“U-M doctor overdosed on stolen drugs the same day nurse died.”

With more and more pain pill addicts out there, and with hospital personnel having greater access than most, these stories keep happening (UD has covered quite a few on this blog). It’s rare that two overdoses (a doctor and a nurse) occur at the same university on the same day, but that too will become less rare.

“Smoothness and Execution”…

… is the title of UD‘s latest article for her hometown newspaper, the Garrett Park Bugle.

“[W]e don’t say very much about greed, not comfortably at least. Perhaps that is the inevitable price of an economic system that relies on the vigor of self-interested pursuits, that it instills a kind of moral quietism in the face of avarice, for whether out of a desire to appear non-judgmental or for reasons of moral expediency, unless some action verges on the criminal, we hesitate to call it greed, much less evidence of someone greedy. We don’t deny the existence of such individuals, but like Bigfoot, they tend to be more rumored than seen.”

It is curious, this “moral quietism in the face of avarice,” and it’s curious for many reasons. (UD‘s thinking about this quietism today because Paul Krugman – see the two posts below this one – is being greedy.)

If one human being – University of Southern California trustee John Martin – happily accepts $180 million in one year’s personal compensation, American commentators might drop a dollop of rhetoric on it (“obscene”) … Our satirists (see Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities) might ridicule it in fiction … But it’s not as if anyone in a position of, say, legislative authority in the country is going to say or do anything about it. On the contrary, it’s much more likely that our elected greed-apologists (Eric Cantor, Mitt Romney, legions of others) will lustily applaud; while our unelected apologists, the most famous of which is currently Tom “Kristallnacht” Perkins, will both 1.) express outrage that anyone would express outrage over, say, nurturer-of-insider-traders and Brown University trustee Steve Cohen hoarding nine billion dollars in personal wealth, and 2.) warn that lack of moral quietism in the face of avarice is tantamount to a violent fascist revolution.

But, really, the very phrase moral quietism in the face of avarice is the problem, no? Every element of this phrase - moral, quietism, avarice – is thoroughly rejected by most Americans. There is no level of money acquisition – acquisition in comparative terms, like Krugman’s, where his salary and work load at CUNY is humiliatingly disproportional to the salary and work load of anyone else at that public institution, and acquisition in absolute terms, as in Cohen’s household billions – which could ever rise to avarice. In this country, the correct moral position to take in regard to the personal acquisition of disproportional and astronomical sums of money is admiring approval. And… quietism? John Paul Rollert is incorrect to interpret the deafening silence at, say, the money managers at one American university receiving from that non-profit institution $25 million in yearly compensation as a kind of uncomfortable quietism. Think of it as an awed hush.

And please. Avarice? A word out of, what, Everyman? Take me back, baby. Avarice. At once a delicate word (vampire squid is vulgar) and a retro word, a tea-with-doilies word and a dead-lo-these-many-centuries word… Here comes Avarice onstage, his pockets lined with greenbacks! …

There is no avarice. There is only (as defenders of Krugman are saying today) a free market in a rich country. There is only what the market will bear. And, like most Americans, the current market (in which there is less and less “non-profit”) will bear absolutely anything.

Paul Krugman’s Hypocrisy Goes Viral.

The blogosphere is having fun with Paul Krugman today (see my own take on things in the post just below this one). But lest we forget: Krugman has always been hypocritical about making his own big bucks. This is from Andrew Sullivan’s website, years ago:

KRUGMAN IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Economists also did their bit to legitimize previously unthinkable levels of executive pay. During the 1980′s and 1990′s a torrent of academic papers — popularized in business magazines and incorporated into consultants’ recommendations — argued that Gordon Gekko was right: greed is good; greed works. In order to get the best performance out of executives, these papers argued, it was necessary to align their interests with those of stockholders. And the way to do that was with large grants of stock or stock options.

It’s hard to escape the suspicion that these new intellectual justifications for soaring executive pay were as much effect as cause. I’m not suggesting that management theorists and economists were personally corrupt. It would have been a subtle, unconscious process: the ideas that were taken up by business schools, that led to nice speaking and consulting fees, tended to be the ones that ratified an existing trend, and thereby gave it legitimacy.”

