Last week, it was Yale's lobbyist defending the trickle-down benefits of the tax breaks on its hedge fund.  This week, it's Harvard's president, Drew Gilpin Faust (again with the middle names!) suggesting that the tax breaks on its hedge fund are morally superior.
Fundamentally, as with all tax-exempt organizations, Harvard’s non-profit status guarantees to its supporters and the larger community that its resources are dedicated to its charitable mission and larger societal benefits rather than to profit-making.
Marinate in the smug.

Let's test that hypothesis.  To what extent does producing future partners in Eastern Establishment law firms, and hedge fund managers, and aspirants to national office produce net social benefits, and in what way are those larger than those generated by investments in railroads or steel mills or applications for smart 'phones?


Dr. Tufte said...

Faust was her first husband's name, and probably the one she started publishing under. So I think she should get a pass on your gripe of the last month or so.

Stephen Karlson said...

It's Harvard. It's pretentious. The embargo on middle names goes into effect immediately.

David Foster said...

If Harvard really believes that it offers a superior education---then why not take some of that endowment money and close 5 or 6 Little Harvards around the country in order to bring the benefits to that education to more people? Surely there are sufficient excellent professors in the country to support a 6X expansion without compromising quality....maybe not 50X, but surely 6X.

The real reason they don't do this, of course, is that they're selling scarcity, just as much as an artist who makes only a small number of limited-edition prints when he could technically make a much larger number.

The true social purpose of "elite universities" seems to be to limit social mobility and perpetuate family positions...although I'm sure there are many faculty and even some administrators there who aren't doing this *consciously*

Stephen Karlson said...

Of course the Ivies are creating excess demand so as to look selective, and no one Ivy has an incentive to try a market-expansion strategy. But the state flagships are nowhere near as aggressive as going after good faculty and good students so as to get a piece of that action as they might be. And the current tendency to lower admission standards in order to bring in more full-fare-paying students from out of state or overseas isn't going to do much for enhancing the social mobility of graduates.