The Life of Affluence

Yesterday the Department of Justice brought suit against a number of well known actors and actresses as well as wealthy business titans over a college admissions scandal.  In short, these people paid an intermediary by the name of William Singer to bribe college admission test supervisors to have others sit for the test instead of the children of the accusers.  In other cases, he bribed college sports coaches to recruit the individuals to their team, with no intention of ever playing on the team, for a bribe.  The "student" would be given a scholarship to play on the team.  In the US, grades and test scores really don't matter if a person has athletic talent (and that's another thread). Some of the coaches used the money towards the team while others simply pocketed the cash.  This sham involved what are "respected high end colleges."

 

In other words, the children of these wealthy and powerful people would not have had the grades or SAT scores to get into such institutions.  So instead their parents bribed their way in.  

 

These kids didn't spend hours upon hours of agonizing studying and prepping.  Or hours sweating like a horse on a playing field honing their skills enough to be awarded a sports scholarship to a prestigious school.  No, Mommy and Daddy took care of things.

 

What lessons did these kids take away?  If you are born of affluence and wealth you are above all what most people must endure.  Let the middle class and upper middle class kids spends hours a night studying as well as maybe hours a day on a playing field.  We can continue to party, socialize, post pictures of ourselves on social media, drive our parents bought for us $70,000 automobiles without a care in the world. Harvard, Yale, Princeton we're get in. Not only that when we get to college our wonderful party life will continue.  No one will dare give us failing grades.  Mommy and Daddy will see to that.  After all, it's all about people like us.  We will never be subject to the same rules as the "nobodies."

 

One day when these kids through connections, privilege and influence get jobs of importance in business and government how do you think they're view their workers or constituents?  I think we have our answer.  So when they make $25 million a year as a 30 year old CEO while a slew of people working in that same company are making $10 an hour do you think they might see a moral and ethical problem with that?  Doubtful.  When they tell their potential voters all the wonderful things they plan to do for them but do only the bidding of their fellow powerful and like minded friends should we be shocked?

 

I hear quite a lot, particularly here on WB, how the rich work so hard for their fortunes and we the peasants just don't have the right stuff to make it into their league.  Maybe we (at least I) didn't have parents that would find a way to bribe me into success while I lived the trust fund baby life.

 

While this investigation started before Trump I'm thrilled he did not try to shut it down.  He may have had a personal relationship with some of the accusers, including Singer (who is from Florida).  Just once it feels good that fame, money, and power didn't buy justice. To those young people, they should be flocked of their degrees.  Their employers should fire them for a forging a degree.  Maybe seeing Mommy and Daddy going to jail, even if a cozy white collar jail for a short duration (think Martha Stewart) might wake them out of their privileged stupor.  Breaking the bonds of poverty is a good thing.  And so is breaking the bounds of assumed and given success.

Comments

The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 13, 2019 - 3:49pm
George - wonder how many of these were "people of color"? Smells a lot like that "white privilege" all these celebutards are always chiding us for. Don't you feel privileged?
Dino Manalis Added Mar 13, 2019 - 4:45pm
 They should stop cheating and work their way up, like everyone else!
Rusty Smith Added Mar 13, 2019 - 6:21pm
Does anyone think this is new?  I sure don't... the rich have always paved their kids way into the collegest they thought were desirable, with lots of GREEN.  Smart private schools play the game because it's usually the richer families that donate tons of money to their kids schools, and you can't get those donations if you don't let their spoiled brat into the school to begin with.
 
Is that horrible, well I guess that depends on what they do with the "BRIBE".  If I bribed officials to let me enter a pig in a beauty contest she'd certainly be able to say she was in the contest, but she'd never win.  If those kids didn't have the grades to get in they don't stand any more chance of doing well in the classes and getting a meaningful degree than minority kids who are accepted with the same GPA.  
 
Would it be so bad if the school ends up accepting a flunkie in trade for enough money for them to sponsor a few dozen minority students?  Would it be better if the rich kids flunkie and the minorities he family would have sponsored all stay home?
 
