A bunch of nasty stuff goes on among groups of elites that everybody knows about but can’t do anything about because it’s hidden. Only when someone – a reporter, a whistleblower – blows their cover does anything happen. And even then, nothing really happens. I mean, there’s a reason they’re called elites; there’s a reason people resent elites.


Two examples, starting with the more recent:

1. A very high-ranking cancer researcher at Sloan Kettering has for years and years failed to report his financial conflicts of interest. He just don’t do it, folks, and everyone has let him get away with it even though it’s an enormous no-no. (Best headline: “Top Cancer Expert Forgot to Mention $3.5M Industry Ties.”)

Ethicists say that outside relationships with companies can shape the way studies are designed and medications are prescribed to patients, allowing bias to influence medical practice. Reporting those ties allows the public, other scientists and doctors to evaluate the research and weigh potential conflicts.

This guy was chief medical officer.

Jeffrey S. Flier, who was dean of the Harvard Medical School from 2007 to 2016, said medical leaders should be held to a higher standard.

“The higher you are in the organizational structure, the more important it is that you fulfill those obligations,” he said. “You’re not just another faculty, you’re also a faculty to whom other people look up and your reputation is tied to the institution’s reputation.”

Like wink wink if he doesn’t do it we sure don’t have to do it. It’s a win-win situation and we all make lots of money. Look how much more he’s making than his paltry $1.5 million (in 2016; figure it’s significantly more now) salary! What a role model!


In statements to industry analysts and the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Baselga praised two drug trials that many of his peers considered failures, without mentioning that the trials’ sponsor, Roche, had paid him millions of dollars.


How much more?

Look, I’m too grossed out by the final paragraphs of the NYT article, which list his takings – I mean haha some of his takings because for sure he’s still hiding a hell of a lot even from the nosy NYT guys. Read them yourself.

My favorite part of these stories is always the boards these people sit on. Money for Nothing is the title of the best-known book about board-sitting, and this guy hauled in hundreds of thousands by doing absolutely nothing.

In an editorial, the NYT says: “Ban paid appointments to outside boards… [When] appointments come with payments that meet or exceed a doctor’s existing salary, the process is almost certain to be corrupted, and public trust is sure to be undermined.”


A letter-writer at the Times poses a really naive question:

[H]e received a salary in 2016 (the most recent data available) of more than $1.5 million from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he is the chief medical officer. This is a princely sum, which, given the work he does, no one should begrudge him.

But it appears he also earns uncounted millions more in consulting fees, director’s fees and ownership interests from businesses directly involved in the areas of his expertise, and he is criticized for not fully disclosing this in his professional writings evaluating the products of some of the companies that pay him large sums.

But I would ask another question: Why isn’t $1.5 million enough?

Recall the classic porn film – Never Enough.


The main point UD‘s making in this post, however, is that the scheme doesn’t work unless this guy lives in a closed world of fellow privileged who all agree to keep their traps shut in order to protect their privileges. The scheme works for years – the guy is about to turn sixty – until maybe some grotesque bad fortune falls out of the sky and an outsider squawks.

The guy resigned immediately.

But don’t worry about him. He’ll be fine.

2. The now-notorious letter sent secretly (or so its authors thought) to NYU, threatening to do whatever angry groups of elites do if you come down too hard on someone in their group, has generated plenty of anger and plenty of thoughtful writing about the same subject: How groups of powerful people (here professors) protect bad actors among them. As with the Sloan Kettering guy’s nondisclosure, what went down was routinely corrupt behavior until someone decided to intervene.

But again, as with the cancer researcher, the result of the exposure is embarrassment and some docked salary. A lawsuit or two. Things are a bit bumpy, and they’ll stay a bit bumpy for awhile, and then these groups will reconstitute themselves.

[T]he commonality of all of these people is the entitlement. Do as I say, not as I do. We see this so often in the exemptions politicians create for themselves, and the same can be said for highly profitable executives and physicians, whose organizations exempt them from scrutiny as long as the profitability is in their favor. Do you really believe CBS didn’t run a cost-benefit analysis on retaining or removing Les Moonves?


It’s just as Kurt Vonnegut said in Slaughterhouse Five:

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

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2 Responses to “Everybody knows.”

  1. dmf Says:

    “and then these groups will reconstitute themselves”
    tragically, there really is no cure for institutions getting captured by moneyed interests and assholes (see the recent NY elections, I foolishly thought Teachout had a chance to win the AG race), I do wish we had better protections and rewards for whistleblowers but that would require elected officials that aren’t bought and sold and around and around we go…

  2. dmf Says:

    this is the underbelly of the economy, if you’re selling anything from healthcare to classes one way or another the financiers are involved and they need endless new infusions of cash:

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