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View Diary: Updated: Florida Students Protest Koch Influence Over College Professors (104 comments)

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  •  well state schools sure need the bucks (5+ / 0-)

    and the only string is that if Koch does not agree with the hiring of the professor then they do not pay the professor's salary.  The school would then have to find the money itself for the hire. But most schools have endowed profesorships and I imagine there are strings attached to those endowments as well.  So I suppose if the school was in really dire financial straits they would have to hire someone that Koch approved or if they could just not hire a new professor. Yes, this could then lead to less courses offered or maybe even less students that could become economics majors but I think that is doubtful.

      •  Many endowments have "strings" attached (9+ / 0-)

        at both public and private colleges and universities. Those "strings" have never threatened the tax status of the contributions. Professors hired under an endowment don't provide any direct services to the person making the endowment gift and that's why they are tax deductible.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:40:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not when the strings specify ... (16+ / 0-)

          ... the defense and promotion of a particular viewpoint or set of narrow interests, as they often do.

          I know, challenges to 501(c)3's are very rare. In their magnanimity, the courts of law of this proud and mighty country have been very loath to interfere with the fundamental right of the rich and the poor alike to fund whatever they say fit in the 'marketplace of ideas', just like the law in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

          But, frankly, tax-exempt purchases of PR services have gotten so baldly naked over the past two or three decades, that I think it's a venue worth trying.

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:11:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Farugia - there is nothing in the tax code that (6+ / 0-)

            prohibits an endowed professorship to be restricted to someone who has the same interests and philosophy as the person making the gift. It happens frequently that a professor holding a named chair has to be approved by the person providing the endowment. Unless that person is providing services directly to the person providing the gift there is no valid tax challenge here. Sharing a political or economic philosophy with the person providing the endowment doesn't in any way change the tax character of the gift.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:26:52 PM PDT

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            •  IF that is true (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and I do not believe it is by a fair reading of the tax code, then it needs to be changed.

              •  mcstowy - decades ago the Fortune 500 company (0+ / 0-)

                where I was a corporate officer, and senior executive of our Foundation, endowed a chair at my alma mater, a very well known public university in CA. We had perpetual veto rights over the person who was named to the endowed professorship. I think this is very common and has never been viewed by the IRS as having any influence over the tax status of the gift. In my case because the gift was from a tax-free foundation it really didn't matter, but even if given by a taxable entity it's not an issue. This is long standing IRS policy and I see no good reason for the IRS to change it. It's really up to the individual university to decide if they are comfortable with gifts that have restrictions. From the perspective of the IRS, as long as the gift isn't retrieved or returned there is no valid tax challenge.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:39:20 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Just because something is... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  does not mean it is correct or proper.  The majority of the tax code was written long before we started force-feeding corporations as much subsidy and as many "tax-breaks" as they could possibly want.  The tax code is a product of people like you who take as much as you can then expect others to volunteer their services.  If you were an officer with a Fortune 500 corporation you were and are part of the problem.  Peddle your mind trash elsewhere.

                  You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns. Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

                  by spritegeezer on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 03:15:02 PM PDT

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                  •  spiritegeezer - you know little about me (0+ / 0-)

                    or the contributions I make to the Democratic Party or this site. Your comment seems very harsh given that thirty years ago I was a Fortune 500 corporate officer. My nearly 35,000 comments have, for the most part, been well received here.

                    If you want to change the culture and behavior of corporate America it is much more effective to do it from the inside, particularly by being a member of the senior management or board of directors. Those are the people who can actually affect change. We want more progressive Democrats in those positions, not fewer.

                    I still don't understand the view of some in this thread that because someone making an endowment gift has influence or control over the people selected for the named professorship that it should negate the tax consequence of the endowment gift. In the context of tax law that makes no sense. The funds have been irrevocably gifted. That's the basis for the tax treatment.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:13:27 PM PDT

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                    •  Just one point (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      This is a small digression, but it must be made, imo.  You claim that the best way to change corporate culture and behavior is to do it from the inside--from the top of the inside, that is.  That might be the best way to change things, but it will never happen.  That's because once you get there, you have already lost your way regarding what is good for ordinary workers as well as for ordinary people in the country.  

