as lobbyists is not the authenticity of their presently publicly professed beliefs. It would be about how their beliefs will or will not change–and in what direction they will change–in the future, in the light of new evidence, new arguments, and further reflection. It would seem likely that they will not change their publicly professed beliefs in any way that would run counter to their client’s interests; new evidence, arguments and reflections be damned.

90

ZM 10.31.13 at 7:21 am

This is true. Although to be fair, if they are hired by governments, at least governments turn over, and a new government from the previous opposition, is likely to be ideologically opposed to some of the initiatives begun by the previous government, and might fire the hires, ending the client relationship thataway.

91

Belle Waring 10.31.13 at 2:36 pm

You guys? I have a headache. I should shut down the computer now prolly, right? Yeah, OK, cool. The girls have started a new manga called Gunsmith Cats. It’s not quite as disappointingly mis-titled as A Certain Scientific Railgun (THERE ARE NO RAILGUNS AT ALL FUCK THAT), but cats are not, in fact, manufacturing projectile weapons of any kind. Sort of a shame, really, because it would pretty much write itself. The master gunsmith-cat to whose anvil only the most elite would be admitted; the once-star pupil who had turned against the master and created a pirate crew borne by dirigibles that preyed on the old capital’s weakening air force–since the Admiral (who has an awesome duelling scar from Germany, namely, part of one ear is chewed off) won’t allow modifications based on new Western aerethromancy, and the young Emperor, only 17, is unable to overrule either the Admiral or his formidable mother. Perhaps…too formidable. Is she really willing to step down from her position as Regent on his coming birthday? Yeah, anyway, it’s not as cool as that. Maybe I’ll just lie down and make up a better manga. Mine is kind of great, actually. It’s a shame it takes so long to draw things. Jesus.

92

ajay 10.31.13 at 2:49 pm

Belle, if there’s stuff that good going on inside your head, I have to wonder why you bother with the internet at all.

93

ZM 10.31.13 at 5:53 pm

@91 Belle Waring
Off topic and all, I know you’re a super fast reader (I am super slow), and you like sci-fi type things, and I guess I know you have a daughter who reads Choose Yr Own Adventure versions of tragedies that former CIA directors may or may not happen to actually read, but, getting to the point – did you ever read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow? By Eldershaw? Who was two women during the war? If you’ve read it, could you give us a punchy summary as to whether or not it’s worth reading.
Funny story, I know how you like it when folks mix things up with personal anecdotes and all, So – OK, when I noticed this book on my mother’s shelves, I had read Macbeth – but I didn’t remember the lines, mostly just caught the gist of the plot. So, y’know, there’s this book, and it’s the same writer, or two (but the cover doesn’t say this), that wrote another book called A House Is Built. Now, I’m a super small town girl at the time (just saw a talk by Germaine Greer the other night – lovely talk – she mentioned my town’s little houses and also that these days we guy our heritage – sounds like Cleopatra when she’d rather die than have Caesar boy her on the streets – but can a place die? I guess an asp’s not gonna do it – of course I ‘spose the history I speak of was a partial death of another kind of a place – they cut all the freaking trees dow til the landscape was mostly bald – I guess it wasn’t really the asp – it was Cleopatra, or was it Caesar, could’ve been Antony?), oh, right, where was I, – anyway, so of course I think – A House Is Built and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – like, guys, I’m young here remember, so it’d be cruel to snigger and snort, these sounded like hopeful sort of titles to me at the time – imagine if little orphan Annie’s sang Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Except, guess what, she didn’t. Who would’ve seen that coming – it was Lady Macbeth’s sentence, not a song at all (you would’ve known that Belle – you probably read the Sound and the Fury ten times by the time you were twelve *and* remembered where the title came from): Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty place from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and (this bit kills me you guys – sorry, I’m a sentimental fool when it’s all boiled down) all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.
Anyways, I reckon you might like it Belle, and you could read it so fast and tell us whether it’s any good or not – the plot concerns a totalitarian technocratic society some hundreds of years into the future. Hey, maybe that is the Mary Poppins version after all? Gosh darn, perhaps I’ll have to read it myself to find out.

94

not todd zywicki 10.31.13 at 5:56 pm

That article tries very hard to make a mountain out of a molehill.

To start with, Zywicki’s consulting activities are not exactly a secret. Here is his
profile at the webpage of the Global Economics group:

http://www.globaleconomicsgroup.com/experts/todd-zywicki/#

It shows up on the first page when you google his name:

https://www.google.com/#q=todd+zywicki

I suppose Zywicki’s consulting activities are quite a revelation, for those of us
in this day and age who have not learned how to use google.

