As you’ve probably heard, a bunch of rich people have been charged with bribing college officials in order to get their children into various top universities. The scheme involved paying off administrators, sending proxies to take exams, obtaining athletic scholarships on fraudulent grounds, and other devious tactics. Lori Laughlin — Aunt Becky of "Full House" fame — was one of the 50 people charged in the conspiracy. She turned herself in to police this morning.
In my view, there are two points worth making here:
(1) There has been a predictable effort to tie this story to the dreaded "white privilege" bogeyman, but it has nothing to do with race. Some of the people arrested in the case have names like Gamal Abdelaziz, Manuel Henriquez, Agustin Huneeus, I-Hin Chen, and Homayoun Zadeh. I can’t say for certain, but they don’t sounds like the names of white folks. The majority of the culprits are white, admittedly, but the majority of the country is white. The point is that these kids got into college not based on race, and certainly not on merit, but simply on their parents’ ability to pay the bribe. This is about rich privilege, not white privilege.
Privilege in this country comes primarily from three sources: Your economic situation, your family situation, and your natural abilities. There is obviously nothing wrong with being privileged in any or all of those areas, but the point is that a white child who is disadvantaged in the first two categories will face just as many challenges as a black child with similar disadvantages. And either one of them, regardless of race, would have an easier life than the other if their parents had the kind of money to purchase an Ivy League degree under the table.
I’m convinced that people who drone on about "white privilege" have never actually witnessed white poverty. Anyone who has seen a meth-infested trailer park, where fatherless children live in rundown mobile homes with their drug-addicted mothers, could not possibly come away with the conviction that those kids possess any sort of privilege whatsoever. Poverty removes privilege from everyone. Wealth confers privilege to anyone.
(2) The university system is an enormous scam. Academia is morally and intellectually bankrupt from top to bottom. This is evidenced not just by the fact that these wealthy crooks could so easily grease the skids with bags of cash, but even more so by the fact that the kids, so far as we know, didn't immediately flunk out. If universities were primarily interested in educating students, bribery wouldn't be a problem. Academically unqualified applicants would be filtered out of the system by their inability to keep up. The fact that a rich kid can fake his way into a top university and still graduate with a degree tells you all you need to know about the state of higher education.
These kids aren't wunderkind scam artists like the guy from "Catch Me If You Can." Lori Laughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade, has spent her time at college building a YouTube channel (which admittedly will be worth far more than a degree) and, she says, going to "games and parties." Like so many of her peers, she's mostly interested in the "experience" of college. Her parents, like so many of her peers' parents, are mostly interested in the credentials and social status college affords. Her school's administrators, like so many school administrators, are mostly interested in profit, however it might be earned. The one thing that few people in any of these groups seem to be concerned about is education. That's because college is not about education. There's a reason why it's so easy to walk onto any college campus and film one of those classic uninformed-ignoramus-on-the-street segments. There is nothing at all stopping an uninformed ignoramus from getting into college, and nothing preventing him from remaining there all the way through graduation.
We are letting these institutions fleece us and brainwash our children, all because we are frightened of taking any path — or allowing our children to take any path — that is slightly less trodden. If we continue to prop up this corrupt system, and eagerly hand our money over to it, then we are willing patsies in the scam.