Showing posts with label Cronyism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cronyism. Show all posts


If you don't think poetry is big business, guess again.

Today, as I was going through my gmail, I noticed the following targeted "sponsored links" hawking contests, publications, MFA programs, and even writing gigs for poets:

-----Dorothy Prizes



-----Create Space


-----Poetry LA

-----Antioch LA MFA

-----Sheetz Poet (Sheetz is a local convenience store chain.)

----------More About...

---------------Humorous Poems

---------------Short Poems


---------------Romantic Poems

No doubt that many of the ads on this blog are targeted toward the poetry money-making machine.

And, guess what? I am thoroughly unapologetic about the possibility that poets might make money from their work and that this site might keep afloat because of ad revenue.

Capitalism! It's the American Way!

In my opinion, the Jeffrey Levine and Joan Houlihan publications, contests, and conferences are no different from Poetry[dot]com or any other poetry money-making enterprise.

Here's a comparison and contrast of Tupelo and Poetry[dot]com:


Tupelo: Fee-based contests

Poetry[dot]com: Free contests


Tupelo: Organizes and runs expensive conferences filled with celebrity poets (albeit mostly unknown outside of poetry).

Poetry[dot]com: Organizies and runs lavish (and expensive) conferences filled with big name mainstream celebrities, who often have little to do with poetry.


Tupelo: Publishes books of the so-called elite (often friends and cronies of the owners), primarily funded by reading and contest fees collected by unsuspecting poets.

Poetry[dot]com: In lieu of a contest fee, publishes vanity books and then hits up poets to buy the volume in which their poems appear, thus basing their on profits from its published poets directly.


Tupelo and other "non-profits" simply hide behind credentials and the sacred word of


and act outraged that this haloed word would be besmirched by those who would dare to make major money from poetry and then have the audacity to question the Levine/Houlihan "mission" of promoting poetry.

At least with Poetry[dot]com and others like them, one quickly figures out their main mission: to make scads of money off the young, naive, and ignorant.

The so-called literary mainstream hides behind shell non-profit corporations, thus perpetuating a huge con designed to snare young and not-so-young hopefuls into sending money to contests where winners have been decided in advance.

Do you, at the expense of your own career and pocketbook, want to fund the career of a foet?

Do all literary contests fall under this umbrella? Of course not, but enough do that one would do well to do a thorough search before committing to sending money. On both Post Foetry and, this has been my mantra.

Christopher Woodman learned this lesson the hard way: for his Tupelo reading fee, he was promised a short personal review of his poetry collection.

What he actually received: a form letter.

Big business, indeed.

Come to think of it, I actually prefer poetry[dot]com's business model--at least its antics are fairly easy to figure out.



The monthly "Pruning" of the Forum at The Academy of American Poets starts tomorrow, May 5th--how much of this invaluable "oral-history" will we lose to protect poetry's celebrity faces?


Joan Houlihan and I know each other pretty well—for a whole year now she’s been following me around everywhere, and I’ve been getting in touch with her every time I noticed it.

The following paragraphs are for archivists and historians—they're as dense as they're ephemeral, so if you're satisfied that you know the story then just skim the following. The gist of the argument starts in the "JEFFREY LEVINE AND JOAN HOULIHAN, BUSINESS PARTNERS..." section.


As a start, Joan Houlihan and I debated face to face AGNI's intervention on Foetry just a year ago:

(She was ‘rperlman’, I was ‘Expat Poet’, Steven Ford Brown was ‘Thewayitworks.’ ‘Monday Love’ was Monday Love—we went on for pages!), and she even quoted some of her parts of the argument on the Buffalo Poetics List a month later, particularly the parts about “this Christopher Woodman guy.”

All that has probably been deleted now, but it was just a copy of the Foetry passage anyway, so here it is in the original--and do note her threat in the 2nd post on 'Defamation' to expose AGNI for its lack of "editorial integrity!"


