I generally refuse to link to Gawker. Today I'll make an exception. This is delicious:
In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Graduate Center and its Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality. About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman was able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails. It’s certainly not teaching. “You will not be expected to teach or supervise students,” the letter informs Professor Krugman ... (After his first year, Krugman will be required to host a single seminar).
So this publicly-funded university offered Paul Krugman $225k over nine months to essentially preside as a public face of its in-house institute that studies -- ahem -- income inequality. In exchange for the money, Krugman will provide his presence, play a "modest" role in CUNY public events, and "contribute to the build-up" of the initiative to combat -- ahem -- income inequality. Oh, and he'll host one solitary seminar. On top of his salary, the university will furnish the left-wing columnist and economist with $20,000 in fringe benefits, including travel expenses. In a separate email, a CUNY official makes it fairly explicit that they're effectively just handing him a bunch of cash for access to his "brand:"
Along with the offer letter, CUNY released dozens of emails between Krugman and university officials. “Perhaps I’m being premature or forward,” the Graduate Center’s President, Chase Robinson, tells Krugman in one of them, “but I wanted you to have no doubt that we can provide not just a platform for public interventions and a stimulating academic community—especially, as you will know, because of our investments in the study of inequality—but also a relatively comfortable perch.” Which is undeniably true: $225,000 is more than quadruple New York City’s median household income.
Translation: Please let us shower you with money. (Some of which has been extracted from New York taxpayers -- whose burden, incidentally, Krugman would like to increase). In response to a Twitter challenge from a lefty buddy of mine, I want to make clear that I'm not objecting to a prominent, successful person being compensated -- or even over-compensated -- by an institution. My thoughts exactly:
Great for him that by hard work and smarts, he's now rich. He's a good model of how to make it in America. Whether he sees it or not.— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) April 16, 2014
Setting aside Krugman's odious, reactionary politics, the dude won a Nobel Prize and enjoys a major platform at the New York Times. He's profiting handsomely from his achievements. Conservatives aren't the ones who typically bellyache about this sort of thing. Paul Krugman is. A cursory online search reveals a treasure trove of blog posts and columns from the former Enron adviser decrying the "one percent" and egging on the Occupy movement. None has a more enjoyable title, though, than Krugman's essay -- from this past January, no less! -- entitled, "The Myth of the Deserving Rich." In the piece, Krugman allows that people earning, say, between $200,000 and $300,000 may be perfectly innocent, then slaps down the idea that the really rich deserve their success. What is Paul Krugman's aggregate annual income, I wonder? Whatever the answer, I am highly amused that a man who's raking in a quarter-million bucks for what boils down to a ceremonial position once penned a piece about rich people not deserving their wealth. I'd recommend that Krugman offer a masters course in irony during his two-semester "comfortable perch" at CUNY -- but again, he's not required to teach.