Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the US Senate from Massachusetts, has fully arrived in the political arena, complete with shady backroom deals and bogus, bullshit pandering.
Last year, Warren earned $350,000 as a professor at Harvard Law. Now, we have absolutely nothing against people making a lot of money. We'd love to make a lot of money, money is awesome, it can buy you stuff, sometimes awesome stuff. But not all money is earned equally. Tuition at Harvard is nearly $49,000 a year, 82% of Harvard Law students had to take out loans, and the average debt load was $118,500. That tuition level, and Warren's salary, are artificially inflated by the endless stream of government backed student loans.
Harvard graduates are of course better situated than most to get jobs that will allow them to pay off those loans, but with an above average debt load and an endowment large enough to cover all costs for another 50 or so years, it's somewhat distasteful for Harvard to ask students to take out bigger loans to pay Elizabeth Warren so much money.
It's especially distasteful when, according to Harvard's course catalog, Elizabeth Warren taught only a total of 4 credit hours in the 2011-2012 school year, and no classes in 2010-2011. She earned over $6000 an hour for her time in the classroom. If someone offers you that rate, for the love of God take it. Just don't be surprised when it hurts your credibility when you portray yourself as a champion of the middle class and complain about a lack of economic support for students.
That's not the shady backroom deal though. In 1996 Harvard gave Warren $15,000-50,000 in interest free loans to be repaid over 20 years. That may seem like small potatoes in the overall scheme of things, but look at the money trail. Harvard sets an artificially high tuition rate, to pay it students take out loans back by the federal government, Harvard then takes the money that students are paying 6.8% interest on and loans it back out to a professor at 0% interest. She could have just turned around and loaned the money right back to the federal government and pocketed about 3% a year, or about $40,000 over 20 years. That's some human centipede level mouth-to-anus hookup right there.
And then there's this:
Washington has to get its priorities straight and stop causing students to drown in educational debt. But actual educational institutions? Nah, they bear absolutely no responsibility for the problem.
And just to pile on, Elizabeth Warren is completely wrong about GE's taxes. In 2011, GE paid $1 billion in US taxes (include federal corporate taxes, state taxes, and payroll taxes), and $2.9 billion total worldwide. There are arguments to be made that GE gets unfair tax treatment and is paying less than it's fair share, but $1 billion is significantly higher than the zero dollars Warren claimed.