After Joan Houlihan published her letter in the Nov/Dec 2007 P & W Magazine, I went straight to the P & W Forum to try to get a hearing there. And sure enough, there was 'rperlman' lurking around what I was writing yet again, starting here and going on for pages about why I was so angry with her and her partner, Jeffrey Levine:;post=256080;page=2;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25


I asked Joan Houlihan/'rperlman' by PM to participate in the dialogue, twice in fact, but she never came on, or even replied, but of course she hadn’t yet admitted she was ‘rperlman’ at that point, though we’d all guessed it! I also applied formally to join one of her Colrain Manuscript Conferences in the Berkshires, and we corresponded a bit over that—she felt I was unsuitable, and on reflection I must admit I couldn’t agree more, though I was serious when I applied--I thought I should give it a chance. Finally, she came on-line at almost immediately after I was banned from the Speakeasy last March, I mean within minutes (how did she know?)--and of course I got banned two weeks later from the Forum as well for specifically discussing her Nov/Dec 2007 Letter to Poets & Writers Magazine, though the Administrator trotted out the usual charges about "offensive material" and "abrassive" conduct. All that’s been deleted on now, of course, so you’ll have to go here to find it—we at save everything deletes; it’s always so historically important:

That was just the first time, and the post lasted just 8 minutes that time (, “The First Amendment & Forums,” Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:06 am > Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:14 am), so obviously somebody was well-primed and waiting. The second banning was when I wrote about some “white mansions in the Berkshires,” and suggested Joan Houlihan and Jeffrey Levine were probably listening and would perhaps give their views on the issue:

If they were, they didn’t--but then I was zapped out of the water right then and there, minutes later once more! Here’s a little more detail on that last catastrophe:

--it's all gone, you know where.

So we have quite a history together, Joan Houlihan and myself, and I guess she’s winning if bannings followed by deletions are the way you define your victories!


In fact our history goes back to the moment Joan Houlihan’s publisher/partner in the Colrain Manuscript Conferences, Jeffrey Levine, sent me one of his famous “Template Personal Reviews” after the Tupelo Press Open Reading in Nov 2006 and asked me for $295.00 to get some extra help from him, to "lift [me] up a level!". Here’s a copy of the actual signed document I received:

(Reply # 179 April 06, 2007, 01:11:56 AM)

Indeed, Joan Houlihan got into my really bad books (what a metaphor!) when she decided, yes, to defend Jeffrey Levine’s abuse of my trust in her Nov/Dec 2007 P&W Letter,

--almost as if I were a woman who had been asking for it. That’s how she made me feel in her ROTTEN GRAPES defense of the man, and that’s certainly why I’m raging at her still. Or mothers who cut their little girls in Ethiopia.

I’ve been following the development of Joan Houlihan’s Colrain Manuscript Conferences from the start—here are a few URLs for those of you who are not familiar with the Colrain phenomenon, to get you quickly acquainted:





To be quite frank about these conferences, what astonishes me is that so many obviously intelligent, well-educated and highly sensitive people (look at the photos!) who are also serious poets, including Joan Houlihan herself, could have become so confused about what poetry is, how a person becomes a poet, how a book gets written, who reads that book, and most important of all, why anyone would read a book of poetry who didn't have to! I’ve become a poetry activist at almost 70 specifically because of contemporary movers like Joan Houlihan, and though I’m still writing poetry, hard, and sending out my work as much as I can, I’m more concerned about poetry pollution at the moment than I am about my own career!

That’s probably just as well!

One final link between Joan Houlihan, Jeffrey Levin and myself at the Academy of American Poets--indeed, the current link, and why I'm writing now.


The Tupelo Press just announced the Finalists of its 2008 Snowbound Chapbook Contest, and among them is Robin Beth Schaer, the Chief On-Line Editor on the board of The Academy of American Poets, and the Supremo in charge of the whole Forum.

I was banned from that Forum twice, of course, and both times for mentioning the Editor and Publisher of The Tupelo Press, Jeffrey Levine, together with his “business partner,” Joan Houlihan.

