April 18, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Poor Little Rich Man: How to become a millionaire by lamenting income inequality.

Being a “distinguished professor” of economics at the City University of New York is nice work if you can get it. “During year-one,” the boss explains in a letter to the new hire, “you will not be expected to teach or supervise students.” In subsequent years, “you will teach one seminar per year.” In addition, the boss informs the distinguished professor that he “will play a modest role in our public events” and “will be asked to contribute to the buildup” of one of the university’s programs.

The pay is $225,000 a year, plus a $10,000 expense budget–and the distinguished prof gets summers off.

Gawker.com reports that CUNY’s new distinguished professor is none other than former Enron adviser Paul Krugman. The program he’ll be helping build up in exchange for this generous compensation is the Luxembourg Income Study Center and particularly its “inequality initiative.”

Isn’t that rich?

Yes, it turns out lamenting income inequality can be quite a lucrative occupation. By comparison, Gawker notes that adjunct professors at CUNY make about $3,000 per course, or 1/75th Krugman’s rate, and undistinguished tenured professors earn a maximum of $116,364, a little over half Krugman’s salary, although presumably many of them teach a full course load. According to 2010-12 census data reported by the public radio station WNYC, the median household income in New York City is $50,711, or 22.5% of Krugman’s CUNY salary.

Love it.

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