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Win Some, Lose Some
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As many of you have probably already heard, our Free Harvard/Fair Harvard campaign for the Board of Overseers failed yesterday, with none of the five candidates on our slate being successful. The highly contentious nature of this year’s contest did boost the vote-by-mail turnout to 11%, considerably higher than the more usual 7%. But with nearly 90% of Harvard’s 320,000 throwing their ballots in the trash, lack of interest clearly won a gigantic landslide victory.

Given that no petition candidate had successfully won a seat on Harvard’s board in the 27 years since since Nobel Laureate Archbishop Tutu of South Africa made the cut in 1989, with a young Barack Obama being among the numerous failures, I suppose I should have expected this result from the beginning. But I’d like to believe that if not for a certain loudmouthed Republican presidential candidate having grabbed such an astonishing share of the national media oxygen over the last six months, our bold proposal to completely abolish tuition at the world’s most prestigious college would have attracted far more attention, considerably reducing the trash-can vote, and perhaps giving us a shot at victory.

In any event, I do believe we vastly increased the number of Americans now aware that Harvard’s annual investment income is so massively disproportionate to its net tuition revenue, perhaps laying the basis for future changes along the lines we proposed. Among other straws in the wind, just a few weeks after our campaign reached the front page of The New York Times, a group of influential U.S. Senators began pressing Harvard and its peers to allocate a much larger fraction of their annual earnings to financial aid or lose their tax exemption, with a figure as high as 25% being bandied about.

Although to a layperson, it might hardly seem unreasonable for wealthy colleges such as Harvard to spend just a quarter of their income subsidizing the education of their undergraduates, in practice such a demand would force Harvard to abolish all tuition, abolish all room-and-board costs, and also provide each student a brand new Rolls-Royce automobile each year, a policy which would surely increase the number of annual applicants to even higher levels.

It would not totally surprise me if at some point, Harvard’s shrewd financial managers may decide that the 4% allocation we were suggesting seems a lot cheaper than the 25% demanded by Congress, and immediately abolish tuition with a sudden wave of their hands.

In another strange irony, disgraced former Harvard President Larry Summers ferociously denounced our “free tuition” proposal as a disgusting giveaway to the wealthy elites, whose unfair financial privileges he so strongly opposes. Surely, Hillary Clinton should begin using a similar line of attack against her notoriously pro-Oligarchic opponent Bernie Sanders, who has proposed something very similar.

In the past, Summers has been somewhat less hesitant in assisting the rich, such as when he used $26.5 million of Harvard funds to settle a government insider-trading case against one of his closest friends, who thereby perhaps avoided a long prison sentence as a result. This one of the major factors leading to a massive faculty revolt against Summers and his forced resignation as Harvard president, an event probably without precedent in Harvard history. Although personal friendship is surely priceless, Summers must have realized he was risking his presidency over that decision, and I’ve always half-suspected that he’d himself been a silent partner in that insider-trading ring, and was therefore blackmailed into using tens of millions in Harvard’s endowment money to save his friend from the slammer lest he end up wearing pinstripes himself.

Meanwhile, my longshot U.S. Senate race in California remains very longshot indeed, with yesterday’s front page story in the San Jose Mercury News providing a reasonably accurate summary of the situation. Still, regardless of what happens in that effort, I’m very pleased to have used my candidacy as an opportunity to propose an easy and obvious reform to the H-1B immigration problems that have so bedeviled Silicon Valley for many years. Furthermore, I believe I have now put together many of the necessary pieces for a sweeping “grand bargain” on immigration reform in general, a vital national issue that has always failed in Congress since the early 2000s.

And I’m really quite proud of the simple campaign video we managed to put together on a total shoestring:

“Group Urging Free Tuition at Harvard Fails to Win Seats on Board”
Stephanie Saul, The New York Times, May 23, 2016

• Category: Economics • Tags: 2016 Election, Harvard 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks so much for trying, Ron! In the long run, your effort is meaningful and impactful. That’s all that matters. Good luck!

  2. Nice try, Mr. Unz, but I can do without the gratuitous potshots at Donald Trump (“a certain loudmouthed Republican presidential candidate”). We have plenty of establishment media for that already and don’t need to read it here.

    Are you endorsing Trump for president?

    I live in L.A. and will be voting in the GOP primary on June 7th. Voting for Trump as the presidential nominee and have not yet decided on my pick for US Senate nominee. It won’t be anyone who’s badmouthing Trump.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @woodNfish
  3. @RadicalCenter

    That statement was clearly whimsical.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    , @Anonymous
  4. Damn, it really is too bad. I knew good change of any kind is almost impossible in the current system.

  5. JackOH says:

    Hat’s off, Ron! Thanks for putting your own independent energies into the public arena.