Much is made of the fact that Zywicki does not mention his consulting activities on his CV and, at one point in the article, his academic profile. This is plainly off – those documents are commonly understood to list academic activities, not to constitute a complete record of initiatives undertaken. It is entire plausible (and perfectly defensible) for Zywicki to consider his consulting as fundamentally separate from his academic activities. For other examples of this, see 99% of all professors who engage in any sort of consulting.

The article seems to be a rather transparent attempt to score cheap political points. Note that the same disclosure requirements apply to both liberal and conservative congressional witnesses, but nearly all the article’s examples of purported malfeasance are clearly conservative or libertarian.

Anyway, there is a serious question lurking in there: what should disclosure requirements be for congressional witnesses? There is a strong case to be made, IMHO, for a relatively lax standard. A congressional witness is not a public servant. Asking someone to come in-person to testify is not fundamentally different from, say, reading their papers or blog entries out loud, and I presume no one would argue that bloggers or paper writers in general are under an obligation to disclose all sources of funding they have received over the years.

95

ZM 10.31.13 at 6:31 pm

Gee whiz, there’s my poor memory again, I still misremembered – it was Macbeth’s sentence after Lady Macbeth’s death (hey, did you guys hear how our First Lady prime minister got called lady Macbeth):
Act 5 scene 5

A cry within of women.
What is that noise?
SEY.
It is the cry of women, my good lord.
Exit.
MACB.
I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been, my senses would have cool’d
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in’t. I have supp’d full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.

Enter Seyton.
Wherefore was that cry?
SEY.
The Queen, my lord, is dead.
MACB.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

96

Henry 10.31.13 at 10:54 pm

Anyway, there is a serious question lurking in there: what should disclosure requirements be for congressional witnesses? There is a strong case to be made, IMHO, for a relatively lax standard. A congressional witness is not a public servant. Asking someone to come in-person to testify is not fundamentally different from, say, reading their papers or blog entries out loud, and I presume no one would argue that bloggers or paper writers in general are under an obligation to disclose all sources of funding they have received over the years.

That rather emphatically ducks the point. I didn’t suggest in the blogpost that he should disclose all the sources of funding he had gotten over the years. I asked instead whether he had been paid specifically for his blogging activity. Certainly, there can be genteel forms of corruption and cosy relationships associated with broad grants of funding. But that is a different question from whether someone (a) is blogging about topics dear to this or that interest group, and (b) being paid for it without any public acknowledgment. The first can be dodgy, but isn’t necessarily. The second involves being a paid flack on behalf of some specific set of interests, while sedulously refraining from publicly admitting same. If that is indeed what was happening, it suggests that Zywicki has low personal standards, and that the Volokh Conspiracy, if it is prepared to wilfully tolerate this, has a rather different ethic of blogging than the one that I think we have here at CT. I don’t know that it is what is happening, but fwiw if I personally had been described in the terms that Zywicki was described in that article, and felt that I had strong reasons to object to the characterization, I’d have certainly made my objections known by now.

97

js. 11.01.13 at 12:44 am

Certainly, there can be genteel forms of corruption and cosy relationships associated with broad grants of funding. … [This] can be dodgy, but isn’t necessarily.

Really? I’m having severe difficulty imagining a case like this that wouldn’t be pretty damn dodgy. If you’ve got a cosy relationship that’s relevant to what you’re writing about and you’re not disclosing it, that seems kinda dodgy. And genteel corruption, being, well, corruption after all—even if of the genteel sort—is definitionally dodgy. Am I missing something?

98

not todd zywicki 11.01.13 at 3:15 am

Henry: my comment attempted to address some, but not all, of the issues raised by your blog post. Apparently, I was “emphatically ducking the point.” Oops! Apparently, commenting here at Crooked Timber is serious business – you can’t leave any stone unturned. Live and learn.

99

faustusnotes 11.01.13 at 3:18 am

In medicine, hiding affiliations is sure-fire proof that you’re also involved in data fraud and deception. It’s an absolute no-no. I would never trust a blogger, scientist or researcher who hid their affiliations and/or didn’t declare funding sources.

100

Belle Waring 11.01.13 at 3:41 am

ZM: I always felt then, like it was sort of funny he was so sad for her. As if I were surprised to think he loved her that much after all. ‘There would have been a time,’ like, ‘she had ages and ages to go in her happy life, what with all the pleasure she was getting out of being queen, and us being so cheerful together and not inured to terrifying horrors and all! And our Schrödinger’s children.’ I mean, why wouldn’t he have loved her? Maybe that was why he did it, really, when it came to the very sticking point? But she just seems so…unlovable. One does not come out of that play thinking, ‘well, it’s a pity Lady Macbeth had to die as well, isn’t it?’

