The College Admissions Scandal: Nature Rolls Snake Eyes For The Unremarkable

You can’t be an American without being somewhat delusional about serious wealth. The truly wealthy are no longer conspicuous. They don’t wear top hats, spats, and monocles. A Maserati doesn’t look that much different than a random Toyota. Monica’s rent on Friends is proof that there is no modern American popular culture without the mystification of wealth.

We mystify wealth in the hope of becoming magically wealthy one day. We like, admire, and worship those who strike it rich through extraordinary talents and brainpower. But we’ll also give a slap on the back to the wage slave who hits the Mega Millions. These are two sides of a coin we call “The American Dream.” It’s a fine way to manage the life expectations of citizens of an empire, but it ignores the vast gray areas entrenched between talent and luck.

Felicity Huffman emerged from that gray space yesterday with her admission of guilt in a scandal the media is fond of calling “Varsity Blues”:

“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.

I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.

I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.

My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”

“Read Felicity Huffman’s statement on pleading guilty in college admissions scandal” | The Boston Globe | April 8, 2019

Neither Huffman nor Lori Loughlin was born with an incandescent talent they could pass on to their children via their genes. Both enjoy their wealth and social status by dint of birth, being in the right place at the right time, and a modicum of talent. Given the peculiar ways the marketplace prices their human capital (a Nancy Travis is worth two Huffmans, and one shouldn’t trade a Patricia Heaton for anything less than three Loughlins), it’s obvious that they should be victims of nature’s snake eyes—tons of money and unremarkable offspring.

From an original position, obviously a parent would choose meager wealth and brilliant children instead of the opposite. Thus, because wealth minimizes life’s petty cruelties, it’s rational that Huffman, Loughlin, and other middling talents should do everything they can to supplement their tragically average genes with whatever advantage they can get. Darwin wouldn’t applaud them, but neither would he denigrate them.

Know this. When Huffman, Loughlin and other point-one-percent moms caught up in this scandal hobnob with others among their caste at cocktail parties, no one will shun them. They’re all in on the same racket. Each and every mommy there would do the same thing for her unremarkable brood. She knows there are more famous people now, and that fame itself is a saturated market. Each sitcom mom on this dumb show or lawyer on that dumb show angles for whatever edge she can get for her kids. None of her peers blames her for doing wrong. Behind closed doors they may even applaud her. To them she’s a warrior momma bear whose only crime was getting caught illuminating her young dimwits.  


Where are your hammers for these nails?

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Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

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