  6. Why don’t they publish the numbers of votes for each candidate or slate? Do you know how close the vote was?

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Unz is against trump. He denounced him in an article from a few weeks ago. Unz is a cuck, i’m afraid.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  8. Rehmat says:

    Ex-Archbishop Desmond Tutu is man of many talents. In an interview he gave to Haroon Siddiqui, editor ‘Toronto Star’ editorial page in 2010, Tutu praised Islam as a ‘peaceful religion’, and Muslims’ great contributions to bringing Europe out of it Dark age. Naturally, that did not go well with the Islamophobe western elites.

    In 2014, South African Jewish weekly ‘The Jewish Report’ in an Op-Ed, entitled ‘Arch no better than Hitler or Stalin’ written by country’s Israeli Likud party president Leon Reich, equated South Africa’s former Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

    “Just as it was more important for Hitler to kill Jews than protect the fatherland in the last days of (WW II) war so it is more important for Tutu to kill Jews rather to protect his fellow Christians,” wrote Reich.

  9. @Anonymous

    As far as I know this is the article in which Ron Unz most comprehensively lays out his opinions on Trump.

    Based on absolutely everything I’ve read in my daily NYT+WSJ, Trump certainly seems an ignorant buffoon and a loose cannon, but being a loose cannon, he rolls around randomly, not infrequently in the correct direction, which is more than I can say for nearly all of his Republican rivals. …

    Earlier this year, an ardent Trump supporter declared that his favored candidate was 95% a clown but 5% a patriot, and therefore stood head-and-shoulders above his Republican rivals, and this sounds about right to me.

    I would call that as good as an endorsement, if a back-handed one – but that is understandable considering that intelligent people aren’t into tribal flagwaving like the typical Trumpkin (or equivalent partisan supporter of Hillary/Berniebot/etc).

    In another recent article, Unz praised Trump for adopting his idea of raising the minimum wage.

    On his YouTube advert, he explicitly positioned himself as the third, “alternative” choice amongst the thoroughly establishment politicians running for the Senate in California – i.e., the choice for those Californians who support either Bernie or Trump.

    In short, given the totality of what Unz has said on the issue, you have to really, really stretch your definitions, and ironically buy into actual cuckservative stereotypes of Trump supporters, to argue that Unz is an anti-Trump cuck.

    • Replies: @Yevardian
  10. woodNfish says:

    While I commend Ron Unz for providing an open format for ideas, it seems that in every other way he is a typical RINO traitor.

  11. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Well, you lost some, that’s for sure. But what did you win?

  12. Well tried, perhaps laying the groundwork for future change.

    “Say not the struggle naught availeth”

  13. biz says:

    Good, I’m glad you lost. ‘Free’ college is a terrible, Bernie Sanders idea.

    Also, I will point out again that people who complain about large university endowments not being spent on ‘free’ undergraduate tuition misunderstand the purpose and mission of a major research university. It is not primarily to educate undergraduates, but rather to produce research with postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. The endowment is spent on research facilities, buildings, and salaries for the afore mentioned, as it should be.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  14. @biz

    people who complain about large university endowments not being spent on ‘free’ undergraduate tuition misunderstand the purpose and mission of a major research university. It is not primarily to educate undergraduates, but rather to produce research with postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. The endowment is spent on research facilities, buildings, and salaries for the afore mentioned, as it should be.

    Only since WW2 and Vannevar Bush, of course.

    I completely disagree with the misdirection in higher education and with your qualification of “as it should be,” but I wish that everyone understood this. The research university is a superb institution for graduate education and an abomination for undergraduates, whose interest in mastering a body of knowledge are shunted aside in the quest to fund ever-more research bureaucrats.

    As soon as parents cut off spending money and tax dollars for the profit-making first two years of undergrad large lecture courses, we will return to normalcy. Most people outside the industry do not understand that their children are being shortchanged on instruction to support this research infrastructure. I do hope you will continue to let them know that this is “as it should be.”

  15. Yevardian says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Would Unz have a chance at securing a position in a Trump administration, if he considered it?

    Plenty of Trump supporters none the less have mixed feelings about his non-immigration-related policies or personality, but that’s just politics. Just because he’s ‘your’ candidate doesn’t mean he’s immune to criticism. I’m sure Anatoly vehemently disagrees with Trump’s likely environmental policies for example.

  16. mukat says:

    Unz is for a ‘grand bargain’ not a wall.

    IOW he’s one of the libertarians in disorganized retreat, attempting to suggest terms to the oncoming Trump Train.

    Trump hasn’t even played his strongest possible card on immigration – to declare 50 years of zero-very low immigration as a corrective to the 50 years of post-1965 immigration. Such a declaration would cause heart attacks through the eastern seaboard and the left coast.

    Stephen Miller is just getting started, and God bless him.

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