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Steve Lopez

Lopez

LOS ANGELES — We’ve been hearing about it for years.

The system is rigged.

Donald Trump went at it from the right, Bernie Sanders from the left. They targeted different villains but identified the same casualty.

The little guy. The one who kept falling further behind while a select few prospered.

And now we can see it as clear as the writing on the indictment.

The college entrance cheating scandal unveiled by federal prosecutors on Tuesday is a story for our time, a perfect snapshot of fatuous American greed and savage inequality.

The parents charged in the scheme are rich and connected, and their children had all the advantages that come with such privilege.

But, if prosecutors are right, that wasn’t enough.

So they cheated to get their kids into some of the most elite universities in the United States, according to the indictment.

Some parents allegedly paid hundreds of thousands to put in the fix on SAT scores, or to bribe school officials, while others paid millions.

“We’re talking about deception and fraud — fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference Tuesday. As he spoke, some of the four dozen accused perps were still being rounded up and paraded into courtrooms in a national spectacle of moral depravity.

And California — national capital of both wealth and poverty — played a central role in the scandal.

Heads have already rolled at UCLA and USC.

Actress Lori Laughlin and her husband, clothing brand creator Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters designated as recruits for the USC crew team.

One of the two daughters babbles in a YouTube video about her academic interests. “I don’t really care about school,” she says, adding that she does want to participate in game days and partying. She later apologized for her remarks.

Actress Felicity Huffman is accused of disguising a $15,000 charity payment in a bribery scheme with the goal of upping her daughter’s SAT score. Huffman is the wife of actor William H. Macy, star of a TV drama in which a main character was busted for taking SAT tests for other students. The show is called “Shameless,” and what can I add to that?

Rick Singer, the Newport Beach owner of a college admissions company, was described by prosecutors as the mastermind of the scheme, which was designed to get students into UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown, regardless of whether they’d earned the shot and without consideration of those whose admission dreams were snuffed to make room.

You can’t really blame the kids for what the grown-ups are accused of doing, and in some cases, it’s not clear the kids even knew what was happening.

But if the charges are true, what kind of world do these people live in? I can’t think of a more corrosive parental lesson than to teach kids that if they can’t quite make the cut, it doesn’t matter, no need to work a little harder, not if you have money.

If the fancy private schools and SAT prep courses can’t do the trick, the proudly entitled know how to win the game anyway.

And by the way, enough already with the idea that in a country with thousands of universities, only a handful are worth going to.

Parents and kids focused only on exclusive schools are wasting time, money and energy on the paper chase, and subjecting children to ridiculous levels of pressure and peer judgment.

And for what?

If these people think their kids need a leg up, I’d be happy to give them a tour of Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, where nearly a quarter of the children don’t have stable housing.

Or, for a different view of what college is all about, they could pay a visit to my Cal State L.A. class, where most of the students come out of underfunded public schools. The bribes and fees allegedly paid by a single one of the corrupt parents would more than cover a year’s tuition for the whole class.

My students may not be able to buy their way into fancy colleges, but they arrive with a set of powerful tools. They’re scrappy, hungry and intimately familiar with the skills of survival, and they’re driven by a desire to make their parents proud with hard work. Many of them take more than four years to get their degrees because they’re working a job or two or taking care of their elders or their youngers.

They have no mommies and daddies who can fix SAT scores. Where they come from, on the other side of the rigged world, there are no shortcuts.

And they’re better for it.

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(50) comments

martian2

another stupid and crazy post from hoaxer, feeling the hate and changing the topic. He fits the profile perfectly of these crazed right wing gunman. Why is it all these mass shootings are done by the right wing nut jobs. You never hear of a crazed liberal doing it, or even a woman doing it. Hoaxers white nationalists group wants to turn the tables and blame blacks and whoever is not white for the violence. All he has to do is look in the mirror to see what perpetrates such hate. Am I right Dmoney, or is it just not worth your precious time!!!

DMoney

It's definitely not.

Climatehoax

Since the Trib is afraid to put the story front and center, I’d like to make a comment about the killings in NZ.
Why aren’t Muslims and blacks labeled ‘brown supremacists’ when they kill people? Is it to further denigrate the white man?
How come Muslims or for that matter ANYONE, never emigrate TO a Muslim country?
If you liberals are to ignorant to figure out the answer, I’ll fill you in, just ask.

