I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but ever since the Republican Presidential nomination was decided for Generalissimo Covfefe, two out of three of these columns have been about things he has been doing to suspend the workings of the known universe. These things have all been downers.
Now, humor is basically of two kinds, up and down. Up humor takes something down and lifts it up. It’s your basic gallows humor. Down humor is the opposite. If all you ever do is up humor, your down humor muscles atrophy. We need some intrinsic upper-style news stories to work off and get our muscles back in shape.
There’s been something in the news that’s not at all the kind of downer that Trump-news regularly is, even though it seems at first sight to tell us something bad has been happening. I’m talking about the college admissions cheating scandal.
Let’s face it. Even if the Justice Department didn’t find out about all the cheating and never brought charges, and the cheating continued indefinitely, it would not have led to the end of the world.
From the right perspective, it’s an up story. Let’s try to see it that way.
When I started college at the University of Washington in 1967, my fall quarter tuition was $115. The total cost of my books was under $50. Tuition increased over the next four years to a whopping $133 per quarter in 1971. In 2019 dollars that would have been $830. But today’s tuition at UW for Washington residents is roughly four times $2,500.
That’s scary, and that’s why people are going into debt for life to get a degree I could get without any loan at all. All I needed was a lousy night job at a sleazy motel on Aurora. (Speaking of education!)
I didn’t have to fake being a star water polo player to be admitted. Instead I needed a 2.5 GPA, and had to pass a five-minute water-treading test in my first year.
We had a system back in the ’60s where we taxed rich people to help pay for everyone’s college educations. Part of the idea was we figured that rich executives of corporations made a lot of their money off the talents of college educated employees. So they owed some of that back to keep the flow of college-educated employees going.
That ended by the ’80s. Funding for higher education was cut everywhere. Poor people could either sit outside campuses and wonder what went on in them, or they could effectively become indentured servants for life, if they wanted to partake.
With that little bit of background, now for the good news. Wealthy parents have found a great new way to get their kids into top schools, by faking test scores and claiming nonexistent sports qualifications.
These kids will bring down the reputations of schools like Yale, Harvard and MIT. The schools’ academic reputations will suffer as they struggle to find excuses to graduate students who shouldn’t ever have been admitted. Their water polo teams will fail for lack of players who can swim. None of their basketball players will be able to dribble and their football players won’t know how to throw.
When their teams fail to win games, rich alumni donors will donate less and less, and high tuitions at those schools will soar even higher, so only cheaters will be able to get in, and Yale, Harvard, etc., will have only cheaters from rich families enrolled as undergraduates.
In my day we had a similar system. Instead of parents paying for a stooge to take their kids’ SATs, they gave their kids sufficient allowances so the kids could buy all the speed required.
Let’s hope the charges brought by prosecutors dont put a stop to all this, so that rich kids today won’t have to take speed, like so many had to back in the ’60s and ’70s.
See what I was saying? This story is an upper all by itself. We need to find a downside.
Well, let’s see. As a result of the downfall of the former top schools, relatively cheap online colleges will proliferate and thrive. This will thrill Betsy DeVos. She will be happier than she has ever been in her life and she will chirpily declare the establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth.
I don’t believe I could stand to see her that cheerful.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
Read the full March 20 - 26 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change and donate now to support independent, award-winning journalism.