I’m not for a moment suggesting Robin Beth Schaer had anything to do with my banning, but since there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind as to WHY I was banned, nor that I was banned TWICE for the same offence, i.e. mentioning Jeffrey Levine’s and Joan Houlihan’s business activities, the suspicion has to be that it had something to do with loyalties and/or special interests within The Academy of American Poets. It would not have needed anything special from Robin Beth Schaer anyway, there are so many ways influence can make itself felt, but even if she just knew about it she has compromised herself, I’m afraid. And I say that with great compassion for her, having lived a very long life and regretting many, many foolish things I’ve let happen by turning a blind eye or conveniently forgetting!

And did Robin Beth Schaer attend a Colrain Manuscript Conference too; did that help her like so many other “top poets” get the ear of the “top editors and publishers” that that high-end service provides? Of course I will never know that unless some brave Colrain participant lets me know, or Robin does herself, which would be even braver. And even if you did, dear Robin, you obviously haven’t done anything wrong by that either, just helped to stack the deck a bit more against the poets who weren’t there, who perhaps wouldn’t have wanted to be there, like me, or couldn’t have afforded it. You also will never do anything wrong subsequently if you always resist the temptation to advance the interests of either Jeffrey Levine or Joan Houlihan at The Academy, but that will be much harder once they become your publishers. I do hope you win the Snowbound Chapbook Series, but if you do you’re going to have to be very strong and very alert not to become part of a much wider problem!

The last Colrain publicity I saw proudly announced that the poetry books and/or chapbooks of no less than 16 Colrain participants had subsequently found publishers, and I’d say that’s a lot!

I’d also say it doesn’t bode well for poetry in America, and it certainly doesn’t bode well for me personally! And that’s also the main bone of contention between Joan Houlihan and myself, that not only is she associating with unsavory activities, but she’s gaining influence in unsavory ways. I would even call her own Blog a bit unsavory, at least if this page is anything to go by:

“INVESTIGATIONS OF AND OPINIONS ON CONTEMPORARY POETRY,” she calls it—I’d say it sounds more like stalking, and even if one wins at stalking one’s humanity is lost!

Anyone at odds with Alan Cordle to this extent has got to have a lot to hide, as whatever you think of his methods he investigates not "opinions on contemporary poetry" but options, and she's clearly taken out a few too many of those for her own good. And of course, anyone who needs to take it out on someone's wife, and a fellow poet to boot, is clearly well below the belt!

Indeed, I'd say the lady doth protest way too much!

Christopher Woodman

Forum Thread: Cynicism and the MFA--Successful vs. Aspiring Writers

TomWest said:

The "aspiring writer" industry has become far bigger than the "successful writer" industry, and the "aspiring writer" industry has taken on a life of its own such that it only connects to the "successful writer" industry in a cynical fashion ("Pay us money! We’ll make you a great writer!")

(TomWest statement originally appeared in the "pruned" thread "The First Amendment & Forums," Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:56 p.m.)

ACommoner replied:

The big problem with this statement is that there are so many "aspiring writer" programs out there that are good, transparent and sincere—in fact, I would say that the majority of poetry programs are pursued with good will and integrity, at least in themselves they are, whatever the management may be doing. Because the abuse lies not in the workshops or in the MFA programs per se, or anywhere specifically, for that matter, but in the SYSTEM that sustains them all, and above all in the mechanisms that award the positions and the prizes to the “successful.” That’s why as soon as anyone begins to discuss the abuses, everyone on the “aspiring” level, students, teachers, critics, and even plain readers, all hooked on legitimate programs, rush in to defend the whole "aspiring writer" movement as if it were some sort of sacred monolith—they value it so highly. OUR SACRED ART OF POETRY, they cry—and that’s the citadel this thread is storming, obviously, and the defense is already bristling with “is this true?” and “what do you mean by successful?” and “how dare you say there’s money in poetry?”

And other such red-herrings.

