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Sep 20 2013

Scholars live on a lean diet

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko brought out quite a few adjuncts with their own tales of exploitation by universities. It really is shameful how the current system often takes people who love learning and want to teach and treats them like crap, when they should be regarding them as the heirs to the university tradition.

There were also a few clueless twits babbling in dumb incomprehension: why don’t you just get a real job? Meaning, of course, some kind of work, any kind of work, that pays you more money. I come from a blue collar, union family, and I know I baffled my father a bit, too; before I went off to college, he had made tentative arrangements for me in a union apprenticeship in refrigerator repair, which, if I’d taken it, would mean I’d be making twice as much money now, and it would come with long paid vacations and all kinds of benefits, and I would have started earning when I was 19. In the ’90s, I had a shot at jobs in software that paid three times what I make now (that was the bubble, though, so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t take one). In every case, I went for the pittance I’d earn in academia, because I love biology.

If you want to know the sacrifices every college professor makes for his profession, read this summary of the economics of a science career. I tell all my students that an academic career is the most fulfilling, happiest job you can get (if you can get it), but the last reason you should go for it is to make money, because you won’t. Especially now that the United States is flatlining its research budget and building more sophisticated bombs, instead.

What you also have to understand, though, is that even now we aren’t complaining that we want to get paid as much as an experienced expert in refrigeration maintenance of software development — all we want is a living wage and that our colleagues are treated equally and with respect — I don’t want to work in a divided environment where some of us have tenure and the freedom to do more than grade papers all day long, while others are stuck in the scut work of overloads in service courses.

Everyone should think to the future. The professoriate represents the stem cells of an intellectual culture. Starve us into extinction and you won’t see the great progress of a sophisticated society; we make poets and engineers and doctors and leaders and scientists. And we do it for dirt cheap because we love our work, so why are people demanding that we do it for less?

215 comments

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  1. 1
    johnhodges

    Because they can.

  2. 2
    unbound

    But you are part of the world-wide conspiracy for evilution and global warming. You only do it for all the money you get from the government for research grants. We know you are actually driving around in a Lamborghini and live in a huge mansion by a private lake.

    Just wanted to put that out there before the first brain-dead republican finds this thread…. :-)

  3. 3
    Jim Newman

    Much less humanities. Science is the sexy topic and gets what little funding is left. Yet, critical thinking skills are in my opinion more important than lab toys and staff. As Dawkins is showing, rather embarrassingly, whether you Tweet, Meme, or write a paper getting the language and logic right is key.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    “Why don’t you just get a real job?”

    Because without people like Ms. Vojtko or Dr. Myers, NO ONE WOULD HAVE THE EDUCATION NECESSARY TO GET A “REAL” JOB.

    Do the yahoos asking about “real” jobs just think that middle class employment opportunities grow on trees, just waiting to be plucked and savored? Crimeny.

    It is a true shame that the people most responsible for improving this country are treated with such contempt.

  5. 5
    cdds

    Supply and demand. The market is glutted with too many overqualified academics who will work for a pittance. As long as that is the case, they will be paid a pittance.

  6. 6
    PZ Myers

    No, it isn’t, actually. We’re starved for faculty. We lose someone to retirement, and it takes two or three years for the replacement position to be authorized by the higher-ups; enrollment increases, we don’t get new faculty, existing faculty are just told to work harder. We just got our first new faculty line in years this year (hello, immunologist!), and we’ve needed her for ages.

    Just think if the states would actually fund their universities. We’ve seen double-digit percentage tuition increases because they cut and cut and cut. Do you seriously think we’re at full staff everywhere?

    Also, if your claim is true, what about the fact that 50% of American college instructors are adjuncts who are paid below minimum wage? Those are positions that should be filled with properly paid scholars. There is a huge fucking DEMAND for more faculty that is being met with stopgaps.

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    By the way, I fucking despise you assholes who trot out “supply and demand” as the magical explanation for everything. It’s the solution that always guts investment in the future, and when the future arrives and you’re left cold and shivering and hungry, you’ll still be whining about “supply and demand”. The market is not a fairy that delivers what you need, it’s a beast that pares down life to minimal calories and barest shelter and just enough education to do your work.

  8. 8
    Charly

    @cdds #5

    Do you have any data to substantiate your claim? Because it sounds an awfull lot like regular libertarian rubbish.

  9. 9
    Jim Newman

    Thanks PZ! That’s exactly right. This nonsensical virus that there are too many teachers flooding the market is rampant. Even more that there are plenty of really good teachers available. It’s pathetic that tuition has risen so high while wages have declined.

