THE FIRM. That’s what they call McKinsey & Company, and the leading F in Firm is richly deserved. The consultants are everywhere. Corporations, governments, the most prominent NGOs… Consultants apply their know-how and unimpeachable credentials to the problems of every company with the money to afford their fees. And they do indeed solve problems—they boil the data down to transferrable sets of questions that allow inexperienced recent grads to pretend to make a difference.
IN A WORLD in which fiscal policy becomes more complex with each passing administration, an alarmingly simple proposal like universal basic income brings all parties into a state of shock. At its core, UBI seeks to give citizens a periodic, no-strings-attached cash grant to do whatever they want. Whether you are rich or poor, from San Francisco or from Bakersfield, every so often you receive a check in the mail for a fixed amount directly from the government. You could spend it all in a one-night extravaganza or save it to buy the car you always wanted—you could even burn the money in a bonfire if you like (though I would not recommend doing so). The fundamental principle behind UBI is for citizens to choose what they want to do with their money, whatever that choice may be.
ON JUNE 28, Beto O’Rourke announced a plan for a War Tax—a system by which, upon the formal declaration of war by Congress, a progressive tax on families without service members or veterans would be levied to pay for the latter’s care. It was a bad idea and roundly mocked by the Democratic commentariat. The New Republic called it both “empirically wrong” and “deeply cynical.” Newsweek called it “not just dumb, but un-American.”
THERANOS’ DOWNFALL was perhaps the first time that Stanford’s ties with Silicon Valley received some much-needed criticism—the company’s disgraced founder, its first board member, many of its employees, and a good deal of its prestige had all come from Stanford. The whole affair became a testament to the scale and importance of our community’s involvement with the corporate world, and it inspired the Sphere to take a closer look at Stanford’s ties to the biotech industry. But we didn’t just discover the scale of these ties: we found ourselves before an alarming lack of accountability when it comes to keeping research and financial interests separate.
AT GREAT universities like ours, the privileged children of alumni and faculty don’t need to bribe their way in—that’s what legacy admissions are for. Since the bribery scandal broke, plenty of ink has been spilled on the ethical implications of legacy admissions. Seldom, however, are the arguments in favor of legacy taken seriously: let’s break them down.