I put it to you that the Craft of Poetry Movement in America has organized itself into a huge self-interest (N.B. “self-interest” is a neutral qualifier in itself) community which is just as powerful and, yes, as sacred, difficult to enter, self-preserving and self-perpetuating as a Medieval Guild! No one would argue that the Medieval Guilds were bad in themselves, quite the contrary, but they did control the whole process of training in each and every craft, and they did dominate the accreditation process, fiercely and exclusively. And that becomes a real problem for me if there are networks in the poetry community that are doing the same thing with poetry—as if it were some sort of craft!

Because poetry is simply not a craft, even if it does make good use of craft in some aspects of its production. For even if everyone writes heroic couplets, let's say, or Shakespearean sonnets or haikus, there is that all important SHOCK which makes some of it fly and some of it crawl--that moment of inexplicable and indefinable particularity in saying something which has never been said before, for example, or of saying something which has been said millions of times before but so simply that it’s new again at last, at last, at last! And craft just doesn’t do that—it copies, it reproduces, it’s placed where it belongs on the shelf with the label filled in by the planner. And most of what is coming out of our contemporary Poetry Guild is just craft, make no mistake about it, and not doing anything special or uniquely precious, despite all those oohs and those aahs (see An Interview with Jorie Graham). And the proof is that nobody’s actually reading it! It’s not about poetry anymore, it's about a way of life called poetry, it’s about the pleasure, the security, the sense of meaning in poetry as a livelihood in America, not about writing a poem that actually matters—that lonely, slow, intolerable wrestle with beastly, recalcitrant words, and oneself!

Change gears for a moment. “Aspiring writer" programs today in America are extremely expensive, and I'm not just referring to the MFA programs either. It can cost as much as $900.00 just to get your manuscript read for a few hours by someone who matters with a pencil, for example, or $1300.00 for a single weekend in the country in which the great one blows in for dinner on Saturday evening. And if your whole self-image has been built around yourself as a writer, and particularly as a writer that calls himself or herself a poet, and you have paid a whole lot to lift yourself up a level, so to speak, have paid to meet that editor for the weekend, for example, and have bent your whole book around following his or her instructions and then resubmitted that manuscript to him or her or their friend, then you’re not going to take kindly to the suggestion you've been had.

Which you have and you haven't, of course. The weekend in the country will let you meet some editors and publishers that are as gifted as they are powerful, and charming too, and the food will be excellent, for sure, and the sea air refreshing if it’s the Hamptons, but if those editors and publishers are beginning to support themselves on you as one more "aspiring writer" among a great many others, and I mean 10s of thousands of others just like you (and like me!), and if those editors and publishers have no intention of letting you (or me!) into the Guild ahead of their families, friends, lovers, business partners and colleagues in the queue as they define it, then it's not only like a Guild but a pyramid scheme!

That’s a fairly stark introduction to the issue, but it is an issue that ought to be on every thinking poet's mind today. Because the world has never seen anything like this--there are simply no precedents in the whole history of poetry for this, it's that new.

And make no mistake about it, our poetry is suffering for it. Just look at the reception of what was read in Boston last weekend on the “Jorie Graham Interview” I just mentioned and you’ll see. Or read the NYT Book Review article on the book.

This poetry is nothing but what it says it is itself--which however environmentally friendly and universal, all the way from the short line to the long line, it says, is what's known in the trade as "puff." And what an irony that its author should have given her name to the new rule that is attempting to discipline editors and publishers in America at last, to make them fairer, more ethical, and above all more generous to aspiring writers even as old and as unlikely as me!

A sense of discipline and generosity which James Laughlin and Theodore Weiss would never have needed to be taught!

(ACommoner's response is from this thread)

(Admin. Note: Who says there's no money in Poetry? Tony Hoagland, Poet and University of Houston Professor, has been awarded the $50,000 Jackson Prize. Judges were Ellen Bryant Voigt, Philip Levine, and Robert Pinsky


History of (Wikipedia article)

The Wikipedia article about (now an inactive forum) has been posted here because the article offers an implied rationale for why a forum like needs to exist. While this forum will not engage in investigative work, it will offer a space for discussions about the literary community and offer anonymous poets and writers a chance to post on the forum without fear of being uncovered and, perhaps, ruining their publication possibilities. Evidently, some poets are very vengeful.