                      I have worked with top managers for many years, and there are very, very few who would, or could, actually effect any positive change.

                      Change is more likely to come from the society in which the corporation operates--IF the general public has enough power to vote in a government who is willing to make those changes.  The U.S. has already passed the time when we could do that, I think.  But some countries have done it, for example, the Scandinavian countries.

                      •  reasonshouldrule - I grew up in a walkup tenement (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        the son of a depression era high school dropout. My parents lived paycheck to paycheck. I went to public schools from K through graduate school. I had no family connections or network to introduce me to Corporate America.  I was lucky, but also very good at my job and became a Fortune 500 corporate officer just after I turned 30. Please don't assume that I have "lost my way". I have started numerous companies, three of which became public companies. In those companies I was able to determine the culture and how we treated employees and we treated them very well. That's much easier to do from the top than the bottom.

                        I have also been the Chairman of the Compensation Committee of five public companies. If you want to restrict corporate executive pay, only reward real performance, and create compensation policies that treat all employees fairly,  that's a place where you can actually make that happen.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:07:14 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes, you make a good point (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          However, there are very, very few people like you.  99% of the top management of companies believe and act differently.  In fact, they believe that it is NOT A GOOD THING to treat employees well or provide them with a decent life because that would, in their (false) rationalizations, "lead to a dependent kind of person."  Stifle innovation.  Etc. etc.

                          For the reality of how most companies operate, we need a government willing to enact and enforce strong regulations.

                          Both my husband and I have worked with companies all our lives, my husband as an environmental attorney, and truly, most companies WILL NOT take even the most basic of safety measures until forced to do so by law.

                          If most companies were run by people like you, we wouldn't have this problem.

                        •  Really seriously t (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          The old boy network nurterd all executive pay committees look at yahoo yesterday.I dont doubt that you made a difference in the companies you set up but fortune 500 companies in the early eighties were much different to the companies today after all when was Gass-siegal repealed?
                          Unions were stronger then. Voodoo economics as invented by Milton had few supporters till Regan and Thatcher,the press was less biased and there were still traces of the shame culture and when people got caught out they resigned or better still got sacked without the size of golden parachutes now.Sorry i rate your claim that pay deals that were unreasonably high based because of performance as totally false/Look at what fund managers get paid and a lot even under perform the market i.e  you could do better yourself and save the huge fees

                    •  If the funds have been irrevocably gifted, then (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib, mcstowy

                      how can the Koch brothers take them back if the school hires professors they don't approve of?

                      "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." - John Stuart Mill, 1806 - 1873

                      by Terry S on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:05:49 PM PDT

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                      •  If I understand the setup correctly (0+ / 0-)

                        they won't pay for people they don't like. They receive no tax benefit unless the funds are allocated or are irrevocably gifted. If the university isn't making payments to professors the endowment can just continue to grow. If the Koch's receive the funds back, there would be no tax benefit.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:24:21 PM PDT

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                        •  Unless (0+ / 0-)

                          public universities are 100% supported with public funding, they will have a hard time turning down money from private sources.  And that leads to hiring professors who will have to be okayed by the private funders.  How can it not?  And, since money to public universities is being cut.......

                          •  For some campuses at the University of California (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            state funding represents a third or less of the funding. Much of the funding comes from research grants, student fees, and private contributions. Some of the graduate business and law schools now receive no state funds at all, and are self funded. When I was a UC student state funding was the overwhelming majority of the support. Student fees were very modest and a small percentage of the total funding.

                            Over the past forty years here in California the state budget has gone from funding education and infrastructure to funding transfer payments to individuals. I am not saying that is good or bad, it just reflects a change in our priorities.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:22:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Doesn't (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            sound good to me.  What kind of "individuals?"  My grandson has applied to UC Berkeley, and we're in breath-holding mode.  He moved to CA last summer for an internship at UC Riverside and has taken a couple of courses at a CC in Oakland to keep making progress toward his degree.  Out-of-state tuition was too high for him to take more than two classes.  So now we're hoping for resident status and acceptance (not in that order), and it's tense, at least for me. I'm the resident worrier.

