Warning! Big danger for public education (NY State universities)

KW: Wow! This is a huge problem. A rich person – a hedge fund manager of all things – wants use a donation as a kind of political bribe, to change the NY State University system to his liking. Egads! More comments after story. This is a huge problem which progressives, leftists, and people who understand democracy and systems must stop!

(excerpt from) Long Island Press
Stony Brook Donor Will Only Give If Legislature Meets His Demands

By Associated Press on Jul 10th, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — A hedge fund manager [James Simons] is offering to make a large donation to the public college where he once worked as a math professor, but only if New York lawmakers agree to relinquish some control over the state university system…

He wants to give much more — maybe up to $150 million — but only if the Legislature agrees to let each of New York’s state universities set its own tuition.

The plan is backed by Gov. David Paterson…

Some initial thoughts (and a Bernie Madoff connection):

I have been through similar dilemmas before with political groups. One group I was in had to decide if we could accept “ear marked donation” to do certain things. Though, when what is at stake is a group decision,  a political decision, something that will change the landscape, you just cannot allow that. You have to first make sure the group has the political will and pass the decision, and then allow the donation. Otherwise, one person’s wealth allows his will to co-opt all the wishes, work, and will of the whole group. It is wrong and unjust. And, it is the ultimate example of wealth corrupting politics.

I also think it is comical that this person suggesting it is a hedge fund manager. How successful did his team and his ideas do with our economy? How is Wall Street doing? What have they done for America lately?

One of the underlying principles of our democracy is “one person, one vote”. And, that mostly applies to one, simple vote to elect our representatives. James Simons the hedge fund manager is trying to get more than one vote AT THE LEGISLATURE itself. What nerve?! Unbelievable to try to use his money to influence a legislature in such a solitary and bold way, in such a solitary and bold bribe.

A lot of times, the general public, or a small group of people steering a public project, can be fooled into the “sugar daddy” idea that a big grant, or a big wad of money, or a rich person can fix things. Unless the rich person is The Buddha or Gandhi, they are certain to have some ulterior motive that will prop up their own wealth and/or power.

Yes, there is still a battle among left, right, and liberty. Having a rich person try to tell our government what to do, that action is definitely supporting the right wing at the expense of any ideas of left wing social justice, or liberty/empowerment thinking. This is a horrible, horrible intrusion of wealth and capital into the political system. And, to do so by affecting the lives of young people and their chance for a college education is shocking.

The Long Island Press article says that Governor David Paterson supports this plan for James Simons to give the money and for the legislature to change state law at the suggestion of a rich person, to take away a safety mechanism for fair tuition. I certainly hope that is not the case. The Governor needs to rethink this decision if he wants to have any goodwill left from the left, or if he wants to run for office again in the future.

Who should activate and motivate against this plan?:

-Anyone who values free or affordable secondary education
-Anyone who wants to keep money from having power and a vote in government
-Anyone who can see that the ideas of Wall Street did not help our country, and that Americans have sacrificed enough from the bank bailout to ever again rely on rich people and their schemes for organizing the country.
-Anyone who thinks that her vote is as important as James Simons vote.

(And, speaking of James Simons, now I want to investigate what his other gifts and donations have accomplished. Has he been unduly influencing and messing around with the NY State Universities before? What has James Simone been up to inside my government-run school system which my taxes support to help young people and the cause of knowledge and enlightenment? Does he have any stadiums, or pools, or scholarships named after him or his political allies? Would be interesting to note…)

Oh…James Simons ain’t that smart, and not someone to lead our government…look what I found on Wikipedia:

The Stony Brook University Foundation, whose chairman emeritus is James Simons, lost $5.4 million in Bernard Madoff’s alleged Ponzi scheme. Stony Brook invested money with Madoff through managed accounts since 1991. Simons encouraged the 24,000-student school to invest with Mr. Madoff while Mr. Simons was chairman of the Stony Brook Foundation. He helped introduce the college to Bernard Madoff. Mr. Simons’s family foundation invested money with Madoff. The foundation is run by Marilyn Simons, Mr. Simons’s wife. Mr. Simons is secretary and treasurer. [15]

Another story about James Simons’ recommendation about Madoff is: here. Wonder if Governor David Paterson knows this history?

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