If the school doesn't accept the half a million dollar bribe and the kid inherits that money, is everyone better off?
 
In this case the only party really entitled to be pissed because they were cheated are the schools because the bribes didn't go into their general funds.  However I have little doubt that once the kids are in the school the school does hope to get donations from their families, directly into school funding or projects.
Bill H. Added Mar 13, 2019 - 9:48pm
 
I'm certainly happy this situation was exposed. I suspect it is occurring in many different ways, and more often then we think.
It is at least a small step in the right direction.
The Owl Added Mar 13, 2019 - 10:14pm
This was happening when I went off to college in 1961.
 
 
And everyone knew it!
George N Romey Added Mar 14, 2019 - 7:26am
First this isn't a race thing.  In fact there were a number of rich Latino people involved.  This has nothing to do with so called "white" privilege or alleged "black privilege" but "privilege" period.
 
Yes, the rich have always had their way paved to a certain extent but it's gotten far worse.  Today they do what they do without impunity and their children are taught they are above everyone else.
 
I think that 50-60 years ago the rich had a fear of the middle class.  That if the rich went to far or tried to wipe out the middle class the middle class would come with pitchforks.  What changed?  In part right here, college.  Notice how the elites for years have talked college, college, college for everyone!
 
So most young people for years assumed their degree in Women's Studies or Political History would vault them into the lives of the rich and famous.  For a rather short time after WW2, about 20-25 years, it did because college degrees were more rare and became the "thing" employers wanted.
 
Then suddenly we have 25%+ of the population with a college degree and those degrees no longer have much clout.  But the narrative doesn't change.  So college becomes more expensive yet the "youngins" go marching off granted every year through the magic of student loans and easy to get credit cards.  Today many of those graduates have mediocre jobs while being crushed by all the debt undertaken to get a rather worthless piece of paper.  And yet the elites, particularly in the Democratic Party, scream "college" and we might even make it free now.
Spartacus Added Mar 14, 2019 - 10:57am
This is like the #meetoo movement of Hollywood's casting couches.  Been going on for decades and everyone knew it.  And for some reason, it was ok then but not now.
Rusty Smith Added Mar 14, 2019 - 11:57am
Mogg Tsur  how am I naive?  I came right out and said that it's been going on forever and the only real issue here is that the bribe money wasn't going in the college general fund.
 
This is no different than the very accepted institution and practices colleges use to recruit athletes who if not for their athletic abilities could never get in a college.  Even many publicly funded colleges find creative ways to give athletes who are stupid as rocks but athletic superstars full ride scholarships.  
 
Of course we all know they do that because sports like Football make money for the schools, even for public schools.  So lets be honest in an attempt to supplement their budgets, many schools have always found ways to recruit and admit students who are likely to boost their school's budget.  Now on to those rich kids.
 
Oh yea, if you want big donations to your school, admitting rich kids is the easiest way to make that happen.  It's the rich families, not the poor ones, that make huge donations to the colleges.  Lots of the frivolous things colleges have, come from rich kids families and everyone who attends the colleges, including dirt poor minority students who practically don't even pay tuition, all benefit from them.
 
My local college has a huge state of the art theater which is actually BETTER than any other theater in this part of the country. It was paid for and built with private donations.  It uses millions of dollars worth of adjustable acoustical panels to morph itself into the perfect acoustical properties needed for different types of theater productions from single presenter to full orchestra.  
 
As I said before the only issue I have is that the money didn't go into the general funds, it went into private pockets.  In any other industry that would get people fired and in this situation I might expect to see the kids kicked out and the people who accepted huge bribes prosecuted for tax evasion.  
 
Our college admission system is already grossly unfair. A few years ago the tuition at Harvard ranged from $7,000 to $85,000 a year, I know people who got admitted at both ends.  The $7K was a Hispanic kid whos dad didn't work, and he was given a job that he joked he hardly ever had to actually do, so they could pay him while he was there.  The $85K was a White straight A student who had the highest grade point average in his High School.  His family has lots of money so he didn't qualify for any tuition discount.  
 
