I do not mind paying a fair share. Neither does anyone I work with. However, we do mind being professors on food stamps (at least 3 of my colleagues are the sole income for their families, and because our salaries are so low in the first place, they will qualify). I am OK for now–my OH makes less than I do but we don’t own a home, so our expenses can be managed. Thing Two is now two, so his daycare isn’t quite as expensive as it was before. But I am seriously rethinking living in this state if this is how it wants to treat its public sector workers…and I’m not the only one.
As scarce as jobs in the humanities are, I might have to go back on the market—after finally earning tenure—to try to find a better-paying job. Or I might have to go back to the private sector, where I made better money and I still have connections.
I do not want to do this.
Really, princess? You do not want to do this?
You don’t want to get a job with pay that’s more aligned with what you need in order to support your family, even though you could apparently do so pretty easily? Well, then, we’d better just march right up to that nasty-nasty Governor Walker and tell him you’re going to hold your breath until you turn blue if you don’t get what you want this very minute.
I also love the flagrant, self-awareness-lacking snobbery of that whole “we do mind being professors on food stamps” thing. Public assistance is good enough for the single mothers et al. whom leftists are constantly haranguing us about helping; shouldn’t they be good enough for academics stuck in less-desirable positions? Surely living in a fashion that’s down with the proles is a good thing…for your, like, consciousness or what have you? (One might also note that every dime these people receive is already public assistance.)
If full-time teachers are being paid so little that they qualify for food stamps, that sure does sound bizarre. But, as Wisconsin and other states are now learning, that’s what happens when you see every issue as something to be addressed through a funded government program. Keep sucking up wealth without creating any, and you don’t have enough to spend anymore. That it’s the public-sector workers who are being mistreated in this scenario is risible.
Even better is the way that second paragraph continues:
None of us gets into this profession for the money, but it’s disgraceful that we’re not going to be able to make decent lives for ourselves (I work in the two-year system, so we’re paid a LOT less than our counterparts in the 4-year schools).
And if you think I should just shut up and be thankful to have a job, do me a favor and shut the f**k up. I am grateful to be employed, but I’m not going to take a kick in the teeth and ask for another one.
They can’t live “decent lives”? Note that there’s not even the slightest attempt here to argue that these people are being paid less than the market value of the work they do, or that they’re not getting what leftists love to call a “living wage.” Maybe this writer and her other half really are living hand to mouth, but it certainly sounds as if they’re just strapped for cash like a lot of people right now: making do with a lot less than they’d like to have, but getting by.
I admit that this kind of thing is a sore spot with me. My (USW member) father was laid off by Bethlehem Steel for an agonizing stretch in the mid-’80s. At one point, he was working night shift at the 7-Eleven, cleaning offices for Service Master, and doing odd jobs to keep us afloat. My mother worked part-time in the cafeterias in our school district. At one school, a certain teacher memorably informed her that she (my mother) should be washing her (Miss Thang the teacher’s) coffee mug because she (Miss Thang the teacher) was “a professional.” Few things play on my sympathies more than stories about overworked people who are treated like crap and have few options.
People who want more money and have the option of changing jobs to get it? No sympathy. Being forced to choose between satisfaction and compensation is just everyday life for a lot of private-sector workers. You can’t, to coin a phrase, have everything. And if Walker’s move really is an excuse to go after public-employees’ unions, good. There’s no reason they should be able to use the coercive power of the government to wangle deals for themselves that the private-sector employees (whose taxes pay their salaries) cannot.
If you want a laugh at the expense of the sanctimonious, BTW, read the comments attached to that post at College Misery, in which writer BurntChrome’s fellow travelers haul out every pseudo-insurgent cliche the left has ever dreamed up: “Standing behind you holding a torch and hayfork in spirit,” “speak[ing] truth to power,” “First they came for the communists…,” “Before they went after the welfare mothers and now they are going after the civil servants.” My favorite is the the commenter who claims to be—My sides! My sides!—”[h]umming the Marseillaise in your honor.” Delicious!
Added later: Sarah also posted today about Marxist (and Marxian) fallacies about labor and value. You should RTWT, but here’s the liver of the fugu:
To Marx value was raw material plus work. The means of producing that work (machinery, etc) were just sort of there. And he made no allowance for invention. (Which is why though Marxist revolutions often recruit intellectuals they’re the sort of intellectuals who never had an original idea in their life.) Of course in our day and age, invention and original thought are at least as important as machinery in creating product. Also, the raw material fallacy means all the countries who have nothing else to sell feel “exploited” because we’re taking their “value” away. Imbuing raw material itself with value means that it’s sort of like stealing national treasure. This has given rise to an entire colonialist-exploitation-theory of history which has held more people in misery in developing countries than the most brazen robber baron could manage. And no one, NOT ONE seems to realize that their raw materials mean absolutely nothing if not used. If someone doesn’t have an idea to use it. If the finished product is not good for something. In other words, if you’re not producing something that someone else finds useful. (I.e. enough to pay for.) If the relationship isn’t MUTUALLY beneficial.
I kind of wish she’d used something besides the dog-turd analogy that follows, because it makes it easy for people to shrug and say, “What’s your point? No one’s arguing that people should be wasting their time shining up dog turds. We just think that professors of the arts (say) are as valuable to society as bankers, and that it’s worth using the state to transfer some money to them to recognize that, since the cold, impersonal, inhuman market doesn’t.” Nevertheless, the underlying point she’s making (or one underlying point she’s making) is a sound one: Just because you’re good at what you do and love it, that doesn’t mean you’re going to make a lot of money off it.