  10. 10
    marcoli

    I count myself as being very lucky as a former member of the adjunct lecturer community who was treated right. Like many who chose that line of work, I could not move from my area to seek better opportunities b/c my spouse is tied to this area by her job. I would not change to a different profession b/c my soul would die if I was anything but an academic. So for some years I scrambled to teach various biology classes between two, three, and sometimes four different campuses. Then, at one of those gigs the department chair told me he needed me to quit those other places, and come work for his department as a full timer. Full benefits, and all that. He even had an official name plate made for me, just like the regular faculty. Needless to say I accepted. I still choke up a little thinking about it.

  11. 11
    Charly

    @PZ Myers #6.

    What you wrote is scarily similar to how corporate management is working in the case of my employer, an american corporation. Only they do not realize that the “contractor” system cannot work in Germany as “well” as it does in US, since in Germany all benefits have to be paid in form of taxation. So contractors are actually more expensive, in the long run, than permanent employees.

    Despite this fact, the american overlords try as hard as they can to cut core personell down as much as possible as a way to solve financial problems. That it, in fact, increases those very same problems, they simply refuse to see.

    As well as the simple fact, that there is a limit to how hard can anyone work before breaking.

  12. 12
    Jim Newman

    No, no, no. They are so desperate for English adjuncts here they hire art history BA’s to teach English Comp. Whether you follow Thomas Sowell or Noam Chomsky they all talk about the sad state of affairs in academics education. It’s hard to get good teachers and it’s hard to pay them.

  13. 13
    ekwhite

    I was disgusted by the story of Mary Margaret Vojtko. The sad truth is that someone with a PhD in biology can make more as a starting salary in the biotech industry than most biology professors will ever make. There is something seriously wrong with our educational system when even full professors are valued so little.

    The adjunct system is even worse. It is outrageous that adjunct professors are paid less than minimum wage to teach classes. Colleges need to implement a living wage and health benefits for *all* employees.

    As far as the glibertarian who predictably showed up talking about “the market,” *this* is why I am a socialist. The market is always used as an excuse for the most immoral actions, from throwing people out of their homes to the atrocities of Pinochet. Libertarianism is an ideology used to excuse greed and selfishness. Ayn Rand was a sociopath. So are most of her devotees.

  14. 14
    barbyau

    “The professoriate represents the stem cells of an intellectual culture.”

    This is the goal of the neo-aristocracy and the courtiers (university administrators) who are well compensated to serve them.

  15. 15
    barbyau

    ^ The goal being to suppress intellectual culture that is.

  16. 16
    Jim Newman

    “By the way, I fucking despise you assholes who trot out “supply and demand” as the magical explanation for everything. It’s the solution that always guts investment in the future, and when the future arrives and you’re left cold and shivering and hungry, you’ll still be whining about “supply and demand”. The market is not a fairy that delivers what you need, it’s a beast that pares down life to minimal calories and barest shelter and just enough education to do your work.”

    Thank you, thank you! SD economics always ignores those who go beneath the wheel awaiting for the cart to right itself. And we’re supposed to smile and say “but it’s all for the good.”? Sadists!

  17. 17
    unbound

    @5 – rofl.

    Although PZ already thrashed your argument out of existence, the whole “supply and demand” nonsense needs to be removed from your (and everyone else’s) dictionary. There are almost no market places left on this planet where the simplistic supply and demand concept even applies.

    Go to Target or Walmart. Look at any product. Notice anything yet? Not a lot of choices are there. Don’t want to go to Target or Walmart. Okay, where are you going to go? Best Buy or HH Gregg for electronics? What about other products? In a world where supply and demand actually works, you should have dozens and dozens of choices of products and services that are indistinguishable from each other in function and quality.

  18. 18
    ledasmom

    I would not change to a different profession b/c my soul would die if I was anything but an academic.

    Just going to quote you, marcoli, because this is something I feel very strongly about. Merely keeping life in the body is necessary but it is not adequate. Nobody, no politician, nobody should talk as if a life where beauty and meaning and intellectual stimulation aren’t attainable because a person has no choice but to work all the hours available at whatever job they can get is an acceptable thing to force on that person, as if that person should even be grateful for the opportunity to work at that job.
    The more I think about it, the more I remember that every person out there working has a brain, that the human brain is a wonderful thing, and that we are wasting so many of them in jobs that don’t use those brains to the extent that they could be used, and that should damn well be a crime.

