By Professor Doom
I’ve written about Trump University before, and it appears I was wrong, at least a little. I thought the amounts involved were only a few million (and thus nothing compared to the hundreds of millions in Clinton’s Laureate school), but the amounts were pretty significant, even if pale next to other scandals by professional politicians.
--my apologies for linking to a fake news site, but I couldn’t find anything trustworthy that covered this adequately. Weekly World News and other tabloids have been around for decades…why is “fake news” a big problem all of a sudden?
Before going further, I want to mention a small issue. Many use this settlement as proof that Trump is a scammer. Perhaps so, but I think the best you can take from this is if Trump does wrong, he’ll actually be taken to court…a scammer he may be, but unlike the last half dozen presidents, he’ll actually have to face consequences for his illegal actions. Trump says he settled just so this case, already in its 6th year, can finally go away; I’ll accept this as face value, because we all know how issues that are resolved with incessant denials despite mountains of evidence never seem to go away (hi Hillary!).
Back to today’s topic, that’s more money involved than I thought. Trying to do the math here makes it tough to figure out how much was taken from “students.” The class action had around 6000 students, with a minimum “tuition” of $1,500. So, he took at least $9,000,000 from suckers looking to get rich off real estate, and had to give most of it back. I’m putting words in quotes here because this wasn’t a real university (obviously) and this wasn’t actual tuition in the normal sense. It’s weird, I’ve seen many such schemes on late night TV, Trump’s prices really aren’t out of line with other such get-rich-quick-in-real-estate schemes. I guess he was too successful here.
So, all well and good, I suppose, but…wait a minute. Average college tuition is over $25,000 a year when you consider all expenses, and you need about 4 years of it. Do we finally have precedent for clawing back the money from administrators who have been suckering high school kids for decades?
Let’s see what the charges were:
“The school promised to teach his investing "secrets."
The secrets, of course, were secrets to making money. Gee whiz, most of the students coming onto campus were told they were going to make a million more bucks over a lifetime because of the “secrets” they would learn in higher education. It might be a small stretch, but this charge could easily be leveled at most colleges in this country.
I concede there’s a bit of gray area there, how about another charge:
“…many of the techniques seem to have been publicly available in his books, which could be purchased for a fraction of the program's tuition or even taken out of a library for free.”
“Many”? But everything students “learn” on campus, at least at the undergraduate level, can be purchased for a tiny fraction of tuition, and the material in college textbooks is available in the public library for free. Does this fake news site know that students are regularly charged $100 or more for a textbook that contains nothing that wasn’t said and published over a century ago?
The suits also allege that Trump University was promoted as an accredited university even though it was not.
Wait. Accreditation is a huge fraud. In this blog I’ve highlighted massive academic scandals that went on for almost 20 years, scandals which accreditation never would have found about because, as I’ve shown in detail, accreditation has no inclination to learn about academic fraud. Moreover, once independent agencies discovered the fraud, accreditation did nothing.
With accreditation so questionable, I’m hard pressed to understand the problem with Trump U claiming to have accreditation. You may as well run a blog and explicitly say you’re publishing fake news, it would do as much harm to your credibility as running a university and saying it’s fully accredited. Accreditation only serves one purpose: to allow access to the Federal student loan scam…which Trump University never took.
And so I rejoice: we now have precedent for taking many of our so-called “universities” to court and charging them with the same level of fraud that Trump University settled for—I do note that part of the settlement requires no admission of wrongdoing (of course)…but the precedent is now clear.
If all it takes to be part of a lawsuit is for the education not to pay off, the implications here are staggering.
We have around 20,000,000 college students. Half of college graduates (and that’s just the graduates!) are working in jobs where the degree is worthless. So, let’s do the math. 10,000,000 ripped off customers, bigger than the lawsuit. $100,000 per degree, again more than Trump’s lawsuit. So, $1,000,000,000,000, a trillion dollar lawsuit can be filed against higher education. That’s just for this year’s students. This fraud has been going for twenty years at the least, so we’re talking $20 trillion worth of lawsuits.
I know, it’ll never happen, but I still choose to be hopeful. The key meta-issue the last election was the sheer hypocrisy of hyper-criticism of every splinter in Trump’s eye (and there are plenty, I grant) while ignoring a veritable redwood forest of logs elsewhere.
If Trump’s piffling 6,000 students and nine million dollars merit a multi-year lawsuit, then, absolutely, ten million students, for a trillion dollars, would as well. I’m not holding my breath, I know it won’t go country wide, but what happens when a typical university, with 25,000 students or more, suddenly finds itself being slapped with mega-lawsuits wanting that tuition money back. It’s a crack pipe dream to suspect the thieving administration will be forced to give back the money, I know, but just to see the immense frauds end will still be good enough.
So, thank you, Mr. Trump, for cracking open the floodgates on stopping this fraud even a micrometer…it’s more than I would have guessed Hercules himself would have been able to accomplish.