I believe the true cost of college is more like $40K, and the rich overpay so the poor can  be supplemented.  You can't fill a college with poor kids who only have to pay $7K because the college can't operate in the red, YOU NEED RICH KIDS TOO because they supply the extra money needed to pay for the difference and donations from the rich kids families are also needed if we want to keep giving poor and disadvantaged kids low cost educational opportunities.
 
What went on was not done in a Kosher way, but it's necessary in some form if you want to supplement educations for poor kids.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 14, 2019 - 12:05pm
I did not mean to imply that it is a racial thing. I meant only to point out the hypocrisy of these people. Seems to me they are exploiting (or trying to) some privilege of their own, the very thing that so many of them are very quick to project upon others
Jim Stoner Added Mar 14, 2019 - 5:15pm
This story is about criminal fraud, nothing more or less.  It is not particularly damning to the schools or academic testing companies, beyond their failures to properly vet people who showed they have no integrity. 
 
There is a very big problem with the "business models" of both private and public colleges and universities, which I discussed on Rusty Smith's new thread. 
 
I find myself in the rare condition of agreeing with something Mogg Tsur said, namely that private institutions may institute the criteria they want for admissions, as long as they do not violate the law.  
Jim Stoner Added Mar 14, 2019 - 7:22pm
Mogg, 
Your timing is bad--March Madness will soon be upon us!  And I am from Kentucky.   Lalalalalala
Cullen Writes Added Mar 14, 2019 - 9:07pm
George raises an interesting point. It's less of a problem that spoiled, not particularly bright, rich kids cheat their way into prestigious institutions.. 
 
The real problem is when they get out into society and the poor saps who will be working for folks like them.
 
Faintly reminds of the British in World War I with their generals all being idiot aristocrats who went to Eden college who didn't belong anywhere near a canon, ordering wave after wave of charging men to their deaths (for years!) before America came into the war with professional commanders like a young Patton who had worked their way into positions based on merit. (The British scarcely won a single battle during the  first World War despite being imminently more powerful than the Germans.) 
George N Romey Added Mar 15, 2019 - 7:58am
If we wonder why the middle class is disappearing we have our answers. The men of my father's age that made it into the upper class grew up in the Depression era.  My father by all means became part of the 1960s and 1970s growing upper middle class.  But that man never forgot a dollar.  While often stingy to his own family he constantly would do little things like unceremoniously giving money to poor people he would see in the street.  My mother used to get really upset when he would do it.
 
Today the upper class doesn't seem to even know or care a middle class exists, let alone that its falling apart.  Moreover, many of the upper class have real contempt for the middle class, particularly those in fly over country.  The election of 2016 was proof positive.  HRC had zero intention of every reaching those people other than throwing them a few pre written lines handed to her to make in a speech.
 
The newest generation is being taught that only their genre matters.  And the rules of society rarely will apply to them.
George N Romey Added Mar 15, 2019 - 9:56am
I've been around the .01%.  Most of them were hard core HRC supporters.  I can assure you while some of them are very down to Earth and a few are very concerned about the plight of the middle class most are too engaged with their trips to Ibazia, personal trainers, new decorators, $12 drinks, share in the Hamptons/Fire Island to even notice a middle class exist.  Some of those have a hate of the middle class. They assume all are Archie and Edith Bunker.  
FacePalm Added Mar 15, 2019 - 4:41pm
George-
To be fair, i'll ask you a similar question as just asked of John Minehan:
 
What justice will be given to those who DID the studying, who practiced at their sport, who were supplanted by the spawn of these snot-nosed self-styled wealthy "elites"?
 
Will they get accepted, now?  Will some of the bribe money go to give them scholarships?
 