  19. 19
    cdds

    @PZ. “I fucking despise you assholes..”

    This is your idea of a discussion? I expected better.

    Out of curiosity, how many applications did you have for your new immunologist position?

  20. 20
    Ichthyic

    why are people demanding that we do it for less?

    I’m not sure that’s the end game.

    Pretty sure the end game is to try and make it so higher education is only available to the mega rich, and one of the ways to do that is to basically shut down most public schools and universities. There is a lot of evidence that this is the plan, and you can even see legislation to that effect starting to pop up in the midwest and the south.

    makes for easier development of the modern feudal society, dontchya know.

  21. 21
    Ichthyic

    Supply and demand.

    first thing they taught us in high school economics.

    The second thing was what it leads to when unregulated.

    did you miss the second half of high school economics?

  22. 22
    ledasmom

    This is your idea of a discussion? I expected better.

    Some arguments deserve no rebuttal but disgust.

    You cannot imagine how happy I would be to discover someday that my theory that there exist comments that should be replied to with, essentially, “fuck off” had been rendered invalid. I do not anticipate this occurring soon.

  23. 23
    Ichthyic

    we’re supposed to smile and say “but it’s all for the good.”

    The Greater Good…

  24. 24
    Jim Newman

    cdds, PZ’s response is appropriate to match the idiocy of your level of comment. More harm is done by jerks like you than all of the economic regulations conceived. Did you enjoy tearing wings off flies as a child?

  25. 25
    Ichthyic

    I expected better.

    so do we.

    we, and i expect ALL your personal peers as well, EXPECT you to have at least a high school level of education before you start spewing your opinions around and about as if they were fact.

    now, if you were a pre-teen, I might be willing to excuse some basic ignorance, but even so, the way you presented yourself was as if you WERE knowledgeable of the subject at hand.

    which, you most clearly are not.

    why should ANYONE treat you with respect, when you show none to begin with?

    you’re a fucking clown, and everyone in the world is tired of you.

    yup.

  26. 26
    Rey Fox

    This is your idea of a discussion? I expected better.

    Why? And what would you consider “better”?

  27. 27
    Epinephrine

    And we do it for dirt cheap because we love our work, so why are people demanding that we do it for less?

    There’s a serious disconnect I suspect between the perception of academics and the reality. For many people, the closest they will come will be paying for their (or their children’s) educations, a cost that has risen rapidly, and is by no means inexpensive. Especially when I think of my first year classes, with sometimes hundreds of student (and sometimes lectures being broadcast to many more via televised courses) it is somewhat shocking to think how little of the income goes to the faculty, and how these institutions are run as corporations to make a profit. Subsidies to our universities in Canada have been decreasing, the cost for residents is climbing (now over $7,000 a year for one of our local schools), and Canadian prices are low compared to the USA – I see UMM is at nearly $12,000 per year. While it’s likely true that some programs subsidise other programs (there is no way that a B.A. Psych program with hundreds of students has the same actual costs as a small program like Computational Chemistry, with a handful of students), it’s hard to reconcile the continually growing costs (at much more than inflation) with low teaching wages and the increased use of adjuncts.

    Perhaps I’m overly socialist, but I’d much prefer a model that didn’t require students to take on huge debt loads; a model where education was something one could expect, provided by society, in the hopes of improving life. The French have subsidised education with very low fees, and I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same – there is no need for a university to be a profit machine, or for coaches and presidents to need wheelbarrows to bring home their pay.

  28. 28
    ledasmom

    If the adjuncts are expected to do their jobs basically for the love of it, why aren’t the university presidents and the coaches?
    NB: I don’t expect anyone to do their job without fair and adequate recompense, unless they freely so choose.

  29. 29
    David Wilford

    unbound @17, I can think of one product that meets your criteria of having dozens of choices between various producers, and that’s guitars. (I play guitar & ukulele myself.) Go to a Banjo-Mart, er, Guitar Center sometime and check the wall-o-guitars out if you don’t believe me. There’s also a thriving market for used guitars on Craigslist and at Music-Go-Round stores. And the guitars these days cost far less than they used to for better instruments that you used to be able to get. Yes, a lot of them come from China but you can still get U.S. made guitars for a very reasonable price too. The problem as I see it is that interest in playing music in the U.S. is declining and eventually we’ll see a cratering in the number of producers and sellers of musical instruments. But right now it’s a good time to buy a guitar.

  30. 30
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Silly PZ. Don’t you know what football coaches are in much higher demand? That’s why they make hundreds of thousands a year!

