Thomas Sowell

Recently Albert Hunt's last column for the Wall Street Journal mentioned how he was recruited by the late and great Robert L. Bartley, who made that newspaper's editorial page unsurpassed in quality. What made the hiring of Albert Hunt especially significant was that Bartley was a staunch conservative in the Reagan tradition, while Hunt is a standard issue liberal.
It was precisely for that reason that Bartley wanted Hunt to write for the Wall Street Journal, so that readers would be sure to get more than one side of the issues discussed.

 Many years ago, when I was teaching economics at UCLA, we likewise had a staunchly conservative department. We were sometimes called the west coast branch of the University of Chicago, because so many of us had studied under Milton Friedman and other leaders of "the Chicago school" of economists.

 Like Bob Bartley, we wanted our students to see more than one way of looking at economics. One young, liberal-minded economist was regarded by some as a possible permanent member of the department, to add variety.

 He never really measured up to our expectations, but he was probably kept on longer than he would have been if he had been a conservative economist, because of hopes that he would turn out to be better than he did.

 Even though the word "diversity" has become a mantra on the left, there is no such drive for intellectual diversity in bastions of the left, such as academia or the mainstream media.

 In recent years, the liberal media have at least added some token conservatives, but our colleges and universities are content with whole departments consisting solely of people ranging from the left to the far left. In academia, "diversity" in practice too often means simply white leftists, black leftists, female leftists and Hispanic leftists.

 Perhaps it was the remarkable popularity of conservative talk radio and the meteoric rise of the Fox News channel that led liberal TV networks to begin adding some conservatives to their lineups. No such competitive pressures operate in academia.

 There are a few good small conservative colleges like Hillsdale or Grove City, but Ivy League schools have no conservative rivals of comparable size and prominence, and neither do most state universities.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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