Monday, April 24, 2006
A News Article, |
The Importance of Being Andrei
Andrei Shleifer ’82, the economist embroiled in a fraud scandal that cost Harvard $26.5 million to settle, will return to teaching here this fall.
The Importance Of Being Andrei.
A. Did you hear about my work in Russia, Lane?
Lane. I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.
A. I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t work ethically - anyone can work ethically - but I work with wonderful profit yield.
Lane. Yes, sir.
A. And, speaking of wonders, have you got my list of courses for next semester?
Lane. Yes, sir. [Hands it on a salver.]
A. [Inspects it, and sits down on the sofa.] Oh!... by the way, Lane, I see from the Crimson that a number of my colleagues are complaining about my returning to the classroom under an ethical cloud.
Lane. Yes, sir; quite a number of them.
A. Why is it that a genius clearly in line for a Nobel Prize attracts such jealous scrutiny? I ask merely for information.
Lane. I attribute it to the low motives of less impressive persons, sir. Also anti-Semitism.
A. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea?
Jack. Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen.
A. How perfectly delightful!
Jack: Yes, that is all very well; but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won’t quite approve of your having defrauded the Russian people and cost Harvard University tens of millions of dollars in fines.
A. May I ask why?
Jack: My dear fellow, the way you brazen out what you’ve done is perfectly disgraceful.
A. I have no doubt about that, dear Jack. The federal courts were specially invented for people like me. Luckily, I’ve got off scot-free -- or almost -- what's a million dollars or so in penalties to me, really? -- and Harvard doesn’t care. Another cucumber sandwich?
Jack: For heaven’s sake, don’t try to be cynical. It’s perfectly easy to be cynical. Especially for economists.
A. My dear fellow, it isn’t easy to be anything nowadays. There’s such a lot of beastly competition about. [The sound of an electric bell is heard.] Ah! that must be the Committee on Professional Conduct. Only relatives, or committees on professional conduct, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner.
A. Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, my dear colleague. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me so nervous.
C: I do mean something else.
A. I thought so. In fact, I am never wrong.
C: And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of the news media’s temporary absence...
A. I would certainly advise you to do so. The media has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to it about.
C: [Nervously.] Mr Shleifer, ever since we hired you we have admired you more than any economist…we... have ever hired since... we hired you.
A. You really love me?
A. Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.
C: Our own Andrei!
A. But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if I’d, say, defrauded an entire country and destroyed Harvard’s relationship with the federal government?
C: But you haven‘t done that. You’ve admitted no guilt.
A. Yes, I know. But supposing I had done it? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then?
C: [Glibly.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.
...to be continued...