by Paul Goldman
First, let me say that I know you are strongly opposed to my proposal which follows, so I appreciate your posting it. Frankly, I believe, as we discussed, that you are making, as the saying goes, a “mountain out of mole hill,” not to mention overlooking the basic Democratic principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.
Moreover, and I say this with the highest respect, your allies on the subject — President William Harvey, the esteemed head of Hampton University, his fellow leaders of Virginia’s Historic Black Colleges and Universities, George Mason Professor Roger Wilkins, son of legendary NAACP leader Roy Wilkins and his organization, among many others in Virginia — are likewise being blind to reality.
President John Kennedy, in describing his Democratic platform, said a “rising tide lifts all the boats”, he didn’t say it lifted them all equally or even fairly. Former President Johnson, speaking from his experience in helping FDR and Harry Truman, famously said that in order to get the money to do good things, it was sometimes necessary to support legislation that helped a few get a lot at the expense of the many.
So yes, it is easy for you to be critical, to nitpick at this or that, to find fault with those of us with the courage to do the dirty work to get the money needed so Democrats can win an election.
Moreover, if we don’t do it, then Virginia Republicans will, indeed are.
You have checked the figures, so you know it’s true: My proposal will raise Virginia Democrats, with any luck, $90 million gross by 2013, perhaps even double that, and by 2017, many hundreds of millions of dollars!
But Lowell, I concede your point: The African-American community in particular has always opposed it on moral grounds, as have most Democrats in prior years.
My response: Morality changes, what people knew was wrong years ago is not always so in terms of a new generation. Besides, the money isn’t going to me personally, but rather to support the Democratic Party, and thus enable it to better advocate for the poor, the vulnerable, those long left out and locked out.
$90 million, $180 million with any luck, and then TRIPLE THAT BY 2017.
Blue Virginia does a great job: but think what this site could do with a $1,000,000 loan, no strings attached, from a cash-flush Democratic Party!
Is that so bad, am I such a bad guy for wanting to make Blue Virginia and the Democratic Party all it can be with just a little money?
And how can it be anti-minority when the money is going to such a good cause, supporting the very political party pledged to protect these same Americans from unfair treatment?
Lowell, be a realist, man: it takes money to win a gubernatorial campaign. Given the two crushing defeats in 2009 and 2010, it figures to be very hard to raise money the amount of money needed to win in 2013. This is a fact of political life. Without a sitting Governor or incumbent statewide office holder, Democrats face the bleakest fund-raising situation in a generation unless someone has the guts to challenge the status quo.
So Lowell, you and others can either complain about the unfairness of things, you can curse those who will be giving all those millions to Republicans, or you can “man-up” for a change.
It is time to be a man, and do what is needed to raise the $millions needed to win.
Besides, my proposal is so easy to do:
Create the Democratic Party of Virginia University or DPVU.
Getting it accredited and enrolling students in the state is a snap, especially with so many Democrats on the SCHEV Board, the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia. They basically approve any group meeting their loose minimum standards.
The math is simple and frankly, I am shocked that President Harvey along with the other Presidents of the Historic Black Colleges and Universities failed to check with their professors of finance.
For example, using as a model the very model blasted by President Harvey and Professor Wilkins – with all due respect fellows, you don’t know business – it should be relatively easy for DPVU to get about 3,000 students to enroll online, all we’d actually need is a small building as a main campus and administration office, there is a cheap old warehouse not far from the DPVA headquarters in downtown Richmond.
Based on national statistics, the average such student takes out over $30,000 in student loans, meaning that this will bring into party coffers, through our DPVU subsidiary, 90 million BIG ONES by the start of our September, 2013 year, just in time for use in the Governor’s race!!
You read that right, $90 million! As I say, I greatly respect Mr. Harvey and his fellow Presidents, but attacking this business model as anti-minority – heck, one school already has nearly 200,000 such students enrolled ONLINE – is defamatory since poor, minority students make-up such a large part of the for-profit college enrollment. They call it downright “silly” to think the for-profit college model can help the minority community, indeed American higher education in general.
Sure, Mr. Harvey quoted statistics that showed only a few thousands of these 200,000 students would actually graduate, much less get a job, on the basis of this diploma: but he was wrong to single out the ONLINE programs. While the largest single such category, the statistics from the regular campuses of all these for-profit schools isn’t hugely better in terms of graduation rates and jobs.
But I ask you: How can Dr. Harvey be right when so many minority kids are voting Yes for these schools with their wallets and pocketbooks? They don’t have to incur huge debts the statistics say they can not repay. It’s a free country, right?
More importantly, at DPVU, I envision us showing that President Obama’s claim that such schools just load up students with big debts and no jobs doesn’t apply in our case.
Why? I envision us guaranteeing, or your money back, a job in politics to all those who gradate from one of our programs in political campaign management, indeed this program will be our total focus, offering 4 levels of degrees – two year certificate. BA, MA and of course a PHD.
