Fine Distinctions

PRESIDENT BOK offered Arnold C. Harberger the top position at the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) without consulting HIID's Faculty Council, much less warning them that he was going to make the offer. The HIID charter explicitly states that "Corporation appointments in the Institute shall be within the purview of the Council."

If Bok had not acted with such haste, if he had talked to professors who were knowledgeable about Latin America and Harberger's role there, perhaps he would never have offered the post in the first place. He would have discovered that many faculty members here who study development will have nothing to do with HIID if Harberger becomes director. And he might have found out that Harberger has indeed consulted for the Chilean government.

Harberger admitted last week that he had been a paid consultant to Chile's government-owned electric company. Earlier, he had told a Crimson reporter he had not consulted for the government of Chile since 1969.

Harberger claims to make a semantic distinction between consulting for a government and for a government-owned company, but surely he must be aware that most people would not. In not owning up to this fact from the start, Harberger has put Harvard administrators--including Bok and HIID's current director, Lester Gordon, who had categorically stated Harberger never consulted for the Pinochet regime--in a difficult position.

Harberger was either stretching the truth, or he really believes in this preposterous distinction. We're not sure which would be worse. Bok ought to withdraw Harberger's nomination, and if he fails to do so, Harberger should recognize his own incompatibility with HIID's broad approach to development and decline the position.