11.3.11

JOHN GALT GOES TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE.  In Atlas Shrugged, he was one of the brightest students of Professor Hugh Akston, at a highly-regarded university.  But a meditation by the dean at Anonymous Community on the strengths of the Thirteenth Generation has a distinctly Randian undertone to it.
Now I’m seeing a frustrating number of talented, intelligent, well-respected Gen X types on campus walk away from leadership roles for family reasons.

I can’t blame any of them. At this point, many of the institutional constraints on leadership roles are so thorough, and so encrusted with history, that any thinking person would chafe under them. On the personal side, a generation raised mostly by divorced parents can be forgiven for not wanting to pass on that particular tradition. Given the option of generating family tension for not very much money and a whole lot of stress, there’s something to be said for walking away. But I’m concerned about the vacuum they leave behind.
There is a backward-bending supply curve, and it might finally be biting on the universities, and one of these days it will bite on the corporate sector, and the top-level jobs will not all be of the we-pay-a-lot-and-we-own-all-your-time variety.  On the other hand, walking away from being looted and mooched for no gratitude is the essence of Atlas shrugging.

Perhaps that's a singleton observation.  On the other hand, consider this criticism of Wisconsin's new labor relations.
Governor Walker, in Wisconsin, is managing to get absolutely everything wrong. He apparently got his way on the bill to kill public employee unions, but he has proposed replacing contractual protections for workers with civil service protections. I’m perplexed. He’ll keep the single worst aspect of the status quo -- the inability to get rid of terrible performers -- while effectively lowering pay and scaring everyone to death. The predictable result is the best performers simply leaving, and the state being stuck with underpaid, crabby low performers that nobody else wants.
There's a corollary to that proposition in higher education, stingy governors or anti-intellectual legislators or not, or rent-seeking administrators or not.  When the policy toward pay increases becomes niggardly across-the-board increases, and the possibility of a favorable response to an outside offer, there is no incentive for anyone with strong prospects of generating an outside offer to develop institution-specific human capital, and every incentive to negotiate for the best possible outside offer, and, again, people effectively walking away from being looted and mooched, or, put differently, from being punished for being cooperative.

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