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February 06, 2005

U. of Nevada Economist Hoppe Punished; Homosexuality

Via Jim Lindgren at VC, we find that a University of Nevada economist is being punished for saying in class that homosexuals have a higher discount rate. From newspaper account...

...Hoppe, 55, a world-renowned economist, author and speaker, said he was giving a lecture to his money and banking class in March when the incident occurred. The subject of the lecture was economic planning for the future. Hoppe said he gave several examples to the class of about 30 upper-level undergraduate students on groups who tend to plan for the future and groups who do not.

Very young and very old people, for example, tend not to plan for the future, he said. Couples with children tend to plan more than couples without.

As in all social sciences, he said, he was speaking in generalities.

Another example he gave the class was that homosexuals tend to plan less for the future than heterosexuals.

Reasons for the phenomenon include the fact that homosexuals tend not to have children, he said. They also tend to live riskier lifestyles than heterosexuals, Hoppe said.

He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hoppe said the portion of the lecture on homosexuals lasted perhaps 90 seconds, while the entire lecture took up his 75-minute class.

There were no questions or any discussion from the students about the homosexual comments, he said.

"I have given lectures like this for 18 years," said Hoppe, a native of Germany who joined UNLV's faculty in 1986. "I have given this lecture all over the world and never had any complaints about it." ...

What Hoppe said was, of course, quite reasonable, and he is correct that a standard classroom quip is for a professor quote Keynes that "In the long run we are all dead," and then to follow that with "Of course, Keynes was a homosexual and had no children" or "Of course, Keynes had no children".

He said university officials first said they would issue him a letter of reprimand and dock him a week's pay.

That option was rejected by Hoppe's dean and by the university provost, Hoppe said.

More hearings ensued, he said. In the end, the university gave him until Friday to accept its latest offer of punishment: It would issue him a letter of reprimand and he would give up his next pay increase.

Hoppe, a tenured full professor, contacted the ACLU on the recommendation of an attorney friend of his. Hoppe is now their client. ...

Hoppe protested that university officials declined to speak to other students in the class to find out what actually happened and even rejected letters he solicited from a half-dozen students.

UNLV's general counsel, Richard Linstrom, would not talk about Hoppe's case, but said the university values free speech.

"The administration of UNLV is fully committed to academic freedom in all respects," he said. Linstrom said he was in a Board of Regents meeting most of Friday and had not seen the ACLU's letter.

If his pay increase would have been 3% of a salary of $100,000 and it would not be undone in the future, that comes to $3,000. Multiply by 10 to get a rough lifetime cost, and the University is fining him 1/3 of a year's salary for that unconventional remark.

It will be interesting to see if other faculty at his University have the guts to protest his punishment. My betting is that they won't, but I hope to be surprised.

Posted by erasmuse at February 6, 2005 01:27 PM

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» Hoppe Compiler from KarenDeCoster.com Web Log
Here are the various links to the Hoppe situation: * Here's the Las Vegas newspaper story that started it all * Here's my post on this * Volokh post #1 * Volokh post #2 * Rasmusen blog post... [Read More]

Tracked on February 6, 2005 10:18 PM

» Hoppe Compiler from KarenDeCoster.com Web Log
Here are the various links to the Hoppe situation: * Here's the Las Vegas newspaper story that started it all * Here's my post on this * Volokh post #1 * Volokh post #2 * Rasmusen blog post * Fox... [Read More]

Tracked on February 7, 2005 03:42 AM


Well not quite a third, I'd hope the man has a discount rate greater than 0!


Posted by: Nik at February 6, 2005 06:17 PM

" It is noteworthy that he had no chance to present his side of the story."

Who's side of the story is that?

Posted by: John T. Kennedy at February 7, 2005 09:43 PM

Perceptive comments! (I modified my post in response to JTK's, which now might not make sense-- but it was apt when written)

To Nik: You're thinking of 10 years to retirement, probably. I was being approximate, thinking that profs don't have to retire at 65, so he might have 15 or 20 years, but discounted.

To JTK: Excellent point. So far the only evidence we have is one newspaper article, which may well be just Hoppe's story. I've been on the lookout for other info, such as a U. of Nevada official comment, and will post it if I find it.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen at February 8, 2005 09:07 AM

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