  31. 31
    Maureen Brian

    cdds,

    This Magic Fairy Market in which you place such trust is simply the ultimate example of built-in obsolescence. Any day now it could just go SPLAT!! What can you do which would ensure your survival in such a case?

    Capitalism, though it has its own faults, depends upon planning and investment – investment in skills, future productive capacity, securing lines of supply. The model system which Adam Smith had in his head made a good deal of sense – for late eighteenth century Europe, anyway.

    Supply and demand is an idiot’s attempt to take one small detail of Smith’s model and turn it into – I dunno – into a religion, into an entire social and economic system, into a personal security blanket which requires no foresight and no thought.

    I’ve no idea how old you are, cdds, but do you really expect this wonky and inefficient pseudo-system which is constantly on the brink of collapse to survive even for the rest of your life.

    I’m over 70 and I’ve no confidence that it will last for mine. That’s why I’m a socialist, too.

  32. 32
    No One

    “Supply and demand.”

    You mean social Darwinism.

    Funny thing I never saw any of the Admins taking a paycut at the three schools I worked at. As a matter of fact they got bonuses and raises for coming up with “cost cutting” measures, most which were to the detriment of the educational process. A good portion of those measures were in violation of the accrediting bodies charter, some were just plain ‘ol illegal. They didn’t fucking care, they made money till they got caught. Some animals are more equal than others.

    Professor Myers “has his”. That he speaks out against this injustice speaks to his character.

  33. 33
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Fun fact:

    I am currently a post-doctoral fellow in a research lab at an American research university with a decent amount of name recognition. I’m finishing up my second year as a post-doc, having gotten my Ph.D. late in 2011.

    I make about $40,000 a year. Not nothing, I can live decently on that – I am not married, I have no dependents, my rent isn’t too expensive.

    My sister, who holds a bachelor’s degree, has a desk job at a major American corporation. She works at the corporate headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. For a job that she is well-qualified for with her bachelor’s degree, she makes more than I do. Now, I don’t begrudge her her success – nor her living expenses in New York – but does it seem right to you that my job, which requires someone to have an Ph.D. to even apply for pays less than hers?

    My other sister, like me, has a Ph.D. Her degree is in a social science, and she is currently a tenure-track faculty member at an average-sized liberal arts college. Her husband has a blue-collar job. They make enough to live decently – but he makes more than she does. Again, that isn’t to insult him or to denigrate what he does – but does it seem right to you that he makes more in a job that he started doing straight out of high school than she does, with her (dearly earned) title of “professor”?

    Final anecdote: you have to love academic science to stay in that track. And, after a great deal of thought, I’ve decided that I don’t love it enough. This week, I was accepted into nursing school. Some people have reacted with astonishment to this, and have asked how I’ll live on a nurses’ salary. This is comical – because googling and talking to actual nurses tells me that within a a year or two of being licensed, I’ll make more than I do now. The average salary of a registered nurse in the US is about $80,000 a year – starting salaries of newly minted nurses is on the order of $30,000 to $35,000. And – if you think about what all nurses do – that salary is almost insultingly low.

    I’m not going into nursing for the money (hell, if I wanted money, I’d go to medical school – or stick to science and jump to industry). I’m going into it because I want to. But again – the average nursing program produces graduates who have associate’s degrees.

    The way scientists are supported in this country is profoundly backwards. Like others have said – you don’t go into this field for the money. But when I know people in my own field who are on food stamps because that’s the only way they can feed their children, something’s wrong.

  34. 34
    cdds

    Sigh.

    I hear a lot of screeching and minimal understanding of my point. I am not arguing that the invisible hand of the marketplace is the answer to everything. If I could wave my magic wand, the highest paid people in the US would be firefighters and first-grade teachers. Professional sports would not exist and Hollywood starlets would make minimum wage. But, that is not the reality. Nor is it the reality that universities are adequately funded. Again, I’d love to wave the magic wand and make it different, but I can’t.

    Reality also suggests too many academics relative to the available positions. Colleges and universities receiving >100 applications for a tenure-track position bears this out. Is this a good thing? No. But it is. Further, as long as PhDs will work for a pittance as adjuncts, they will be continued to be paid as such. The harsh reality is, again, too much supply for too little demand.

    You can get upset about it, sling insults at me, or whatever. Just think about the market before you commit a decade of your life to post-graduate education. Academia is subject to supply and demand whether we like it or not.

  35. 35
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    The fear of being stuck in a post doc or adjunct position is *exactly* why Mr. Rawnaeris has decided that he is going to avoid academia like the plague. He’s in a post doc now, but he has no intention of staying there longer than it takes to find something that isn’t in academia.