PhysicsIsFun

Racism is alive and well here in Wisconsin. You can always count on ClimateDope to make the most absurd and disgusting comment. No further degradation of white people is needed once you weigh into the discussion. Luckily you only speak for a small portion of us. Only a true racist could come up with this after the tragedy in New Zealand.

martian2

Amen again physics! And again it is telling who is so silent when Hoaxer raises his racist flag on these pages. Not a peep from those on the right. Not worth time and effort they say. They are just as complicit as Hoaxer.

DMoney

You are more like him than you think.

martian2

how so Dmoney, spell it out. The only thing I have in common with hoaxer is we are both human. Perhaps its you who is more like him than you think. Careful now, its not worth your time or effort to combat hatred and racism.

oldhomey

Another strong statement from D, which he supports with his vast array of "data".

Climatehoax

It’s laughable how easily you libs accept defeat . Calling me names doesn’t make you smarter, or better, as a matter of fact, not presenting an argument tells everyone all they need to know about you. You have no moral compass, no direction, no knowledge of right from wrong. Calling someone a racist is equivalent to raising the white flag. The good guy wins again!

DMoney

You and Cassandra2 (who must've gotten banned?) Are the most prejudicial people on these comments, by far. But you think because you direct your mass hate towards white people, it's ok.

DMoney

It's stupid to politicize this. I am willing to bet more than 50% of the accused in this scandal identify as liberals. It's not a matter of politics. It's a matter of the all prevailing corruption and greed of human beings with means. It will never change. We're too imperfect. Better to understand, adapt and overcome.

martian2

You say its stupid to politicize this, you said Dmoney. Then you insert foot and accuse some of being liberals. But you are right it is about corruption and greed of humans with excess wealth. You then say we should just accept it. Well no, we have laws that limit that corruption, and we should enforce them stringently. And the penalties should be severe. That would do wonders to cure many of those corrupted by greed and money.

oldhomey

Amen, martian. D thinks, "They're too rich and powerful, let them steal and cheat. We will persevere on the crumbs they deign to leave behind for the rest of us."

D should read some history other than World War II, which he seems to have mis-read, anyway. At the turn of the last century we had a government that went after the trusts and robber barons, putting many of them in jail. By the 1950s, we were taxing the very rich at 90 percent, too much in my estimation, and often evaded with loopholes, anyway. But overall the rich paid a fairer share than they do now, and we are getting back to a wealth disparity close to that of what it was in the days of trusts, monopolies and robber barons. Time to call the dogs home, again. And yes, that includes billionaire liberals, too, when they abuse our laws and system. We could start by severely limiting the amount individuals and corporations can contribute to political activity of all kinds.

Redwall

What an incredibly naive view of college admissions. These Hollywood types are an insignificant statistical anomaly compared to the industrialized admission scams practiced by any university that accepts federal funding.

From the handicapped scoring in favor of aggrieved minorities (think Elizebeth Warren), the outright discrimination against overachieving Asians (the subject of multiple ongoing federal lawsuits against Ivy League schools), the advancement of so-called legacy students (George Bush's sons weren't all admitted to Yale because they were valedictorians), the corruption and rigging runs amok.

I would guess schools are embarrassed but relieved by this Hollywood scam. Because of it they can contain it by placing blame on a few, firing a couple, and move on without ever having to address the wholesale corruption and bias that is college admissions.

martian2

Affirmative action is what got Bush into Yale.
It wasn't because of any academic achievement: his high school record was ordinary. It wasn't because of his life experience--prosperous family, fancy prep school--which was all too familiar at Yale. It wasn't his SAT scores: 566 verbal and 640 math.

They may not have had an explicit point system at Yale in 1964, but Bush clearly got in because of affirmative action. Affirmative action for the son and grandson of alumni. Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential family. Affirmative action for a boy from a fancy prep school. These forms of affirmative action still go on.

Redwall

What you are describing is not affirmative action. What you are describing is admission preference as "legacy" students, which admits students based on their parents attendance, financial support to the university, and other strings pulled to ensure the proper outcome for jr.

martian2

yes you can call what you want redwall. There are slots left open for those "legacy" students as you call it. I call it affirmative action for the rich and powerful.

