Avoiding Responsibility in the '80s

Cracker Crumbs

MORE PEOPLE are running away from the Presidency than running for it. Mario Cuomo, Sam Nunn, and Howard Baker have all decided not to go for it, even though each of them might have been a strong candidate in a wide-open race.

Either politicians are losing their ambition or they are playing politics. Anyone who know a Gov jock knows the answer.

Cuomo, Nunn, and Baker all have as good a chance as anyone. Some would say the senator from Georgia has a better one because the Democrat's nominee will probably be chosen on Super Tuesday in the South, and Nunn would be a shoe-in there running against Gary Hart or Mike Dukakis.

Nobody knows what was going on in their minds when they decided not to run, but a good guess is that they didn't want the job.

Who would want to take responsibility for a country 2,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt which has exported most of its industrial base, leaving itself with a work-force of hamburger flippers and lawyers?

The next time economic expectations shift, whoever is in the White House is going to get an ugly suprise. Cuomo, Nunn, and Baker are smart enough not to avoid the lemmings' stampede toward the White House.

SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, the law school made a new offer to its students. Any student who takes a public service job for less than $29,000 a year will pay a percentage of his income toward his debt for ten years, and the law schol will write off the rest.

The law school has the right idea--from each according to his means. But the right idea should apply not only to the public service types, but to the pre-rich set as well, and not only at the Law School but at all the professional schools.

Such a system--where everyone pays a percentage of his income to the professional school which trained him--would be much more fair than the current one. The cost of a credential should reflect its market value. Why should Harvard subsidize yuppies? If the University received what its products were worth, it could afford to give more scholarships, transfer more money to the schools that are usually slighted, such as the Divinity School or the Education School, and raise the salaries of junior faculty.

And the quality of students would not suffer precisely because the degree would still be so valuable. If anything, people who were interested in the subject itself rather that in just making a fortune would beat down the doors of the admissions offices.

THE CORE doesn't work.

It is supposed to teach approaches to different fields of knowledge. Instead, however, students say Core classes are basically intro-level department courses, and bad ones at that.

But just because the Core is a failure, however, does not mean that its goal is an impossible one. Teaching approaches might be the success that the architects of the Core thought it would, if anyone only teach approaches.

But nobody does. Instead professors teach Core courses the way their professors taught intro-courses. Nobody knows whether teaching approaches to non-concentrators makes sense because nobody has done it.

For this reason some people think teaching approaches is absurd. They are wrong. Professors at the Business School teach approaches to problems in business, not solutions.

If professors in the college can learn from their colleagues across the river, the Core may prove successful. If not, Harvard would be better off without it. Administrators who want to see the Core succeed have their work cut out for them, making sure professors learn to teach.