Maclean’s money machine

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By Kenny Yum

I’m staring at the pile of newspapers as I sit at my desk on a Sunday afternoon trying to find a way to put a new spin on the Maclean’s university issue — one that routinely and inevitably pegs Ryerson as the bottom feeder among its ivy league colleagues — only one thought went through my mind.  I shook my head of that thought so I could concentrate.

Back to my Maclean’s editorial.

No, my mind answered as I ticked off the possible arguments for my rant.  Yeah, yeah, we’re a polytechnic university, so we don’t rank well against other institutions.  Tick.  Yeah yeah, we’ve only become a university five years ago so we haven’t had time to catch up.  Tick.  Yeah, yeah, we have no .. god these are boring arguments.

Then the thought came…

“Money makes the world go round.  The world go round, the world go round.”

Well, that’s the only verse of that song I remember.  I can’t recall the rest.  It’s not a deep, philosophical mantra, mind you, but one built out of tacky fun that speaks a wonderful kind of common sense.

We live in a money-driven world.

So I take a look back at the scattered newsprint shouting for attention — it’s the Saturday edition of two broadsheets.

And then I remember what I found out a long time ago:  Whatever makes the front pages of our newspapers usually satisfies what I’ll call the “money factor.”

First the National Post.

I glance at the headline — federal budget has a surplus?  That obviously meets the money factor.

I look down below — U.S. tobacco agrees to a giant health deal?  Also a no-brainer.

I turn over the newspaper — Clinton and Paula Jones settle lawsuit for less than $1 million?  Sure, it’s chump change, but definitely about money.

Even social and political issues are driven by high finance and economics as evidence by the Globe’s Saturday edition.

The first story to the side — Malaysians tell Chretien to back off on human rights?  Wait, let me guess.  Is Chretien in Malaysia for a political trip?  Or is it Team Canada going on one of its business trips?  I’d say the latter.

The picture on the top fold — Riots rock Indonesia, a photo depicts a bloodied student being carried away by soldiers.  Wait, didn’t Indonesia suffer the worst from the Asian economic flu?  Wasn’t Chretien there a while ago to sign some deals…

“Money makes the world go round.”

When you start thinking about everything around you, you’ll start to realize it’s all about coin.  Politics.  Sports.  Entertainment.  Diversions.  Consumerism.  In each of these staples, someone is getting paid a big buck to buy or sell, to merge or acquire.  To maximize profit and shareholder value.

Which brings me back to my dreaded Maclean’s editorial.

Did it ever occur to anyone who attends university that the Big Book has little effect on those who already go to university, but only to those who are choosing — and it will eventually decide to spend thousands of dollars on an education?  Did anyone ever mention to Maclean’s the concept of an advertorial?  I wonder why the issue is one of the highest-selling publications Maclean’s puts out?

In short, my argument is that the Big Book is all about money.  For Maclean’s, who can increase its margins with the advertising and circulation sales, and probably more importantly, for the universities.

By doing so poorly our administrators will not only lose clout in a national forum, but they will soon fail to attract quality staff and students to stack their classrooms — a ratio that can be tied to the amount and quality of funding they receive.  And, straight to the “money factor” is the high-priced donors and sponsors, who’d rather make a top notch institution their beneficiary than pour their good names and legacy to a second-rate educational facility.

So no wonder the staff and administration pay so much attention to the yearly “report card.”  Because if they do well, they can cash in a huge annual bonus.  If not, well, they can start singing the chant.

Then at least someone will admit the truth of this yearly farce called Maclean’s.

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