The findings of Kahn, Zasloff and Vaughn about the effect of California Coastal Commission regulation in its effective area reminded me of something. For a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it came to me this morning. I’m not sure they had to go all the way to Santa Monica from their base in Westwood to do the field work.
Kahn and Zasloff live in a neighborhood protected by stringent access and resource use regulations, and Vaughn would like to move into it. In this favored zone, residence employment is assured as long as you don’t do the equivalent of operating a body shop in your yard, or a meth lab in your kitchen. You may not have an affair with a student or a subordinate, and you may not take the lawnmower from your neighbor’s garage ideas from your neighbor’s latest paper without leaving a note saying you did. Living in this neighborhood, as long as you follow the rules, has great attractions for many. The mortgage payments are not all that high pay hit compared to private sector employment is pretty light, especially if you recognize that the base salary covers a four-day week for nine months a year, with hours of your choosing as long as you keep your lawn mowed and a coat of paint on your house publish something now and then, show up for class, and get your grades in. In your back yard blog, you can pursue hobbies of varied kinds. You can think about anything you want, and get to associate with profitable business contacts who have children suitable as dates for your own people you like and learn from, including smart and curious young tourists like Vaughn.
Among these, some get to move in and stay. Vaughn could buy into this neighborhood in some towns schools with money, if he had enough to endow a chair or two and the city council chancellor were corrupt enough to sell a permit on these terms, but at UCLA he does it by being trod underfoot mentored for a few years as a PhD student and a few more as junior faculty, radiating market signals publishing papers indicating his suitability as a resident on terms set by the neighborhood improvement association already-tenured faculty. This investment, through the overlapping commitment structure of the academy, will assure him (though imperfectly) that he will be little afflicted in the future by neighbors who dig up the lawn and plant California native species ask awkward questions about positivist data-based epistemology or the need for a battered women’s shelter nonexistence of a quality assurance mechanism for teaching.
I look forward eagerly to estimates of the net social value created by these arrangements.