What Inequality? Even The Rich Have To Cheat Their Way Into College These Days


This strikes me as all most amusing. A scam whereby the children of the rich and famous get to cheat on their college entrance exams has just been busted. Well, an alleged scam that is. But one which seems to have quite a large number of at least semi-famous people who were coughing up to take part. There being a number of different ways to consider this.

We could, of course, just take the easy route and rail about how those already rich get to subvert the system. But that would be trite and would miss the real implication of all this. The proper one is to ponder on how equal this means our society is:

Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and a slew of chief executives are among 50 wealthy people charged in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, federal officials said Tuesday. Those indicted in the investigation, dubbed “Varsity Blues,” allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said. “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference.

Or perhaps:

Naughty rich people.

Now calm down a moment and think what this really means. The basic idea was that if you paid this guy then he’d recommend that your kids took their college entrance exams at one of two particular places. Places where he’d spread the cash and had some control over what the invigilators did. From faking disability so that extra time was granted up to and including correcting papers after they’d been finished.

So far so naughty.

Right, so what is the standard complaint about our grossly unequal society? That the rich get into the right colleges anyway. That they’ve everything handed to them on a plate and the poor but bright just never do get a look in.

What do we actually see? The rich and dim have to bribe their way in, commit criminal acts to try to get in. And what does this tell us about the basic fairness of the entrance system unbribed? That it’s pretty fair actually. For why would rich stupid people bribe and commit crimes to circumvent a system that already preferentially allows them in anyway?

Quite, the very fact that Tim Nice But Dim has to cheat is evidence that the system uncheated doesn’t favour TimNBD. And isn’t that a good thing to know about current American society? Sure, being rich might give you the opportunity to cheat but being rich alone doesn’t mean that you’ll win without cheating.

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