That’s right: 100% employment, the Democratic Party’s dream for years. Right?
Frankly, I think it will allow us to double tuition rates, bringing in $180 million almost all in student loans and grants from Uncle Sugar like the other schools in the industry.
Actually, 3,000 students is a low ball number really. Once DPVU is established as they place to go for Democratic activists, the online program alone will easily hit 10,000.
Even at normal tuition rates, that would be $300 million in gross revenue!!!
But you say: “Come on Paul, it’s not like the Party will get to keep all the $300 million!”
Don’t be so sure.
First, for-profit colleges spend roughly 25% of all their federal revenues on marketing and advertising, it takes a lot to lure all those minority kids – overwhelming from families with modest incomes – to sign their lives away. You need a lot of high pressure tactics, incentives for recruiters and public relations organizations, it’s costly to them.
BUT NOT TO US. Heck, we have Democratic organizations in all our independent towns and cities, right down to the precinct level. We have Democrats on most every school board in the state, and our candidates go to just about every meeting and every large group of people at one time or another. So most of that $75 million the regular for-profit schools spend on getting “asses into classes” we don’t have to spend.
$75 million will run one kick-ass statewide ticket campaign, our candidates will not have to raise a single dime. Think of the opportunities this will give to good people who can’t afford to run statewide.
Then there are huge salaries we will not have to pay. Business Week magazine just did an article on it. For example, the head of one for-profit college with campuses across Virginia paid its President many times more in compensation than the combined such compensation for all the top staff of every Historic Black College and University in Virginia, indeed 80 times more than the compensation for the creator of the largest non-profit college in Virginia, Mr. Eugene Trani of Virginia Commonwealth University. Indeed, if you added the salaries for all the HBCU’s and all the major other colleges, this one individual from Strayer University could possibly pay all their compensation and still be the highest paid college president in the state!
But as you know, the head of the Virginia Democratic Party is an unpaid position, and so he or she will not be entitled to the $40 million compensation package federal tax payers are underwriting for this particular individual.
The traditional for-profit college also has to pay huge amounts of money for financial and other counselors given the fact they account for nearly 50% of the defaulted student loans although they only enroll a small percentage of all college students.
But this will not be needed at DPVU, since all our graduates will get jobs, indeed many will be able to earn credit for working in campaigns while going to school. This is possible due to the unique nature of campaign work and the contacts the DPVU will have with campaigns around the country.
Then we have faculty salaries. This can be a significant expense in other subjects, but campaign management has some very unique cost-savings possibilities. For two months every year, the General Assembly is available on television, so students can learn all they need to know about the legislative process. Moreover, there is no reason committee hearings and other aspects of governing can not be equally so televised so students can learn in the comfort of their homes. Everything one needs to know about campaign finances and related subjects is already available online at the Virginia Board of Elections website, and they have a lot of very helpful employees in case a student has any questions.
We have already nearly 60 PhDs in real politics in the General Assembly Democratic delegation, many with more knowledge of the subject matter than Professor Sabato of UVA. Truth is, in today’s politics, every good campaign manager hires consulting experts or policy experts to do that work, the same with polling and other disciplines. Even a PhD in campaign management doesn’t think he or she is actually smart enough to do this stuff, the same for TV ads and internet stuff, not to mention direct mail. A good manager knows his or her limitations: which generally extend to just about all the important areas of the business!
But our students will be handle to handle the job: If you can talk on the telephone, use a directory to find an expert, drive a car to get the candidate to an event, and be counted upon to okay a press release with no more, at least on average, than 5 misspellings and one sentence that has to be walked back, there is the makings of a Doctoral student at DPVU.
Being a great campaign manager requires only three things. First, you need to get your first gig, and don’t get fired. This is tougher than it sounds. But as long as you finish the campaign, win or lose, you are basically in the club, especially if you have a graduate degree from DPVU. If you can get enough gigs, you will eventually win one. Then you are a genius and a great ambassador for DPVU.
So at DPVU, we will not have the need to hire folks who pretend to teach students various subjects, any more than they could teach them in High School, which is why so many of them go to for-profit colleges now. So this really cuts down on faculty expenses.
So let’s recap my proposal. First, we establish the Democratic Party of Virginia University, a fully accredited school of higher education aimed at becoming the highest rated such institution for degrees in political management. We will guarantee employment for any student who completes our program, either in a campaign, on Capitol Hill, in a state legislature, or with a political consulting firm.
Moreover, if we are smart, we will sign a student exchange program with a Republican University. This is way, no matter who controls the Congress or the White House, we will have access and ready means to make sure all that federal loan and grant money keeps on coming to us.
Come on Lowell, get with it man: it ain’t like it is stealing. Uncle Sam has doubled and tripled the amount of money available to these schools. It’s all perfectly legal. Why are you so much against the free enterprise system?
Look, right now the Democrats are missing a great opportunity to win in 2013. Surely there has to be at least one Democrat in the state who can see this!