Friday, February 6, 2009

Never Trust a Whore

Wall Street CEOs, investment bankers charged prostitutes on corporate cards, madam says...

Visa, Mastercard or American Express? Or maybe a credit card from JP Morgan Chase?

Wall Street CEOs, lawyers, bankers and media executives chalked up thousands of dollars in prostitution charges on their corporate credit cards -- swiping their cards for $2,000 an hour prostitutes, according to a New York madam who pleaded guilty last year.

Kristin Davis, the madam in question, went public to ABC News this week; ABC will be broadcasting her interview Friday at 10 pm. Davis says she has a list of 9,800 clients, many of whom she says New York prosecutors deliberately avoided when taking her case, even though she offered them her annotated client list.

In what's sure to create a media firestorm parallel to that of when a Washington, DC madam announced that she was publishing her client list (which included at least one senator), Davis' comments come at a time where incredible ire is already focused on Wall Street and banking executives. The pressure for her to release the list will certainly be immense.


After re-reading this, maybe I should change the title of this blog entry to never trust a banker? Or never trust Wall Street? Or...

18 comments:

BAWDYSCOT said...

Since no one is going to comment on this thread, I am going to hijack it with this question.

I never went to a university or state college. When I say I have some college this refers to one and one half years at a junior college. My question is this:

Is there anything I am missing when I promote the idea that many college degrees from high priced state universities could be taught strictly on the Internet, saving untold dollars? I realize science courses and others which need labs would have to have brick and mortar structures(no reason why they couldn't be shared by schools and used for other functions(scientific research, perhaps) though), but teaching degrees, law degrees, English degrees and so many others I fail to see the need for large campuses and all the other accoutrements they provide. These degrees might need some kind of gettogether with other students and teachers, but I see so much wasted at universities and they are so good at getting staff and students to protest when cuts are bandied about. This has just happened in Arizona with our largest institutions and I just have no sympathy for these people because I don't see anyone looking for ways to make a degree more affordable for the common working man.

I also don't see much in the press about why a college education is so fucking expensive. Could it be the fact we have made grants and loans so plentiful and easy to get which sets up the classic inflationary scenario; too much money following a static amount of goods? The government sure ain't going to admit to such a mistake; it makes it easier to get reelected to just hand out more and cheaper money.

All I know is when the pharmaceutical companies charge so much for drugs, the CEOs of these companies get drug in front of Congresspeople and their committees, but I cannot recollect any university presidents getting the same, even though costs for a college education have been escalating faster than the inflation rate for a very long time.

csm said...

Education is not the same over the Internet or CBT (computer-based training) or video. The interaction between a good professor/instructor simply cannot be replicated. The ability to interact with and adapt to different learning styles (kinesthetic, tactile, visual, verbal) can be difficult without a human/human interaction.

However, more and more instructors are not GOOD, so you may be on to something Bawdy.

And for some people, they could get quite a lot, if not most, of the knowledge in an online method. There are schools that do this for less cost than bricks and mortar universities (ex. University of Phoenix - http://www.phoenix.edu/).

Ceroill said...

I propose that one of the reasons why college is so expensive is the overhead. Maintenance and upkeep on all those buildings, supplies for the kitchens and classes, staff to keep all this working more or less properly, etc.

Here's something I've noticed over the last couple of decades: The rapid growth of the specialized 'trade' schools (ITT Tech, etc). This reminds me (with a bit of resentment)of the art school I went to back in the 80's. Unlike most American art schools, they didn't have the full 'approved' curriculum that all 'standardized' art schools must use- In other words, it was not designed to teach anything except art (with art history worked in). Didn't have to have Literature, Math, etc that schools linked with the national school system do.

Here's where I feel a bit of resentment. Back when I was in the tiny independent art school the certificate I got did not count as school credits, or any kind of 'official' credential, because they were not part of the accredited system. BUT, now we have all these other schools that essentially have the same principle, but now you get full credit for anything you do at one of THOSE schools.

Ok. Rant over.

G said...

