Friday, June 12, 2009

I Met My Idol

By Richard Vedder

The greatest living human being is Margaret Thatcher in my opinion. I met her this morning at the Institute for Economic Affairs in London and chatted briefly with her, and my opinion has not changed. At 83, sher walks a bit slowly and is slightly hard of hearing, but her mind is sharp. She was surprised at the degree to which Obama is socializing the American economy, but agreed fiercely with me with of need for new forceful leaders -in both nations.

Our leaders today are mostly wimps who govern by poll rather than principle. That is to a considerable extent true in many areas of human endeavor, not just politics. Indeed, most university presidents I know are hard working, smart, articulate, and politically adept --but do not have a true vision of what universities should be doing. The Iron Maiden had a vision, as did her counterparts Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul, and she steadfastly did things consistent with both her principles and her vision of a more robust, growth-oriented Britain.

University presidents need to decide --what is it we want to do? How can we do what we want to do efficiently and in a cost-effective manner? And they need to look beyond narrow institutional self interest to look at what universities should be doing in society. Most simply define greatness in terms of spending and academic reputation, and refuse to move to a new paradigm where incentives are to maximize outcomes per dollar of revenue. Moreover, most of them either have no clear idea of what institutional outcomes should be, or do little to find ways of measuring performance towards goals. We need a few Margaret Thatchers in higher education. For me, I am glad I have met my idol.

1 comment:

Cowboy said...


In addition to the 40 years of nuclear ground testing (500 or so nuclear explosions), one should consider the fallout on and after the explosion of Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (near Pripyat, Ukraine on 26 April 1986 01:23:45 a.m. (UTC+3).

Kazakhstan's nuclear test zone, deserted and largely forgotten, will continue to be a health risk until the huge site is thoroughly cleaned up, say experts.

Despite being closed down 17 years ago, academic researchers and pressure groups say the incidences of cancer, congenital defects, retarded development and psychiatric disorders around the abandoned site at Semipalatinsk, in the country's northeast, are much higher than elsewhere in Kazakhstan. Some 1.7 million people are believed to have health problems caused by exposure to radiation.

The problems associated with the effects of atomic radiation are close to Kazakhstan, because for almost half a century the USSR had nuclear weapons deployed on its territory, and was the scene of a large number of nuclear tests. The history of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground, where these tests were carried out, began on 29 August 1949, when the Soviet Union conducted the first explosion of a plutonium bomb. The nuclear tests at the testing ground continued for 40 years, up until the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev closed the testing ground by his Decree No. 409 of 29 August 1991.

More on Kazakhstan Nuclear testing at Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site
Dubrova with additions of fallout from Chernobyl (Pripyat).