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Buying Your Way into College – Affirmative Action for the Rich

We've written before about why schools continue the practice of favoring legacy admissions - accepting the sons and daughters of wealthy alumni. Now there is some empirical evidence of the economics that drive this practice. Slate Magazine recently ran an article about the puzzle of charitable giving in economics - if markets are driven by individuals rationally pursuing their own best interest, where does charity come from? A new study by Jonathan Meer of Stanford and Harvey S. Rosen of Princeton shows that when it comes to donations to one's alma mater, charity isn't altruism. Alumni with kids are 13 percent more likely to donate, and they are more and more likely to donate as their kid reaches age 14. At that point there's a big split - for those parents who's kids go on to apply to the school, donations continue to increase. The parents whose kids do not apply to the alma mater drop off giving. It seems pretty clear that many parents give to their schools because they think it will influence their kids' chances of getting in. Colleges an universities benefit from this, but the study did not examine whether or not the donations worked. This whole process strikes most people as unfair, mostly because the focus on GPAs, SAT scores, and admissions essays makes it look like it's supposed to be a meritocracy. Americans love democracy (where everyone gets an equal say and an equal chance) and stories about unlikely success stories and self-made men. Allowing external factors to secretly skew admissions is so unpopular that affirmative action has been continuously attacked. Legacy admissions are affirmative action for rich people. So my advice to schools is to either do away with the practice (not very likely), or make it public. Why not set aside a certain number of admissions, and just let parents bid on them in an auction? The regular admissions will be more of a meritocracy, and auctions are pure capitalism, something Americans love. Heck, put the admissions up on eBay, that way you don't have to build your own infrastructure.

No Room for Porn at the Inn

Holy Christ on a cracker! The ultra fundies are at it again. Now they want to remove porn from hotel rooms. "There's porn in hotel rooms?" you say. No, not in the nightstand (there's a Bible there) and no, you can't get complimentary strippers. They want to get rid of the porn that's hidden deep inside the Idiot Box. The Boob Tube. The TV. That porn that you can't get unless you turn on the TV, go through 10 menus, choose the right one and put in a PIN to get. The porn you get charged megabucks for. From the article:"These are places that you take your family -- these are respectable institutions," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Anything that brings porn into the mainstream is a concern. It just desensitizes people." Someone needs to make these Fundies hip to capitalism, and soon. Do they actually think that hotels are making all their money SOLELY off of families blowing in for one night on their way to Grandma's? Of course they aren't. They're making their big bucks off of business travelers - companies with huge accounts that send their guys out to Wichita, Kansas to consult the owners of Wichita Widgets for 2 weeks in June without their wives or their families, who have nothing better to do once they get back to the hotel than to WATCH PORN because, heck, they're guys in Wichita for two weeks without their wives or families. There's also the Cheaters and the Escort Service Clients and the People Who Want To Go To A Hotel To Watch Some Porn. Sure, there's families. There's families with Mom and Dad and 2.5 kids on their way to Grandma's or enjoying 3 glorious nights in Sandusky so they can visit Cedar Point. But if you're doing things right, your kids shouldn't be glued to the tv with the remote in one hand traversing the PPV menus. Surely 2 adults (the Christian Family Rule) stuffed in a room with their kids can manage to keep their kids from seeing a little T&A on the tube. Luckily, the heads of Marriot and Hilton aren't going to bow down to the Insaninites. "In-room movies are a revenue stream," he [Roger Conner of Marriot] said. "This is a business matter." Amen. The Fundies have the right to NOT patronize any hotel they want. They have the right to tell other people to NOT patronize the hotels. They even have the right to set up Web sites telling people all about Clean Hotels. But do they have the right to tell the government to tell the business owners how to run their business? Fuck no. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go take a cold shower. And it's not because I was just watching porn.