What will be the justice delivered to those cheated out of spots by these wealthy pricks and bitches?
George N Romey Added Mar 15, 2019 - 5:31pm
You've never been among them.  I have. As I said some of the .01% are kind and very generous.  Many and their families were overly kind and generous to me.  And some were pompous asses thinking anyone in fly over country deserving of a shitty job, marriage, kids, house and life in general.  Really, get real.
 
FP probably not but those that got the free ride are now known as such.  Sometimes justice is only partially fair.
Rusty Smith Added Mar 15, 2019 - 6:36pm
Mogg Tsur  pray tell how you think the public colleges are going to subsidize as many " economically challenged candidates" as they do now if they have to pay for all the stuff rich families pay for now?
 
The colleges all have budgets that cover everything from construction and maintenance to pay for professors and that money all comes from one big general fund fed by tuitions, federal money, state money, and contributions beyond tuition costs from the families of rich students and alumni.  If you remove most of the money from rich families the other sources will not increase to fill the gap unless of course you are proposing raising the already very high tuition costs.
 
I suspect without contributions from the rich most public colleges would either raise everyone's tuition, or stop subsidizing as many economically challenged candidates.  Would that make you feel better?
FacePalm Added Mar 15, 2019 - 7:28pm
George-
You've never been among them.  I have.
Among whom?  Wealthy people?  i happen to know 4 millionaires personally...and you know what "assuming" does.
 
As I said some of the .01% are kind and very generous.  Many and their families were overly kind and generous to me.  And some were pompous asses thinking anyone in fly over country deserving of a shitty job, marriage, kids, house and life in general.  Really, get real.
Ok, but how does any of the foregoing address my pointed question about what kind of justice those who were denied access are going to get, and how?  Or is it that you think these people who were cheated are  "deserving of a shitty job, marriage, kids, house, and life in general."
 
If so, it's YOU need to "get real," and answer the questions honestly.
wsucram15 Added Mar 15, 2019 - 9:10pm
Now George..I have three Uncles and they are very wealthy. One bought property in the middle of nowhere and somehow built a golf course. (they used to play large tournaments there). Also he invested with  my Grandfather in his sons company before the stock split. They used to talk about that a lot.   He is actually my mothers Uncle and 3 generations later, they are still disgustingly well off.  They  still own  his horses and I think I told you about that.
 
My other two Uncles are on my fathers side, one is an attorney...that my father worked and help put through law school at University of Maryland.  He built his own practice from scratch and is now a multi-millionaire.  Thats the one that pressured me to go back to school.
 
The other was married to my Aunt Mary and he is a plastic surgeon outside of hollywood. I dont know if he is famous or anything but you should see his house outside of Beverly Hills in a gated community.   He wasnt rich when he started either.  He worked for what he had.
 
 
My Grandmothers cousin was a Congressman for 20+ years.
 
HOWEVER>>> NONE of my cousins or relatives alive can say the same.  They were born into that and things were expected of them that were not expected of you and I. Sometimes, they werent allowed to do things we could in order to keep up the family name.  That was a big deal in parts of my family.
 
As generations went on though, kids had it easier and easier so that now..they just buy a position.  Why not arent they entitled?
Its the times, coupled with the money. 
Greed is and always will be at the center of all things bad.
 
