"Moral hazard": the notion that people take excessive risk if they know they will be bailed out. Think Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, banks, S&L's (1980s), and the housing industry.
"Too-big-to-fail" principle: hence, the first in line for bailout money are the titans of finance (Citigroup, AIG) or the "Big Three" (not so big any more). Is this moral? Pundits are embroiled in debates over this very question.
This crisis is no different when it comes to economics or academic freedom. That brings us to the concept of
"Crossover sanctions": "force the implementation of federal requirements in one area or the states risk losing money in another, similar area. For instance, states may lose highway grants if they failed to follow certain health or safety requirements imposed by the federal government."
Some well-known crossover sanctions include the federal requirement that all states lower their maximum speed limit to 55 (since repealed) or raise the drinking age to 21. Crossover sanctions grew enormously from the 1970s onward, as Congress discovered the splendid power of "attaching strings" to federal aid. This has worked a quiet revolution in the relationship between the federal and state governments. "He who pays the bills calls the tunes."
So, what does this have to do with higher education? A lot.
The latest stimulus act, with billions for higher education, has come with some "crossover sanctions." One of the issues was whether the money violated the religious freedom of students on campuses. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)introduced an amendment "to allow the free exercise of religion at institutions of higher education that receive funding. . . ."
DeMint was responding to the following section of the act (the Demint amendment failed on a 43-54 roll call vote):
(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for—(A) the maintenance of systems, equipment, or facilities, including maintenance associated with any permissible uses of funds described in paragraph (1); (B) modernization, renovation, or repair of stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other events for which admission is charged to the general public; (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities— (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or (D) construction of new facilities.The usual suspects roared forth with the usual vitriol: The Right claimed that godless liberals and the ACLU were trying to scrub religion from the public square. The Left shouted back that the conservatives were a bunch of know-nothing theocrats.
The civil liberties group FIRE took a middle-of-the-road stance: Detailing concerns with the vague language, while urging a simple amendment--one that apparently was too "controversial" for passage.
The truth is state universities don't need this current law to restrict religious expression on campus. In fact, they have already found ways to punish, reprimand, and "decertify" Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups on campus.
That is a story for my next post.