To such squeaky clean enterprises as SAC Capital, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase…

… we must add GlaxoSmithKline, which only this morning has had to – in the words of one headline - “deny systemic corruption.”

Which is awkward. Who wants to have to be all defensive on such a basic matter as that? To have to deny systemic corruption. Heavy.

And this isn’t – like those other outfits I just mentioned – simply a temple to Mammon we’re talking about. This is a benevolent dispenser of surcease to suffering for people all over God’s green earth! GSK has got the whole world in its hand!

WHY stingy doctors refuse to prescribe the number of pills GSK requires to hit its yearly profit mark is the real question. What the hell’s that about, I’d like to know? Take it up with the damn prescribers! It’s not GSK’s fault if it has to bribe physicians all over the globe – all over the globe – to dish out pointless and destructive excess pillage to patients. I’m thinking in terms of conspiracies here… I’m thinking that – in this latest case – some Polish doctors got together and decided to – what?? – use clinical criteria in prescribing medication? And this forced GSK’s hand, making it increase its bribes until the system became too grotesque to ignore…

UD thanks Barney.

Let’s start here: Ninety percent of American paper money has traces of cocaine …

on it.

More broadly and less literally, Gillian Clarke, the national poet of Wales, describes her own currency:

If money were water, the contents of my wallet might have flowed through pure streams and filthy gutters, might be guilty, bloodstained, diseased. The pesos passed through the fingers of drug dealers and gunmen, maybe. The cheque could be traced from its innocent signatory back through bank, investor, to hedge funds, futures, skulduggery, I am sure. They are just paper promises, earned for writing, for reading, for teaching poetry. The coins we throw into the charity box have passed through the hands of saints and thieves, without a doubt.

Clarke’s capsule history of filthy lucre is part of an argument she’s making against some of the finalists in a poetry contest dropping out of consideration when they discovered the prize money came from a hedge fund.

Broadening out yet more the problem some people have with money, Philip Larkin writes that money is filthy because it “sings” the long human history of twisted compulsion, acquisitiveness, and grubbiness… Money is about our sad, grandiose, never fulfillable, and often intensely destructive dreams…

I listen to money singing. It’s like looking down
From long french windows at a provincial town,
The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.

Spartan, dour Larkin would perhaps have agreed with spartan, dour Christopher Lasch that “Luxury is morally repugnant,” that in democracies there should be “a moral condemnation of great wealth.”


So okay. But universities – like everyone and everything else – still need money, and most people believe that educating people and making research possible are good uses of it. That’s why universities get amazing tax breaks; but, again, the discomfort about immense accumulation and/or inappropriate use of university money is also why many people think continued tax breaks for multi-billionaire schools like Harvard and Princeton are wrong. It’s why some people are unhappy when billionaire alumni choose to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to these same multi-billionaire schools. As Lasch suggests (other political theorists, like Michael Sandel, seem to agree), there’s something icky – something positively undemocratic – about grotesque huge personal fortunes and – in the case of universities – about grotesquely huge endowments.

And then there’s the problem of where university dollars come from. Apartheid South Africa was an overwhelmingly uncontroversial sort of divestment target, involving too many traces of cocaine, if you will, for many people to accept.

More subtle is the provenance of dollars from individuals like the Koch brothers, who hold libertarian, Tea Party-esque social and political views many people find repellent.

Catholic University has just accepted a million dollars from the Kochs to study that elusive and evanescent thing, “principled entrepreneurship.” A vocal group of Catholics has protested the gift, citing “the Kochs’s opposition to the expansion of Medicaid, hostility to public unions, and support for global warming denialists,” and pointing to the current Pope’s excoriation of “unfettered capitalism.”

Virtually all popes, far as I know, rail against unfettered capitalism, so that one (I’m sure Catholic U. has in the past taken lots of money from unfettered capitalists) doesn’t really fly; and libertarianism is certainly a respectable political position… Hell, all of the Koch’s positions, while maybe not smelling like a rose, are within the bounds of civil discourse.

