Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grift for the Mill


So here's somebody called Dennis Prager writing at National Review (reprinted from Investors' Business Daily) to congratulate America's capitalists because they have—at long last, sir!—decided to stop giving money to their old colleges:

some alumni are awakening to the fact that their beloved alma mater is nothing like the decent, open, tolerant, committed-to-learning place they remember. Rather, nearly every college and university in America has become the least open, the least tolerant, the most hate-filled, and most anti-American (and, of course, anti-Israel) mainstream institution in America.
(I'd say offhand only one of them could become the least open, least tolerant, and most hate-filled mainstream institution in America, call me a grammar Nazi if you want. On the other hand, is the Republican Party still considered a mainstream institution these days? Competition is pretty intense.)

Or at least a few alumni did, according to an article that showed up in the Times a couple of weeks ago to reveal this disturbing new trend, including theatrical designer Scott McConnell, Amherst '60, who has written Amherst out of his will, and Scott C. Johnston, Yale '82, who hasn't written Yale out of his will, but is pretty darn irritated:

he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day....

“I don’t think anything has damaged Yale’s brand quite like that,” said Mr. Johnston, a founder of an internet start-up and a former hedge fund manager. “This is not your daddy’s liberalism.”
Actually, as far as I can tell activists did not try to shut down the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference (in November 2015) but rather stepped somewhat over the line in exercising their own constitutional right to denounce some of the things that were being said there (a student, Edward Columbia, who was not registered for the event, improperly showed up there, put up posters around the room reading "Stand with your sisters of color. Now, here. Always, everywhere," and shouted a lot after the speaker made a "joke" concerning the burning down of Native American villages, until he was forcibly removed, and one unnamed Buckley fellow claimed without evidence to have been spat upon by somebody, which would obviously be very rude if it did in fact take place though we'll never know whether it did or not), so it was a more complex situation than is usually encountered in Irony 101.

And then,

Much of the alumni unrest at Amherst crystallized around the college’s decision to renounce its unofficial mascot, Lord Jeffery Amherst, known as Lord Jeff, an 18th-century British commander in the French and Indian War who gave his name to the town and, by extension, the college.
A new generation of students has criticized his attitude toward Native Americans; he endorsed the idea of spreading smallpox among enemy tribes by giving them infected blankets.
“He hated the Indians, because any general in his position would have,” said Gordon Hall III, class of ’52, a commercial real estate investor.
And any general in his position would have supported using biological weapons of mass destruction in the hopes of exterminating all the combatants' families, which was totally normal because genocide hadn't been invented yet.

So Hall and Don MacNaughton '65 have written a pamphlet in defense of Lord Jeffery, and he's paid for its publication and promotion with "thousands of dollars he would otherwise have given to the college," and it's apparently true that out of the 35 small and select colleges belonging to the fund-raising organization STAFF (Sharing the Annual Fund Fundamentals), a good 10 have raised less alumni money than they did last year, and another 22 have fewer donors, though they haven't lost any money and in some cases have more, so you can tell the situation is pretty desperate.

And then it's not just the political correctness, but students nowadays "are allowed to take too many frivolous courses." Etc. You've really seen all this before.

The punch line of Prager's piece, anyhow, comes at the end:
here’s my advice to wealthy individuals who love America and do not wish to undermine the Judeo-Christian and classical-liberal values on which it is built: Give to medical research. And if you give to a college, give to one that actually venerates America and the life of the mind (Hillsdale College, for example). Or give to causes that are attempting to undo the damage of the universities. Examples include the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and Prager University (which has had over 100 million views just this year, with the largest group of viewers being people under 35).
Wait, what's that Prager University and why does it measure itself by "views" instead of, say, graduates? Well,
PragerU is not a university and we do not offer degrees.
And according to its mission statement,
The greatest threat to America is that most Americans don’t know what makes America great. PragerU's mission is to explain and spread what we call “Americanism” through the power of the Internet. Our five-minute videos are conservative sound bites that clarify profoundly significant and uniquely American concepts for more than 100 million people each year.
Which means, since these videos are distributed for free, that the non-university has a continuing need for funds that is probably not met by the sale of DVDs (prices ranging all the way up to $115 for some bundled collections), books, and baseball caps at the Prager University Store. So that Prager U. welcomes contributions through online donations, peer-to-peer fundraising events, checks payable to the Prager University Foundation in Owings Mills, MD, or stock transfers.

And since, as you've probably figured out by now, Prager University is a wholly owned subsidiary of the syndicated radio talk show host and opinion columnist Dennis Prager—according to FindTheCompany its revenue in 2013, the most recent reported year, of $1.3 million over expenses of $803,552, gave it a 38% profit margin (a nonprofit can generate profit, it just has to plow the money back into the business; of course it can always raise the officers' salaries); its two employees received an average of $99,363 in compensation, compared to a median of $31,897 for similarly sized education nonprofits throughout the US, and well over the $44K or so they were paying themselves in 2011—this whole column isn't a column but a fundraising pitch. National Review and IBD shouldn't have paid Prager for it, he should have paid them.

$16.99. No reviews.

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