Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein. What Happens Next is a podcast which covers economics, finance, politics, and sports.
The today’s topic is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bureaucracy under attack.
The first speaker will be Jay Greene from the Heritage Foundation who will discuss Florida Governor’s challenge to the DEI bureaucracy in Florida’s public universities. Jay and I were high school debate partners at New Trier in Winnetka, Illinois and are still very close friends.
Our second speaker will be Dr. Stanley Goldfarb who runs a not for profit called Do No Harm. Stanley is the former Associate Dean at the UPenn Medical School and the author of Take 2 Aspirin and Call me by my Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors into Social Justice Warriors is Destroying American Medicine. Stanley will discuss how DEI is harming medical schools’ curriculum and medical care.
There is much to cover so buckle up.
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Let’s begin with Jay Greene.
Topic: DEI bureaucracy in Florida’s public universities
Bio: Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation
Thanks for having me on the show again, Larry. Today I wanna talk about political courage and how important that is in containing what's called wokeness or political correctness, which we might understand as a set of political beliefs that that are not actually widely shared, but are expected of people if they wish to be thought of well. The problem with wokeness or political correctness is not an intellectual problem. It's not proving that these things are bad. People know they're bad. The problem is having the courage to stand up to them. The interesting thing that Governor Ron DeSantis is doing as a political entrepreneur, is that he's demonstrating that it's possible to stand up to wokeness or political correctness, and not to be punished for it but instead to be rewarded.
And doing so is inspiring similar courage in the leaders of other politicians, as well as in regular people in their various walks of life. So what in particular is Governor DeSantis doing? He is standing up most recently to diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies in higher education, or DEI bureaucracies. And it's important to note that DEI bureaucracies are not faculty, they're staff. These are units that are there to articulate and enforce an ideological orthodoxy on campus. The positive way of framing what they do is that they're there to welcome students from diverse backgrounds and to help develop the dispositions that would make those diverse groups feel included on campus. But a different way of framing that is that they're there to impose an approved political orthodoxy on divisive issues.
DeSantis is showing that he can reduce them to a great degree. He's doing that in a number of ways. First, he's ordering the universities to stop any discriminatory practice, which many of these bureaucracies are engaged in. He is also getting legislative to defund these bureaucracies–that is simply eliminate those positions and those units on campus. And he is also taking away one of their main tools, which are diversity statements that are used in hiring, promotion, and tenure on campus. And these are essentially statements of religious faith in the wokeness of the DEI bureaucracy. So he's taking all of these steps and people are amazed that he's doing that.
The only enthusiastic supporters of the DEI bureaucracy on campus are the people in the DEI bureaucracies and a relatively fringe group of students who are mobilized by DEI bureaucracies periodically to menace anyone on campus who deviates from their orthodoxy. But the vast majority of faculty, including left-leaning faculty, don't really like these DEI bureaucracies. First, they don't particularly care for bureaucracy, but second, they don't like being told what they can and can't teach. Even if they're highly sympathetic to the goals of DEI bureaucracies, they still don't like the control.
Administrators outside of the DEI bureaucracy also don't like it. They endorse it, but they don't like it. The reason why they endorse it is because they think doing so helps them move into a higher position or to a higher status in the university. But they don't have any deep commitments to these things. We should think of university administrators as comparable to East German bureaucrats. That is they talk about communist revolution, but they are mostly driven by ambition as opposed to scholarly accomplishment. Students and their families don't care for DEI bureaucracies. None of them like to live in fear that they're going to say the wrong thing or be punished. DeSantis is discovering to many people's surprise that not only can you stand up to DEI bureaucracies, but you can find a lot of surprising allies or a lot less resistance than people would've expected.
And so, he's succeeding in this effort to a remarkable degree, and that is why his courage is being emulated by leaders in other states, Texas is already moving forward with similar measures, with similar rate of rapid success. It's like Reagan standing before the Berlin Wall saying, tear it down. At the time it seemed crazy, but in a few years that wall was gone. And everyone at that time thought, why didn't someone say this earlier? That's what we're gonna say about the political courage that DeSantis is showing here.
Full transcript coming soon.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb
Topic: A judge’s perspective on juries
Bio: Former Associate Dean at the UPenn Medical School, Board Chair at Do No Harm
Reading: Take Two Aspirin and Call Me By My Pronouns is here
Well, it's very nice to be here with you, Larry. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to talk about my book and the work we're doing at, at Do No Harm. My book is called Take Two Aspirins and Call Me By My Pronouns. And it derives from an article that I wrote in the Wall Street Journal back in 2019. The reason I wrote that article was because I was finishing my time at the University of Pennsylvania, where I had a long academic career, and I was associate Dean of curriculum, and I had become increasingly frustrated and concerned about the direction of medical education, a new Vice dean for medical education. My boss was hired, and after 13 years of, I thought, being pretty successful in that role, having a school that had risen to the number one ranking in American medical schools, she decided that we needed to inject much more of issues related to social factors into medical education, that we needed to turn our students into advocates for various social causes.
And it turns out that this was a trend that was occurring throughout medical education in the United States. I became quite concerned about this and eventually expressed my concerns to her. She even told me one day that there was much too much science in the medical school curriculum, and that we needed to inject much more about the problems that people in the community were facing. Poor housing, gun violence, uh, poor nutrition, and so on. In response to this, it became clear to me that, that we needed to change things. And another factor that prompted me in that direction was that many other medical schools were taking on these issues. Then I noticed that in the Wall Street Journal, there was an article advocating for medical schools teaching about climate change.
That's what drove me finally to write my article. My article was entitled, Take Two Aspirins and Call Me By My Pronouns. And it produced a tremendous backlash in medicine and medical education to the point where two days after they published my op-ed, the Wall Street Journal had an editorial pointing out that I was probably right because the response to my op-ed was so intense that it clearly suggested that I had hit a nerve. So, I wrote the book in response to expand on some of these issues.
I focused on three issues in my book. One is the concerns I had turning the medical school curriculum into one on social factors and social issues. The reason I was concerned so much about that is it's not that those issues aren't important, but that I saw that physicians really had no agency in fixing housing or availability of healthy foods or gun violence in the community.
There was needed to be a strong focus on science. And science was exploding in medical care and leading to the opportunity for great improvements in medical care. The second issue that I focused on in the book was the end of meritocracy in medicine and in medical education, the focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which has become sort of a catchword for what really is the introduction of critical race theory into medical education and into healthcare as a whole, I thought was just bound to produce a less qualified healthcare workforce and would take focus away from medical education and in the acceptance of students from medical school. Intellectual quality and academic achievement had always been the most important factors. And this was becoming downgraded with the goal of creating a much more diverse healthcare workforce.
And, the false premise that we can discuss, which is that there needs to be racial concordance between patients and physicians to have optimum healthcare, and that more minority physicians need to be trained in order to achieve that. And the final issue that I confronted in the book is a real decline in the quality of the medical school education as many students were passing through medical school who I felt really weren't qualified to finish medical school and to go on to become practicing physicians.
All of those factors drove me to write the book and to focus on those issues in the book. And after the book was finished, we started an organization called Do No Harm, which is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to expand on these issues and see how we can improve things. And let me just finish up by saying, I think there's very good evidence that black patients generally have a great deal of health care disparities in terms of outcome compared to white patients. And I think that this needs to be improved. And one of my concerns that we'll get to a faulty diagnosis because it's been blamed on bias and prejudice on the part of the healthcare system, rather than the real problem, which is proper access to the healthcare system.
The problem that will solve the issue that will solve the disparities in healthcare is more healthcare for black patients, not a fundamental transformation of current healthcare.
Full transcript coming soon.