Life is not fair. This is not a revelation. Most of us have heard this mantra our entire lives. First from our parents, when a friend was allowed to do something we weren’t, like stay up late or watch a PG-13 movie. You know the drill. (Child – “No fair. Jim/Jane is allowed to do it.” Parent – “Jim/Jane is not my kid. You are. Life is not fair.”) Then, perhaps, you experienced it when a coach picked someone else for the team instead of you, even though everyone “knew” you were the better player. Or, maybe, you experienced it at work when the promotion you “deserved” went to someone else whom the boss liked better. Now, as a parent, many of you have repeated the mantra to your own kids.
Even the famous and well-worn expression “all men are created equal” is not exactly accurate. The child born into poverty in a third-world country is not really “equal” to one born in the US. Within the US some children are borne into poverty while others, having hit the genetic lottery, are born into wealth and privilege. They don’t start out equal, but, in theory, our system is supposed to provide everyone with at least the opportunity to be successful. Indeed, our history is replete with examples of successful people who began life poor, or even destitute, yet somehow managed to succeed. Equal opportunity is the key, which brings me to the college admissions scandal that is currently inundating our news.
Some would say this is nothing new. It has been going on forever. Perhaps, but I doubt to this extent, and in any event, I see a new twist to this. What really aggravates me is the sheer hypocrisy, the unremitting sense of entitlement. More on this later.
The focal point of this scandal is William Singer, a Newport Beach, CA businessman, who has been charged with several counts of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and obstruction of justice against the US. In his words, he merely provided a “side door” for admission, as opposed to the “front door,” whereby a student gains admission on his own merits, or a “back door,” where the parents donate a building. In order to mitigate his penalties he has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for some six months. He has been providing a virtual treasure trove of information regarding the scandal.
The prosecutors allege this scandal has been going on since 2011, but it may have existed, in some form, for a lot longer. According to the FBI, federal prosecutors, the “NY Times,” and Wikipedia the FBI has alleged the key elements of this scandal are as follows:
1. Bribing SAT and ACT examiners to create inflated scores. It is alleged that Singer was able to arrange for his clients’ children to take their SAT or ACT exams at sites, such as Houston or LA, where he had bribed officials to correct their answers, if necessary, and in some cases, look the other way while “stand-ins” actually took the exams.
2. Bribing college administrators and coaches to “push” unqualified or poorly qualified candidates on the basis of their supposed athletic prowess. In some, cases, these applicants had never even played the sport, in question. Moreover, Singer would create false resumes inflating the applicants’ accomplishments, claiming a disability, or even lying about their ethnicity to boost their credentials. The universities involved read like a “who’s who,” Stanford, Yale, USC and University of Texas, among many others, and the sports are varied, such as soccer, tennis, water polo, and crew. One could almost admire the creativity of some of these parents. For example, one used “photoshop” to create a false record of his son being a football player. In the case that has received the most notoriety so far, actress Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) is alleged to have paid $500,000 to get her daughters into USC as members of the rowing team despite the fact that neither had ever participated in the sport. One of the daughters, Olivia Jade, exhibiting callous indifference to the situation, blithely stated “I don’t really care about school, just the parties and the experience.” Nice, and she took the place of a kid who really needs and wants to go to college.
4. Typically, the payments were funneled through a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in order to conceal the aforementioned bribes. This enabled Singer to avoid income tax on the payments and enabled the parents to deduct the payments as “donations.” Sweet deal.
5. In some cases, the child was complicit; in other cases, he or she was unaware.
The repercussions of this scandal will likely be far-reaching. It appears that it will touch wealthy elites in all walks of life – entertainers, businessmen, athletes and, perhaps, even politicians. I can understand that parents of means will desire to give their children every advantage in life, but it should be legitimate and legal. It should not include bribery, fraud, and other illegalities.
I view this as one more example of the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement of the so-called elites. I am “fed up” with it. Most of these people think the laws and rules of society that apply to the vast majority of people do not apply to them. They talk about helping the less fortunate, but see nothing wrong with their child taking a spot in college that should have gone to a child of a middle class or working class family. Let’s not overlook that aspect of this mess.
These are the same people who spout off about “climate change,” yet travel by private jets. They want to open our borders, yet they live in gated communities with walls and 24X7 security. They support the “Green New Deal,” which would outlaw airplanes and cars to “save the planet,” but don’t consider how people who don’t live in NY or LA are supposed to travel from place to place. For example, OAC, who spouts one inane idea after another on social media and tv, wants to outlaw cars, yet she rides in limos everywhere even though subways and buses are readily available. They even want to control what we eat. For example, the mayor of NYC has imposed “meatless Mondays” in public schools, but he doesn’t realize that many kids may need and want the nutrition, which they may not get at home.
Federal prosecutors advised they are processing indictments against over 50 people so far, so this scandal is likely to touch many more people. Furthermore, several coaches have been fired; some universities, e.g. USC, have announced they are reviewing some of the questionable admissions; and several class action lawsuits have been filed against some of the universities. Undoubtedly, there will be more legal action to follow.
For once, I sort of agree with Elizabeth Warren, who professed to have “zero” sympathy for the perpetrators. By the way, does anyone else see the irony of her statement considering what she has done to falsify her background?