What Do Prisons and Universities Have in Common?
Being something of a wiseguy, I’m tempted to answer, “They’re both full of crooks.” But there’s a more interesting and revealing commonality.
Let me start by saying that the question came to my mind as a result of an Internet debate I’m having with a very bright (Harvard law degree) professor in the Midwest. He insists that the crime rate is unaffected by prosecutorial policies [N.B. the professor tells me that this is a misstatement of his views, which are instead simply that he is “eager to see more and more rigorous analysis, past, present and future, of the relationship between crime and prosecutorial policies so we can better assess their relationship.”].
The question specifically is whether the crime rate goes up in a jurisdiction with a “progressive prosecutor” (i.e., a defense lawyer who gets to masquerade as the state’s attorney, often courtesy of Soros campaign money), as opposed to a more normal prosecutor (i.e., one who believes that criminals earn their punishment). I won’t get into the merits of the debate, which has gone on for days, other than to say that if you tend toward the commonsense answer — that of course prosecution policies at least eventually affect the local crime rate — you’re right.
The fellow I’m debating is more level-headed than numerous other professors I’ve encountered over the years. So his being so open to an agnostic, counter-intuitive position got me to thinking about why that might be.
The answer starts with an observation Paul made yesterday in his post, “It's not just the economy. Concern about crime is also driving the midterms.” The Democrats are probably going to lose the House, and might lose the Senate, in significant part because of the crime spike we have seen over the last couple of years. It’s the kind of crime that gets people’s attention — violent crime including murder, and trafficking in extremely dangerous drugs like fentanyl, which has contributed to America’s grim total of more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in each of the last two years, the highest numbers by far in our history.
It’s thus strongly in the Democrats’ interest to get the electorate to believe that their “progressive prosecutors” with their soft-on-crime policies didn’t have beans to do with the crime spike. The troops drafted to try to sell this message are — who else? — the professoriate, brimming as ever with their claims that we wahoos would know better if we’d quit watching roller derby and pay attention to the “data” and “science” and “evidence-driven” studies and all the other flotsam they enlist to try to convince us that what we see happening all around us is a mirage.
The professoriate is a willing army because, as most readers will already know, it’s stem-to-stern Democrats. Academic diversity is, after all, only for what you look like, not what you think like. The Washington Examiner fleshes out the partisan details in its story, “Democratic professors outnumber Republicans 9 to 1 at top colleges.”
A new study investigating the political affiliations of college professors has found that Democratic-leaning professors vastly outnumber Republicans.
According to research conducted by the conservative-leaning National Association of Scholars, Democratic professors outnumber their Republican colleagues by a ratio of 8.5 to 1 on top college campuses….
[The study] used a sample of the top “two US News highest-ranked private and two US News highest-ranked public institutions among the national universities, regional universities, and liberal arts colleges in each state.” So, the findings don’t necessarily apply to all colleges, but they do give us a good idea of what the ideological balance looks like across different kinds of schools in the upper tier of our higher education system.
This was a particularly noteworthy tidbit:
When comparing the ratio by academic discipline, it is worth noting that [there are] stark differences in political affiliation among different subjects taught…
The most drastic differences in the ratio were reported among professors of English, at 26.8 to 1, sociology at 27 to 1, and anthropology 42.2 to 1. When it comes to the more academically rigorous and well-respected disciplines of mathematics, at 5.5 to 1, chemistry, at 4.6 to 1, and economics at 3 to 1, a much smaller ratio was observed.
What a surprise!
So now let me return to the question in the title of this post: What do prisons and universities have in common?
Here’s the answer, also supplied by the Washington Examiner: “Jail survey: 7 in 10 felons register as Democrats.”
A new study of how criminals vote found that most convicts register Democratic, a key reason in why liberal lawmakers and governors are eager for them to get back into the voting booth after their release.
“Democrats would benefit from additional ex-felon participation,” said the authoritative study in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Well gosh, and here I thought that the Democrats wanted more convicts and ex-convicts voting because it would assist in their rehab, get them involved in the community, and, very importantly, enhance democracy.
I’m so naive!
The authors, professors from the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, found that in some states, felons register Democratic by more than six-to-one. In New York, for example, 61.5 percent of convicts are Democrats, just 9 percent Republican. They also cited a study that found 73 percent of convicts who turn out for presidential elections would vote Democrat.
But despite recent moves in states to notify convicts that they can vote again, the study finds little evidence that they do, undercutting Democratic efforts to get them to the polls.
I could go into more similarities between the populations of prisons and universities, but I need to cabin my smart alec tendencies lest Paul kick me off the blog. So to be fair, I’ll close by noting one major difference: I’ll bet big money that prison inmates are better grounded in reality.