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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Affirmative action for rich assholes

Salon: Legacy preference in college admission, or the practice of selecting the offspring of alumni over other qualified candidates, was originally a strategy developed to grandfather Jewish applicants out of admission. Though the policy’s intention has changed, it remains the reality that as American students head back to campus this fall, 10 to 25 percent of them do not deserve their spots. They’re “legacy admits,” the kids who got a boost via birth.

Quite a boost, in fact. In their 2005 paper “The Opportunity Cost of Admission Preferences at Elite Universities,” Princeton scholars Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung found that legacy status gives fortunate applicants the equivalent of an additional 160 points on the former 1,600 point SAT scale. One hundred sixty points is no small adjustment; on the contrary, it’s the sort of improvement hopeful high schoolers bury their noses in books for. Yet it comes gratis to a set of students already privileged enough to be born to graduates of prestigious institutions.
Worse, the “legacy” system is a taxpayer supported free ride. Where the rest of us have to actually pay to get into college, legacy admissions pay to go to the head of the line. That payment is somehow “charity” and actually qualifies as a tax write-off — as if there’s some sort of noble sacrifice in getting little Dubya into a school he would never otherwise qualify for in a million years.

Who makes up the difference here? Well, you do. According to the report, “alumni that make such donations are entitled to deduct the amount of their donation from their income for tax purposes. In so doing, the richest alumni receive a tax subsidy of 40 percent of the amount of their donation. That is, the public ultimately funds as much as 40 percent of any given legacy admissions payment.” No wonder these clowns have such an oversized sense of entitlement.

Welfare for the rich is fine. Help for those who actually need it is somehow called “government waste.”

[photo by Arenamontanus]

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