Climatehoax

Couldn’t agree more, what you mention are legal means to keeping deserving students out of school. That’s the bottom line, I’ve been saying for years affirmative action and diversity have kept some of the best and brightest out of school. It’s who you are AOC the color of your skin, NOT your ability.

martian2

affirmative action for rich and powerful is a whole lot different than it is for the poor and disadvantaged. But you are obviously too stupid or pig headed to figure that out. Just keep spreading more hate hoaxer, that is the only thing you are good at. Just a pathetic human being.

PhysicsIsFun

Well if you've been saying it for years it must be true, because you've never been wrong. (Said nobody.)

oldhomey

Climate, deserving students are not denied the opportunity for a university education, and I doubt that you could scare up even one example of an individual who was. In some cases students whose ACT's were displaced when a minority student with a lower ACT score was accepted over the higher-scoring test taker, thanks to affirmative action. I am sure it was painful and frustrating for those students who lost out, but because they are bright and eager, they quickly moved on to and were accepted by another fine university. Are you one of those who bellyaches about college students and "safe spaces"? Are you in this case trying to create a safe space for the small number of students who annually have their college plans knocked slightly off course? It would seem so.

The Mouse of Death

[censored]It would behoove us to recognize that rich people never cheat to get ahead. You are just imagining it. Only poor people cheat, lie and steal. That's why the poor are so rich, they steal everything that is not nailed down. We are indeed bemezzled by this fake news persecution of rich cheaters because I shall gaslight you because you are just imagining it so who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Climatehoax

Some of you dimlibs can’t see past the tip of your nose. Selectively choosing students based on something other than achievement has been gong on for a long time, it’s called diversity. Get it? Whenever a minority is moved ahead of someone, a deserving person is pushed out, just like with this scandal. The only difference is diversity is the legal way of skrewing over a more deserving person. So stop the foolish outrage, or be outraged at all forms of dishonesty.

oldhomey

I was never even remotely a candidate for the Ivies or the other prestige universities like USC, Stanford, Berkley, U. of Chi., Northwestern, etc. I came from a big, working class family where there simply was no money in the budget to help pay college, anyway, so those big buck, high-performance schools never even entered my mind. I was at best a bright but indifferent high school student and didn't deserve entry to those sorts of schools academically, anyway. In fact, academically I was probably not worthy of La Crosse State College, but it had to take me by law, required to accept anybody who had a diploma from a Wisconsin high school in those days.

I say all of this out of scorn for the super wealthy parents who bribe their kids' way into the elite schools. The parents are doing it, in my estimation, out their own vanity of wanting to feel superior because their kid is in a superior school. If a kid isn't ready academically for an academically high-flying school, it doesn't mean the kid is stupid or unworthy of college. It means the kid has to work to get up to speed academically. Somebody with an Ivy League school might have an advantage throughout life with that "brand", but more often than not it they were kids who were already from upper class wealth, which gives them a bigger leg up than whichever school granted them a college degree. The child of a big movie star who has to go to junior college and up to speed in order to finish out in a less prestigious university undoubtedly will be better prepared for life than one whose parents spent half a million in bribes to get him into Stanford or Yale. I like Mr. Lopez' summation, because it spoke to my own college experience:

"My students may not be able to buy their way into fancy colleges, but they arrive with a set of powerful tools. They’re scrappy, hungry and intimately familiar with the skills of survival, and they’re driven by a desire to make their parents proud with hard work. Many of them take more than four years to get their degrees because they’re working a job or two or taking care of their elders or their youngers.

"They have no mommies and daddies who can fix SAT scores. Where they come from, on the other side of the rigged world, there are no shortcuts.

"And they’re better for it."

DMoney

For a liberal, some of your comments are ripe with conservative values. I think we might have a born again right winger with you, even I'd you don't know it.

PhysicsIsFun

Are you operating under some sort of false assumption that people you label as liberals do not believe in hard work and sacrifice as the currency for success? As a self avowed liberal, I can assure you I have worked hard and sacrificed much to get where I am today, but I was also lucky in many ways. I find it amusing that the conservative blowhards focus on the 2 Hollywood actors involved in this scandal (assuming they are liberals) while ignoring the 50 or so other less prominent CEOs etc. who also rigged the game. Not that this is political, but what are their political affiliations?

oldhomey

No, D, I am a realist. I was not ready for college academically, but I got into college because it by law had to give me a chance. I had to take it from there, and I did.