                            BTW, sorry about the rant someone directed at you for being a high-up in a Fortune 500 company.  We all know there have to be some good folks up there, but many here have been burned by one or more large corporations.  In my case, my son has been totally screwed, so there's some free-floating vitriol on this site.  I even had to tamp some down myself, when I read your post, and I try VERY hard not to use a broad brush.

                          •  What kind of individuals? (0+ / 0-)

                            According to the Democrats 20% of the people in the US who receive some type of monthly income from state government live in CA. The Republicans say the number is more like 30%. Even if you accept the Democrats numbers California with 12% of the nation's population is providing support to 20% of the people on state aid. That's not a sustainable ratio and those funds can't provide support to UC or the Cal-State systems.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:06:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            for responding.  Our grandson's college education has been a real white knuckle ride for me.  And on it goes but now in CA, we hope.  He may have to go back to Cleveland State, if he doesn't get accepted at Berkeley AND attain resident status.  Cleveland has no classes in his major left for him to take, so that would be getting a degree just to get a degree--no progress whatsoever.  He's a fine young man and deserves better than this rocky road.

                          •  I don't take those kind of statements seriously (0+ / 0-)

                            I know where I have been and how I have treated others I have worked with, or who have worked for me. 95% of the people I have worked with, or who have worked for me, would join me again in an instant if I had a good opportunity for them. That's all that is important.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:10:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Just as well (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            you shake them off.  I just wish my son had worked for someone like you.  Now he has corporate PTSD and sends out resumes while hating the idea of working for another impersonal corp.

                •  The law is (0+ / 0-)

                  and always has been a weapon for the wealthy and powerful to oppress the powerless.  The THEORY of the deduction for charitable giving is that it promotes the public good.  Giving money to promote your own views is not promoting the public good.  That being said, this idea has always been "honored" in the breach.  The tax code is manipulated to benefit those whose wealth gives them access to decision makers, to the detriment of everyone else.      

        •  These gifts aren't through FSU's endowment (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rita5018, VClib

          These professors are hired outside of an endowment program, so FSU doesn't have the option of paying their salary through interest. And if Koch backs out, FSU is obligated to continue funding these professors as they prepare for a tenured position, as the new version of the Koch FSU contract demands.

        •  The point you've made is completely rational (0+ / 0-)

          And that's why it must be changed. How do we know that professors hired under an endowment don't provide any direct services to the person making the endowment gift, in this case the Koch brothers?

          Controlling the economics professors and curriculum will ultimately lower recruitment costs for Koch Industries on the FSU Campus, or over time create a legion of economists sympathetic to Koch's causes. If a progressive think tank does the case studies, an argument for taxing the donations could be made imho.

          •  If the professor provides direct services (0+ / 0-)

            to the Koch's it could influence the tax treatment of the endowment. The income to the professor is taxable in any event, so the only issue is the tax treatment to the Koch's. Educating college students in a manner that is sympathetic to free market economics and libertarian ideas isn't viewed as a direct benefit to the Koch's.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:16:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  "It is a violation of academic integrity.'' (48+ / 0-)

      From the linked article (emphasis added):

      While it is not a direct veto, it does give FSU a strong incentive to recruit professors who agree with Koch's free market ideas.

      "What's concerning is that these outside influences are getting a say in who and how and what is being taught, or researched for that matter,'' said Dr. Jennifer Proffitt, president of FSU's United Faculty of Florida chapter. "It is a violation of academic integrity.''

      The issue here is not Koch's political views. Conservative and liberal philosophies alike should be a part of a university's curriculum. But arrangements such as this can lead to a potential stacking of the deck.

      And from the Miami New Times:
      ... (N)ow that president Eric Barron is leaving for a new position at Penn State, a group of students says Koch's potential influence sits like "an elephant in the room" at Florida State. They are concerned anew about their university's academic integrity.

      Writing in the Tallahassee Democrat, four FSU students -- Jerry Funt, Gladys Nobriga, Lissa Reed, and Ralph Wilson -- put the question to new FSU administration: Now that Barron is leaving, and with many provisions of the original 2008 agreement still in place, "How will Florida State ensure that multimillion-dollar grants from Kansas billionaire Charles Koch won't warp our education?"

