Saturday, May 4, 2013

Harvard Professors Can Be Stupid (Apparently)

Here's a story about a Harvard history professor who criticized a famous English economist because the economist (who died in 1946) had been gay.  Basically he stated that this economist would not have cared about future generations because, as a gay man, he never would have had children.

There are a couple problems with a statement like that.  One is: even if you don't have children (and many people do not have children these days, by choice), you can still care about future generations.

Also, it turns out that John Maynard Keynes (the apparently gay economist) actually did marry a woman and the woman became pregnant (but she had a miscarriage - the baby was not born alive).

Here's Keynes:

Apparently this professor was trying to be funny. 

The article:


increasing deficits - increasing debt.  Basically the theory seems to be that in times of financial crisis the government should borrow money and go into debt but use this borrowed money to stimulate (make active) the economy.  President Franklin Roosevelt used this method during the Great Depression, but many historians feel that the method did not really work.  Roosevelt borrowed money and then used it to hire men (yes, the policies were directed at men at that time believe it or not) to do work for the government.  He hoped that by putting money in the pockets of these men, they would spend more and more products would be made.  However, it looks as if the US entry into World War II was what finally pulled the US economy out of the depression.

to stimulate - to make active; in this case to stimulate the economy means to make it more active or to create greater wealth and more jobs.

sluggish -  slow moving.  A snail moves sluggishly.

short-sighted - not capable of seeing far into the future.

prominent - outstanding.  Someone famous in his field.

sexual orientation - what kind of stuff a person likes sexually.

oft-quoted - often quoted, often repeated

"In the long run we are all dead." - Keynes was basically saying that economists should plan for the immediate future and not too far in advance.  He joked that, basically, we need to plan effectively to enjoy our lives - we shouldn't be dead by the time economic policies begin to work.

Grammar mistake in the article: "increasing government deficits stimulate a sluggish economy" ---> "increasing" is the subject here.  "...increasing government deficits stimulates a sluggish economy." Deficits is NOT the subject here. 

unreservedly - without hesitation.  Completely.

an off-the-cuff response - an informal response.  A response he didn't think about ahead of time.

to be indifferent to s/t - not to care about something

entanglements - complicated, mixed-up relationships

to startle - to shock slightly


1)  This professor was trying to be funny, but offended gay people.  Do you think his statement shows that deep down inside he might be anti-gay?

2)  Do you think that gay folks should have been offended by his comment?

3)  Do you think it is sufficient that he apologized?  Do you think his apology was sincere?
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