This is What We’re Paying $150,000 For?

10 Jul

David Petraeus’s course description is up. The course is called “Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade.” That sounds like a question to me, but there’s no question mark.

Here’s the description:

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students will examine in depth and then synthesize the history and trends in diverse public policy topics with a view towards recommendations for America’s leadership role in the emerging global economy.

This is what we’re paying $150,000 for?

Update (11:35 pm)

Yasmin Nair just suggested a different course title on FB: “Can you believe that CUNY is seriously paying me this much money for this shit”

No question mark.

(Thanks to J.K. Trotter for pointing this description out on Twitter.)

Update (July 11, 6:45 pm)

Sign the petition protesting this boondoggle celebrity hire.

45 Responses to “This is What We’re Paying $150,000 For?”

  1. joanna bujes July 11, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    That description is a classic: vagueness contending with confusion.

    • foppe July 11, 2013 at 2:19 am #

      classic imperialism, you mean?

      • jonst July 11, 2013 at 9:10 am #

        define “imperialism” please

      • ed scott July 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

        Corey, thanks for the clarification.
        I suppose that’s a good salary in your profession. You may know City College was highly regarded when they paid more than any university, and I think they are attracting great scholars now, like yourself, by competing again in a ridiculously underpaid profession.
        But focusing on salary is a diversion from the the Petraeus course which presents some very large and complex issues not addressed since the days of “The United World Federalists”.
        Sorry, an emotional argument on the merits of Petraeus salary seems analogous, to me, of canines indiscriminately snipping at the heels of any passing cyclist.

    • edward scott July 11, 2013 at 9:11 am #

      My impression is that Petraeus is a sensible man which is rare in people who play roles in determining our fate. I’d tend to give him a break.
      While I’d expect, in a righteous world, people like Corey Robins would easily deserve a base salary of $300,000 per year, in reality much less deserving people make $300,000,000, so the spiteful animus overs Petraeus’ $150,000 seems less than relevant.
      As to the Course described, I’d be disappointed if CUNY students dismissed it as elitist Harvard gobbled gook, rather than an opportunity to reclaim the political intellectual leadership of CUNY’s historical tradition.

      • Jonny Butter July 11, 2013 at 10:29 am #

        I’m not sure what some things in this comment mean, but if I’m understanding correctly, I’d say that edward scott has one point: as military guys go, Petraeus might be more intellectually sophisticated and even serious than you might expect. But if that’s so, then that makes this whole thing worse, not better.

        The point of the outrage is not ‘spiteful animus’ at Petreaeus himself. It’s the stinking corruption of the whole public system, in tis case, the idea of having grotesquely overpaid and underworked ‘celebrity’ faculty at public institutions. It’s the idea that administrators (and you, edward) are so clueless as to think that what we’re all upset about here is due to resentment; that if you just paid Prof. Robin off, he would pipe down. You can’t have your own opinion about this because it’s not a *matter* of opinion. It is a matter of fact that what most of us are upset about around here is the ongoing debasement of public education in the US.

        I direct your attention to this column about Georgia Tech, but the same trend is painfully clear at other public universities.

      • ed scott July 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        Thanks, Jonny Butler for your reply.

        In self defense, I’m not sarcastic when I say $300,000 base salary for Corey Robins isn’t out of whack, or intimated “pay off”. For all I know Corey may earn much more money. However, I get the impression that there’s lots of super smart university educators out there needing to scurry from school to school just to pay expenses. In this, I share the outrage.

      • Corey Robin July 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

        I can assure you I make well under $300,000. I’d have to double check but I think my salary is in the upper 80s. After 14 years of teaching. (I’m a public employee so this is all public knowledge.)

        On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM, Corey Rob

      • ed scott July 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

        Corey, thanks for the clarification.
        I suppose that’s a good salary in your profession. You may know City College was highly regarded when they paid more than any university, and I think they are attracting great scholars now, like yourself, by competing again in a ridiculously underpaid profession.
        But focusing on salary is a diversion from the the Petraeus course which presents some very large and complex issues not addressed since the days of “The United World Federalists”.
        Sorry, an emotional argument on the merits of Petraeus salary seems analogous of canines indiscriminately snipping at the heels of any passing cyclist.

      • Lordwhorfin July 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

        Lord, you are a sanctimonious waffler.

