Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Matter of Degree

I've got to run and make final preparations for the Festival of Sukkot tonight. My wife has just e-mailed me some more items for the shopping list. We are having guests.

And so, I wish everyone Chag Sameach Sukkot!

But before signing off, I feel inspired to post my thoughts on a recent legal development:

Ayal Rosenthal, a CPA with PriceWaterhouse Coopers (for the uninitiated, PwC is a major accounting firm), copped a guilty plea on some insider trading charges, and got a 60-day sentence. Rosenthal was enrolled in New York University's MBA program at the time, and had even worked there as a Teaching Assistant in a Professional Responsibility course.

NYU decided that Rosenthal was unworthy of an MBA degree, so Rosenthal sued. And Judge Lewis Kaplan, sitting on the bench of the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York, upheld NYU.

I am no great fan of NYU. They do get quite snotty from time to time (and I have been professionally involved in a case in which questionable ethics on the part of certain key players in the upper reaches of the NYU hierarchy played a role). NYU, then, does not have the firmest standing to deliver the morality lecture.

But Rosenthal is no better than NYU. He, too, has a nefarious arrogance about him, and he needs humility more than he needs an MBA degree.

In my book, Rosenthal and NYU are in pari delicto (Latin for equally at fault). And where parties are in pari delicto, the courts tend to leave the parties as they stand. The pari delicto theory did not play any role in Judge Kaplan's rationale, but the result is the same.

NYU's denial of Rosenthal's MBA has, in a broad sense, ever so slightly prevented my own MBA (not from NYU) from cheapening in value.

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