Bribing, cheating, and other parental tips

Why didn’t my parents love me as much as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman love their children?

How do you know a scandal is bad? Well one way is that it raises multiple negative issue, and they’re all so damning that we literally can’t decide which is worse. The recent bribery scandal just revealed that has infected the integrity of our colleges and universities is one of those situations, and quite frankly, I truly can’t decide which aspect of it is worse. Is it the fact that rich people cheat in order to give their already advantaged children more of an advantage? How about the fact that so-called prestigious colleges are on the take, or that we, fools that we are, are surprised by any of this? The recently revealed scandal involving some of our nation’s most selective colleges, and the high-profile individuals who apparently were more than willing to leverage their money, power, and positions in order to get their little darlings into these universities could easily serve as the epoch of this particular time in our history.

Scandals like these are always chock full of irony. For example, when you are Felicity Huffman and you are embroiled in a scandal that says you tried to bribe your child’s way into college, and you are married to William H. Macy, the star of a television show called Shameless, is it life imitating art? (You Tube)

The college bribery scandal that has just been revealed by the FBI tells a story about America in 2019 that is far from flattering. In fact, it calls out not only a corrupt system, but an entire generation’s approach to parenting, a galling lack of values and morality, a culture built on entitlement, ugly suburban competitiveness, and most upsetting of all, a society where if you think we have a level playing field, than you must be the person who believed that before 1947, the reason there were no African-Americans in Major League Baseball was because they simply weren’t good enough.

It’s hard for me or most people to understand and appreciate just what transpired in this scandal since most of us did not have the kinds of opportunities that extreme wealth can provide. It’s not like I grew up poor mind you. My father was an accountant and he made a good middle-to-upper middle class living. My brothers who are a bit older than I grew up kind of “poorish,” and they’ve reminded me many times that I came along on the gravy-train, but hey, who told them to be born first? Either way, while my parents could afford to send me to any SUNY of my choice, they weren’t in a position to let’s say promise to build a new library at SUNY Oswego, or provide SUNY Oswego with a new heliport, although we’d all agree it could have used one. They certainly weren’t going to bribe anybody to get me into anywhere that my, and I use this term very lightly, “achievements” had rightfully earned me from my time at Plainedge High School. Nope, nobody was going to pretend that I was a member of the Plainedge High School Red Devil’s Rowing Team, not that we had one, so I could attend Harvard. (Growing up on Long Island, I did spend a bit of time in the sump, a large ditch found on Long Island built to collect the rainwater, but that was for medicinal purposes.)

My “accomplishments” at Plainedge High School in North Massapequa, impressive that they were, probably wouldn’t have gotten me into an Ivy League school without a substantial bribe from my father. Thanks a lot Dad, you cheap skate! (Hoffman Collection)

The so-called college bribery scandal plays into most American’s prejudices. It doesn’t take much for all of us to point out the entitled behaviors of the so-called “elites.” We’re also typically not fond of those who pass themselves off as intellectually superior since they tend to believe that they have achieved permanent residency on the moral high ground. There’s always going to be resentment towards those who feel that the rules don’t apply to them, and can essentially do whatever it is that their wealth, status, and degree of celebrity allows them to get away with. In addition, these are not just any colleges that seemed to be only too willing to accept these bribes, these were the top schools. The one’s most of us have neither the money, family name, or let’s be honest, the grades to get into.

So what are these people who are being implicated in this scandal being accused of? Well, it depends. In some cases it was simply bribery. “Here’s a lot of money, please let my son or daughter into your seemingly prestigious university.” (Of course it has been made less prestigious over the fact that you’re accepting a bribe from somebody whose child is notably sub-standard.) Some actually bribed people who were administering the SAT, the standardized test that’s supposed to separate college ready from non-college ready high schoolers. They actually had these administrators of the exam change the incorrect answers provided by the wunderkinds of the rich and famous so they would get better scores. Others appealed to coaches at these big name universities and asked them to find a spot on their athletic rosters even if their little gifts to humanity had barely ever demonstrated any competence at all in whatever sport they were trying to use to get them into these schools. Some parents went as far as superimposing their children’s heads on bodies of superior athletic bodies. A victory for the parents of endomorphs everywhere.

The hallowed grounds of SUNY Oswego where my father allegedly bribed the admissions counselor with my mother’s patented Matzo Brei. The admissions counselor scoffed and stated that admission to a fine institution such as “Oz.” started at 20 Sal’s Birdland Wings. My father was said to have exclaimed, “Are you out of your mind, this is highway robbery! I’m not made out of chicken wings!” (You Tube)

The entire sordid affair is a stain on our culture any way you slice it. Where oh where to begin? Well, let’s start with these so-called institutes of higher learning. It’s been well-known for quite some time that institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, and other allegedly top-notch places of learning have inflated grades in order to keep marginal students paying their enormous tuitions, as well as maintaining the allure of being places where bright young individuals go to show off their God-given smarts. High schools do this as well, but at some point somebody has to show some sort of actual promise in order to attend these fraudulent institutions.

