by Darryl, 12/12/2013, 3:17 PM

UW President Michael Young just got a raise to $570,000 . But, under his hiring agreement, he would receive an additional million in “deferred compensation” if he stays through 2016.

Presumably, all this compensation is based on Young’s “fitness” to serve the lofty role as a University President. In creating that contract, the Board of Regents inherently expressed a belief that Young has the temperament, wisdom, and values to lead the state’s premier institution of higher learning—to serve as the state’s intellectual commander-in-chief, if you will.

But given his recent public statement, it’s a façade. Rather than serving as a thoughtful steward of our state’s intellectual life, he has succumb to FOX News style truth-is-whatever-makes-me-feel-redeemed punditry.

And that makes him an embezzler—after millions of our tax dollars.

I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like he is an embezzler in the classic sense. I mean, it’s not like he is actually stealing money he isn’t entitled to. And, granted, he really does have a contract for his salary. But hear me out….

You see, I used to believe that accuracy and truthfulness in describing things like “embezzler” were an important part of being a writer, thinker, and all-around good citizen. But, I’ve recently learned that intellectual honesty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve learned that sometimes it is okay to be incendiary to get people’s attention.

Where did I learn how to avoid being encumbered by truth? Why…from President Young, himself!

Last week, Young claimed that Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) plan is “a strange program—a Ponzi scheme, essentially.” (ST link).

The statement is entirely inaccurate. GET is nothing at all like a Ponzi scheme. Calling it a Ponzi scheme defies the actual definition of a Ponzi scheme.

Such a statement coming from the U.W. President is absolutely stunning! Is it now okay for a University President to, essentially, lie to the citizens of the state. Is it moral for Young to belittle 150,000 families by suggesting they have invested in “vaporware” for their children that is really just the opposite (i.e. guaranteed)? Is it right for a University President to besmirch a functioning program that is the only sure financial path to a college education for many middle class Washington families?

Through a spokesperson we learn that Young’s use of “Ponzi scheme” is “a handy quip to explain what he perceives as the financial fragility of the GET program.”

The Seattle Times’ columnist Danny Westneat takes Young to task over his misleading words:

“No, GET is not like a Ponzi scheme, not at all,” said state Treasurer Jim McIntire, when I asked him about Young’s comment. “I would hope that what was going on here is that he misspoke.”

GET, or Guaranteed Education Tuition, is factually not like a Ponzi scheme, except in the most superficial ways. For starters, it’s an open book. Last month it got an “A” risk rating from the state actuary. It has $2.5 billion invested, in federal bonds and equity funds, that last year returned a healthy 16 percent.

Westneat’s “most superficial way” is, essentially, that there is investment and, therefore, risk—you know, like any insurance program, any retirement plan, loans, layaway, venture capital, real estate purchases, or even just investing in a college education. They’re all fuckin Ponzi schemes because someone is taking some kind of risk. Hell…by this definition even Young invested in a Ponzi scheme when he agreed to deferred compensation, because there is some chance he will not last until 2016. Man…what a gullible bozo to fall for that old Ponzi scheme!

But to be fair, we should hear Young’s side of the story. Westneat to the rescue:

“It’s incendiary, I admit,” Young said when I called him. “But this can be a real go-along to get-along community. You have to be a little incendiary around here to get people’s attention.”

Young said the GET program, because it’s a defined-benefit plan (it pledges to pay no matter what happens to the investments), is a ticking time bomb. He compared it to Detroit going bankrupt in part due to its crippling defined-benefit pensions.

“It’s 100 percent predictable that this is going to go south,” Young said. “It might be fine now, but let’s have this conversation six years from now. It’s going to need an infusion of capital to prop it up.”

That’s not what the state actuary predicts. But I can’t say who’s right.

I see…it’s because Detroit. Nevermind that there are 20,000 cities in the U.S. and the vast majority have not been crippled by defined-benefits pensions. There is a reason that Detroit went bankrupt, and the root cause isn’t the pension obligations!

So, that’s why I can say he is an embezzler. Not because he has stolen any money. He’s fine right now but, hey, let’s have this conversation two years from now. I’m just sayin’. And, it’s okay to be “just sayin’” in an incendiary way, because I’m just trying to get people’s attention. Think of it as a handy quip to point out the fragile position that Young put himself and the University in.

Thanks to President Young, truth be damned, we can all behave like FOX News pundits!

13 Responses to “UW President Michael Young is an Embezzler”

1. ArtFart spews:

Yeah, right. GET is a Ponzi scheme…

And Social Security is to blame for the national debt…

And the brass at JP Morgan Chase are being duly punished for their collusion with Bernie Madoff…

And Saddam had weapons of mass destruction lying all over the place…

And War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

2. dutch spews:

I usually go here for entertainment purposes to read “great tidbits” of wisdom or what people from a different universe think the world does or should look like (Carl, maybe that different universe is blocking Big Bertha ? ). But today’s post just made me roflmas.

I quote:
“You see, I used to believe that accuracy and truthfulness in describing things like “embezzler” were an important part of being a writer, thinker, and all-around good citizen. But, I’ve recently learned that intellectual honesty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve learned that sometimes it is okay to be incendiary to get people’s attention.

Where did I learn how to avoid being encumbered by truth? Why…from President Young, himself!”

Oh my, that is rich. Aside the fact that someone thinks he is a writer, wouldn’t you think that you have learned this “trait” from the master of incendiary comments, Goldstein ? If I recall this site was spouting those comments way before President Young ever came to the UW.