  36. 36
    chigau (違う)

    cdds
    I’m very disappointed in you.

  37. 37
    SallyStrange

    “I fucking despise you assholes..”

    This is your idea of a discussion? I expected better.

    Perhaps you should have kept reading after “assholes.” If you had, you would have seen this:

    who trot out “supply and demand” as the magical explanation for everything. It’s the solution that always guts investment in the future, and when the future arrives and you’re left cold and shivering and hungry, you’ll still be whining about “supply and demand”. The market is not a fairy that delivers what you need, it’s a beast that pares down life to minimal calories and barest shelter and just enough education to do your work.

    But you already knew that, right? You’re just using PZ’s foul language as an excuse to pretend he didn’t say anything besides a cuss word, so you can pretend that it’s OK to avoid addressing his actual argument, probably because you can’t.

  38. 38
    David Wilford

    cdds @ 34, what’s basically happened in the past 40 years is the decline of state funding for state university systems relative to the demand for them. That’s why tuition has skyrocketed and universities have resorted to replacing tenured faculty with adjunct positions that not only pay less but are less secure.

  39. 39
    cdds

    Actually, Sally, I did. Look up a couple of comments. You folks are making way too many assumptions about my meaning here.

  40. 40
    Jim Newman

    Nonsense. Wages are not a direct sign of demand nor do wages catch up when demand increases. Jesus, this is like economics for toddlers whether you’re Keynesian or not. I have to go to work and support my PHd spouse because I can make more in construction that requires no degree and the market is flooded with construction labor so I know I can waltz into every bid knowing I’ll get it. Economic forces are manifold and complex. Simplistic, facile, and disingenuous peans to a couple of eco terms does not make a salient discussion and merits the kind of Hitch slap that says call the guards, you’re not worthy of discussion.

  41. 41
    cdds

    “cdds @ 34, what’s basically happened in the past 40 years is the decline of state funding for state university systems relative to the demand for them. That’s why tuition has skyrocketed and universities have resorted to replacing tenured faculty with adjunct positions that not only pay less but are less secure.”

    Yes. That’s one of the things that has happened. The other is that more people are going to graduate school, so now we have even greater supply for decreasing demand.

  42. 42
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Reality also suggests too many academics relative to the available positions. Colleges and universities receiving >100 applications for a tenure-track position bears this out.

    Did you read the bit where PZ said that colleges desperately need talent, but are not allowed by the administration to hire? The jobs market is being distorted.

    Further, as long as PhDs will work for a pittance as adjuncts, they will be continued to be paid as such. The harsh reality is, again, too much supply for too little demand.

    So, Ph.D.s should do what, exactly? There’s an established pattern of universities laying off faculty and then rehiring those same people to do the job they had before – just as adjuncts, for a fraction of the pay and no benefit. That is not a supply/demand issue, that’s a greed-at-the-top issue.

    No one’s denying that supply and demand are irrelevant forces in academia. Of course they are! But you’re ignoring the profound ways the demand side of the equation is being forcibly suppressed by money-hungry administrations.

  43. 43
    ledasmom

    Reality also suggests too many academics relative to the available positions. Colleges and universities receiving >100 applications for a tenure-track position bears this out. Is this a good thing? No. But it is. Further, as long as PhDs will work for a pittance as adjuncts, they will be continued to be paid as such. The harsh reality is, again, too much supply for too little demand.

    I will leave those with more experience than I in the academic world to pick this apart, but may I suggest that one possible point of these posts is to examine how the system as it is now should change? I think pretty much everyone has now agreed that adjuncts are not currently, as a general rule, well-treated.
    You suggest that this is entirely a matter of the market. Surely it is at least a much a matter of the ethics of any college that would treat its faithful and hard-working employees like dirt. Surely it is a matter of the conscience of a university president making an excellent salary who is able to sleep at night knowing that other employees of that university live in poverty or close to it.
    The way you frame it, you put blame on academics who want nothing more than to work in academics. The lie is that working for low pay for years eventually gets you into a position where you make enough money to live, if you are diligent and conscientious. Which generation of adjuncts is the first to be worthy of blame, under your theory? How much chance of not climbing the ladder has to be there before it becomes unworthy to put in one’s time? And where does one get this information about the job market twenty years in the future?
    To simplify: you may not be able to make a difference here, but there are demonstrably people who could and have not. Do they not deserve a share of opprobrium?