However, there’s always some scion of the rich and powerful who just isn’t cutting the mustard academically. (There’s no proof that when a child of a rich and powerful person badly under-achieves due to a lack of ability, effort, intelligence, or simply reeks of entitlement that it’s called pulling a “Kushner,” but I think we’d all agree it should be.) In cases such as these parents pull out the checkbook, and make a sizable donation to the college or university, and quicker than you can say “Is that a pledge pin on your uniform?” Daddy’s little monster is having Jeeves move her fall wardrobe into her dormitory. If you don’t believe me that this is the way it’s been done for years, ask the producers of The Simpsons, they laid it out in chapter and verse many years ago.

(Really, is there any issue in modern American history that hasn’t been predicted with incredible accuracy by The Simpsons?)

Oh but if only we could lay all of the blame on these snooty intellectuals, then we could all rationalize away the rest of the story. However nothing is that simple. Before there can be a “bribee,” there must be a “briber.” What does this scandal say about our culture? Our boasting, show-off, check me out on social media and see how great I am thanks to whatever my children are up to culture. As Denzel Washington’s character said to Matthew Broderick’s in the Civil War drama, Glory, “It stinks real bad, and we all covered up in it.” So many baby-boomers and Generation X parents have wrapped themselves up so thoroughly in their children’s activities and “accomplishments” that they themselves practically cease to exist.

Parenting over the past 30 years or so seems to be based on how many organized activities you can register your children for, and how accomplished those children are in those activities. Family activities as well as whatever familial bonds that are formed are now made based on the child or children’s activities. Family free time, as well as unorganized play for the child is as quaint and outdated as the concept of children being allowed to leave the house and actually knock on another child’s door to see if they want to play without parents actually organizing a “play date.” What does all of this lead to? It leads to children who can’t do for themselves, entertain themselves, or occupy themselves. All of their problems are fixed by their parents who are now known as “bulldozer parents,” or parents who bulldoze all problems out of their children’s way so they need not ever struggle or know any hardship. Apparently that would include being turned down by a college that they are obviously not qualified for.

Lori Loughlin’s daughter it would appear was not what we’d call “USC material.” Is Lori a bad parent for wanting the best for her daughter? Is she a bad parent for cleaning all of the potential problems that being a mediocre student might experience out of her child’s way? Actually, I would say she’s pretty much par for the course here in America. (New York Times)

As long as we’re pointing fingers, let’s not forget the so-called elites. These are the rich and famous who obviously can’t stand the thought of their children being left behind by the best and the brightest. It’s bad enough that the entire Midwestern and Southern part of the country think that the coastal elites think they are better than they are, now these big show-offs have to bribe colleges and universities to make sure that their spoiled and entitled little monster gets to go to the best colleges. Nothing like bridging that gap between the rich and everybody else. This is made all the better by having actress Lori Loughlin and her You Tube celebrity daughter at the center of this scandal. Loughlin who offered a bribe of hundreds of thousands of dollars so her daughter could attend USC, not only owes all of the kids who lost their spot at the university to her spoiled trolip of a daughter an apology, but she owes the rest of us an apology for making all of that money by appearing in what is arguably the worst program ever televised, Full House. As if that’s not bad enough, she’s now raking in money on a reboot of that horrific program, and let’s be honest, there isn’t enough money in the world for her to bribe anybody with any sense to watch that unnatural disaster.

While all of this is aggravating, by far the worst aspect of this entire tawdry tale is how it exposes a reality that most Americans are uncomfortable discussing. The idea that everybody has an equal opportunity in this country to achieve and improve upon their station in their life is fundamental to what is known as the “American Dream.” However, while our nation may provide a far better opportunity than a vast majority of the nations on this Earth, a scandal such as this demonstrates that we still have quite a distance to go before we can claim that the American landscape is paved upon a level playing field. You can’t argue that we live in a truly balanced society when access to success and achievement is made so readily available to anybody willing to pay for a shortcut so their already over-privileged children can ride the coattails of their rich and influential parents, while those who are not so advantaged are left out in the cold. Remember, every kid who got into one of these elite schools thanks to their parents influence and money took a spot away from a student who may not have had these advantages, attempted to do things the right way, strove to improve their lot in life, and ended up getting stiffed.

This is Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Gianulli. She is a You Tube sensation, and influences pop culture. When the college bribery scandal broke she was on a USC official’s yacht. I can definitely relate. I was on SUNY Oswego’s President Dr. Virginia Radley’s dingy on Glimmerglass Lagoon when the U.S. invaded Grenada. (You Tube)

Some have suggested that this really isn’t a big deal, and that it is being overblown only because it involves a few celebrities. Others have tried to use this to slam phony Liberals who scream about equality while stacking the odds in favor of their already privileged children. Still some have pointed out that Conservatives should feel shamed over the fact that they claim that everybody in America has the same opportunity, and yet thanks to this scandal this fact has proven to be blatantly untrue.

The true fact is that we live in a society that regardless of our political leanings we are all trying to smooth the way for our children. We are all at once helicopter parents, watching over everything our children do, as well as bulldozer parents, eliminating every conceivable obstacle that may present itself. Here’s an idea, be a parent such as those who raised the baby-boomers and the Gen X-ers. Put your child as well as your own cell phone in a box for 24 hours, send your kid out of the house and see if they make it home alive before you have a stroke, or at least an anxiety attack. Better yet, when they are ready to go to college, let them fill out the application. If they do it correctly then they get to go, if not, then they’ll have to figure out something else. (Cue gasps.) It’ll truly be your proudest moment as a parent.