You’re on safer ground when, as with apartheid, you look at what people and institutions actually do. So, for instance, when a Koch-funded group offered, a few years ago, to fund two economics professorships at Florida State University on the condition that people from the Koch-funded group get veto power over the appointments (the professors had to be sufficiently free-market and anti-regulatory in their orientation), a clear line was crossed. Similarly, also at FSU, “BB&T, the bank holding company, funds an ethics course on the condition that Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ be required reading.”

These two seem pretty obvious examples of outside groups using their money to influence what goes on in the classroom.



The vexing question of how sickeningly you want to prostitute your school…

… has always been a problem for American universities, especially in the heartland. The University of Iowa’s amber waves of grain alcohol (UI, the nation’s number one party school, has an enthusiastic promotional relationship with Anheuser Busch) are getting ruffled lately by folks who think using your university as a promotional arm of the gambling industry as well as the alcohol industry is unseemly. The university points out that it’s all very nuanced:

Iowa … is paid to advertise Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, but removes the word “casino” in signs at Kinnick Stadium.

So what’s your problem?

And as for all the scratch-ticket game deals between the Iowa Lottery and UI … hello? Have we heard of ca-pi-tal-ism? UI’s got a brand new Adzillatron, and the only naughty thing college students love that isn’t being shriekingly massively constantly hawked on that screen is sex.

UD understands, however, that UI is in negotiations with Roxxxie’s Iowa State Fairest of Them All Bawdy House even as we speak. The plan is to drop the word “bawdy.”

“At one point in the e-mails, they proposed that they receive honoraria of $5,000 apiece for a four-hour meeting at a hotel near the FDA offices.”

Professors Robert Dworkin (University of Rochester) and Dennis Turk (University of Washington) are feeling no pain!

Read their hilarious emails about how they’re making tens of thousands of dollars off of pharma – which wants to listen in on American professors conversing about new developments along the Oxycontin line (We Americans ♥♥ LOVE♥♥ our Oxycontin. Just look at any town in West Virginia. Eli Lilly’s got us eating out of its hand!).

’20k [to attend a meeting] is small change, and they can justify it easily if they want to be at the table,’ Dworkin wrote to Turk in July 2003, after an Eli Lilly representative bridled at the price.

Dworkin’s absolutely right. Once you’ve got a national (soon to be international!) epidemic going, you’re talking real money. Dworkin knows Lilly routinely pays billions in fines every year for illegal this and that, and it really don’t make no never mind since when your profits are zillions you can laugh at billions. So this Lilly asshole has the gall to bridle at paying twenty thou to sit in a room for twenty minutes? UD finds it amazing the Dworkin/Turk gang isn’t demanding twenty million per meeting.

Possibly Dworkin and Turk are low-balling because they’re professors and not businesspeople and there’s a learning curve for them. This might be helpful for context:

[There's a new rule,] unveiled by the S.E.C. … requiring companies to disclose the ratio of the C.E.O.’s pay to that of the median worker. The idea is that, once the disparity is made public, companies will be less likely to award outsized pay packages… [Yet C.E.O. compensation continues, and almost certainly will continue, to rise.] Sunlight is supposed to be the best disinfectant. But there’s something naïve about the new S.E.C. rule, which presumes that full disclosure will embarrass companies enough to restrain executive pay. As [one expert] told me, “People who can ask to be paid a hundred million dollars are beyond embarrassment.”

If Dworkin and Turk find themselves at all hesitant, they can tape this article to their refrigerators and reread it just before talking price with Lilly.

This semester’s…

college casual.

‘Millennium and its founder say they gave $2 million to the University of Washington in 2010 to study pain … and $250,000 to a Duke University professor in April to host “a business summit on ethical practices in the medication monitoring industry.”‘

It’s awkward. How entangled do universities want to get with businesses like Millennium?

A federal grand jury in Boston is investigating Millennium Laboratories of San Diego, a fast-growing private company selling urine drug testing services to pain clinics across the United States.

The company not only is under investigation by the Justice Department for allegations of health care fraud but also for intimidating former employees, one who was portrayed in a slideshow at a company meeting as a corpse in a body bag…. [It is also accused of] getting doctors to order unnecessary urine tests [-- the testing, amid an epidemic of pain pill use, reveals whether patients are abusing the drugs --] and charging excessive fees to Medicare and private insurers.

