Friday, July 12, 2013

Beneficiary Of The New Economy

Salon's Alex Pareene has written a hilarious piece  about General David Petraeus' new gig as Visiting Bus Driver for Burlington Trailways in Iowa.   That may not be as farfetched as it seems.   Petraeus has been hired for $150,000 to teach a course entitled "Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade"  (There is no question mark, which is not a good sign.). He will be laboring at the MacCaulay Honors College of the City University of New York, which usually pays adjuncts, according to Gawker (which broke the story), less than $3,000 per course.

Gawker reports that Petraeus will be giving two lectures and working approximately three hours a week, "aided by a group of graduate students to take care of 'course research administration, and grading."   The university describes the course thusly:  "In this interdisciplinary seminar, students will examine in depth and then synthesize the history and trends in diverse public policy topics with a view towards recommendations for America’s leadership role in the emerging global economy." A post on the blog of the union which represents faculty and staff at CUNY explains

The course will be limited to 16 students who must complete an application with faculty recommendations and be vetted by a selection committee. Petraeus will be simultaneously teaching part-time at the University of Southern California. He has also just been hired by private equity giant KKR, where he will chair an internal institute focused on public policy and investments in emerging markets.

Good work if you can get it.  CUNY's director for communications and marketing claims, as does the application for admission to the course, "the seminars, one in the fall and another in the spring, would pertain to the areas of energy, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences and would focus on the policies, laws, regulations, and practices needed to enable the United States to capitalize on the opportunities each area presents."    He did not explain, however, how General Petraeus developed  "expertise" in "energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and information technology," which McCaulay College lists as the foci of the course.

For that matter, it is not clear how expert Petraeus has displayed expertise in military strategy, after commanding U.S. forces in the latest of the two wars we have lost, the latter of which was salvageable when he took over.    Aside from unionists, there has been criticism of the appointment from two important sources, including New York Republican Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, who recognizes the appointment as a symptom of our celebrity culture, and Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio. The latter notes the arrangement "is symptomatic of what’s gone wrong in higher education. The focus on grabbing headlines and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is sending education costs higher and higher, and putting college out of reach for working and middle class families." Blogger and CUNY associate professor Corey Robin remarks

One of the odder angles of this story: In 2009, disgraced ex-governor of New York Eliot Spitzer taught a course at CUNY. In fact, it was in poli sci. The New York Times was on it in a New York minute. Why? Because Spitzer was being paid $4500. The highest possible rate for an adjunct. Seemed like too much. Obscene. Now here’s David Petraeus readying to make $75,000 per course. And the Times? Not a peep.

And unlike Petraeus, Eliot Spitzer was an extremely effective public servant, as Attorney General of the State of New York earning the title "The Sheriff of Wall Street."  But Spitzer was compelled to resign as the state's governor upon a report of his dalliance with a call girl. At least General Petraeus was not disgraced by a sex scandal.  Oops.

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