Also, this will be a safe place to archive a balanced version of the article, should the Wiki article be erased or otherwise changed.

I have archived the Jorie Graham Talk article in draft mode.
________________________, sometimes referred to as just Foetry, was a website that attempted to identify fraudulent and unethical practices in poetry contests. It was active from April 1, 2004 until May 18, 2007.


Members and visitors contributed information which ostensibly linked judges and prize winners in various poetry contests. The site was divided into two main areas: lists of specific contests and relationships between judges and winners which suggested evidence of impropriety, and a forum for the discussion of ethical behavior in the poetry world.

Origins and Evolution was launched on April 1, 2004, by an anonymous editor, with the motto "Exposing fraudulent contests. Tracking the sycophants. Naming names." After about twelve months, the founder of the site, Alan Cordle, was outed. No longer anonymous, he continued to operate the site until May 18, 2007. Various members, including Cordle, continue to post blogs with foetry-related material [1]. received press coverage both positive and negative in such outlets as the Boston Globe,[2] the New York Times, [3] Poets & Writers Magazine, [4] and innumerable blogs, including that of Ron Silliman. Coverage came to a head around the time of Cordle's outing, amidst rumors that the site would shut down due to the loss of anonymity. The ambiguous yet perceptible impact of the website on the poetry world was summed up in a blog entry at the Kenyon Review about a month after Foetry's closure:

"If its death (if we dare call it that–might it, like King Arthur, lie in wait to rise again at a time of future need?) made almost no noise, its birth and early years sounded a great barbaric yawp. Are contests more fair? Perhaps, perhaps not. It may in fact be the case that poetry contests are more careful about egregious conflicts of interest. They may indeed be more transparent now, as well. But it was never clear if justice or revenge was in the forefront of everyone’s mind in the heyday of (this applies to me and the other voyeurs of as well as those who posted for or against the site). As people used to say in the Renaissance and earlier, Astraea (goddess of justice) has left the earth. History may record whether brought her back. Or, it may not." [5]

Successful Campaigns's most successful campaign, both in terms of news coverage and action taken because of it, was against the Contemporary Poetry Series run by the University of Georgia Press, and against Jorie Graham in particular. Acquiring documents through the Freedom of Information Act, Cordle and others discovered that Graham, as judge for the 1999 contest, had chosen Peter Sacks. She would marry Sacks in 2000. Graham would also join Sacks in a teaching position at Harvard in 2000[6].

Among documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act were two letters:

-----The Bin Ramke (editor of the series) letter to the editor of the University of Georgia Press explaining that he was selecting Peter Sacks as the winner for that year (although Sacks had never actually entered the contest and was in fact solicited outside the contest) and Ramke's admission that he had read only half the paid manuscript submissions -the rest were discarded

-----Jorie Graham's letter to Ramke advocating for the literary value of Sack's manuscript and its publication in the series[7]. As editor, Ramke chose Sacks as the winner for that year. As a judge advocating for Sacks as winner, someone with whom she had a personal relationship, Graham opened herself to attack on ethical grounds. Graham had previously come under fire at other poetry contests (AWP, The Barnard Poetry Prize, The Colorado Poetry Prize, The National Poetry Series, The Walt Whitman Prize) for selecting former students and individuals she had relationships with.

After Graham judged contests and selected former students several contests immediately changed their contest rules to prohibit judges from selecting former students and other entrants they had relationships with. The rule against playing favorites in literary contests in which entry fees were paid became known loosely among those in the contest industry as "The Jorie Graham Rule."[8][9] [10][11][12]Some members of suggested that she could be charged with mail fraud, as contest fees were collected through the US mail[7], but no charges were ever filed. It is estimated that the University of Georgia Press took in as much as $250,000 from contest fees over the life of the contest series, which Ramke edited for twenty years.