- Paul Krugman, criticizing the subtle, unconscious corruption of academic economists being paid nice speaking and consulting fees, October 20, 2002.

“My critics seem to think that there was something odd about Enron’s willingness to pay a mere college professor that much money. But such sums are not unusual for academic economists whose expertise is relevant to current events… Remember that this was 1999: Asia was in crisis, the world was a mess. And justifiably or not, I was regarded as an authority on that mess. I invented currency crises as an academic field, way back in 1979; anyone who wants a sense of my academic credentials should look at the Handbook of International Economics, vol. 3, and check the index…

I mention all this not as a matter of self-puffery, but to point out that I was not an unknown college professor. On the contrary, I was a hot property, very much in demand as a speaker to business audiences: I was routinely offered as much as $50,000 to speak to investment banks and consulting firms. They thought I might tell them something useful… The point is that the money Enron offered wasn’t out of line with what companies with no interest in influence-buying were offering me. You may think I was overpaid, but the market – not Enron – set those pay rates.”

- Paul Krugman, January 21, defending his getting paid $50,000 for a two-day weekend Enron Advisory Board meeting because the market set the fees.

If UD May Paraphrase Tip O’Neill:

All greed is local. The polite perplexity of a recent CUNY PhD in the face of wealthy Paul Krugman having accepted a CUNY professorship that pays him $450,000 to teach one seminar over the next two years overlooks the fact that Krugman, for all his attacks on American greed in his New York Times column, lives in a certain world. In this world (New York City, hedge fund managers), $450,000 (more than that, with various perks) is a slap in the face. You cannot spend decades surrounded by people who make twenty million dollars a year and not revise your greed radically upward.

The same awkwardness arose from Harvard professor Larry Summers indulging his hedge-fund-level greed while… being a professor…

[Harvard University professor Lawrence Summers] consults not only for hedge fund DE Shaw but for venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, asset-management and advisory firm Alliance Partners, stock-exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., and for financial services firm Citigroup. He also has a healthy income from speaking — more than $100,000 earlier this year, for example, for a single speech to a conference organized by Drobny Global Advisors.

That is a busy schedule for a full-time faculty member who, like other professors, is allowed only a day a week for consulting — and Summers also chairs the advisory board of the Minerva Project, an online university startup, and holds an administrative role as Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

This is the same Lawrence Summers who told Professor Cornel West to stop spending so much time on his outside activities and get back to his scholarship — because more was expected of a University Professor.

It’s all very postmodern: Krugman is a highly-paid professor-simulacrum whose function is to appear in CUNY advertisements. Big money, big promo, big nothing.

I’d urge Krugman to quantify that esteem for CUNY by donating a significant portion of his earnings, say $100,000 a year, to a scholarship fund for students or the Professional Staff Congress welfare fund, which provides much-needed health care benefits and emergency assistance for CUNY adjuncts.

Yet why should Krugman do that? He has – is asked to have – nothing to do with CUNY.

You have to go to Daniel Greenberg’s Center for the Absorption of Federal…

Funds to begin to make sense of a scandal like Sul Ross University. A terrible school with a graduation rate approaching zero, a school only lately on probation, Sul Ross naturally is all about athletics.

Back in November the entire football coaching staff was fired. Then the president of the university resigned days later.

There’s no there there, at Sul Ross, which opens the door to local bullies and boosters and hangers-on. No one’s saying exactly what happened (maybe everyone on campus is too addled to know), but the local press suggests the latest Sul Ross administration ran away because

There were claims that coaches were physically and verbally abusing players, that athletes were being bribed to incriminate coaches, and that coeds were being pushed to have sex with recruits.

Yadda yadda. Bottom line: When there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go, boys will get up to trouble. And Sul Ross is all about boys.

It’s odd to UD that Sul Ross is about anything. I mean, anything you and I have to pay for.