So pls go on being “unencumbered by truth”. It’s fun.

3. Michael spews:

Not only is GET nothing like a Ponzi, it’s nothing like Detroit either.

The UW seems to have a habit of picking shitty people to lead it.

4. MikeBoyScout spews:

Let’s understand something.
Income inequality is a reinforcing downward spiral.

Few of our government employees should be paid more than 97% of its employers.

No one whose job and role is to lead and manage the educational institution of the populace should be anywhere nearly as overcompensated as this HorsesAss is.

Pro tip, if the person’s performance you are discussing is in the top 1%, you’ve got a 99% chance he’s out to Fk you. That’s where his bread is buttered.

5. Roger Rabbit spews:

@2 I agree HA is incendiary, which is a big part of what makes this blog fun, but there’s a crucial difference between us and your ilk, dutch:

We’re right and you’re wrong.

Seriously. You conservatives are wrong about everything. Every fucking thing you touch, you fuck up. You guys can’t manage an economy. You can’t run a war. You can’t be trusted not to steal from taxpayers. I wouldn’t let any of you date my daughter without an armed escort, and even then I’d require her to be back home no later than 5:00 PM.

Think I’m just blowing smoke? Here’s the GOP’s pathetic historical record, from Harding In 1921 to Bush in 2003:

–Democrats held White House for 40 years and Republicans for 42.5 years.
–Democrats created 75,820,000 net new jobs — Republicans 36,440,000.
–Per Year Average: Democrats 1,825,200, Republicans 856,400.
–Republicans had 9 presidents during the period of whom 6 presided over a depression or recession.
–The Dow Average grew 52% more under Democrats.
–GDP grew 43% more under Democrats.

SOURCES-Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.BLS.gov)
Economic Policy Institute (EPI.org) – Global & World Almanacs from 1980 to 2003 (annual issues)

And, of course, the GOP’s record after 2003 (when this list was compiled) is even more pathetic, in fact it’s apocalyptic.

Words are cheap, dutch, it’s results that count and that’s why smirking chumps like you are laughingstocks.

6. Roger Rabbit spews:

Suppose Mike Young, instead of being UW President, had been Supreme Allied Commander in World War 2 and said something like this on the eve of the D-Day landings:

“Yes, we’ve assembled the greatest invasion force in history, but who knows where we’ll be six days from now, maybe trapped on the beaches or at best stuck in the hedgerows, but I get paid to lead this show so I’m gonna issue the orders. I can’t say I like the idea. It wasn’t my plan, I just want to make that clear to those of you in the press. After all, the weather’s bad, the surf’s high, our troops will have to cross open beaches and then climb steep bluffs, the Germans are tough and experienced soldiers. Frankly, I think we’re going to lose thousands of men on the beaches and then get thrown back into the Channel and lose the rest of them in the water. But the politicians decided we’ve gotta have an invasion, so we’re going. At least I don’t have to jump out of a plane, land in a glider, or leap out of an LST and run across the sand under fire! Thank God I’ll get my pension no matter what happens.”

7. Roger Rabbit spews:

Yeah, with leaders like Mike Young, who needs enemies? Guys like him can fail on their own initiative without any outside help.

8. Dr. Hilarius spews:

Blockheads like Young prove that once you reach a certain level, failure is impossible short of being charged with child molestation.

My undergraduate degree is from the UW, way back in the 70s. As UW President pay has skyrocketed over the years I’ve heard the steady refrain that we have to pay to get the best. At the same time, state support for the UW has steadily declined. Hey, just like the private sector! High pay for shitty performance.

9. Roger Rabbit spews:

@8 Well, I have a solution for this problem, and you can read it here: http://handbill.us/

10. Darryl spews:

dutch @2,

“Aside the fact that someone thinks he is a writer, wouldn’t you think that you have learned this “trait” from the master of incendiary comments, Goldstein ?”

You clearly missed the point. It wasn’t about Young’s statement “enabling” incendiary commentary. Rather it was about disregarding the world of facts (or just outright lying) under the pretense of being incendiary.

Incendiary is okay, lying isn’t. Goldy may be incendiary, but he is scrupulously honest with statements of fact.

11. Geov spews:

Correct. Darryl’s post title was incendiary, but it was also a model of restraint. He never once mentioned that Young fucks pigs. Not once!!

12. Liberal Scientist is the "Most vile leftist on this blog!" spews:

@11
I thought it was goats he fucked? Pigs? Now that’s news!

13. ArtFart spews:

Just for perspective, we might try and keep in mind that the President of the UW gets paid a hell of a lot less to run the whole institution than some other guy does just to coach the God-damned football team, and they both get paid a lot more than the Governor does to manage the entire fucking state.

Does anyone else see something wrong with that?

I sort of understand Young’s beef–he’s staring bleary-eyed at the balance sheets and sees a big problem in that it costs a lot more per academic year to train a doctor than it does to graduate a student with a degree in music or comparative literature–heck, in the former case, the student in question helps subsidize himself by performing for free in campus events where admission is charged. On the other hand, it’s the job of a public university (and really, a private one if it’s any good) to make the pursuit of any of its offered degrees available to anyone with the talent and motivation, not just the money. If my coronary arteries get plugged up, I’d much rather get my chest cracked by a brilliant surgeon with a passion for his or her work, not someone who got there because his or her daddy could pay the freight.