Mankiw: “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor and Your Economists, Too”

Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of the Bush Administration`s Council of Economic Advisers, writes in the New York Times:

In just the last few weeks, the economics department at Harvard, where I am chairman, has brought in six candidates to be considered for two assistant professor positions. Of the six, three are Americans, one is German, one is Argentine, and one is a New Zealander. … 

THIS competition from abroad may reduce the salaries of American-born economists like me, but it has improved the university, much to our students’ benefit. For one thing, such competition keeps down the university’s labor costs. Many parents are shocked at how high college tuition is, but it could be worse.

At first, I assumed that when Dr. Mankiw, who has not only tenure but an endowed chair at Harvard (he is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics), says, “This competition from abroad may reduce the salaries of American-born economists like me,” he didn`t really mean “like me.” Instead, I presumed, he meant “like my Assistant Professors, those ungrateful wretches, always whining about how their wives need money to buy disposable diapers.”

But, I now see that Dr. Mankiw [Email him] has revolutionized the Harvard Economics Department in accordance with the principles of economics. 

Every Monday morning at 9 am, each endowed chair in economics at Harvard is auctioned off for the week to the lowest bidder from around the world. This week, Dr. Mankiw is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics, but only because, after a spirited round of online bidding, he agreed to accept a salary of $182.50 for the 40-hour week to fulfill all the duties, such as they are, of the endowed chair. (As a Republican economist, Dr. Mankiw doesn`t believe minimum wage laws apply to him.)

In the Free Market competition, Mankiw aced out last week`s Robert M. Beren Professor, Moldovan Ph.D. Vlad Snegur, who ultimately bid $185.00, but refused to go lower, saying “Harvard nice job, but wife say she leave me if no can afford detergent for cloth diapers again this week. So, drive cab this week. But next week, me be Charles W. Eliot University Professor and Larry Summers can go drive cab.”