[Slate] Humphrey-Hawkins achieved, and Princeton Primer

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Thu, 7 Jan 1999 10:43:06 -0800

Chatterbox is a daily bit diary from Slate of varying insught. These
two notices from last year caught my eye. The first one, because I'd
never known how much people bothered fulminating against the H-H
platitudes -- much less that we just achieved it. It's on a par with
the Alice-in-Wonderland effect that the US and Japanese unemployment
rates are now equal, and crossing. Go back fifteen years and try to
convince *anyone* we'd have less unemployment that Japan! (of course,
if you could, buy a put option on the Nikkei instead :-)

The second is for the diva... :-)

(who, as an economist, kind of likes the thought of ticker-tape
parades and beautiful osculants :-)


Finally! Economic Nirvana
Posted Sunday, Nov. 29, 1998, at 12:07 p.m. PT
Where are the ticker-tape parades, the patriotic speeches, the
red-white-and-blue fireworks, and the photographs of beautiful women
embracing exuberant economists in Times Square? It was bad enough
that the tongue-tied Bush administration failed to celebrate the end
of the Cold War. But Chatterbox is baffled by the near silence that
has accompanied the achievement of domestic paradise. Only a stray
item in Friday's Wall Street Journal notes that after 20 years
America has finally achieved the pie-in-the-sky economic goals
mandated by the Humphrey-Hawkins bill.
It wasn't too long ago that Humphrey-Hawkins was a synonym for
mushy-headed, ignorant-of-economic-laws liberalism. Passed in 1978,
as a memorial tribute to the liberal icon whom Jimmy Carter once
called "Hubert Horatio Hornblower," Humphrey-Hawkins decreed that the
goal of economic policy was full employment (defined as a 4-percent
jobless rate), a balanced budget, and minimal inflation. Like so many
feel-good congressional resolutions, Humphrey-Hawkins had everything
but a trigger mechanism. Long before Carter left office, he was fast
retreating from this Pollyannaish policy mandate. Carter's 1981
budget, written at a time of 6.2 percent joblessness and 13.3 percent
inflation, pushed the targets back to 1985 for full employment and
1988 for stable prices.
But even though it was toothless, Humphrey-Hawkins inspired splenetic
Republican attacks. Ronald Reagan called it "a design for fascism."
Orrin Hatch led an unsuccessful Senate filibuster against the bill.
Business Week editorialized that the legislation, so watered down
that even the AFL-CIO turned against it, still carried with it "the
danger of leading people to expect more from government than
government can deliver."
Chatterbox, who back in those days was a speechwriter for Labor
Secretary Ray Marshall, recalls the derision that accompanied the
symbolic platitudes of Humphrey-Hawkins. Among administration
policy-makers, Marshall was virtually alone in his belief that full
employment was attainable somewhere in the distant future. Twenty
years later, Marshall, along with House sponsor Augustus Hawkins, can
take belated comfort in the knowledge that they were right.
-Walter Shapiro

Princeton Made Easy
Posted Monday, Nov. 30, 1998, at 3:25 p.m. PT
Chatterbox has received a couple of e-mails pointing out that Albert
Einstein never taught at Princeton University; he lived in Princeton,
and worked in Princeton, but not at the university; rather, at the
Institute for Advanced Study, which is not affiliated in any way with
Princeton University. Close readers of this column will observe that
Chatterbox never said Einstein taught at Princeton University. But
Chatterbox will plead guilty to using the word "Princeton" sometimes
to denote the university and sometimes to denote the place (though as
you'll see, even that gets pretty complicated pretty fast). Herewith,
a primer on the various meanings of "Princeton," offered in the hope
that Chatterbox will never have to discuss this again:
Princeton University is a university, founded in Elizabeth, N.J. by
Presbyterians in 1747 as the College of New Jersey. It was quickly
relocated to Newark and finally to Princeton Borough in 1756, and was
renamed Princeton University in 1896. Tiny, historic Princeton
Borough (1.76 square miles; pop. 12,016), where most of the
university remains today, is rimmed by the larger, more rural and
exurban Princeton Township (16.25 square miles; pop. 13,198). These
are two separate municipal entities, governed by two different
mayors. (A few years back, Princeton Borough's mayor was Barbara
Boggs Sigmund, sister to Cokie Roberts and lobbyist Tommy Boggs, and
daughter to former Louisiana Reps. Hale and Lindy Boggs.) Princeton
Borough and Princeton Township share some functions, such as
overseeing schools and parks and a public library, and every 10 years
or so the two governments try to merge, which would seem to make a
lot of sense. But it's always voted down. If you take the Amtrak to
"Princeton" it will drop you in Princeton Junction, which isn't a
city at all, but rather a post office address within West Windsor
Township. You can take a "dinky" (i.e., little train) from Princeton
Junction to Princeton Borough, passing through Princeton Township on
the way. Or you can drive. If you take the Princeton exit off I-95,
which is badly marked, you will find yourself almost immediately
driving past an enormous gated campus with spectacular rolling greens
and Gothic spires and you'll think, "Ah, Princeton." In fact, though,
that's Lawrenceville School, located in the town of Lawrenceville. It
is the prep school that the fictional Dink Stover attended before he
went to Yale. Princeton University is about five miles further up the
The Institute for Advanced Study is, if you are an academic, the
closest thing to heaven on this sorry dirt pile we call planet earth.
That's because the professors there don't have to do anything but
think (though, according to the Institute's web page, many teach "pro
bono" at Princeton University). The Institute was founded in 1930 by
Louis Bamberger, the department store magnate. It is located in
Princeton Township, on a gorgeous campus that includes 500 acres of
woods. The public is allowed to visit the Institute Woods, but is not
permitted to poke its nose into Einstein's former office, which is
still in use (not by Einstein, of course).
The most powerful educational institution bearing a Princeton address
is neither the Institute nor Princeton University. It's the nonprofit
Educational Testing Service, which is actually located in
Lawrenceville. These are the people who develop and administer the
SAT and Advanced Placement tests. Among their corporate nemeses is
the Princeton Review, which tutors kids in order to boost their SAT
scores. The Princeton Review is not headquartered in Princeton
Borough, Township, or Junction. It was started up in a New York City
apartment in 1981.
-Timothy Noah