I, like many of you, have always wondered why it is that liberal economics dominate the ranks of well-educated, intelligent, financially well-off people. Why people that would benefit from welfare and other transfers of wealth would vote democrat is self-explanatory. However, the reasoning behind a wealthy businessman, an educated and well paid college professor, or a young person in college or recently removed from college to vote democrat can be perplexing. These people would generally benefit from free markets and are likely to be well educated enough to understand the negative consequences of government control. So why do they consistently vote for the left?
In 2005 the Washington Post reported a story entitled, “College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds.” The study points out that 72% of all college professors polled identified themselves as liberal. Not shockingly, of those professors teaching at “elite” schools, 87% identified themselves as liberal. If you follow politics and the world of economics you will be well accustomed to hearing of liberal policy and politicians coming out of Yale, Harvard, etc. Most of the professors at these elite institutions are incredibly accomplished academics and have few real monetary concerns. Most of them must be well informed on the benefits of free markets and the pitfalls of government, so why do they lean so far left? This incongruity baffled me for some time, but I believe I have the answer: they are more intelligent than most other people, and they know it. Because they are so smart, they feel that they are better equipped to make decisions than people with less intellectual ability. To some degree, they are right; I would rather a Yale economics professor manage my investment portfolio than Jim-Bob from West Virginia (no offense, Jim-Bob). Regardless, the problem arises when they believe that they can design macro decisions that replace the countless micro decisions that are made in a free market. No one person, or group of people, is more intelligent or can dictate a more efficient system than the market. Despite all the brain-power that is held by this select group of people at these elite education institutions, the market’s knowledge, intelligence, and efficiency dwarfs the intellect at Yale, Harvard, and the rest of the Ivy League combined.
Why are college students, typically from well-off families or at a very minimum intelligent enough to make their own way in the world without the help of the government, so rampantly left-leaning? Here I think there are a few reasons. The obvious reason stemming from the paragraph above: college campuses are typically more liberal because of the ideals that are taught by more liberal college professors. But, it goes deeper than that. Most college students have yet to see the real world. They have yet to rely completely on their own paycheck and see a huge percentage of it taken away by Uncle Sam. They have yet to see firsthand the demise of the entrepreneur at the hands of the government. Perhaps most importantly, they are generally accustomed to having a safety net. Most college students live in relative squalor, but they still know that if push came to shove they could depend on help from their parents or other family members. This leads to a fear of not having a safety net and a belief that everyone should be entitled to a safety net of their own. This is not to say that every college student has a safety net, but most do and I believe a lot of the liberal beliefs of college students stem from said safety net. One last piece of influence on college students is social issues. That is, college students generally have more liberal social ideals and believe that gay people should be able to be married and women should be able to have abortions should they choose to do so. I was in a boat similar to this in my earlier college years. Like many college students, I was not terribly concerned with the economy because the economy didn’t have any impact on my college student life, so I focused on the social issues. One nice thing about college “lefties” is that many of them change their opinions. In fact, as more and more of them learn about economics and the importance of the topic, they tend to shift more toward libertarianism, which satiates their desire for free societies while ensuring free markets.
Now for the real challenge: why does big business love democrats? We are always told by the media that democrats are trying to reign in big business; the picture is painted of big business going head to head with liberals. This is one of the greatest misrepresentations in our world today. As a sort of cliff-hanger, I am going to address this issue in my next article, “Why big business loves big government,” so check back often!
My reasoning behind this article is indeed exploratory, but there is also an ulterior motive. We should not base our political ideologies or votes on what is believed or said by people that seem more intelligent, knowledgeable, and successful than we are. Develop your ideologies based on what you think is right and what you are able to reason. With the rise of reason we will have an increasingly great society.