“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” Olivia Jade (who posts videos about makeup, fashion, and lifestyle) told podcast host Zach Sang as reported by NBC. “I do want the experience of, like, game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

Today, Olivia Jade and younger sister Isabella Rose are partying at the University of Southern California (USC) thanks to their parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, having participated in a fraud and bribery scheme that privileged their daughters – for $500,000 – over other students competing for coveted slots at USC.

Olivia Jade, with nearly 2 million YouTube followers, is a professional "Influencer" – a shallow, materialistic entertainer on social media – while sister Isabella Rose is a professional actress with a quarter-million Instagram followers.

This week, 33 wealthy families – including famous actresses, private equity partners and lawyers – were arrested on charges of racketeering, corruption and fraud as part of a scheme that charged millions of dollars to spare their children (not all of whom were aware of what their parents were doing) the effort of wrestling with the college process and help them get their over-privileged children into schools like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and USC – schools that perhaps they couldn’t get into on merit alone.

Ironically, the story broke while Olivia Jade was spending spring break in the Bahamas aboard a luxury yacht belonging to Rick Caruso – chairman of USC's board of trustees – along with his daughter Gianna, a close friend of Olivia’s.

Over the years I’ve known and sometimes advised students – family and children of friends – who have struggled with the college admission process – the SAT preparation, essay writing, recommendations, interviews, and the choice of extra-curricular activities to enhance a student’s profile.

While a scandal of this magnitude focusing on parents willing to pay bribes to cheat their children’s way into elite U.S. universities is shocking it’s also another revelation of how wealth without value or responsibility distorts and corrupts America’s existential values.

The scandal justly put a spotlight not only on the college admissions process – where have-nots are severely disadvantaged – but on the many ways privileged, mostly white, plutocrats and elites have constructed separate channels of access to private elementary and high schools, internships, mentoring, paid consultants – even professional test-takers – that facilitate their children’s paths forward.

There is no level playing field in America – not enough piety or humility, not enough freeing people from bondage.

Where states that rely on property taxes to fund education end up preferencing wealthy communities, communities with more cultural resources, better access to counselors and sophisticated sports facilities.

Where in disadvantaged communities students in bondage struggle to find broadband access, school lunches, basic health care and textbooks: where in Detroit a Federal District Court judge, Stephen J. Murphy III, has ruled “access to literacy” isn’t a constitutional right.

In a world where fewer than 5 percent of students applying to Harvard, Yale, Stanford and similar schools are accepted there are going to be many rejected and dejected applicants. I get that, as do most of the applicants.

What we shouldn’t need to get, what America shouldn’t tolerate, is a nation divided into entitled haves and the have-nots who stand a paycheck away from bondage.

To the indicted parents, however, the possibility of rejection is an affront to their status and authority and, having seemingly concluded that their children were incapable of success on their own, decided to further rig a process that already privileged them.

They lied, cheated, bribed and photo-shopped an already compromised system to further their egos – sometimes without their children’s knowledge – and at every stage of the criminal process they found willing co-conspirators.

Co-conspirators with whom they channeled much of their corruption through charities allegedly designed to help the disadvantaged.

For example, the parents of Georgetown junior Isabelle Henriquez (an active and knowing participant in the cheating scheme) “donated” $400,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit that allegedly functioned as a front for payments to crooked coaches and proctors.

Not only did the Henriquez family cheat; they presumably got a tax-write-off for it, which we helped pay for!

This scandal highlights the deep economic and social fissures rending our nation and raises the spectre that if such corruption persists our future – and the future of future generations – will be increasingly entrusted to a generation of trust fund kids unconnected to other Americans, unconnected to America.

Today, after decades of rising inequality rich people – over-worshipped and under-taxed – having amassed unimaginable wealth and distanced themselves from 99 percent of the American people, today enjoy more power than ever.

Today, they flaunt it – and want more.

William McGlashan, partner at the private equity firm TPG and CEO of the Rise Fund, which, ironically, he helped found with singer-songwriter Bono to help those most disadvantaged to rise and compete – wanted more. McGlashan, it appears from the indictment, agreed to pay $250,000 to get his son admitted to USC, both by manipulating test scores and by creating a false athletic profile.

Too much has been given to too few, and those few are not only unaccountable to anyone but are driven by egocentric entitlement, privilege and greed to construct – if we permit them – a self-sustaining system that assures their control for generations.

A system so corrupt that people are willing to obtain a diploma without earning it.

Their enterprise has nothing to do with education.

Their diplomas – trophies on walls alongside pictures of a family yachts, private planes and condo in Chamonix and Aspen – don’t represent achievement but rather hang like a scalps triumphantly taken from vanquished foes, taken from the 99 percent whose sweat pilots the yacht, whose blood fuels the plane, whose tears flush toilets in Chamonix.

Their rules, their walls and, if we are not vigilant, our scalps.

Robert Azzi, a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter, can be reached at theother.azzi@gmail.com. His columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.