It had nothing to do with my politics, everything to do with me wanting to keep up with my better-prepared friends who transitioned easily from high school to college. I wanted to be like them and older siblings who were getting degrees, and luckily I found a major and a career path I was well-suited for, and it worked out great for me.

It has deepened my sense of how crucial education is and how every could should be given the opportunity to get into a four-year degree program. That is why I totally support finding promising students from minority populations and making sure that the gates are open to them, too, for getting in and getting an education. Our society sat on them and held them down for 400 years. The time for equal opportunity has come.

In my early years in the work force, I was a bit peeved when corporations bought into this idea and made extra effort to bring in minority employees whose qualifications did not seem to equal those of me and my colleagues. But for the most part, those minorities that became my colleagues soon were up to speed and were every bit as competent as anybody else, sometimes absolutely superior in their performance. It proved my misgivings were groundless. It makes me sick to see Red and Climate and the other usual suspects on here harping on the same old racist themes.

Redwall

I'm not sure what I said that you consider racist. You seem to see racists at every turn, under your bed, anyone that doesnt want to pay for your "free" health care is racist, etc.

Maybe you should take notice of the racist in your mirror.

You are one intellectually shallow cat.

martian2

gee redwall maybe you should take a look at the racist hoaxer. Not a peep from you on his racist comments. Is it not worth your time? Or are you complicit and feel the same way. Why is it you right wingers never speak out against racism and bigotry and hate? Is it your sworn duty to never interfere with with nationalist hate mongers?

oldhomey

If I am reading this string correctly, Red, you seem to be saying somewhere in my boring recitation of my college experience that I called you out by name as a racist. Are you sure about that, or is your 7:18pm post symptomatic of some sort of unwarranted paranoia on your part?

DMoney

If*

Climatehoax

Gee why the outrage?? Minorities have been getting pushed ahead of more deserving students since ‘diversity’ became the trend. The government actively pushes racism, in the work place and universities. If the law makers in government don’t think putting someone ahead for all the wrong reasons is wrong, why should these people be punished? Blacks need to be punished because they’re black if you follow the logic about this outrage. HYPOCRITES

oldhomey

No, Climate, once again I simply do not follow your logic.

martian2

of course we can always count on hoaxer to bring his hate for minorities into the discussion. He never fails to show the dark side of humanity, its about the only thing he does well. I fail to see how minorities have been able to buy their way into colleges and universities by paying someone huge bucks. It not government that actively pushes racism, its people like hoaxer, who reveal it every time they open their mouth. And its people like Dmoney and crank who stay silent when people like Hoaxer promote blatant racism. Just not worth their time.

Climatehoax

Tell me why pushing a white student out of a university because of racial diversity is any different than pushing someone out because their parents aren’t rich. In both cases students are being denied entrance because of unfair practices. One is going to get people in trouble, the other is sanctioned by our government. Same exact result, deserving students getting the shaft.

DMoney

This wasn't a racist comment. It's very true, and celebrated by the left. When everything is equal, minorities get the advantage, artificially, with admission. You didn't know that?

It has nothing to do with this current scandal, but it's a fact.

martian2

yes Dmoney some, a very few minorities will get preferential treatment for admission to a university. And there is a good reason for that. Growing up in poverty and in poor neighborhoods with poor schools does not give many an equal chance to gain admissions to colleges. So to break that cycle of poverty a few minority slots are there to admit those who need a helping hand through no fault of their own. And colleges do want a diverse student body so all students can learn to interact respectively with different races, just like in the real world. Other wise if its a white only student body, you will have students end up like Hoaxer, full of fear and hate of those who look different. Hopefully when we have a fully integrated society this will no longer be needed, but we are not there yet, not even close. And yes Hoaxer's comment is racist, he obviously doesn't want blacks and minorities to have an equal education to whites. Too bad you feel the same.

