After 21 Years of Study, UT Economics Professor Resigns Over Failure to Understand Incentives

Texas has passed a law which will allow concealed carry on campuses starting in 2016.  As a consequence, faint of heart economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh has announced that he will resign from his position at the University of Texas this fall due to safety concerns.

In his resignation letter he boasts that he has taught basic economics to over 8,000 students during his time at the University of Texas, but is now afraid that a “student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me” as a consequence of the law.  Somehow the good professor seems to believe a “Gun Free Zone” sign is a more effective deterrent to such behavior than would be the presence of other armed citizens.

I think it is fair to say that if his 8,000 students  were to come away with as poor an understanding of incentives as their professor possesses then they would all be due a refund.  This sort of emotionalism and inability to assess risk is a bad enough trait in any grown adult, but in a person whose profession is one that studies how people respond to incentives it is really little sort of disqualifying.  He certainly seems to have more to learn than he does to teach.

UT will be well shed of Professor Hamermesh, who is fleeing to Sydney Australia — where apparently no one is ever murdered and certainly not by a gun.  And the University’s reputation will only be enhanced if it seizes the opportunity to find someone more fit to take his position.  I suspect that the good professor will not be the only one to leave universities in Texas over this law and I see no way that can be seen as anything other than an unalloyed good.

His resignation letter is below the fold:

what is an incentive

Addendum:  I also checked the violent crime statistics comparing Austin and Sydney.  Austin’s is listed as half that of Sydney but with that big of a discrepancy I think it is almost a sure thing that they measure crime rates differently.  Still, if Hamermesh is seeking safety he is certainly no more likely to find it down under.  Our gain is their loss.

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