EXPENSE PREFERENCE BEHAVIOR. It's not enough to deny coherent beliefs of any kind or to abandon admission standards and call it inclusion. Richard Vedder blames the lotus-eaters for The High Cost of Political Correctness. Another way of looking at it is, economists exist to frustrate administrators.

Universities are notorious for going wild for the latest liberal fad. This year, the big thing is sustainability, whatever that is. These fads all cost money, often do little but appease some local bleeding hearts on campus, but add to the rising cost of college.

That was brought home to me yesterday when I was asked to "dialogue with" our campus's Sustainability Coordinator. Sizable amounts of university resources were used to produce a little webcast presentation on whether we should engage in a campaign on my campus to get persons to buy goods from local farmers to help the planet (this is no doubt one of our university's innumerable Earth Day or Earth Month or whatever it is activities).

Our $47,265 a year sustainability czarina argued that we would be more environmentally conscious if we bought goods from local farmers. I rebutted that my sensitivity to the environment is not altered in the slightest if I eat lettuce made in Mexico rather than Ohio and, what do you have against helping starving farmers in Third World countries?

Note the scare quotes on dialogue. That expression is the lepers bell of somebody who is really interested in getting you to agree to his monologue. Economists know the code.

Perhaps, though, buying locally is a plot to give Detroit's alley farmers an opportunity to sell a cash crop. The sustainability weenies are part of the cult of primitive authenticity.

Closer to home, Founders Library is informing patrons that the escalators are turned off after 6 pm "for sustainability." My impression is that student traffic is greater in the library after 6 pm, and administrator traffic is greater in the library before 4.30 pm. The conclusion is left to the reader as an exercise.

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