I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that ethics rot is galloping through U.S. society and culture faster than I or anyone can match in efforts to curb it, and my wan attempts to sound ethics alarms are futile. This story is more proof.
Last fall, Robert F. Smith, the billionaire founder of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, paid $139 million to federal authorities to settle one of the biggest tax evasion cases in American history. The tax evasion that sent gangster Al Capone to federal prison (where he died) was peanuts in comparison. Smith, a billionaire (and who knows how much of his wealth was acquired by unethical or illegal means, since he tried to cheat his own country out of taxes while butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers were paying their fair shares) could pay a $139 million with the ease you or I could pay an over-due parking ticket.
Yet despite this admission of criminal activity on a grand scale,
So much has happened since I designated the African-American mogul an Ethics Hero for spontaneously announcing that he would pay off an entire graduation class’s college debt that I almost forgot about Leslie’s provocatively contrary Comment of the Day. Triggered by the backlash against Oprah Smith’s generosity provoked, Leslie launched a critical barrage against Smith, or what his gift symbolizes. She backed down a bit in a later comment on the thread, but her original post is thought-provoking.
In addition, Leslie gets special credit for the Mansa Musa reference. I would include the Mali ruler in the cultural literacy list except for the fact that our culture almost completely ignores major Islamic historical figures.
Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith:
Don’t belittle Oprah– she bought everybody KFC. Robert Smith isn’t even feeding anybody. Robert Smith isn’t even teaching anybody how to fish in order to feed themselves for a lifetime.
I’m sure he means well, but I don’t think that paying off somebody’s college loans is helping that person become independent and self-reliant. They’re getting out of the contracts they signed in order to finance their careers. Maybe they’ll remember that and pass the favor on and the world becomes a better place.
Or maybe the college education market will be thrown into MORE disarray with a flood of copycat donations the way it was thrown into disarray by government subsidies and the cost of education will go up AGAIN because students are not responsible for the cost of their education. When Mansa Musa passed through Cairo, he gave away so much gold that the economy collapsed and the next time he passed through, he had to buy it all back to restore the economy. If he wanted to do some good, he should have just helped some poor people. That’s the nice thing about poor people– giving your money to them is fairly harmless. Continue reading
Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
Tuesday’s ethics, not so much…
1. The other shoe drops...the New York Times yesterday editorialized against the generous gift to Morehouse students by billionaire and Ethics Hero Robert F. Smith. It also took a swipe at Smith himself, whose wealth the Times appears to consider suspect. What the mouthpiece of the Left is lobbying for is Bernie Sanders’ free college for all, meaning that not just billionaires but you and I will all have to pay for inflated tuition at institutions that do not so much teach as indoctrinate (or, in the case of Ohio State and who knows what others, molest).
The wonderful thing about Smith’s gift is that it was a complete surprise. The students had a strong financial motivation not to waste their college years taking useless courses on the Patriarchy of Gas Grilling, and instead had every reason to try to prepare themselves for the workplace. Free college education becomes a privilege and a lark, with no accountability or commitment required.
2. Fake Headline Dept. I have seen this in several places: “Ciara Accepted Into Harvard University’s Prestigious Business School.” (Ciara is a pop diva, if you care.)
Uh, no, she wasn’t. She is going to attend a Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports program at the B-school that lasts all of three days. She’ll pay for it, too. Ciara doesn’t have a college degree, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I bet she’ll tell people for the rest of her life that she attended the Business School, just like Bill O’Reilly still says he’s a Harvard grad because he attended the Kennedy School of Government on campus.
Not that a Harvard degree is anything to boast about these days… Continue reading
If your reaction upon seeing the headline above was “WHO?” then it is fair to say, is it not, that that the mainstream news media has not sufficiently publicized the news made by Smith of late to permeate your consciousness. After you have read about him, it would be prudent to ponder why this might be.
The reason Smith is an Ethics Hero is this: He was the Morehouse College class of 2019 Commencement speaker, and after receiving his honorary degree, announced that he would pay off the entire class’s student debt.
The gift to the all-male, “historically black” college in Atlanta appears to to be worth about $40 million, and will affect nearly 400 students. It is the largest individual donation to a historically black college or university. [ Not to inject a sour note, but if previously racially exclusive white colleges cannot continue their discriminatory ways by designating themselves “historically white colleges,” then the “historically black college” dodge to encourage and justify racial discrimination in both admissions and institutional marketing ought to be retired permanently. The so-designated colleges now have a collective student body that is about 22% white. ] Continue reading