But then at the same time what he says is just the saddest thing of all time, and makes you sad for everyone you know who’s died, and unpleasantly conscious of how, ‘yup, I’m totally going to die. It could be a..n..y second now. Better just not think about that for a while again.’ So it’s a very classic Shakespeare moment in that it seems ill-suited to the moment, really, and a total hash of mixed metaphors (would you tolerate any undergraduate writing that had our yesterdays being the candles that light us (we fools) the way to death and then the dead person being the candle 2 words later and then then life itself being a shadow (illuminated by the candles of the yesterdays? Or the other dead people? Or are we just abandoning those? Oh, abandoning, I see.) And it started out with the prospect of a sort of Borghesian system in which the syllables of the word ‘tomorrow’ are measured out to the bound of infinity, without keeping anyone alive by doing so, not like ‘hereafter’ would have done. Because there would have been a time for that, if she had died hereafter. But it’s really so sad! And that’s seriously only 8 lines of incredibly awe-inspiring, why-is-this-about-Lady-Macbeth-and-not-maybe-some-of-those-little-girls-from-Act-I confusion!

As for reading Sound and Fury when I was young I did but I never knew anything was a Shakespeare reference until I read the plays in middle and high school and was suddenly like “…oh, yeah!” Like most people I had rafts of Shakespeare references wasted on me for quite a while. My school was good about making people read Shakespeare, though, because my private school was rich. It was a nest of vipers, and I hated it SO MUCH but it did give me a good education blah justification for caning small boys in English public schools blah. We put on one Shakespeare play a year, and read a different one, which we then went and saw performed at the replica of the Globe they have in DC. Additionally, since it was an Episcopalian Girl’s School I had to read the hell out of the bible, a surprisingly useful life skill if your life consists of a lot of lying down reading books. A lot of my fellow students in college who were serious Christians (which I was not) didn’t know shit that happened in Genesis. Genesis! It’s not even long!

101

mattski 11.01.13 at 12:12 pm

@ 91

You guys? I have a headache.

That’s what they all say.

102

mattski 11.01.13 at 12:24 pm

@ 96

If that is indeed what was happening, it suggests that Zywicki has low personal standards, and that the Volokh Conspiracy, if it is prepared to wilfully tolerate this, has a rather different ethic of blogging than the one that I think we have here at CT.

Well of course they have a different ethic. Paraphrasing Bill Clinton, “Newt once told Erskine Bowles that the difference between the D’s and the R’s is the R’s will stop at nothing, while the D’s will.”

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ZM 11.02.13 at 5:31 am

Belle Waring @100

I hope you’re not having to spend today lying down reading unless you want to. It’s a nice day outside here.

“ZM: I always felt then, like it was sort of funny he was so sad for her. As if I were surprised to think he loved her that much after all. ‘There would have been a time,’ like, ‘she had ages and ages to go in her happy life, what with all the pleasure she was getting out of being queen, and us being so cheerful together and not inured to terrifying horrors and all! And our Schrödinger’s children.’ I mean, why wouldn’t he have loved her? Maybe that was why he did it, really, when it came to the very sticking point? But she just seems so…unlovable. One does not come out of that play thinking, ‘well, it’s a pity Lady Macbeth had to die as well, isn’t it?’”

The hereafter thing is a pun I think…

I am not sure what you mean by Schrodinger’s children – is that some reference to the cat that was/was not? But I dont’t really get your meaning exactly.

Generally, with the Shakespeare I’ve read (hardly any of the comedies or histories) I think you are meant to have some sort of pity for the various characters. I wouldn’t say Lady Macbeth was good, but you don’t have to think someone is good to have pity for them. If this is what you mean – perhaps it’s more like “I never wished Shakespeare had not killed off Lady Macbeth – But why, god, why did Tolstoy have to kill off Prince Andrei (haven’t read that since I was 17 tho so don’t know if I’d feel the same now or not)?

“But then at the same time what he says is just the saddest thing of all time, and makes you sad for everyone you know who’s died, and unpleasantly conscious of how, ‘yup, I’m totally going to die. It could be a..n..y second now. Better just not think about that for a while again.’ So it’s a very classic Shakespeare moment in that it seems ill-suited to the moment, really, and a total hash of mixed metaphors (would you tolerate any undergraduate writing that had our yesterdays being the candles that light us (we fools) the way to death and then the dead person being the candle 2 words later and then then life itself being a shadow (illuminated by the candles of the yesterdays? Or the other dead people? Or are we just abandoning those? Oh, abandoning, I see.) And it started out with the prospect of a sort of Borghesian system in which the syllables of the word ‘tomorrow’ are measured out to the bound of infinity, without keeping anyone alive by doing so, not like ‘hereafter’ would have done. Because there would have been a time for that, if she had died hereafter. But it’s really so sad! And that’s seriously only 8 lines of incredibly awe-inspiring, why-is-this-about-Lady-Macbeth-and-not-maybe-some-of-those-little-girls-from-Act-I confusion!””

