Commencement season is upon us, which means that insipid celebrities of all flavors will bestow their opinions upon a new generation of bright-eyed college grads. Notable was former President Bill Clinton. His prose at the NYU graduation read like so: “today’s business schools are teaching the students to always put profits above people, and that the shareholders are more important than the stakeholders.” His gratuitous recap-er explained, “If corporations did business where the stakeholders held as much importance as the shareholders, America would be flooded with jobs. This would happen because the corporations would not be seeking low wage countries and turning their backs on America’s exceptional standard of living. They would pay their employees well after a hard day’s work.”
The second “point” Clinton made was to say that another problem is the ‘accepted’ premise that the government messes everything up it touches. (I wish that was a problem!) I mean, set aside Medicare, welfare, the Postal Service, the DMV, the minimum wage, No Child Left Behind, Pell Grants, prohibition, the War on Drugs, public schools, Obamacare, etc., he may be onto something.
First of all, particularly considering NYU’s lifeblood is the Stern School of Business, I daresay it’s pretty disrespectful to go to a school and, as part of a graduation speech, tell the students their school was no good. Second, I think an alleged rapist should qualify his statements about ethics a bit more, or at least give Oliver Stone credit. If President Clinton wants to see businesses act more ethically, perhaps he should lobby to incentivize, or nationalize, these practices. I’m sure that will lead to greater prosperity for all.
Anyway, I find it terribly irritating to think that my tuition sometimes to paying some politician-loser to tell me how to live (more). I’d much prefer someone, well, accomplished.
I’m not against the practice, though, when it gives a good soundbite, like Cornell’s commencement in 2010 when Nancy Pelosi proclaimed “that the Democrats will be the Majority after the mid-term elections.”
Have you heard any other commencement stories worthy of an eye-roll?