College football and basketball coaches are paid the big bucks because they're so talented and their programs earn the big bucks -- and sometimes, as at the University of Connecticut lately, they are paid the big bucks even when they produce only failure.
That is, of course, the case with UConn's football coach, Bob Diaco, who is paid almost $1.7 million per year and has just completed his third season at the university, all losers -- 2-10 in 2014, 6-7 in 2015, and 3-9 this year. Just a few months ago the university somehow thought so well of him that it extended his contract through 2020 and promised to give him fat raises each year.
Lucky for Diaco, his golden parachute is firmly in place. While the university could have fired him early this year for a mere $700,000, firing him before the end of this year now will cost UConn $5 million. After Jan. 1 the price of dismissing him will go down, but only to $3.4 million.
But like love, working at UConn means never having to say you're sorry -- and not just for Diaco but also for the university's athletic director, David Benedict, and its president, Susan Herbst, who arranged the contract extension on the eve of what may have been the football team's worst season in living memory. Two years ago Herbst also gave a $251,000 honorarium to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for a brief, informal public conversation at a university auditorium -- another bet that failed spectacularly.
Meanwhile, as the decline of Connecticut's economy accelerates, Gov. Dannel Malloy is trying to save money by, among other things, closing state parks and reducing day-care services for the working poor and rehabilitation services for drug addicts. But the governor never seems to notice any extravagance at the state's flagship university. The governor, Herbst, and Benedict must hope that UConn's men's and women's basketball teams, which have just begun their seasons, will make everyone forget about football before snow covers Pratt & Whitney Stadium's empty end zones.
Making America great again probably will require more than what President-elect Donald Trump and the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, arranged to persuade Carrier Corp. not to relocate quite as many jobs from Indiana to Mexico.
Contrary to the triumph being claimed by the Trump camp, many Indiana jobs still will be shipped out. The remaining jobs were saved only through the usual corporate welfare -- tax breaks delivered by state government and more tax breaks promised by the new president -- and saved by the possibility of extortion.
That is, Carrier is part of conglomerate United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Conn., and a major military contractor that needs to curry favor with the incoming administration, circumstances that don't apply to other corporations attracted by cheaper foreign labor.
Tax and tariff policy may discourage the export of manufacturing jobs, but bigger forces are at work here, such as the longstanding use of the dollar as the world reserve currency, which enables this country to run huge trade deficits, in effect printing money for other countries and exploiting their cheaper labor, and the declining educational performance of the U.S. workforce relative to foreign workforces.
Blessed with peace and plenty of capital from dollars, the most backward parts of the world are industrializing even as U.S. students are not keeping up with foreign students. In addition, the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour throughout the United States will not just induce employers of low-wage workers to automate; it will also induce such employers to export more simple manufacturing jobs.
America won't be made great again by scapegoating employers for pursuing their own interest just as everyone else pursues his own interest. Greatness may begin with enough courage and honesty to tell people about their own shortcomings.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer.