Submitted by Walter E. Block, Ph.D., Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University in New Orleans
My Reaction to Loyola Students Petitioning to Fire Me
I was horrified to learn that a large group of Loyola students wished me to be fired from my tenured position as Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics. They set up a petition to this effect claiming I was a racist, a sexist and an anti-disablist.
“Morality” is too loose a term to condemn slavery. It is akin to giving a surgeon a bludgeon instead of a scalpel. It is immoral to gossip, to disrespect your parents, to tell white lies, to be lazy, to drink too much, etc. This does not even begin to get to the core of why slavery is an egregious evil. It is akin to damning with faint praise, saying that Martin Luther King, Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy, were “pretty good” public speakers, only in the opposite direction. Slavery is an abomination because it violates rights; this “curious institution” is incompatible with the non-aggression principle of libertarianism; yet it also violates morality, but that is a relative minor transgression. Imagine wanting me to be fired because I oppose slavery for this “wrong” reason.
A racist is someone who hates and reviles the targeted race (black people in this case), wishes them ill, does everything he can to undermine them, impoverish them, initiate violence against them. I have a long paper trail, and numerous public speeches, which attests to the very opposite. For example, I favor reparations for slavery!
Other attempts of mine to improve the lot of African-Americans is to legalize all victimless crimes, particularly for addictive drugs, since a lot of black on black murder emanates from this source (this would also free a disproportionate number of young black males now improperly imprisoned); to abolish our pernicious welfare system, which has broken up the black family (something slavery was unable to do), and to eliminate the minimum wage law, which is responsible for a disproportionate unemployment rate particularly for, again, young black males.
What about my support for paying men more than women? Sexism was another charge made against me by these students. This too, sounds exquisitely offensive to modern ears. However, it is black letter economic law that wages tend to equal marginal revenue product, or, productivity for short. Winfrey, Gates and Milken earn so much money because they raise the profit levels of their employers by gargantuan amounts. Ordinary doctors, lawyers, college professors register middle class salaries since our productivity is more moderate. The pay scales of people who push brooms, are even lower, based, again, on their ability to enhance the bottom line.
A century ago, men on average were paid more than women because most jobs required upper body strength. Physical labor was required to saw down trees, dig holes for building’s foundations, etc., and, on average, men are stronger than women. But nowadays, thanks to mechanization, there are very few jobs to which this applies. Women can operate buzz saws, steam-shovels and bulldozers just as well as men. Why, then, the persistence of a wage gap of some 25%? It is due not to discrimination, but to marital asymmetry. Wives do the lion’s share of household tasks: cooking, cleaning, shopping, child-care, etc. Whenever you do more of any one thing, you tend to do other things less well. Females specialize in jobs in the home, and thus do more poorly than would otherwise be the case in the labor market.
Evidence? First, while there is a rough 25% salary gap between all men and all women, the divergence between the ever marrieds (married, widowed, divorced, separated) is much higher, some 60%. The discrepancy between males and females who have never been touched by the institution of marriage? Zero! Second, if men and women really had equal productivities at work, any pay-gap would engender gigantic profit opportunities for employers to fire males and hire females. But higher profits are not garnered in industries that employ more members of the distaff side.
Happily, I am unlikely to be fired as a result of these efforts of Loyola students. For one thing, I have tenure. For another, their petition has garnered far fewer signatures than one inaugurated in support of me, calling for a raise in my salary. Also, the President and Provost of Loyola University, while not agreeing with my viewpoints on these matters, have come out in favor of ideological diversity and academic freedom.