“[A]t universities that are essentially owned by their sports programs … no reform takes place until there is a major disaster. In the mid-’80s, not until a sitting governor of Texas admitted to his role in a slush fund for players did Southern Methodist lose its football program for two years. More recently, it took the conviction of a coach as a serial child molester to force Penn State to examine the football program’s stranglehold on a fine university.”

The [Jameis] Winston revelations are one more reminder of just how far universities and their apologists are willing to go to protect the multibillion-dollar enterprise that we call “college sports.”

******************

Well, you know, we get these little eruptions; sometimes, as in the Florida State scandal, the New York Times gets involved and things seem to make slighter larger eruptions.

But keep this in mind. University athletes accused of rape, university athletes found guilty of rape — these events are a dime a dozen. (University athletes accused of beating the shit out of people are a penny a dozen.) During the life of this blog, UD has covered dozens and dozens of them. Sometimes schools like the University of Montana produce so many stories of this sort that they – and the one-watering-hole-per-square-inch towns that harbor them – begin to get a reputation. Enrollment suffers because parents don’t want their daughters living in a rape town. But overwhelmingly – as the NYT reports – these things go absolutely nowhere.

Wanna know why? Okay, here’s the list.

1. No one cares. People care about their team. They like their team’s aggressive players, and… you know… hard to keep all of that shit on the field. Too bad.

2. Billions of dollars are on the table.

3. It’s just girls getting hurt. Or – in the Sandusky case – underprivileged young men. Who cares.

Not only will things go nowhere. You can already see the rehabilitation of Paterno’s Penn State moving along nicely, with much of Happy Valley galvanized at the prospect of The Statue going up again… and at the much-discussed prospect of another statue of Paterno being commissioned for another high-profile place at Penn State.

Yes, this is what that university is all about lately. The important thing at Penn State is tons of people getting to work packing the board of trustees with true Penn Staters like Al Lord. (Note that Lord’s campaign page features not a picture of the candidate, but a picture of God himself, halo’ed in white.) Lord might well win a place on the Penn State board of trustees.

So before that happens, you want to understand the culture? Read and learn. Here’s Al’s position statement, with UD‘s commentary in parenthesis. (UD thanks an anonymous Penn State person for sending this to her.)

****************************

“I walked onto the Ogontz (now Abington) Campus mid-December, 1963. Since, I have felt an outsized, almost inexplicable affection for Penn State. [Almost inexplicable. The guy's a hell of a writer - the sort who shoots himself in the foot, making the reader giggle.] Though a very average student I always have felt fortunate to possess a Penn State degree. [Try to puzzle out the logic of this statement. It might make sense to say Because I was an average student I feel fortunate... But Though?]

Penn State’s relentless evolution from just a state university to America’s best [Relentless. This is the macho sports guy talking - everything that happens has to be a heroic struggle, high drama. And did you know Penn State was the best university in America? Mere months after having hosted the nation's most sordid university scandal?] has been a fifty year source of pride. Better than others, Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno created the healthy alliance of academics and athletics. [Okay, the guy's got balls. The name Spanier and the word healthy in the same sentence. Okay.] Penn State wins national championships in several sports and graduates America’s best prepared students. [Penn State students are certainly prepared to talk in great detail about what goes on during man on boy shower action. They have learned all about that.] Both academics and athletics well—that is our Penn State. [Word missing before "well"?] Our Trustees and Louis Freeh see a different Penn State. [Capitalizing Trustees is strange.]

I seek a seat on the PSU Board of Trustees because I can no longer watch the willful, cowardly destruction of our Penn State. [This is the way Donald Trump writes and talks. This is a Trump guy. Rich hothead with a surfeit of self-regard, and knows - like Trump - that he knows everything and we know nothing.] Our Boardroom splits between pride and shame; yet still none know the facts. [Again - can you figure the logic of this last sentence?] “Freeh’s facts” are incomplete, selective, and largely unconvincing. [Quotation marks around "Freeh's facts." What does he mean by them? That these facts only appear to be facts? That Lord spits on so-called Freeh's so-called facts? As with Trump, the character-age, if you will, of this writer is around fourteen.] Freeh’s report destroyed our past; left unchallenged it will diminish the future. [Again note the high-heroic tone, the would-be Lincolnesque rhetoric which comes off as bragging clueless nothingness.]