I think you're on the right track, Bawdy. When it comes to "higher education", most people don't even consider the fact that every university is a business. They are in the business of education. People pay for their services and the prestige of putting their name on a resume.

Universities spend a lot of time and effort trying to recruit top researchers for their staff (research = grant money). The problem is that most of the top researchers aren't really good teachers. But if you can boast multiple Nobel prize winners, you draw more students... and more tuition.

I wouldn't classify it as a scam, but a college education is horribly overpriced.

From my personal experience, lower division classes (the first two years) typically had hundreds of students. They were just lectures. No questions or comments allowed. One could easily just watch an online video and learn just as much. In the upper division classes, the studies get a lot more concentrated and the professors more "hands on" with the teaching. That didn't actually mean they were better instructors, just that there was greater opportunity for interaction.

In many cases, you could probably gain the same knowledge (other than things like labs) from just grabbing the course list for a particular major and going to the university's bookstore to grab all the required reading.

In fact, I seem to have a vague memory of some universities providing free online classes (maybe Stanford and/or MIT, possibly others as well).

In most cases these days, my recommendation to people is that they go to a JC for the first two years, then apply for the big-time university. The education won't fall short at all. The degree will be exactly the same as for those who were there for the full four years. And you will have saved yourself thousands of dollars in the process (anywhere from $15k to $70k).

Here are a couple articles on the subject that might interest you.

Is College Worth It?: Walter Williams


The College Scam: John Stossel

csm said...

Of course, all of this discussion notwithstanding, a college education can absolutely pay for itself over time if you take care to major in something that is "hot" and pursue a career in that field. Having been a hiring manager in my career, I know I favored college graduates over non-graduates...

Ceroill said...

csm, that's a good point too. To give an example of the other side of that. One of my brothers got himself a degree in history. He makes musical instruments for a living.

csm said...

That's interesting Bob. There are a lot of folks I've met who have pursued different careers than what they studied in college. Most of them do not regret the knowledge or experience they gained in school.

And by the way Bawdy, (re: nobody looking for ways to make college more affordable) have you seen this?


http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/CollegeAffordabilityFactSheet.pdf

BAWDYSCOT said...

csm,

This is exactly what I am talking about; the $4000 tax credit is basically an education subsidy and as a subsidy, it adds more money into the system and as you add more money into a system which is going after a static amount of goods and services you get inflation. What protection is there to keep the universities from raising their tuition another $4000 which would put the student and their families right back where they started. Nothing.

The first bullet point at the Obama site cited the statistic that price of a college education has gone up nearly 40% in five years. JUST FIVE FUCKING YEARS! If this was some evil corporation or utility, some one would have their collective asses in a sling. Why this isn't happening to higher education should be looked into.

The better solution in my eyes would be to find a way for universities to compete for students instead of students competing for the services of universities. This might be where the Internet comes in, but I will have to ruminate on this longer.

What I cannot grasp and would like for some one to shed some light is why would some "Progressive"(generally speaking) entity such as a university do the "unProgressive" thing such as raise the price for their services so much faster than the inflation rate of the rest of the economy? I dunno, I smell a rat.

Ceroill said...

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that my brother regrets his area of education. Not in the least. Nor does he resent what he does for a living, it was his choice. But it was a bit of a wake up for him when he tried initially to get a job using his chosen degree.

This has actually been something of an axiom for a long time. If you're going for a 'liberal arts' type education (as compared to a trade education), don't expect to get a job with it.

csm said...

Yes, getting a job with just a liberal arts degree will most likely continue to be quite difficult. I think the best approach, such as that taken by my alma mater, is to demand that students complete a distribution of studies, in addition to their chosen major. I was able to double major and complete a distribution of studies during a regular 4 year commitment. At the time I resented the distribution of studies requirement, but it did broaden my horizons and I appreciate it now.

coreydbarbarian said...

here's a couple thoughts.

with regard to rising costs, i can think of a couple factors that might be cited as a cause.

the first is the cost of upgrading/installing computer networks. alot of colleges here in indiana have been investing in tech infrastructure. but this only accounts for a portion of the rising cost.

