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Argentinean University: Austrian Economists Need Not Apply

(Belen Marty)  Austrian economist Pablo Guido has been denied a permanent teaching position at Argentina’s National University of Comahue, despite having more academic experience than other candidates for the job.

On March 4, the university’s headquarters in Neuquén opened an application and interview process to select a full professor in economics. Four candidates threw their hat in the ring, including the course’s current adjunct teacher.

Guido possesses a dual degree in economics and political science from Universidad del Salvador (USAL) in Buenos Aires, an MBA from Institute Eseade, and a PhD in economics from the prestigious King Juan Carlos University in Spain.

He is a professor of public finance, Argentinean economic policy, and economics at Argentina’s Catholic University, and professor of advanced economics at Eseade. He also teaches at Francisco Marroquín University’s Business School in Guatemala.

Despite this impressive academic record, the selection jury awarded Vladimir Cares the position, a petroleum engineer with no formal training in the course subject.

After Guido expressed his disagreement with the decision, Cares said that had the professorship been awarded to the Austrian economist, he would have “repeated the word ‘freedom’ ad nauseam.”

Both professors wrote letters to the local Argentinean newspaper Río Negro. Guido complained that Cares not only has no formal training in the course he is to teach but no university-level teaching experience or published work in economics whatsoever.

“Any of the three losing candidates are better qualified than the winning one, be it in economic training or teaching related courses,” Guido wrote in his letter.

Ideology as Selection Criterion

On March 12, Guido formally appealed the decision before the University Advisory Council, but the body unanimously sided with the jury.

“What is the criteria for selecting professors at the University of Comahue? Is it an academic one, or something else I cannot elucidate or understand? How can it be that two economists on the jury choose someone with no formal training or teaching experience in the subject? How is it possible that the candidate who at first glance must have been placed at the bottom rose to the top?” Guido asked.

Cares responded to Guido’s accusations in his letter, protesting that the economist “reduces the whole problem to a matter of knowledge in the subject.” He also questioned Guido’s respect for human rights, since he is “a true follower of the so-called Austrian school of economics, with his incensed defense of free markets.”

Cares added that advocates of the Austrian school possess a “cold, confusing, sacred, and dangerous definition of freedom.” He says Guido’s “neoliberal” training has been marked by names such as Friedrich Hayek and higher-learning institutions such as Eseade and Francisco Marroquin, which he alleges have “strong ties with the [Washington-based] Cato Institute, a US think-tank involved with the ultra right-wing Tea Party movement.”

“[Those institutions] do not guarantee diverse academic merits, on the contrary, they are places where the neoliberal political intellectual cadre receive training,” he said.

“I did not know that holding certain ideas that are neither Communist nor Nazi could disqualify someone from a university,” Guido said during a televised interview. He responded sarcastically to Cares’s accusations, saying the newly appointed professor must believe being a classical liberal means being “to the right of the devil, because apparently you have no moral rectitude or respect for human rights.”economics2

Guido pointed out that the university’s statutes declare the institution “open on matters of political and religious ideology.”

“I wonder whether that person [Cares] who made his entire career inside this university is respecting those principles,” Guido questioned.  “Progress in the sciences comes from debate and diversity; without diversity, there can be no debate,” he concluded.