… Father of two grandfather of six. Wife of 48 years, Suzanne, received her Penn State PHT (Putting Hubby Through) in 1967. [UD finds this nod to the wife's PHT degree particularly winning.] … ”

‘”If you look at America’s great universities, you’ll see that they all have the three A’s in common: great academics, great arts and great athletics,” said UNT president Gretchen M. Bataille in a release.’

She left out audit.

“Payers will no longer pay rising prices for marginally improved new products and pharmas must now justify those higher prices by demonstrating substantially greater benefits. That means new drug development requires more time and cost to make the case for improved cost-benefit and, more often than not, the effort fails. As a result the sales revenues for new drugs suffer both initially and over time. Then in their insatiable demand to maintain a profitability that exceeded all other industries over the past thirty years, pharmas have turned to the emerging countries as their golden goose. There local conditions and the inexorable greed of pharma companies combine to produce a way of doing business that is intrinsically corrupt.”

In case you were wondering why pharma is intrinsically corrupt. And will remain so. After all, this writer didn’t even mention pharma’s impressive capacity to make up bogus ailments, frighten the shit out of us about them, and provide pills.

College-Prep, Birmingham, England: Preparing girls to sit in the back and boys to sit in the front…

… and introducing them to the thoughts of certain zealots… all at taxpayer expense! – so that when they get to university they’ll be ready to be forcibly sex segregated while listening to the zealots…

Here in the States we complain about all sorts of ridiculous stuff our taxes go toward; but turning our daughters into compliant … the favored term is sisters … is not, I think, one of them.

Ah! UD wondered why her referral log is showing a sudden intense interest in…

… Northern Kentucky University’s much-beloved athletic director, Scott Eaton. Ooh la la. Well, we already knew Scott was a bit of a rascal…a massively overpaid rascal… but … heck… you know, what AD isn’t? … But even with all the acclaim and money the desperate, pathetic, sports fans at would-be jock school NKU (jock school is pathetic enough; can there be anything more pathetic than would-be jock school?) threw at Eaton… w-a-all… lessee… (UD scratches her overalls in private places) seems like it jest wernt enuf. Hyuk! He done stole ’bout $350,000 and is going to jail for ten years. And people is kinda confused.

Many will wonder how Eaton could’ve gotten away with his theft for six full years, and had the former employee not come forward, it could’ve been even longer.

Jail will be especially challenging for Eaton, given his, er, needs.

An internal investigation determined that Eaton had “intimate, inappropriate relationships” with four university employees, including two he supervised, and a similar relationship with a student in a class he taught.

Hyuk. Is zat five? And that don’t count, you figure, all the rest which is too embarrassed to come forward.

Enjoy this photo from happier days. Read the chart behind him. And weep for schools like NKU, epicenters of the dumbest shit the American university has to offer.

Capitalist Cosmic Convergence

Danny Kuo, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to swapping illegal stock tips, asked a judge on Tuesday to delay his sentencing so he can attend next month’s commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and receive his MBA.

News from ‘thesda

The latest from UD‘s stomping grounds.

A Montgomery County judge has dismissed a couple’s lawsuit alleging that a top private school jeopardized their son’s college career by not doing enough to help him.

The couple accused the Bullis School in Potomac of breaching its contract by failing to help after the boy received a poor grade, causing him to receive rejection letters from colleges.

… The family’s attorney says the school violated oral agreements in advertisements that promoted “an extraordinary educational experience” in a “nurturing environment.” He expects to appeal.

All the way to the Supreme Court.

Socialisme.

Mediapart said [Aquilino Morelle] used the presidency’s chauffeurs to drive his son around; that a shoe-shine man was ordered to come to his office to take care of his 30 pairs of luxury shoes; that he dipped into the Elysee’s fine-wines cellar and that he spent most Fridays at a luxury Paris hammam. Mediapart also mentioned his rude attitude toward some Elysee staff.