Graham no longer judges literary contests. Bin Ramke, editor at the time of the Contemporary Poetry Series, resigned from his position as more and more national publicity turned the spotlight on the insider dealings at the University of Georgia Press and criticism mounted over his role in the controversy[6]. Despite the failure of both the editor of the University of Georgia Press and Bin Ramke to release a full and complete list of judges and other information (correspondence) related to the activities of the contest series, has carefully compiled documentation of winners and judges in the series[13], including notations of conflicts of interest.

It should be noted that throughout the course of the contest Ramke insisted that judges of the contest be kept secret. The Open Records Act was used to obtain records that both the University of Georgia Press and Ramke refused to provide upon request. It is also worth noting that Graham had previously published several books of Ramke's through a press, Kuhl House Press, she operated at the University of Iowa with Mark Levine, a former student of Graham who was selected by Graham as winner in the National Poetry series in 1992.

Another successful campaign, against the University of North Texas Press, resulted in the resignation of Vassar Miller Prize founder and series editor, Scott Cairns. Some judges of the contest had apparent connections to Cairns or to the University of Utah where Cairns and a number of judges and winners had studied, not necessarily at the same time. Other Cairns connections to judges and one winner were through the University of Missouri. At least one judge, Eleanor Wilner, was friends with a contest winner, Constance Merritt, and had co-authored a literary work with Merritt that won the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner in the same year Wilner selected Merritt as winner of the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize. After alleged the relationships between Cairns, judges and winners, Cairns agreed to resign in e-mails to Alan Cordle, Steven Ford Brown (Brown edited a book of criticism on the poetry of Vassar Miller and was critical of Cairns's management of the Vassar Miller contest series) and the editor of the University of North Texas Press.


Criticisms of generally come in two forms. The first is that the tone is "shrill," as University of Florida professor William Logan put it in the San Francisco Chronicle, [14] despite agreeing with the overall message and intent. The second is that members tend to assume guilt until innocence is proven and with rare exceptions, such as the CPS case above, do not insist on credible/tangible evidence, or that it is possible to separate personal relationships with writers within an aesthetic community from judgments of literary merit[15]


1. Post-Foetry.

2. Stephen Burt (July 18, 2004). A muckraking website aims to blow the lid off the cozy practices of contemporary poetry.. Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2006-10-21.

3. Edward Wyatt (April 21, 2005). Surrender in the Battle of Poetry Web Sites. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2006-10-21.

4. Kevin Larimer (July/August 2005). THE CONTESTER: Who's Doing What to Keep Them Clean. Poets & Writers Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-10-21.

5. Joseph Campana (June 28 2007). Out with a whimper? The Kenyon Review.

6. a b Tomas Alex Tizon, "In Search of Poetic Justice," Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2005. Available at the LA Times (subscription needed). Text is available at New Poetry Review or SFgate (accessed 16 March 2007)

7. a b Thomas Bartlett, "Rhyme and Unreason," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2005, available here (accesed March 16 2005)

8. Alex Beam, "Website polices rhymes and misdemeanors," Boston Globe, March 31, 2005, available here

9. Foetry page on Jorie Graham

10. John Sutherland, "American foetry," The Guardian, Monday July 4, 2005 The Guardian

11. Example of use of the phrase at blog Mobylives

12. Example of the use of the phrase at blog [ Significance and Inspiration[ (accessed 3/27/2008)

13. archive

14. Tomas Alex Tizon (July 10, 2005). Angry librarian's darts sting the world of poetry. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2006-10-21.

15. More Foetry (December 5, 2005). Retrieved on 2006-10-21.

External Links

Foetry website

Documents obtained by regarding the Graham/Sacks/Ramke collusion in pdf format

"Rhyme & Unreason" from the May 20, 2005 cover story in the Chronicle of Higher Education

University of Georgia Press Poetry Series documentation at

Post Foetry, a blog by former Foetry admins.


Retrieved from ""

Posted under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Version: March 27, 2008 (Jeffrey.landis)

Forum Thread: What is Cronyism in the Literary Community? (Discussion)

The following in-depth discussion, which discusses cronyism in general terms, is from Wikipedia*, and used in accordance with its GNU Free Documentation License.

Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy. Cronyism exists when the appointer and the beneficiary are in social contact; often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority, and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer. Politically, "cronyism" is derogatorily used. The word "crony" first appeared in 18th century London, believed by many to be derived from the Greek word χρόνιος (chronios), meaning "long-term", however, crony appears in the 1811 edition of Grose's Vulgar Tongue with a decidedly non-collegiate definition, placing it firmly in the cant of the underworld.[1] A less likely source for the words etymology is the Irish Language term Comh-Roghna (pron. ko-ronə), which translates to "close pals", or mutual friends.

Governments are particularly susceptible to accusations of cronyism, as they spend public money. Many democratic governments are encouraged to practice administrative transparency in accounting and contracting, however, there often is no clear delineation of when an appointment to government office is "cronyism". It is not unusual for a politician to surround him- or herself with highly-qualified subordinates, and to develop social, business, or political friendships leading to the appointment to office of friends, likewise in granting government contracts. In fact, the counsel of such friends is why the officeholder successfully obtained his or her powerful position — therefore, cronyism usually is easier to perceive than to demonstrate and prove.

The NHS is becomingly increasingly prone to Cronyism, most notably at NHS London, where a female inner circle close to the Chief Executive are favoured and in turn favour their friends. This is in direct opposition to the principles of its Single Equality Scheme.

In the private sector, cronyism exists in organizations, often termed 'the old boys club' or 'the golden circle', again the boundary between cronyism and 'networking' is difficult to delineate.

Moreover, cronyism describes relationships existing among mutual acquaintances private organizations where business, business information, and social interaction are exchanged among influential personnel. This is termed crony capitalism, and is an ethical breach of the principles of the market economy; in advanced societies, crony capitalism is a breach of market regulations, e.g. the Enron fraud is an extreme example of crony capitalism.

Given crony capitalism's nature, these dishonest business practices are frequently (yet not exclusively) found in societies with ineffective legal systems. Resultantly, there is an impetus upon the legislative branch of a government to ensure enforcement of the legal code capable of addressing and redressing private party manipulation of the economy by the involved businessmen and their government cronies.

The economic and social costs of cronyism are paid by society. In the form of reduced business opportunity for the majority of the population, reduced competition in the market place, inflated consumer goods prices, decreased economic performance, inefficient business investment cycles, reduced motivation in affected organizations, and the diminution of economically productive activity. A practical cost of cronyism is manifest in the bad workmanship of public and private community projects. Cronyism is self-generating, cronyism then begets a culture of cronyism. This can only be apprehended by a comprehensive, effective, and enforced legal code, and empowered government agencies who can effect prosecutions in the courts.

All appointments that are suspected of being cronyism are controversial. The appointed party may choose to either suppress disquiet or ignore it, depending upon the society's level of freedom of expression and individual personal liberty.

Some instances of cronyism are readily transparent. As to others, it is only in hindsight that the qualifications of the alleged "crony" must be evaluated.

Cronyism can exist anywhere, in both free and not-so-free states. In general, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are more vulnerable to acts of cronyism simply because the officeholders are not accountable, and all office holders generally come from a similar background (e.g. all members of the ruling party).

Some situations and examples include:

-----George Washington was criticized for appointing Alexander Hamilton as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury after Hamilton had served as Washington's aide during the American Revolutionary War. Nonetheless, the contributions Hamilton made to stabilizing the currency and securing outside capital for the fledgling democracy are well known. Referring to Hamilton's appointment as cronyism seems particularly disputable in retrospect, although it is only after looking at his accomplishments that this determination can be made.

-----Appointing cronies to positions can also be used to advance the agenda of the person making the appointment. And it can also spectacularly fail to do so. In medieval England, King Henry II arranged the appointment of his good friend Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry believed that Becket would promote the king's agenda but was dismayed to see Becket adhere to his own conscience. Becket eventually excommunicated the king and the king allegedly incited three knights to murder Becket in response.