Well, I do think hereafter is a pun – there are two sorts of hereafters. There are three Tomorrows – hereafters that may be, will be, and cannot be (is this the Schrodinger and the new “Borhesian system” reference you’re making abstrusely?)…

I can’t remember the play very well, obviously, so I’m not sure about the characters in Act I.

I don’t have any undergraduates to teach, but I imagine I would be quite pleased to be presented with the original Macbeth (not a Certified Copy) – for a whole host of reasons. Pericles OTOH.

I’m not getting all your references, so I may be reading you wrongly, but I don’t so much think it is about death and so it does not especially make me sad I will die. I think it is about those pesky repeated tomorrows. And I remember reading a late piece of Foucault’s in which he WROTE yes wrote to the effect that he wished he had *never written anything*. But reading and writing are a little like the jingle for pringles says I guess.

Plus, “our yesterdays” that are not so very far when they “light fools” – ourselves and others? – to what Macbeth might say are “dusty” deaths, but which, in what I remember of the context – are actually, in playland, kinda bloody deaths. Is Macbeth a reliable soliloquator (is there a real word for this?)? Was Hamlet – when he speaks aloud of two noble paths, then takes another bloody one that he forbore to mention? Who can tell? Was Macbeth nothing but a player, strutting and fretting? Was the play only a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing? Was Lady Macbeth guilty? Ought you pity her? Should Macbeth pity his “poor player” self? Ought we?

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ZM 11.02.13 at 6:02 am

I guess all this is to say, as a partial bible reader to a full bible reader (personally I wish I had read less), who is more pitiable- Judas or Jesus? Or is our pity for Pilate? (Not sure about Nero – but I’ve only seen the first half of Quo Vadis and then went to sleep).

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ZM 11.02.13 at 7:15 am

Or, more fully, that as tomorrow implies today which implicates yesterday – pity implicates a certain guiltiness and a certain guiltlessness, which are individual and collective, which began before us, which we carry on, and which we will pass on to those that come after us. And is this what you meant by the Schrodinger thing and by Genesis? It isn’t short at all – it’s so long – think how far it’s come.

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Peter T 11.02.13 at 7:41 am

Easy to over think this. At a later point Macbeth says “I have waded in blood so far that were as tedious to go back as to go on”. And I think: you poor bastard. You really did paddle up shit creek, and now your stuck there. The lines quoted about his wife convincingly capture to me a state of deep depression – very little matters, the world is grey and only routine, whether of killing or ruling, keeps one going.

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ZM 11.02.13 at 8:45 am

Peter T, Not sure what you mean of overthinking it.

I haven’t read Macbeth in ages, but I got the book with it out to write back to Belle’s comment, in case I mistook a quote again, so have it with me now in the garden.

The bit you refer to is a little earlier (Act 3, Scene V). Macbeth thinks he will actually be King because the Witches said he would “hereafter” (they say he is king of Scotland at the end brandishing his cut off head when England’s taken the crown), and that he can’t be killed by anyone born of woman. So he is further from death than he is in the later bit (though at the end he is not reconciled to it or depressed anyway: “why should I play the Roman fool, and die on mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes do better upon them” “yet I will try the last: before my body I throw my warlike shield: lay on Macduff…”

So your quote is –
“I will tomorrow, and betimes I will, to the weird sisters : more shall they speak, for now I am bent to know, by the worst means, the worst. For mine own good all causes shall give way: I am in blood stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er: strange things I have in my head that will to hand, which must be acted ere they may be scann’d”

But at this earlier point it is “today” and he here chooses to continue in the same bloody direction. And says he must act them before scanning them. Do we pity that? he hasn’t recognised the “double sense” of the witches words – but do we pity bloody minded stupidity?

The point is, he is not stuck, and chooses to carry on going in a bad way. He just doesn’t know everything.

I have never found myself in a state of depression like you describe akin to nihilism where nothing good or bad matters (is this what you mean?) But wading so far in blood is not tedious, surely? I don’t think that Macbeth the play is especially about routine anyhow (perhaps you could try your hand at The Banal and Routine Tragedie of Eichmann SS-Obersturmbannführer – numbers of people might take issue though, so you’d want to take care)

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