Doug Plumb Added Mar 16, 2019 - 7:04am
I think there will be digital universities in the future and people will pay to write exams only. The degree granted from a specific school will reflect the standards of that school and nothing more. So you just pay maybe $2000.00 a year to write the exams after buying the books and watching the lectures on youtube. Youtube is going to totally undermine the current post secondary education model. The MIT OCW system is undermining the current model. I'm not sure if you can get your degree from it or not, but I use it exclusively and they are great teachers.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 16, 2019 - 7:04am
The lesson? Work hard, sacrifice, develop skills and acquire knowledge. The reward? Someone who can bribe their way in, without hard work or sacrifice, with less skills, less knowledge, gets the rewards, which with college background, become even more. What was all that work for? I have no idea.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:50am
This has been going on for a while. Back in the 60's Kaplan (of Kaplan college) invited students to parties with a requirement that each bring the correct answer to an SAT question. Here is a quote:
"In the days when the blueprint for building the atomic bomb was an open secret compared to the questions on the SAT test, Kaplan came up with a simple but ingenious way to subvert the system. After each class graduated from Kaplan’s school and took the test, he would invite them back to celebrate with hot dogs and root beer; admission to the party was gained by having each student tell Kaplan one question he remembered from taking the test. The net result of Kaplan’s parties was a list of the questions that his students would face when taking the SATs."   
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:51am
oops. Left out the most important:
"If Kaplan tutored five classes of fifty students in one year, at the end of that year he had 250 questions. By the time Kaplan sold his test-prep business to the Washington Post company in the ‘70s, for $50 million he had over 30 years experience in gathering questions, which meant he could tell his students with increasing accuracy the answers to those questions as well."
George N Romey Added Mar 16, 2019 - 10:34am
Jeanne is right about the generation thing.  As a kid I would sneak in the family room late at night to watch Johnny Carson.  He often interviewed now famous and rich people but they would often talk about growing up poor in the Great Depression.  The older ones that were working in entertainment in the 1930s would talk about how most actors in supporting roles in the movies were paid just enough by the studios to rent an apartment, have a second hand car and enjoy one night out a week. And at the time they considered themselves very lucky.  Compare that to what generations now that have only known pure affluence-like the children of these parents.
 
And look at this guy Jesse Smallette.  He was making about $2 million from a moderately successful television show.  But he wasn't happy about that.  Do you think he would have been making a comparable salary in the 1930s.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 10:56am
Jeff
The lesson? Work hard, sacrifice, develop skills and acquire knowledge. The reward? Someone who can bribe their way in, without hard work or sacrifice, with less skills, less knowledge, gets the rewards, which with college background, become even more. What was all that work for? I have no idea.
You have to ask yourself what good would cheating do if your son hasn't the intellect to be in such ivy league universities. Outside of being an excellent student, what is there to gain?
According to Coca Cola the road to success is based on this criteria. 
The most important thing is:
How you look
Second most important thing is:
Who you know
The very last is 
What you know
That means doing whatever to get connected to the rich and powerful for that is an assured path of success. 
Doug Plumb Added Mar 16, 2019 - 12:41pm
Youtube is going to eliminate the problems in the above two comments. It really is a revolution. People are making shows on youtube, they aren't quite Netflix yet in quality and story, but its just beginning.
A. Jones Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:28pm
And for some reason, it was ok then but not now.
 
Indeed.
 
Another scandal that everyone knows about but few in the media expose is grade inflation. Apparently, colleges and universities are ranked in so-called "League Tables" according to various metrics, one of which is the grade-point averages of their undergrads, which rankings qualify the school in question to receive various kinds of state and federal largesse. This creates an incentive for faculty to hand out unearned "A's" for coursework and term papers when the work might actually be far below that.
 
I remember reading an article in one of the mainstream papers (NYTimes or WSJ) several years ago stating that Princeton University was one of the worst offenders of this practice.
A. Jones Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:39pm
He was making about $2 million from a moderately successful television show. 
 
I remember watching an interview on television years ago with the great James Stewart. He stated that Sylvester Stallone had received more money for his most recent movie (at the time, Rambo, I believe) than Stewart had made in his entire career in Hollywood.
George N Romey Added Mar 17, 2019 - 5:12am
I have to laugh.  The daughter of the woman from Full House made a Youtube video before she went off to college.  In the video she claimed she didn't really want to go to college, didn't know if she'd attend class (she'd try to "work that out with the Dean") and would just party anyway.  Really, are we suppose to take "higher education" seriously.
 
So her parents are facing possible jail time and at least huge fines so their daughter could "go party."  Why didn't they just spend $10K for one hell of an underage pool party. 

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