The college admission cheating scandal is “almost a parody” of the ways wealth inequality warps society, according to an author who’s studied its damaging effects.
Anand Giridharadas, author of “Winners Take All,” appeared Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the recent indictments of wealthy parents who paid bribes and engaged in other fraudulent schemes to get their children into exclusive universities.
“What’s so extraordinary is the idea that America is rigged in favor of wealthy and powerful people has now become commonplace in many ways,” Giridharadas said. “You had Republicans running on it and Democrats running on it in 2016.”
He said that rigged system allowed the wealthy to benefit in almost every area, but he said they still weren’t satisfied with those advantages — the rich wanted guaranteed success.
“These rich people weren’t satisfied with shared rigging,” Giridharadas said. “They weren’t satisfied with first class on a commercial jet, having better seats, bigger seats a nicer dinner. They wanted private bottle service rigging just for them with a guarantee, over and above the rigging that everybody else benefits from.”
He said scammers like William “Rick” Singer, who set up the admissions fraud ring, had enriched themselves and distorted public life by catering to the desires of wealthy people — who are tired of competing in the game they had rigged for themselves.
“(They) don’t want to write a $2 million check and hope their kid gets a second look, that’s too chancy for them,” Giridharadas said. “(They) want to be done with this thing, they want a guarantee.”
The author said the scandal, which has generated media coverage due to the involvement of celebrities, was just the tip of the iceberg.
“This is, remember, just one little world that we happened to get a glimpse into because some little piece of glass broke somewhere,” Giridharadas said. “You have to remember this sort of thing is happening in so many domains of our public life, while we have the president’s associates day by day pleading guilty to crimes, we have Facebook — which is not a high-school sweetheart nostalgia site anymore but actually one of the principal discursive platforms of our democracy — now under criminal investigation.”
“Corruption, in many ways, is becoming, if it’s not already, the central theme of American life in 2019,” he added.