I mean, nothing wrong with industry money, but you do want to keep an eye on the particular representatives from industry offering it.

Millennium sales tactics [it is alleged] included a chart showing doctors how much they could boost their own income by increasing the number of urine drug tests they ordered. For instance, a $15 payment to test for one drug could balloon to about $800,000 a year if 20 people a day were tested and each urine sample was tested for 11 drugs, the chart said.

It is a beautiful synergy, when you think about it. Keep prescribing the pain pills — the medical profession almost has the entire American population on them — and then, concerned at the shocking escalation in their abuse, make your patients pay for urine tests. It’s funny to think about how America’s hundreds of thousands of pill mills will be giving the test to make sure their customers are taking their Oxy and Roxy. If you’re in the urine testing biz, like Millennium, you get them coming and going, as it were.

So, you know, a very becoming business altogether, and if you’re Duke or Washington you might want to keep an eye on the Justice Department proceedings and ask if you want to continue whitewashing the reputation of these outfits.

“Until recently, these drugs were used to treat a few serious psychiatric disorders. But now, unbelievably, these powerful medications are prescribed for conditions as varied as very mild mood disorders, everyday anxiety, insomnia and even mild emotional discomfort.”

Richard Friedman’s “call for caution” on the use of anti-psychotic drugs in the American population comes a bit late in the day. Professors like Joseph Biederman remain at places like Harvard.

… Biederman is a leading proponent of the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs to treat bipolar illness in children. His work is widely seen as contributing to an explosive growth in such prescriptions, and much of his support came from companies that benefited from his research.

Friedman doesn’t even talk about the grotesque over-prescription of these drugs for children.

The professors putting together the upcoming edition of the DSM are also doing their bit, pathologizing moods like “mild emotional discomfort” so that everyone will feel comfortable medicating them with powerful anti-psychotics.

Rope ‘em in…

… is the motto of many American universities, whether diploma mills or for-profits. Their admissions requirements are can we get you to come and stay long enough for us to collect federal money?

The latest recruiting practices lawsuit is against San Francisco’s Academy of Art .

“The suit claims there were no other legitimate criteria on which the recruiters were judged” beyond hurling bodies forward.


… will serve as a
temporary motto
for Columbia University.

Its actual motto is

But Columbia has just sued a
biotech company, Illumina,
for mucho money, because they
say Illumina stole some of
their gene sequencing patents.

So instead of IN THY LIGHT

And speaking of corrupt, the First Nations University of Canada….

… used since its inception as an ATM by administrators, has scored its first guilty plea. A vice-president stole tens of thousands of dollars. But he’s doing okay:

“You go to bed with it, you wake up with it. You have good days and bad days, but it’s always there,” he said. “Thank God for medication and professionals [helping me] through all of this and my family.”

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at…


Wonkette has, so far, the best comment…

… and the best visual, in response to the Bin Laden porn stash story.

Best title so far: Lawrence of a Labia.

Inside Job

Y’all know about T. Boone and how he runs Oklahoma State, right?

Well, it’s the same thing with the Koch boys and Florida State; only instead of choosing coaches and shit, they’re running the econ department! Staffing it and everything.

Smaller FSU donors get to write syllabi. BB&T bank “funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is required reading.”

Controlling interest in courses and departments continues to be available at FSU, but you should probably act fast to get your first choice.


… is I guess what you’d call it if a public university were under pressure from a state legislature to sell a very valuable Ezra Pound manuscript in its possession… But what do you call it when it’s a Pollock?

Proceeds from the sale [of Jackson Pollock's Mural, valued at $140 million,] would go into a trust fund that would provide scholarships to University of Iowa undergraduate art majors from Iowa.

Can this painting really be worth $140 million???

An art professor comments:

“It will never happen because it would be a terrible disgrace to the state and people of Iowa,” he said. “What I think is that we should sell Kinnick [football stadium] to Illinois or sell the State Capitol. That would be much more reasonable.”

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