Posted Apr 13, 2020 at 13:30. Revised Apr 25, 2021 at 13:06.
Learning from the story of Joseph
Many Oberlin students and alumni alike are tearing their hair out over the College Administration and Board of Trustees’ irresponsibility. The BOT acts like it is tone-deaf to people’s concerns. They have gone to considerable lengths to cover up their mistakes, apparently feeling that they can make the problems invisible if they spend enough on “public relations” experts. The BOT and administration have little understanding of the management principle laid down in the book of Genesis.
Joseph was in good standing with the Pharoah when the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt. One day the Pharaoh summoned Joseph and recounted a recurring dream he had had and asked Joseph if he had any idea what it meant.
In the dream, the Pharaoh saw seven fat and very healthy cows come out of the river Nile followed by seven very lean and skinny cows. The thin cows proceeded to devour the fat and healthy cows in their entirety. After they had eaten the fat cows, the lean cows showed no signs of being fatter or having eaten anything.
Joseph interpreted the dream as meaning that Egypt would have seven years of prosperity and bountiful harvests and that seven years of famine would follow the seven years of bounty.
Joseph proposed a 7-year infrastructure investment program to the Pharaoh. This investment program would build granaries to hold the excess harvest from the good years. The capital investment in grain storage was large enough to feed the people during the seven lean years.
The easy out for this situation would have been for the Pharaoh, just like the Oberlin College Board of Trustees, to ignore the problem and not plan. Why should the Pharoah worry about it? Because, unlike the BOT, the Pharaoh knew it was his skin that was on the line.
The Pharaoh realized that they did not have the luxury of squandering their good fortune during the years of plenty and projecting the status quo indefinitely into the future. Joseph and the Pharaoh did not have access to Excel spreadsheets to project their future needs.
It was probably Egypt’s good fortune that the only tool they had available for their planning was common sense. Don’t get JD wrong here. He loves Excel spreadsheets and uses them all the time but realizes that there are some situations where an Excel spreadsheet does not replace common sense.
The BOT and administration have no understanding of the management principle laid down in the book of Genesis. It is a tragedy that the Oberlin College BOT and its underlings have demonstrated themselves to be far dumber than an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh.
Severely challenged intuitive perception.
In the earlier post Psychoanalyzing the BOT, we explored how Jungian principles could explain many of Oberlin’s insanities. In that article, we discussed the Jungian concept of yin-yang dichotomies in which two opposing halves generally work together but where one half is stronger than the other half.
Jung saw that when the stronger half of a dichotomy overpowered the weaker half, thereby blocking the weaker half from having its say, the weaker half would react in an ugly shadow eruption, and all the fury of hell would break loose.
A fundamental Jungian dichotomy is intuitive perception vs. sensate perception. Sensate perception focuses on the immediate here and now of the three-dimensional world. In contrast, intuitive perception connects the dots that are not clearly visible and sees future meanings and possibilities.
Sensate perception deals with the future by extrapolating the present forward and represents time and space accurately. It projects the future the way an Excel spreadsheet projects.
Intuitive perception comes at things from the opposite direction as its sensate partner, starting from a future possibility or event and interpolates backward to the present. The future’s time frame, when perceived by intuitive perception, is imprecise at best. Time frame accuracy is the job of sensate perception.
When looking at the trail of chaos generated by the BOT and administration, they have used sensate perception heavily when making administrative decisions. They have rarely brought intuitive perception into the decision-making process. An excellent way to include intuitive perception in a planning process is with brainstorming sessions, focusing on how the situation might differ in later years. With that “best guess” information, the planning process can work backward to the present and validate or challenge the Excel spreadsheet projections.
Looking at what has happened at Oberlin, it is clear that using Excel spreadsheets and intuitive perception in combination would have reduced the college’s exposure to the financial insanity that is coming home to roost today.
For example, looking back over the last several decades, the student loan situation has progressively changed higher education from a gateway to an opportunity to the gateway to hell. This process is an example of sensate perception decisions that do not allow intuitive perception to have a significant part in longer-range decision making.
Student loans and supply and demand
One would hope that our brilliant economics major and Chairman of the Board, T. Christopher Canavan, was smart enough to see that the law of supply and demand, coupled with projecting the future based only on extrapolating the status quo, would lead to the current higher education mess – both nationally and at Oberlin.