      • jonst July 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

        He strikes me as a character in a Dennis Potter production. The ‘sensible’ type of guy….who suddenly breaks out singing, in falsetto, and tap dancing across the floor. . I think him Bat S crazy, passing out at congressional hearings, might be a hint,…..but I will admit, he is certainly what passes for a sensible man in DC these days…or was, till the ‘moralists’ brought him down.

      • edward scott July 13, 2013 at 10:18 am #

        Jonst, ha,ha. You tease a tempting metaphysical discussion about absurdity, reality and the nature of our existence.
        But I’d change slightly the discussion, focusing only on the Petraeus Course description and the opportunity to interject fundamental principals that students of a great university would be arrogant enough to think, though CUNY’s students are not the patricians class.
        See my later post.

      • Adam July 17, 2013 at 9:36 am #

        $150,000 is reasonable for a full-time professor in New York City (but really not for a guy teaching one course). Upper 80s seems ridiculously low. That’s about what I make after being in the Army four years in Central Texas where land and houses are extremely cheap.

        Petraeus was one of the best ever at driving a staff and attracting super-motivated high achievers. I have absolutely no idea how that skill will translate to teaching, but he has a good decade of experience doing some extremely demanding interagency and multinational work attempting to lead the way with his organization for others he had no direct control over. That is probably roughly what the course is meant to draw from.

        Seems better-suited to teaching Executive MPA students who might actually be doing something like that, though. What is Macaulay Honors College? The class doesn’t seem to be offered through any particular academic department or to a particular major.

  2. Chris Harlos July 11, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Clearly, the USA needs some guidance respecting its presumed but hardly inevitable “leadership” role in the emerging global economy (sic). CUNY students: stand and deliver, for the Gipper & progeny.

  3. Gautam Premnath July 11, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    There’s no question mark in his course title either. That just says it all.

  4. Peter Principle July 11, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    With guest lecture by Tom Friedman?

    • foppe July 11, 2013 at 2:20 am #

      What, for free?…

    • Bart July 11, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      And Ambassador Bolton.

  5. mayberrymachiavelli July 11, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Carefully designed to avoid the danger of having to discuss anything of substance, especially relating to his actual background areas.

    Might as well be a business seminar. Do I get a free Caribbean cruise for attendance?

    • AlanDownunder July 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      Undue cynicism. A guy hired to execute The Project For A New American Century lowering his sights to The North American Decade is a sound tactical retreat, if not a significant advance.

      Given such apparent ideological drift, is it any wonder that he has had to look beyond private/thinktank sources to the thin gruel of academia.

  6. thesystemoftheworld July 11, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Wouldn’t he be more qualified to teach a course like “Image Management in a Connected World: 10 Reasons Not to Fuck Your Hagiographer” or something like that? Though this course about “synthesizing the history” and whatnot sounds pretty compelling. Odd that I didn’t know that a global economy was just now emerging.

  7. David J. Littleboy July 11, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    It’s worse than you all think. He still has political ambitions and he’s looking for ideas.

  8. Rick July 11, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    You think he spent MAYBE 8 minutes on the course description? Or did a work-study student at CUNY write it for him?

    • Yastreblyansky July 11, 2013 at 8:01 am #

      No way was it a CUNY student. Maybe a scion of the PR-industrial complex at Yale or Harvard. Or maybe Paula. It’s to be hoped that the Macaulay kids (my daughter is one, but not likely to sign up for the class as she has no time for academic empty calories) will wipe the floor with him.

  9. Jerry July 11, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Whatever the course title might be, the course actually is, “An Opportunity to Gaze Upon the Radiantly Divine Countenance of David Petraeus.”

  10. Jonny Butter July 11, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    It says a whole lot that when they came up with the idea, the CUNY administrators figured this Petreaus thing was both OK on the merits, and unlikely to raise eyebrows. I’m not sure *what* it says, but whatever it is, there’s a whole lot if it. Truckloads of it. Boatloads. Is This The Future Of Education.

    By the way, I have a course I can teach at CUNY for only $65k: How do you combine efficiency with effectiveness. The answer is ‘Effectancy’. In my intensive ‘boot-camp’ training course, tomorrow leaders learn from yesterday’s the 7 steps to Effectancy.