Climatehoax

I know that, but that’s as bad as paying to get your kid in. The result, the deserving students aren’t getting in, minorities and rich kids are, different method, same result, ones legally skrewing the deserving over the other way is not legal.

martian2

wrong again hoaxer. Name one kid that was denied admission to a college of their choice because of affirmative action for the poor and disadvantaged. Go ahead and try. When there is a level playing field for all growing up in this country in education and opportunity then we can do away with affirmative action. Meanwhile people like you will just keep on hating and will fail to understand anything other than hating.

PhysicsIsFun

If you're waiting for ClimateJoke to make a thoughtful informed comment it's going to be a very long wait.

PhysicsIsFun

ClimateDope you are so off base that it is ridiculous. It is your contention that minorities get all the breaks in this country while hard working highly intelligent white guys like you are getting the shaft? What exactly are the wrong reasons that black Americans are being "put ahead" of someone else? Is it slavery? Is it educational and economic oppression? Is it vote stealing? Is it housing discrimination? Is it having to put up with racist a$$holes like you? Did you know that according to a 2011 study from Pew Research Center, whites possess 20 times more wealth than African-Americans and 18 times that of Latinos. Whereas white families have accumulated $113,149 of wealth on average, black households have only accumulated $5,677 in wealth on average. Why exactly does this great economic disparity exist? I am sure you have your answer, and my guess it is racist and pejorative. I would say it is because black Americans have lived in a country that actively acted against their interests, because they saw them as less deserving of success. So now they get a little help in getting ahead after centuries of the opposite. I say it's about time. You get all racist.

Climatehoax

So skrew the current batch of students because, at most 6% of our population , a LONG time ago owned slaves?? Sound fair to you?? Only a liberal

PhysicsIsFun

How do you define a long time ago? How many students do you know that have been skrewed? I taught talented high school seniors for over 30 years. I never heard of one of them who got skrewed in college admissions, because of this horrible injustice you imagine is occurring. It is just more racist propaganda to support the stupid opinions that you hold. I am 70 years old. There certainly was horrible racism in my lifetime. A lot of that racism still exists. All one needs to do is read the garbage you write in these comments. I know that you have no shame. You must be a awful human being.

martian2

omg another stupid one from hoaxer. Go watch more fox news and info wars hoaxer. that is all you understand.

DMoney

It's not racist to disagree with admissions of minorities ahead of slightly better scoring whites. It happens in business all the time as well. It's not racist to question that, especially of you've been personally affected. My company has missed many opportunities to minority owned being given preference. At the end of the day, it's a decision being made based on ethnicity, which is probably closer to the definition of racism.

DMoney

Is Bernie Sanders racist for publicly disagreeing with financial reparations? Same concept. Equality means all treated the same--some receiving preference for non-merit based reason is not equality.

martian2

wow Dmoney, you found the time and effort, too bad you used it to stick up for hoaxer and his rants. How pitiful!I knew you two had a lot in common. Name onewhite student denied admission because of a few slots left open for minorities. Go ahead Dmoney. That is a bogus argument perpetrated by the far right. And you fell for it. Let me define racism for you and your buddy hoaxer. " A theory that race determines human traits and capacities." There now you should know affirmative action for the poor and disadvantaged minorities does not promote that theory mentioned. In fact it tries to destroy it. But certain people like to keep the division, expand hate, and continue to discriminate.

DMoney

You are completely clueless, and this isn't worth my time. I literally laughed out loud seeing your ignorance in claiming white kids haven't been blocked from being accepted due to affirmative action. That's probably the most off base thing ever written here--you ought to be embarrassed.

Jobaba

Lol! And where does all this fit in with the argument that college is no longer needed? Get a skill, go to tech school. But no, the well-to-do among, those who are rich do not fall for that. They know the value of a college education and an elite private school at that! And always remember that in the Trump-centric world of today, those who can amass a fortune are smarter than the rest of us.

martian2

What Mr. Lopez has pointed out in his fine column is true, and always has been true for over 200 years in this country. Some people worry about transgenders taking advantage of opportunities, yet they can't point out one instance of that happening. Meanwhile the very rich, especially the ones who cheat to get their way because of massive wealth are laughing all the way to the bank. What they are teaching their children by corrupting the system with their money is wrong, so wrong that I hope the parents get jail time and their students kicked out of school. Time for some hard lessons in life.

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