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Let’s bring a cold sharp Chicago School of Economics eye to the big ol’ worldwide elite college admissions scandal.

Ladies and gentlemen: To my left, a large cohort of global superrich so irresistibly attracted to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and let’s say ten to fifteen other colleges, that they are willing to pay the schools – what? – up to ten million? – bidding starts at ten million? – to get their kids in.

To my right, elite American universities with unimaginably large endowments. As we speak, for instance, Harvard’s is close to forty billion.

Hundreds of billions of dollars that might go to actual need sit static in the titanic endowments of our elite schools. What is the schools’ interest in this new proposed auction?

Well, they want more. Twenty, thirty, forty billion dollars: not enough. They bombard their graduates with pleas to make big yearly gifts; they scream bloody murder if you propose upping their taxes a tad; they talk poor all the time.

(By the way – these schools are not simply victims of their own success, but also of the world’s failure. Keep in mind that most countries – even rich sexy developed ones like Italy – have almost uniformly shitty and corrupt universities. I assume you already know this, but as a reminder: If you open up places at truly great, storied schools for auction — as one of Harvard’s money managers has proposed — you’re going to get a flood of spectacular bids from almost every country in the world. Beats there a Colombian drug lord’s heart so weak as not to want Isabel at Yale?)

It’s already pretty hard to distinguish between Princeton and Gstaad; once the auction is up and running you’re going to create enclaves of such landmark ostentation that a tourism industry will grow around them, generating yet more millions for the schools. Instead of Don DeLillo’s South Bronx Surreal poverty-voyeurism bus tour, Princeton by Copter will waft you – in the superrich’s favorite mode of transportation – over the leafy bejeweled campus.

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2 Responses to “A Harvard Money Manager Suggests an Honest Auction for Elite College Seats in Place of the Current Dishonest One.”

  1. charlie Says:

    The college admissions bribing scandals had me referencing The Great Gatsby’s Tom and Daisy, and their “carelessness,” as described by Fitzgerald. If you’re wealthy enough, you don’t care about scholarship, hard work, integrity, or rules and laws. By way of their money, they’re “elite,” and can retreat into vast wealth, which provides sanctuary for their disregard.

    Maybe the real sanctuary cities are Palo Alto, New Haven, and Boston….

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    charlie: Nice take on it…

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