  11. Jonny Butter July 11, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    So call me?

  12. tchdab1 July 11, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Petraeus is getting paid for something he did, for someone at one time. Obviously not for what he’s doing now.

  13. Chanson de Roland July 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    In addition to evaluating economic events and the consequences of economic policy as head of the CIA. Prior to that, General Petraeus’s responsibilities as four-star commander commander in Iraq, Commander of United States Central Command, and as Commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan required that he formulate, evaluate, and implement economic policy and economic development as part of fighting a counter insurgency.

    In addition, Gen. Petraeus holds a M.P.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University (The Wilson School). The Wilson School’s M.P.A. fields of concentrated study include: Field I: International Relations concerns the international system and the behavior of states, encompassing political and security affairs as well as international economics; Field IV: Economics and Public Policy cuts across the other three fields and allows more intensive training in economic analysis for students whose substantive interests lie in Fields I, II, or III.

    The Wilson School’s Ph.D. program is among the most selective in the world, usually taking no more than six students. That programs description is: The Ph.D. program produces sophisticated analysts able to apply research skills to careers in public affairs and to further the state of knowledge about a broad range of policy problems. And Gen. Petraeus is among the most academically distinguished officers to ever wear the uniform.

    • joanna bujes July 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      In that case, why can’t he write a course description? Also, your first sentence isn’t not a sentence.

      • joanna bujes July 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        Sorry. I meant: your first sentence is not a sentence.

    • Chanson de Roland July 12, 2013 at 6:44 am #

      I am sorry about that, but I was initially trying to fit my comment into the space limitation of Paul Krugman’s blog, with the result that there were some infelicities of style. But if that is all that you were able to produce as rebuttal, I think that I am okay.

      • jonst July 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

        Indeed, I think the Wilson Program is sets the standard for academic research in International Studies. Its graduates fill the ranks of many a hedge fund/financial institution, as well as many positions in the DOD and State Dept. Oh, and the NSC too…chock full of Wilson Scholars. And the General is a perfect example of the kind of person the Program produces.

        Now….lets examine the last 13 years or so of American financial, diplomatic, and military history. But they do know how to make a buck by god!

  14. Everythings Jake July 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    What Petraeus is chiefly good at it is self-positioning and PR, and not leadership.

  15. mike bloxham July 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    The guy has a doctorate from Princeton, ferchrissake, as well as lecturing at West Point, which is a lot more academic than you might think (I know their math dept). OK, so he shoudln’t use wishy-washy course descriptions, nor pretend to sophistication on ‘the global economy’ – but he can probably devise an intriguing course on the fly, now that someone’s watching.

  16. Barry B. July 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    He can certainly tell some good stories, given how many Iraqis were killed, how much infrastructure was destroyed, and how badly he helped sink the US into the Afghani quagmire we once laughed at as Brezhnev’s Folly.

    But I’m not sure they’re good enough to command his salary. Shtuping tips might be useful, as well, if not required.

  17. edward scott July 12, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    “In this interdisciplinary seminar, students will examine in depth and then synthesize the history and trends in diverse public policy topics with a view towards recommendations for America’s leadership role in the emerging global economy.”

    Regarding the seminar above, here are some of my questions and short answers:
    1 – Is the emerging global economy reflective of the trend towards greater economic equality, improving the conditions of humanity, or is it reflective of a new era of global oligarchy?
    Answer – the emerging global economy is headed more towards global oligarchy
    2 – Are traditional economic metrics adequate to gauge the political and economic health of humanity?
    Answer – No. Fundamental work needs to be done on how to measure real economic improvement for humanity before American leadership policy can be recommended.

    • edward scott July 13, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Regarding the Petraeus Course, what is studied in depth and synthesized will likely be the dogma of current economic religion. Will the Course train new priests, or will first ask “does economics serve us, or do we serve economics”?
      Anyhow, that type of questioning is invited by the vague and ambitious Course description, and if no one picks up, the only result will be the default. The students may be smart but I can’t believe they will, in one semester, “explore the depth … and synthesize” and then recommend new insights

  18. Dawss July 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    I don’t think he was very successful at his previous jobs

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] Which gets to my final point: there are, I think, things I might want to hear David Petraeus talk about. But “recommendations for America’s leadership role in the emerging global economy” definitely don’t fit. […]

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