Senator Chuck Grassley urged the administration to snatch back the [corporate] bonuses. “They ought to give ’em back or we should go get ’em,” the Republican told me. “If this were Japan and a corporate executive did what is being done on Wall Street, they’d either go out and commit suicide or go before the board of directors and the country and take a very deep bow and apologize.”

He was shocked to learn that the Office of Management and Budget, insistent on following the Paperwork Reduction Act, was dragging down a special inspector general’s investigation of what banks are doing with taxpayer money. (After complaints, the O.M.B. yielded on Friday.)

“Once in a while, some C.E.O. comes and talks to me and I wonder if they’re laughing under their breath at having to talk to someone who makes 1 percent of what they make,” he said.

Yes, gross money inequality is a very bad thing. Very undemocratic. Destructive of civic life. UD‘s been harping on that for years in the context of universities with overpaid presidents, universities with millionaire football coaches, universities where professors hawk medical devices on university time. These are the sources of money corruption in the American university, and UD ain’t saying they’re going away any time soon. But she notes Grassley’s persistent attack on university conflict of interest, and Obama’s rhetoric about corporate greed, and she feels hopeful.

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3 Responses to “Making universities less corrupt.”

  1. Stephen Karlson Says:

    Be careful what you ask for.

    Pell grants, student loans, the National Endowments, the National Science Foundation, the various Cabinet departments …

    Will Our President call for caps on administrative salaries, including those in athletics, as a condition of continued assistance?

  2. Colin Says:

    Grassley seems to be more of a populist attention-seeker than a genuine reformer: witness his instructions to Microsoft to fire their foreign workers first. Nice: Lou Dobbs couldn’t have put it any better. Just the sort of chap I want to champion academic integrity!

  3. david foster Says:

    When politicians compare private-sector salaries with the salary of a Congressman, or a President, people should bear in mind that salary is usually a small portion of the lifetime income of a prominent politician. There are also speaking fees, consulting fees, royalties from books, and greatly increased billing rate as a lawyer or lobbyist.

    The Clintons, for example, did extremely well financially out of their career of public service. Barack Obama, even if he had not won the election, might well have come out financially ahead of where he would have been as a Wall Street lawyer. Ordinary Congressmen usually do quite well for themselves, too.

    I don’t think most politicians are *primarily* motivated by money…they are typically more driven by power, status, and adulation…but it would be a mistake to look at their official salaries and assume that’s all they’re really getting.

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