Thursday, March 14, 2019

The College Admission Crisis | Lefsetz Letter

Well, I guess they never read “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Someone with no guilt is a sociopath. They may be nice to others face to face, but they’ll do what ever it takes to get what they want, casualties be damned.

We live in a sociopathic society.

How did this happen?

First, America lost its place as the inviolate, the undisputed leader. It started with Nixon and then Trump put a stake in its heart by removing the U.S.A. from compacts under the notion of “America First.” Just like “Loughlin First” and “Huffman First” and “Rich But Not Famous First.” You don’t get there by luck, and to stay there you have to continue to employ an edge. They try to assuage their guilt via charity, but even Trump didn’t complete the circle on that. They feel they’re entitled.

And we eat it all up until we don’t.

It was Reagan and the global economy that blew this country up. Reagan made greed good, Michael Douglas just articulated it in a movie. Suddenly there were people richer than the rest. And by time we hit the twenty first century it was clear you could not get to the destination unless you had certain privileges. Mostly, an elite education and connections. Funny how everybody at Harvard, not implicated in this scandal, helps each other. As for getting an MBA, that’s what it’s all about, who you meet, who you can leverage, what you learn in the classroom is nearly irrelevant.

And then came globalization. Inevitable and to our advantage. But not everybody’s advantage. If you weren’t educated, you were left behind. Oh, we heard about lottery winners, athletes, but the rank and file saw their gigs go overseas and suddenly they couldn’t afford the lifestyle they were accustomed to. They ended up divorced and on drugs.

But the elite considered them throwaway people. Not only the right wing elite, the left wing too. That’s why Hillary lost, she was out of touch. The scary little thing is the left wing elite is still out of touch. They think they earned their position. They worked hard, ’round the clock, and they want the benefits.

As for those people in front of them, they’re bending the rules, so why shouldn’t they?

Bill Gates is lauded for his philanthropy today, but let’s put him on the stand and ask him why he charged computer companies for Windows even if they didn’t put it in the box.

Or Steve Jobs. Cancer got him, but we want to know about his anti-poach agreements.

And when it comes to taxes, it’s open season, both corporate and personal. Hell, Romney paid a lower percentage than the worker bees. He paid people to manipulate the rules.

Just like these parents.

So that’s where we live, in a nation of greased poles. And it’s so competitive and so tough that if you kick someone down, if they get lost in the shuffle, well, that’s the cost of doing business.

As for business…

My second thought upon reading of this aberrant behavior was the price for the students. But as more news leaked out and we learned of the antics of “influencer” Olivia Jade Giannuli, I knew she too was in on the scam. Hell, all the students were, despite what is said. You know if your application says you’re an athlete. And you know if you lie to get extra time on the SAT. But we’ve got to protect the children. Maybe ultimately forgive them, but their wrists should be more than slapped, they should be kicked out of school immediately. Yup, instead of having the charmed life on the up and up they believe is their due.

Olivia Jade wanted special treatment so she could continue her “job.” She was overseas when school started. I remember going skiing with my parents and missing a week of school freshman year. I never did that again, I never caught up. Then again, I went to a school where every test was an essay, I still have dreams of needing to pass Spanish in order to graduate, despite having never gone to class. Foreign languages are the worst, because you can’t b.s. if you don’t know the language.

So I went to an elite college. It didn’t pay any financial dividends. It’s a small group of schools that do. Hell, no one west of the Mississippi had even heard of Middlebury until some students rioted recently. But that’s fine. Because in real life you make it on your wits.

But I did get to meet a lot of rich people. It taught me how to act amongst them. And that was worthwhile.

As for the classes… I learned how the world really worked. Old farts warding their power over you.

But there was an Honor Code.

There’s no honor in the world today.

My first thought upon reading the news was what was going through the minds of these parents? Are they completely amoral? There’s a school for everybody, and maybe your kid should go to the appropriate institution.

But they don’t want to disappoint little Avery and Brooke, so they deliver matriculation.

But the joke is life is long. What are you gonna do when the sunlight fades? I mean can you imagine the Kardashians as old people? They might end up rich, but what are they going to do all day? Read? Go to art museums? College is a foundation of your identity. Where you develop who you really are and discover what options you’ve got.

