Two long articles in the NYT about the Harvard Business School’s attempt to be less of a misogynistic hell for women , and the curdled elitism that seems to have enveloped the place recently , seriously tickled not only my social justice gland but also my barf reflex. If the reporting is anything close to fair, it presents a culture so deeply sick, self-absorbed, and malign that the place’s non-profit status needs to be reviewed. Do we really want federal tax dollars channelled to actively destroying social capital?
What a uniformly awful bunch of people these students are, and proudly see each other as! What does the admissions committee think it’s doing, admitting the, idle, wastrel scions of the richest people in the most unequal societies of the world so they can pile up even bigger fortunes – is HBS now teaching that the purpose of enterprise is to make Gini coefficients bigger? Are they trying to beat the alumni fail record set by George W. Bush – is there an even worse president partying there as we speak, slouching towards someone’s plutocrat yacht party to be unleashed on us?
Part of the problem, I think, is that their business model is a dysfunctional (for everyone but them) treadmill. As all schools try to do, they convince their students to believe, as alums, that their positional $ucce$$, the fundamental indicator of m€rit, is due to HBS, and the alums both accumulate a lot of wealth (distinctively compared to other professional schools, even law schools) and like to give some back. At the same time, their production process is very cheap (no wet labs! big classes!) despite the expensive profs, and a very large fraction of students (those spoiled rich scions) don’t care how much tuition they pay. As a result they accumulate money they simply have no idea what to do with, leading to truly wretched excesses: faculty offices that are suites with real wood paneling, a faculty dining room with a buffet an upscale restaurant would be proud to lay out, subsidized to McDonald prices, and a private gymnasium, for Pete’s sake. I suppose the latter provides those specialized exercises appropriate to the very rich (cranking yacht winches, maybe, or riding a mechanical dressage horse – who knows?), suitably obsequious trainers and towel-bearers, and secure isolation from the kind of coarse hoi polloi you have to encounter in all the rest of Harvard’s athletic facilities.
The HBS endowment is about $2 billion: how much would be enough so they can start using it for something besides transferring everyone’s wealth into a financial sector populated with unspeakably selfish, shallow, jerks?