      "In our haste to fulfill fundraising goals," the students write, "we must not allow our administrators to sell our university's academic freedom. As students striving to live by the Florida State seal of Vires, Artes, and Mores -- strength, skill, and character -- we'd rather not surrender our character just to serve Charles Koch. Our impartiality is more valuable than his money."

      The students are asking the correct question: "How will Florida State ensure that multimillion-dollar grants from Kansas billionaire Charles Koch won't warp our education?" It is the university's duty to ensure that private funding sources don't determine what will be taught.

      So, when you say, "I think that is doubtful," on what do you base your supposition? Koch's historical reluctance to buy influence?

      preborner: (n.) one who believes that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

      Repeal Benghazi!


      by 1BQ on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WTF? (18+ / 0-)

      "You can hire anyone you like, but if you hire someone we don't like then their salary doesn't get paid."

      Seriously, you think that's ok? A papered-over hire/fire veto power is ok?

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:37:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, most universities (37+ / 0-)

      that accept funds for professorships have strict rules that disallow any input into the actual hiring process.
      The donor may be able to set the disciplinary focus - civil engineering, or nanotechnology, or Shakespearean literature - but not the actual hire.

      I've seen universities turn down a number of large gifts because those strings were attached.

    •  I am not aware of any endowed professorships (11+ / 0-)

      that allow the donor to select the faculty who are endowed.
        There might be sub rosa agreements, but what the Kochs are doing is well outside standard practice in academia.
         You mght recall that a couple of decades ago, a billionaire offered Yale a deal in which he would provide a massive amount of money to establish an institute based at Yale, but he would retain the right to name the professors attached to the institute. Yale turned him down flat.

    •  The deal is the same as it was before (3+ / 0-)

      The only difference is that it no longer appears as if Koch holds a veto.

      Given costs, there is no way a school can suddenly find the money to pay for a salary if they had not already budgeted for it before… so a no vote by Koch will still equal a no hire.

      This is as despicable an action by the Kochs as any I have heard of.  It is worse than buying politicians.  It is even worse than buying PBS.

    •  Yeah but don't we have to... (0+ / 0-)


    •   (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, that is doubtful, but only because the school will CAVE for the money EVERY TIME.

      Under that policy in Florida, absolutely NO dissenting opinion in the schools of economics will be allowed, heard, or tolerated by the Kock Boys.  

      What I fear is that pretty soon they'll notice that it worked, at least once the furor dies down some, and they'll likely fully fund the entire program, or maybe the entire SCHOOL - WITH those same provisos.  (And probably a wing of the building on campus most shaped like a temple named for them, dedicated to their worship and adoration... Shy and retiring they're NOT.  They'll declare their godhood eventually, I guess.)

      Education is actually fairly inexpensive, compared to the obscene amounts of wonga the Kocks have been dumping into politics.  Once they notice that this is cheaper and probably more effective over the long term, they'll switch their donations around and just buy schools.  And professors.  And textbook writers.  And publishers.  (Too late, looks like they already may have done those.)

      I am retired from a state university.  I've seen it first-hand, from the FIRING lines (as in pink slips).

      Funding for education at ALL levels, here in Illinois anyway, has been slashed, hacked, cut, chopped, and just plain pulled until it is at the lowest levels I can remember.

      Also renege'd , too, as the state has just 'forgotten' to pay money to the school as legislated, some years.  ("Some" as in the last several and probably THIS YEAR as well.  My wife is also an elementary teacher and her school district was one of many who were just not given some of the funds that the legislature voted to give the schools.  "Oops."  "Budget Shortfall," anyone?)

      One thing can be GUARANTEED:

      If there is money involved., well, the SCOTUS Right-Wing-Five have said it, "MONEY TALKS."

      And the MFWIC's at the schools, particularly the "trustee" and "board" levels, not only listen, they bow and grovel and prostrate themselves before its mighty presence.

      It truly is ALMIGHTY these days, the dollar.

    •  The Koch Department of Economics (0+ / 0-)

      Why would any serious student hoping to build a career in economics even consider enrolling in this school?

    •  Need does not come into play. The fact that the (0+ / 0-)

      faculty waited for the students to bring this up shows that you should NOT send your kids for FSU.  
      ANY faculty that allows anyone to steal from them the right to select and promote colleagues is not worth sending your kids to.  

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