Here’s a brief reply to Eric, for closure: I completely agree with you regarding the solution to the free-market education problem. I published a couple of pieces on this topic over the last 2-3 months (one in the LA Times, one, appropriately, in Forbes), and I am now part of a project working along these lines. I don’t know whether it will succeed, but it’s clear some project along these lines will. There hasn’t been a great university founded in this country for an amazingly long time (I guess maybe Stanford and the University Chicago are the two most recent, maybe Cal Tech, but I don’t know for sure). What I do know is that the next great university will be Net-based. As you note, online education is already happening, and it’s a startling success.
[On a totally irrelevant but fascinating (to weirdos like me) topic: I think you’re also right, up to a point, about the “Ashkenazic families” vs. Jewish intellectuals in general who led the Long March to the Left. I’ve never written about the topic in part because I don’t want to give people a distorted impression. Not only were Gentiles prominent on the Left, but they were often pushed forward and became the cover boys & girls–thus, e.g., Dwight MacDonald. See Mary McCarthy’s hilarious story “Portrait of the Intellectual as Yale Man.” (Of course when she wrote it, no one knew that she was part-Jewish herself. But note also that it was startling at the time that a Yale man should be an intellectual.) It’s also true, though, that nearly all US Jews are Ashkenazic. Some turned into communists, and some turned into Robert Moses–not only a Yale man and establishment icon but also a right-wing Republican. It’s really East European Jews you mean. German Jews came earlier and were more conservative. But again, East-Euro Jews were prominent on both sides of the political spectrum. Nonetheless you are right, amd it’s a matter of history: Jews played a disproportionately prominent role in pushing American intellectuals and universities to the Left. That this never created any sort of anti-Semitic backlash (or hasn’t so far) is one of the most extraordinary, noble facts in modern American history.]