-----Examples of cronyism can be found in a number of current and former communist states. The cultural revolution in China was initially popular due to the perception that Mao Zedong was ridding the state of a number of officials who had obtained their positions by dint of friendship with communist authorities. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has gone after a number of former communist officials who held office through their connections to party officials.[1]

-----Independent of the world of politics, the business and labor community have also seen charges of cronyism. President Theodore Roosevelt led an attack on the cronyism against the oil, steel, banking and other businesses that had conspired to set prices by maintaining virtual monopolies through cronyism. Through interlocking directorates it was not uncommon to see various corporate boards share members among each other.

-----One of the most severe cases of cronyism occurred during the Kennedy administration in the United States. Robert S. McNamara was appointed by President John F. Kennedy without any experience, a point that McNamara made clear in the 2003 documentary The Fog of War. McNamara's role in the disastrous Vietnam War was crucial and he is often considered "the architect of the Vietnam War". Kennedy originally offered him a job as United States Secretary of Treasury and when McNamara admitted to having no experience he gave him Secretary of Defense. Even though McNamara confessed no experience in defense, Kennedy insisted he accept the position.

-----Most recently, US President George W. Bush was accused of cronyism after the nomination of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court.[2] Miers had no previous judicial experience and demonstrated little knowledge of constitutional law, and her selection was rejected by many conservatives and liberals. The appointment of Michael D. Brown to the head of FEMA could also be considered a case of cronyism as Brown had no experience pertaining to his job.[3] [4] The administration has also been accused of cronyism for reducing Scooter Libby's sentence in the Plame Affair.[5]

-----An example of cronyism, with devastating effects, is seen in present day South Africa: The appointment of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as the country's minister of health. Thabo Mbeki, widely known as an AIDS dissident, practices cronyism by keeping her in her position. She was widely seen as following an AIDS policy in line with the ideas of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who for a time expressed public doubts about whether HIV caused AIDS. In 2002, the South African Cabinet affirmed the policy that "HIV causes AIDS" which as an official statement silenced any further speculation on this topic by Cabinet members, including the President. In August of 2003 the cabinet also voted to make anti-retrovirals available in the public sector, and instructed Tshabalala-Msimang to carry out the policy. South Africa has the highest rate of HIV infections in the world. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, on the other hand was fired from her position as deputy minister of health. She expressed long-term disharmony and disagreement on HIV/AIDS and other issues between herself and the Minister of Health (Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang)[9];

-----Paul Wolfowitz was mentioned[6] in connection with cronyism after the World Bank committee charged him with violation of ethical and governance rules as bank president by showing favoritism to his companion in 2005. The report noted that Mr Wolfowitz broke bank rules and the ethical obligations in his contract, and that he tried to hide the salary and promotion package awarded to Shaha Riza, his companion and a bank employee, from top legal and ethics officials in the months after he became bank president in 2005.

*External Link

SuperNews: Hurricane Katrina - A political flash cartoon about the cronyism surrounding Michael D. Brown and Hurricane Katrina.


^ "Crony: An intimate companion, a comrade; also a confederate in a robbery" - Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785 [1811]. Grose

^ The O'Reilly Factor Flash

^ Cronyism

^ Adam Bellow on Nepotism, Cronyism & Harriet Miers on National Review Online

^ BBC NEWS Americas Bush not ruling out Libby pardon

^ The Guardian - Wolfowitz under fire after partner receives promotion and pay rise
Retrieved from ""


*Wikipedia Bibliographic details for this version of "Cronyism"

Page name: Cronyism

Author: Wikipedia contributors

Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Date of last revision: 26 March 2008 07:20 UTC

Date retrieved: 4 April 2008 16:07 UTC

Permanent link:

Page Version ID: 201008294


For discussion:

-----Does cronyism exist in the literary community?

-----Do you feel that you have been discriminated against due to cronyism? If so, how?

-----Is cronyism in the literary community institutionalized (at least to a certain extent)?

-----Are outsider poets and writers punished, shunned, and silenced if they disagree with the majority viewpoint? If so, how?

-----Are MFA programs hotbeds of cronyism? Examples?

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