In the Gambling Capital of America, Las Vegas, Nevada, a professor of economics is being hounded by the city's proud university, his employer. The university's bureaucracy has risen from its swollen haunches to "defend" a student with a complaint. The professor had not singled out the student. Nor had he called anyone names. He had been trying to explain a technical concept ? one, amusingly enough, that helps explain why people gamble ? and had dared discuss homosexual men and women in that context. He is at risk of public reprimand and loss of a pay raise.
Now, you might think that an institution in Las Vegas, of all places, would be built on a strict idea of contract, with all the traditions of freedom that implies, including a great deal of academic freedom.
Well, Nevada was the first gambling state, and the argument for legalizing gambling comes straight from the freedom of contract. Even a contract as one-sided as between a gambler and a casino is still a contract. If you want to risk your money for a trivial reason, go ahead ? it's your money; just don't make me risk mine.
But at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, such a respect for the right to contract ? and thus speak ? apparently doesn't apply to college professors.
Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe was explaining to his banking class one day what "time preference" was. If one has a high time preference, one plans less for the future, preferring to spend money now rather than save for it later. A person with such a time preference would be more likely to smoke, less likely to invest, more likely to climb mountains, less likely to buy health insurance, more likely to drink alcohol and drive . . . or be promiscuous.
The terminology comes from the Austrian School of Economics, to which Prof. Hoppe belongs, but has become standard stuff in many disciplines.
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