i agree. universities were once a place to meet, study and understand new ideas and peoples, and to gain a deeper understanding of ethics and ways of living. but not so anymore, it seems.
but (not to excuse or defend these universities), i think harvard, yale and princeton provide fertile ground for their major donors' sons -- and to a lesser extent, their daughters -- to find each other and to form cliques that support and strengthen their parents' and families' lack of ethics, their power-at-all-costs training received in private prep schools and at the family dinner table when these brats were youngsters. these elite universities -- and their fraternities -- simply perpetuate the same cruel and hateful ideals that these brats were raised with. increasing one's social circle is the only real service these universities provide, with the likely bonus of obtaining a "proper mate". university studies are an inconvenience, majors and grades are unimportant (they already have lucrative jobs awaiting them, thanks to daaaaaddy), and actually getting an education is a big fat joke to these up-and-coming elites.
These people have bought into the idea that the purpose of an elite education is a well paying job, usually one of their choice. They didn't attend schools to learn or even to think about learning. They attended to get credentials on their way to "success." Expecting them to have any firm ethical beliefs is like expecting a color blind person to distinguish between red and green. To most people the differences are obvious but to this group of "high-acheivers" all ethics are shades of grey and the only choice is which one benefits them most.
Call me naive (my wife does), but as a college student in the late 70s I pursued a curriculum of interest (Political Science, Philosophy, History, Arts & Language) FIRST, before EVER considering HOW that education might translate into the "real" world. A LOVE of knowledge led eventually to a career in teaching that for me, ALWAYS meant PUBLIC SERVICE!
What ever happened to conducting oneself (in some sense, anyway) to what is in the BEST INTEREST OF SOCIETY!!! We have become a collection of individuals who feel as if the "lifeboats" are for the privileged: Anyone remember "Women and Children FIRST???"
Sorry, but this article misses the point, the elephant in the living room. These universities may spout lofty ideals but in fact are simply the training grounds for those elites who are designated the future power brokers. In fact, more nefariously, they are the fertile grounds for those 'secret' societies such as the Skull and Cross bones that plan how to take control of the world. When Bush was in office this particular society was exposed to the public but today that knowledge is not addressed including by Reich in this article. Instead he promotes the mythological belief that university education is based on promoting lofty ideals of service and democratic ideals. I think that belief system needs to be blown apart as it is not based on reality. Those ideals are good and need to be discussed publicly but they also need to be presented as goals not taught by these universities as the ruling elite never believed in them and send their offspring to universities that teach the values of power and greed and elitism.
You have a good point. I’m wondering if the same malevolent forces that have affected top law schools and Ivy League economics classes since Milton Freedman are now prevalent throughout these institutions, churning out not just conservative lawyers, judges, and economists but government representatives as well. Getting into the hearts and minds of elite college students has been a strategy of the far right for decades. Backed by Koch brothers and other billionaires they’ve been patiently playing the long game to turn America into an oligarchy.
Your analysis is all too accurate.
Clearly America’s elite class isn’t what it used to be. Elites have always used their positions of wealth and power to enhance themselves, but earlier generations had a much greater sense of public responsibility and public service. Not to mention ethics and proprietary.
The few members of those earlier generations that I’ve known credited their Ivy League education with instilling the sense they were certainly privileged and deserving of success. But they also had a great responsibility to serve society and make the world a better place. As one member of the Yale class of 1940 told me a number of times “you can always do well by doing good.”
Our modern elites seem to lack that sense of responsibility. Their primary interest is in self dealing and closing off opportunities to the less privileged. They are insulated from the greater society and it’s pain in ways that earlier generations like my friend were not.
Privilege has become a way not to do good, but to become ever more privileged at the expense of society.
Even charity becomes a way of enhancing wealth and influence rather than serving a cause.
That’s bad news for America. Elites have most of the wealth and power and the fate of the nation is to a large extent in their hands.
Most of them also deserve handcuffs for their involvement in helping aid and abet an attempted coup by a sitting president.
I don"t think they learned their morals in college. I think they are following the popular culture that became strong in the 1980's. Greed is a virtue, money is the means to power and power is everything. Anything you need to do to get and maintain power is righteous. Powerful people are good, weak people are useless. Matt Gaetz Josh Hawley, and of course th trumpster himself are exemplars of this culture. What I don't understand is why any person of integrity accepts this as normal.
Exactly !! Makes you wonder if Ivy League schools are good at attracting money or talent. The ruling class can afford Harvard or Yale while the rest of us can’t afford gas ! Not being able to truly attract for all pools of talent but just monied interest is an aristocratic society. The “death tax” the rich got repealed (no one I know is wealthy enough to leave children the gross amount of money) needs to be re-thought unless you like aristocracy !
I believe the problem of universities failing to give students an appreciation for what Bloom called “the permanent concerns of mankind” has been undermining our democracy for a while now. I wrote an essay about it, “The Paradox of a University Education” for my students: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zS5JXq5fKwoXywgOnAKNntn-NBtYHV-zAYwpKw7IMPc/edit
They feel it's to their advantage to act stupid. I am being charitable here.
I was in a small community on the Oregon Coast for a wedding several years ago and I met a couple of locals who were accepted into Harvard as students. They were very enamored with themselves and felt entirely superior to everyone at the wedding. Of course, they did not know they were amongst a group of very high achievers who just barely tolerated their self-absorption and lack of social skills. I thought of taking them to a local bar but I became convinced that they would be beaten to death by the locals for their arrogance and stupidity. I asked the General and one of the Senators for the state if I should take them to the local bar and they said that discretion would probably be the better part of valor.
I was very lucky to attend 8 years of graduate school at Yale University. I took full advantage
of copious resources and access to brilliance to learn more, including in exploring moral and ethical inspiration. While there I learned of a high population of Yale students living with the condition "imposter syndrome", the belief you are not actually qualified to own the status you have, always questioning self, and consequently working harder to earn the privilege. It is not uncommon for Yale students to be humble about where they went to school. In my experience, it has been family, acquaintances, and colleagues who brag about my academic achievements, not me. I have no doubt that monsters graduate from that institution, the laws of biology expect anomalies. I saw cheaters and slackers while there, but they were not the majority. I think the majority of the thousands of undergrads and graduate students who commence forth from New Haven do strive to be of good service to society, the author of this blog is just one example - with exceptional excellence in public service. His law class, with the acceptation of Clarence Thomas, was a remarkable collection of people committed to improving social conditions. The bad apples are certainly disappointments, wasted academic resources, and ultimately dangers to democracy. But they are not all of us.
I think the first question is “what did they learn at home?” By the time these “leaders” entered university they had at least seventeen years at home, school and community to learn skills that foster integrity, empathy and compassion. And common sense. They are on their own when they move into their university housing. No parents or teachers to look out for them. They rely on past lessons and opportunities. Their foundation. They may stumble and fall. Or grow up. Now the influences of even the most prestigious and expensive school will build on those life lessons from home and community. Obviously there’s some serious questions about these mostly repubs. Does their political party encourage and accept lying, cheating and corruption?
Education can't fix stupid!
Power currupts, as does the pursiut of it.