“Now pass me that bikini and where’s …

… the Soltan?”

The Soltan is currently at home, resting up after having interviewed Fran Lebowitz last night at a George Washington University event.

UD is rather curious in that appearing on the PBS News Hour, where her interview was watched by millions, did not make her nervous, but going to a teeny little reception at a lovely historic Foggy Bottom home scares the bejaysus out of her. I suppose it’s about people being an undifferentiated mass versus people being in your face. So she had her friend Gabe accompany her to the gathering at the president’s house, where we welcomed Lebowitz and where UD introduced herself to Lebowitz as her interviewer.

I have a bunch of questions for you, I said.

Great. I have one answer, she said.

Great, I said. We’ll do variations on that answer.

The evening was pleasantly chilly, with late afternoon sun on budding pears and dogwoods. Gabe and I were joined by Molly McCloskey, a terrific writer who’s in residence at GW this semester. Sweet and ceremonious undergraduates met us at the door of the president’s home, took our coats, and led us to the drinks. We quickly encountered another Ireland-related English professor (Molly lived in Ireland for a long time), and UD had a chance to talk about La Kid’s upcoming departure for Galway.

In formally welcoming Lebowitz, GW’s president made a number of gaffes. He began by calling her the author of many books. She is, famously, the author of not many. He described her as the author of Notes From A Broad. Lebowitz said she is not the author. The author of A View From A Broad is Bette Midler.

Ultimately, UD was willing to be forgiving. Being president of a university means fourteen similar events a day, and his staff screwed up on this one. Big deal.

At some point we trudged over to the auditorium at the public affairs building for the main event. UD took the stage a few moments before Lebowitz came out, and as she sat down the audience hushed. “Don’t get excited,” UD told them. “It’s just me.” UD was damned if Lebowitz was going to get all the laughs.

Lebowitz entered to applause, wished UD a good evening, UD returned the favor, and they were off.

UD began by reminding FL that like a lot of satirists she thinks human beings stink (UD read the following phrases from FL’s writings and interviews: “human nature is horrible …people – they’re not that great …human beings are not the finest species”), and she went on to inquire what’s wrong with us, and how can we fix it. This got a laugh from the audience and seemed to set FL up nicely. She went off on a long riff about our ghastliness. When she finished the riff, UD – who had decided to conduct this interview in a serious way, FL being an intellectual who makes claims about the world, and UD being the sort of person to challenge claims – went on to establish that FL doesn’t believe in hope – finds people who hope contemptible. So UD asked her why she votes, why she’s politically active in New York City issues, etc. If people are unimprovably awful, and if hope about change for the better is contemptible, why do anything? Beyond writing about it?

Which led to further questions about the nature of the satirist in the Swiftian tradition (quoting Orwell here: “Swift’s world-view is felt to be not altogether false — or it would probably be more accurate to say, not false all the time. Swift is a diseased writer. He remains permanently in a depressed mood which in most people is only intermittent, rather as though someone suffering from jaundice or the after-effects of influenza should have the energy to write books. But we all know that mood, and something in us responds to the expression of it. … Part of our minds — in any normal person it is the dominant part — believes that man is a noble animal and life is worth living: but there is also a sort of inner self which at least intermittently stands aghast at the horror of existence.”) and how odd this particular, pretty nihilistic impulse is…

So we bounced it around for a half hour, and UD kept trying to see if she could land somewhere near as many laughs as FL, and although actually the whole exchange is a bit of a fog, UD seems to recall that she did get her share. UD was also pleased to see that FL took her serious questions seriously, and as a result the interview seemed to UD a cut above a number of the FL interviews on YouTube, which tend to be people tossing softballs (“Talk about Michael Bloomberg.”) at FL.

UD went home on a very late-arriving, very-crowded metro train with her old friend Kim, who also attended the event. They stood and swayed and gabbed, at high volume, for the whole trip.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories

Bookmarks

UD REVIEWED

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.
AcademicPub

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.
Dagblog

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte