Hillary Clinton has sounded the alarms (lest Sen. Elizabeth Warren sound it louder) over student dept and the high cost of college education. Then she has blithely accepted nearly two million dollars to give one hour canned speeches at eight universities, including four public institutions.
This is causing some anger on campuses, as it should. How can a school raise tuition, claim that it is strapped for funds, and then pay a wealthy woman over $200,000 to give a speech? It can’t—not responsibly or ethically. Nor is it responsible or ethical for the speaker, while stating publicly that she deeply cares about higher education, to ask for and accept such funds.
The issue came to light after University of Las Vegas students began protesting a scheduled speech by Clinton at her going rate of $225,000, asking her to return the fee. What has followed is a lot of rationalizing and lame defenses of the indefensible.
Fact: no school should be paying the equivalent of a student’s multi-year tuition for a one hour speech, even if Abraham Lincoln has agreed to come from beyond the grave to give it.
Fact: no decent, caring public figure should charge or accept such a fee.
The Washington Post this morning dutifully lists the various excuses and justifications offered by some of the wasteful institutions—many refused to give the Post any information, or confirm what they paid. My favorite was this one:
“Brian Greenspun, a Las Vegas media baron and UNLV trustee, strongly defended Clinton’s fee, which he said is expected to be fully covered by proceeds from the dinner. He said her star power will boost foundation donations.“If you bring the right speakers in, people will come listen to them,” Greenspun said. “If you bring the wrong speakers in, no one will show up. The right speakers, in today’s capitalistic world, cost more money….All Hillary’s doing is getting paid what she normally gets paid for giving speeches — not much more, not much less — and she does honor to the university by coming.”
The Post then notes that Greenspun was Bill Clinton’s roommate at Georgetown University. What a coinkidink! Of course, this is the entire explanation for the ridiculous fees. It is an example of Democratic cronyism, with the same ideological warriors who are training your children to despise American history and culture abusing their position and the funds they steward to funnel money to political figures of their choice and preference.
Wait! All of the cash is given to the Clinton Foundation, which, like all foundations, Does Good Things! It doesn’t matter. The Foundation does what the Clintons want it to do, which means that the money enriches them. And the primary ethical problem isn’t where the money goes, but where it comes from and that it is charged at all.
That, and if you care about such things, the fact that the greedy individual accepting the money then postures about the high cost of education and how much she is committed to assisting the struggles of ordinary people.
As a professional speaker who is not a gazillionaire like both Clintons (but, ironically, considers himself “well off,” unlike them! ), I find myself banging my head against my desk. I give speeches to non-profit groups all the time, and they always remind me that they are financially strapped. So I cut my fees, and often waive them entirely, in the interests of the good. I also do this with municipal, state and national government agencies. I speak about ethics for two to four hours, and I guarantee, absolutely guarantee, that any student anywhere will go away from one of my presentations with more useful information and enlightenment than Mrs. Clinton can possibly impart with one of her cookie-cutter, sixty minute speeches. I’m funnier, too (but then who isn’t?)
Boy, am I a sucker.
But not as big a sucker as those eight schools
Whoa, now, wait a minute! Hillary doesn’t always gouge schools! The Post notes that she has spoken “on a few campuses for free, including the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she was awarded an honorary degree at a celebration last fall marking the school’s 600th anniversary. Clinton also visited Yale Law School, her alma mater, celebrating her 40th-year reunion and receiving the prestigious “Award of Merit.”
Wow…Hillary doesn’t charge universities to give her honorary degrees and awards! What a mensch. Let’s elect her President.
The Post also quotes Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which highlights waste in higher education, as saying that Clinton’s speaking fees raise “real questions about priorities of universities at a time when many of them are crying poor.”
That’s going out on a limb, Anne. The Clinton fees don’t raise questions about the priorities of universities, they answer questions. Some of the questions are…
- How responsible and trustworthy are university leaders?
- Do they care as much about the welfare of students as they do sucking up to political power-brokers?
- Should donors keep responding to their desperate pleas for donations?
- Should students accept their endless tuition increases?
- Should taxpayers foot the bill for student loans that allow universities to keep wasting money?
And this one…
Does Hillary Clinton have integrity?
Facts: Washington Post
Graphic: Phyllis L. Smith Asinyanbi