Supply and demand tell us that the supply of education is by sellers (colleges and universities), and the demand is from buyers (the students).
The sum of all money from parents, summer jobs, loans, etc. is available for buying higher education. The annually increasing funding from parents, student loans, etc., causes college administrators to raise prices gleefully because they can get away with it. The toll booth keepers in this system have become the most financially valuable people in education and can demand pay that recognizes their increasing monetary importance.
The money-producing sales clerks crowd out the teaching personnel because he who has the gold makes the rules. The forever bloating academic bureaucrats consider it their just right to suck up the growing amounts of money without regard to the consequences on the students paying it or the faculty members paid by it.
This financial dynamic is not limited to education; it occurs in many service industries. An inner cabal in larger banks looks out for itself before it looks out for the customers, employees, or shareholders!
Comparing costs, then and now
One cannot make an easy price comparison of how things are today versus how they were 40 or 50 years ago because the value of the dollar itself is progressively deteriorating. JD fixes this with a simple comparison in consumer purchasing terms that dramatizes how bad the cost of education has become. When JD was a student at Oberlin, the cost of 4 years at sticker price was approximately two new Cadillacs. No one graduated owing money.
A student going to Oberlin today and paying the sticker price with borrowed money would have debts equaling the cost of five new Cadillacs. Worse yet, after graduation, he would owe payments on five new Cadillacs and have no car to drive to work. Is there something wrong here, people?
So what does all this mean?
The current problems of Oberlin College are attributable to responsible officials beating up on parts of their minds. That causes them to see only part of a situation and blindly charge forward with an inappropriate or ill-thought-out solution.
The Gibson lawsuit troubles are perhaps the most prominent example of what happens when decision-makers beat up the parts of their minds necessary to make intelligent and balanced decisions. Knowledgeable and competent lawyers (Ambar and Varner), believing that a court will respect a defense based on innuendo, slander, and gossip is an example of defective minds beating up on the mental facilities needed to make balanced and appropriate decisions.
President Ambar has become Oberlin’s President Trump in a skirt. Oberlin’s Trump-ette trumpets elasticized truth with a fantastic facility. Concealed within her rapid-fire glibness is a mind where some of its pieces beat up on its insecure other parts.
It is not logical for a person to love one of these two presidents and hate the other because, underneath the surface, Presidents Trump and Ambar are too much alike.
The College President constantly bleats about “the Oberlin community.” To her, that phrase excludes the rest of the city. This snub only stirs up additional ill will within the community. Even the town’s broom pushers have no difficulty seeing through this inclusion double talk.
The College’s real estate investment policies are another example of something that is not rational. Progressively buying up the town and thereby causing an ever-growing shortage of housing is hardly a thought-through policy.
Investing in houses and then immediately tearing them down expressly to reduce their investment value is in itself investment decision incompetence of the first magnitude.
Moreover, destroying rentable housing when there are homelessness and foreclosure in the community is a rotten investment that lacks sensitivity or compassion. Nothing like beating up on both halves of a Jungian dichotomy. The College purports to be part of this “community.”
Yes, there are substantial psychological deficiencies in the BOT and the college administration.
ChaosFarm is slowly being devoured by an invasion of MUDs (Marauding Urban Deer) from nearby towns. This invasive species is now attacking ChaosFarm because they have destroyed their earlier habitats.
Before MUDs were MUDs, they lived in nearby forests and ate anything green growing on the forest floor. After destroying all their forest food, they moved into nearby towns and ate everyone’s decorative plantings and lawns, leaving substantial quantities of MUD exhaust everywhere in the process. The MUDs have made dwellings for themselves in the remaining urban vegetation that was too obnoxious to eat, and do not return to the forest to sleep. Having defiled the formerly pristine homes of townspeople, the MUDs have moved to ChaosFarm.
JD looked out the farmhouse window recently only to see these disgusting, predatory Bambi creatures devouring his south pasture. JD suddenly realized that MUDs have much in common with the Oberlin College BOT because the invasive BOT-MUDs of Oberlin College similarly eat the College’s resources. The BOT’s dereliction of duty and breach of fiduciary duty has damaged the College’s financial ecology in the same way the MUDs destroyed the forest ecology.