The July 2014 issue of Harvard magazine publishes a letter to the editor from Kenneth E. MacWilliams, an alumnus of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He recounts receiving a telephone call this Spring from a Harvard student who was calling on the University’s behalf, soliciting MacWilliams to make his annual gift.
“After he completed his task,” McWilliams wrote, “we chatted a bit. When I asked him his major, he said economics, and that he is thinking of going to work in Wall Street after he graduates. While talking further about economics as a career, I happened to mention John Kenneth Galbraith. He hadn’t heard of him. A bit later I happened to mention Paul Samuelson. Never heard of him, either. Then a bit later, I mentioned Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and this time I said, ‘You certainly must know of him?’ He said ‘Yes, I do.’ To which I replied, ‘Who was he?’ He sheepishly said, ‘I just said that. I really don’t know.’”
Mr. MacWilliams, an accomplished businessman, finished his letter by taking a shot at Wall Street. Implicitly, his letter is a shot at Harvard too, and at one (at least) of its students.
Reading the letter, I first joined MacWilliams in feeling curmudgeonly disgust. On further thought, I felt the shot too.
I plan to—will—give more books.