What In Hell Is the University of Minnesota Thinking?!?!

Today’s Strib had a little bug on the front page I thought I must have misread: “U courting McGuire to business school.” My head spun around. Had to be some other McGuire. Some other U. Some other world. A Jon Stewart satire.

But no, there it was, on page D1: “U considering McGuire as a business school expert.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

I’m sorry. I just can’t say anything more civil.

A seven-million-dollar fine to the SEC. A thirty-million-dollar settlement to make a class-action suit go away. Six hundred and eighteen million dollars he has to put back in the cookie jar in benefits and options. $7,000,000. $30,000,000. $168,000,000.

But wait, William McGuire, former CEO of United HealthCare, has admitted no wrongdoing in these settlements and procedings. Right. Bill McGuire’s just the kind of guy who throws around shiploads of money to get those pesky opposing lawyers out of the lawnchairs around his pool.

And the University of Minnesota Medical Industry Leadership Institute of the Carlson School of Managment is considering McGuire as an executive in residence. You can’t make this stuff up, as Dave Barry says. Leadership!?!?! Will he wear his ankle bracelet in residence? Keep your backpacks close when you go to classes that let McGuire in, students.

Backdating stock options is called lying. Cheating. And the whole options game has become a way for too many fatcats to manage companies for their own short-term gains, ignoring or damaging the interests of the community, employees, consumers and average stockholders investing for the long haul. Giving executives huge piles of options adds to the gross imbalance between executive and average-worker pay and can turn companies and execs away from sound business and smack into the roaring realm of speculation.

What values will you be teaching, University of Minnesota, by bringing McGuire in as an expert? The values of CEOs who run their companies into the ground, take their golden parachute and leave the federal taxpayers with the bill for their employees’ pensions? The values of the S&L executives who decided they deserved a fifth luxury car and a fourth vacation home more than a senior citizen deserved her savings? The values of executives who create shell corporations to siphon money overseas and avoid paying their fair share of taxes for the common good? Enron values?

What will you be communicating about the University of Minnesota if you do this?

University of Minnesota, you’ve got to be kidding. If you bring in Bill McGuire, you can have my diploma back. I’ll organize a diploma burning. I’ll line up hundreds of people to moon the adminstration from the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridges. Or I’ll just set up a lemonade stand outside the Carlson School of Leadership and Larceny where I’ll also, quite openly, sell test questions and answers. Hey, that’s how you get ahead in this game — that’s what you’re teaching us.

— Bruce Benidt, U of M MA 1974.
high yield investments fine

Palin Sets a New Standard


Governor Palin – and by extension the McCain/Palin campaign – is taking us to a whole new place in politics.  Their approach to the much-anticipated interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson and to political discourse in general can be summed up very simply:

Lie when you can, bury the question with meaningless soundbites if you can’t.

Continue reading “Palin Sets a New Standard”

MC LHC Defmaster Jamz

“Can’t get enough particle physics,” is what we say here at the Crowd.

Apparently, the wacky scientists at CERN are not only smart enough to avoid destroying the Earth, they’re clever enough to put together a four-and-a-half minute rap video that actually explains what the Large Hadron Collider does and a fair dose of physics to boot.

I’m pretty sure this teaching method wasn’t much employed when Mr. Mitchell taught me physics in high school, but it probably would have stuck with me better than his lectures.  Mr. Mitchell is (was?) a great guy but he taught physics like the football coach he was rather than coached football like the physics teacher he wanted to be.

– Austin internet marketing plan fine

Pig in a Poke

If you Google “lipstick on a pig,” but eliminate all sites that mention “Obama,” “McCain” or “Palin,” you get 174,000 hits. The phrase is featured in the Urban Dictionary and on cliché.com. It is used so often in corporate PowerPoint presentations that it probably earns you bonus Business Buzzword Bingo points.

To rush to poor Sarah Palin’s defense under the pretense that any use of that cliche means the user is calling her a pig is the most absurd moment of John McCain’s campaign, particularly when McCain himself has used the phrase in reference to Hillary Clinton policies.

Over the years, I’ve had sympathy with Republicans’ condemnation of the culture of victimhood that Democrats have partially fostered. But the Republicans have abandoned whatever high ground they once possessed on that issue.

– Loveland

pay stubs fine

McCain Ad Exposes Cub Scouts’ Sex Ed Agenda

The McCain ad attacking Obama for promoting a bill that allegedly promotes sex education among Kindergarteners would be startling if it weren’t, as Factcheck.org found, “simply false.” There were only a couple of minor problems Factcheck.org discovered with McCain’s claims: 1) it wasn’t Obama’s bill and 2) it didn’t promote sex education.

According to Factcheck.org, what the bill did do was allow for age appropriate materials to help kids know how to avoid being sexually abused. Parents who were uncomfortable with such discussion were allowed to opt-out.

In an age when nothing in politics outrages us anymore, maybe this ad needs to outrage us.

It particularly got under my skin, because the day I saw the ad, I was helping my son with his Bobcat badge. One of the requirements for achieving Bobcatdom was to talk through several “what ifs,” such as “What if you are in a public restroom and someone tries to touch your private parts? What do you do?” The answer, the Cub Scout handbook counsels, is:

“Yell “STOP THAT” as loudly as you can and run of out of the room as quickly as possible. Tell your parent, a police officer, a security guard or other adult (such as your teacher) what happened.”

This is the type of communication McCain labels “sex education.” But this is clearly abuse avoidance education, not sex education. And attacking people who support having these kinds of conversations with kids endangers kids.

By the way, in discussing these “what ifs” I learned that my son was alarmingly trusting and deferential about adults, even adults he doesn’t know. The ensuing conversation potentially could save him from great harm. Lots of things in politics are trivial, but the stakes on this issue are high.

As a PR dude, I fully understand this is a diversionary tactic to shift the debate from McCain’s pro-Bush record and agenda to “values” issues that, even when based on a shameless lie, traditionally favor Republicans. But as a parent, I can’t help but be disgusted by this one.

– Loveland

expense ratio fine