Believe me, nobody will be interested in Olivia Jade ten years from now, maybe not even ten minutes.

Then again, we’ve bastardized college by turning it into a glorified trade school.

And why is it USC that’s always in trouble?

And why don’t we banish athletics? What’s that got to do with learning?

Supposedly it builds character. But when the athletes are privileged and take different courses and don’t graduate, and the coaches make more than the professors, how can we call it an education?

And it is about money. Everybody wants it. Which is why these people took the bribes. All day long we’re bombarded by those with more than us, much more, we want our piece of the pie.

And then people lie on the stand, after placing their hand on the Bible.

And even though we were taught you would be caught, in most cases you’re not.

You’re protected by your fellow criminals. And there’s not enough law enforcement. Hell, Trump skated on his taxes. It’s easy to do when they keep diminishing the IRS. Then again, the elite only wants law enforcement to protect us from the underclass.

And here we have the big lesson. Why our country is divided.

Because the game is rigged. That’s the real education you need in life.

You’ve got to know someone to get a job. Look the other way when your boss behaves badly. Look out for yourself, because nobody else is.

So the rank and file lose traction and wake up being unable to pay their bills as their kids still live at home and…

And what?

They lower corporate taxes and the companies just give the savings back as dividends. There are no jobs created, no investment.

The rich can’t be penalized because they’re the “job creators.”

As for celebrities, everybody’s a brand now. If you’re just an actor, the joke is on you. You’re making baby products or health products or makeup… And the reason Gwyneth Paltrow is hated so much is because people are angry it’s not them. Believe me, those without cash are not thinking about Gwyneth, they can’t afford the entry fee.

But they can vote.

But they vote against their interests because they haven’t been educated enough to divine truth.

Meanwhile, the blame is put on teachers’ unions and everybody should be able to go to a charter school while the government pays for religious education and…

I read “The Tell-Tale Heart” in high school. Mrs. Hurley’s sophomore English class. That’s public school for you. She tested the limits, she didn’t give us a pass. She took us to the theatre, exposed us to Ferlinghetti, not for one moment did we think about our future business opportunities, we were there to LEARN!

You can learn all day long. That’s what’s great about the internet, it’s at your fingertips.

But these same elites keep decrying the smartphone, that’s been the big article on the “Times” for weeks, the guy who lived without his smartphone.

That’s like somebody living without Instacart or Uber.

The smartphone levels the playing field, gives power to those without it. Which is why in China they control it.

But that’s the elites, with their disinformation campaigns.

And the truth is no one is listening to anybody else. Falsehoods rule, they’re uttered by the President on seemingly an hourly basis, so why should you hew the straight and narrow?

Now the celebrities are cooked. The stink of this scandal is gonna stay with them forever. Just like the #MeToo perps.

As for their kids… Hell, Lizzie Grubman wised up, she took herself off the front lines after her bad behavior. Maybe Olivia Jade needs to have her internet privileges taken away, since she knows no responsibility. Make her be just a regular person from here on out.

But those with the real money, the rest of the abusers:

College-admissions bribery scandal: See full list of those charged

You don’t know ’em, they’re gonna get away with it.

Sure, they’ll be pariahs in their communities for a minute. But the truth is their circle does the same kind of thing, it’s all about an edge, the truth is people will applaud them, even if it’s only internally, wonder why they didn’t think of that.

And our country will soldier on.

In Iceland, they put the people who blew up the economy in jail, then they started over and the country is flourishing.

Nobody who crashed the economy here in 2008 went to jail. We were told it would hurt the economy.

Then Manafort doesn’t even get four years.

Are there two Americas?

You bet.

And we’re not moving towards the middle, we’re spreading apart.

Used to be your word was your bond, character was everything, education was a badge of honor, speaking to your identity and integrity.

Now a diploma is just another possession, part of your personal trousseau. Along with your smartphone and brand name clothing and followers online.

I’d say we have to get back to the garden, but it’s scrub because of global warming and we’re too busy eating junk food.

So, be forewarned, it’s every person for themselves these days.

It’s open season. The lesson of this episode is not to hew the straight and narrow, but to plumb the edges.

Ladies and gentlemen…START YOUR ENGINES!


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