my hunch is that a good portion of the rising cost can be attributed to the rising necessity of remedial learning. our primary schools are failing horribly at preparing youth for college. thus, when and if students do go to college, they must relearn most of their facts, wasting precious time.

but even that doesn't cover the problem, does it?

my bottom line is this: in todays culture, with the commodification of education (it should not be viewed as a business, nor should government, this is where a conservative mentality screws things up), students want a "sexy" school. they don't want an education (most of them, anyways), they want an experience, a product that reflects their "coolness". this is why junior colleges and internet schools cannot replace high-end universities; aside from better staff, the universities provide the illusion of a sexy "must-have" product.

in the end, i believe the rising cost of higher education can be attributed to our own cultural tendencies, and our failures to educate properly in the first place.

BAWDYSCOT said...

So the answer is to throw more money at the problem?

coreydbarbarian said...

no, bawdy m'friend, increased spending is merely a side effect of our cultural illness. i offer no easy answers, aside from addressing and correcting our culture first.

the way you're coming at this, i almost think you oppose any need-based assistance, period. maybe you're so entrenched in your conservative ways that all you see is supply & demand and balance sheets, rather than the moral (and cultural) imperative that drives education in the first place.

maybe. ;P

BAWDYSCOT said...

corey,

You rarely ever understand who I really am. I would actually rather "universalize" education than healthcare. I would rather have every citizen attain the education of their choice totally free and subsidized than healthcare. Teachers(professors) already have their pay scales administered by governments and paid by taxes and fees(tuition). And they seem okay with that.

My point is that the Obama "plan" is part of the problem, not a solution.

coreydbarbarian said...

bawdy, i take a different position on your point, and i'm sorry if you took it personally. i certainly didn't mean to offend you, or attack your morals or integrity.

if anything, i wanted to attack the conservative tendancy to view everything in terms of supply & demand and balance sheets. i honestly believe that this particular habit is the cause of many ideological rifts between conservatives and liberals, republicans and democrats.

for me, reducing education to a product is an oversimplification, a cartoonish caricature of the institution. i saw much of the same when mccain touted his plans for putting "real-world" business leaders in positions of authority throughout the federal government. economic laws DO provide a useful metaphor at times, but i grow weary of seeing them misapplied to everything, usually to our nations detriment.

even if i'm wrong on this (and i've been wrong before), i don't know that conservatives would allow such a socialistic system as you propose. they seem to worship at the altar of the free market, insisting that it is their god-given right to pursue profit at all costs, no matter who it hurts.

again, i apologize for offending you. it's not you that i lash out at, it's the system of thought that you seem to employ.

BAWDYSCOT said...

What about the liberal tendency to look to the federal government to solve all of our problems? This doesn't keep Reps and Dems apart? My main beef with your perception of me is that you have a tendency to lump me in with Republican conservatives. I believe in individual liberty, not some political dogma. Anything which will advance freedom is where I want to be, I could care less if it is espoused by a Dem or a Rep. Unfortunately for me, neither party at this time has this on their agenda.

Even though my solution to the high cost of education seems like "socialism" it is actually the way we intended in the beginning. States take care of education. The states should be the ones to provide education and if this were the case I believe we would get more competition between schools and costs would come down. Once the feds get their noses into it by holding up the carrot of money to the states, we start having problems, mainly inflation.

coreydbarbarian said...

bawdy, your friendship is important to me.

i will endeavor to irritate you less, and understand you more. hope you get to enjoy this vday in spite of my being a butt, and a pain in yours. :D

BAWDYSCOT said...

Adjustments are part of relationships and are healthy. I value you guys too; otherwise I would have left long ago. I have few avenues to relate on these types of issues(my fault, probably)and am appreciative of your views as they give me a chance to challenge my "truths". And believe it or not I have softened on some things. My political life has always been pendulumistic(a real word?)and I see myself moving more towards the center except when it comes to individual freedom.

If you were to know me in person, I would come off less curmudgeonly (my wife would probably disagree), but because of what we discuss here and the importance I put on it, this goes to some way to explaining my tone.