In the past, I’ve knocked the Presidential Palaces built by the universities because they’re such obvious symbols for how the cream rises to feed those at the top of the so-called non-profits. Shirley Ann Jackson’s new 20,000 square foot mansion up at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute should be embarrassing when students are telling the New York Times that anyone is lucky to have a job.
Now the news reaches us from Greg Mankiw, a smart economist who seems to be acting as a traitor to his fellow tenured chums, by letting the world onto a sleezy way that the universities exploit the rent control laws in places like Manhattan. Ordinarily the tenured professors are supposed to pay taxes on the free apartments they receive from the universities, but no one really knows what the fair price of the apartment may be when it never goes on the market. The universities, he said, buy up rent controlled places at depressed prices and then use the old, rent-controlled values as the benchmark for taxes.
This is pretty ironic given that many of the tenured radicals I’ve met are routinely complaining about how the rich people aren’t paying enough in taxes. But again, they haven’t adjusted to the new reality. Their mind is stuck in the past when universities and their professors were relatively poor. Now they’re among the highest paid in the land and they’re gaming the tax system.
The only nice thing I can imagine saying is that it’s good that the presidents aren’t the only ones getting the fat benefits.