What is JER™: Pecunia non olet

With such a background, some will find it impossible (or even undesirable) that something like the JER™ could ever exist. Based on the naive assumption that no respectable university would accept money channelled through Epstein given his role in such murky matters, they will wonder: What could be worse for any educational institution than lending itself to be part of the maneuvers of reputation (not to mention money) laundering of an alleged trafficker of girls for sexual exploitation?

Nevertheless, anyone who thinks so will be getting it wrong: the competitiveness of the global university market turns those Pollyannaish scruples futile. Furthermore, for several élite universities Epstein showed throughout these past years a much kinder face, that of a generous provider of funds (both own and third-party capital) for their cutting edge scientific programs and equipments, donations usually granted with a 100% tax exemption in USA.

This reference to taxation provided me with the moral key to overcome my initial misgivings and convince myself to capitalize Epstein's philanthropic work to forge my JER™. Indeed, if we dust down the classics, we will surely remember how Roman emperor Vespasian responded to his son Titus’s complaints about the tax imposed to tanners and launderers for using urine collected from the Roman Cloaca Maxima (Greatest Sewer): “Pecunia non olet” (“Money does not smell”).

Inspired by this clo-academic maxim, the JER™ ranking quantifies the pecunary smell of élite universities funded by Jeffrey Epstein with a view to contributing to the “total bureaucratization” that stems from the “Iron Law of Liberalism” (Graeber, 2015: 3–44). In my view, this is particularly important in Europe, where universities still lag behind USA, because of their constraining conception of public education as an universal right, of public scrutiny, of students’ and workers’ right to participation or of the universal suffrage itself (even with weighted voting) for the election of academic leaders. Nevertheless, the greatest market distortion keeps coming from public subsidies, which still allows to get a college degree or even a master’s degree for free in many European countries.

In short, my JER™ ranking is aimed to provide the university and philantropic executives with a classification of higher education entities (American for the most part) according to the donations received via the scientific broker Jeffrey Epstein. Such classification not only takes into account the total amount of gifts, but breaks them down to show the quantities accepted before and after Epstein’s pedophile conviction in 2008. Wherever possible, the JER™ also provides information about donor and recipient institutions, date of donations, return of funds (when appropriate) and the reflection of all this in Epstein's philanthropic websites.

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