  44. 44
    No One

    For fucks sake. The “lack of demand” has been artificially created to take advantage of those who love to teach. It was the same at all three of the private for profit schools I taught at. Teachers (adjuncts in particular) were treated as the lowest rung on the ladder, but taught the majority of the courses. The buzzword was retention, not education. A fucking libertarian paradise. We get your point “asshole” (having lived it). Do you even have a clue as to ours?

  45. 45
    SallyStrange

    Actually, Sally, I did. Look up a couple of comments. You folks are making way too many assumptions about my meaning here.

    I see that now, Cupcake. Your comment had not yet appeared when I wrote mine. Perhaps if you had gone straight into actually presenting some substance instead of pointless kvetching about rude language on a self-described rude blog, the hole you’re currently standing in wouldn’t be quite so deep.

  46. 46
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    cdds

    The “law of supply and demand” can kiss my arse, if, as you imply, it takes precedence over ethical behaviour. In a world where everyone needs money to survive, a person should be able to make at least enough to pay for necessities from a reasonable number of hours worked. That, at the very least, should be what the people you appear to believe are swamping the job market* should be competing for.

    *And, by the way, this would imply that there are a significantly higher number of qualified educators in the US than there are positions for them to fill. I’m assuming you can cite figures to back up this assumption?

  47. 47
    cdds

    “Did you read the bit where PZ said that colleges desperately need talent, but are not allowed by the administration to hire? The jobs market is being distorted.”

    No argument there.

    “So, Ph.D.s should do what, exactly? ”

    Now that is a good question. It’s one that we should be rigorously asking instead of training in some esoteric discipline assuming that the jobs will be plentiful.

    “But you’re ignoring the profound ways the demand side of the equation is being forcibly suppressed by money-hungry administrations.”

    Not ignoring. Asking people to realize that they are there, and that supply and demand apply to academics too.

    Getting mad at me will change nothing.

  48. 48
    Ichthyic

    Reality also suggests too many academics relative to the available positions.

    your eyes are apparently incapable of actually reading the responses to your initial idiocy, wherein it is well documented that you are incorrect.

    so, of course, you go on to compound it with yet more ignorance.

    bravo.

    seriously, are you really this stupid, or just trolling for lulz?

  49. 49
    Ichthyic

    “Did you read the bit where PZ said that colleges desperately need talent, but are not allowed by the administration to hire? The jobs market is being distorted.”

    No argument there.

    fucking liar.

    Now that is a good question.

    it boggles my mind that someone would ask you. Even rhetorically.

    why in the fuck should anyone CARE what you think about it?

    are you IN academia?

    no.

    do you teach?

    no.

    you obviously haven’t the slightest background in the relevant job market or issues so…

    WHY ARE YOU HERE??

  50. 50
    Ichthyic

    Getting mad at me will change nothing.

    that’s as obvious as the fact that you haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about.

    get lost, idiot.

  51. 51
    Bicarbonate is back

    Yes, greed, corruption and looting at the top.

    CEOs are compensated not for the actual decisions they make but for the image they project. The CEO is part of the company’s branding. With the rise of omnipresent glossy business media and 24 hour cable coverage of the business world, CEO’s can now build a celebrity media image that can be parlayed into big bucks. The company pays the CEO in part to project the image of whatever kind of helmsman fits in with the company branding and publicity. People also judge the power and importance of the company by how well they pay their CEO, in the same way they use stock prices as an index of market oomph. It’s like royalty. People attribute glory and importance to the UK because of the fortunes they lavish on that family they pay to dress up like actual monarchs.

    But mainly I think CEOs are highly paid because the world of capital discovered that they can effectively be bribed into converting ever larger shares of real productive assets and workforce compensation and development into shareholder equity. Late 20th and early 21st century capitalism is a predatory scheme to loot everyone in the short term, and then cash out.

    We’re all part of the problem. Look at the amount of worlds that are spilled in the business and economics blogs on slavish fawning over CEOs.

    Corruption by the elite of the politicians at all levels local, state, and federal, government regulatory agencies and others power centers is blatant and not even hidden in public meetings, rule making, and decisions by regulatory and courts today. When laws, regulations, ordinances and the rules of order and procedure are not followed those controlling the processes take assets and competitive advantage against individuals, small business, and other large competitors.

    The large law firms are not making the big incomes for their lawering, but for their ability to influence results. Companies that are in fact monopolies but use influence to not be labeled as such have no competition for their talented employees can pay lower wages and charge monopoly prices for their services.

    Until the corruption by influentials is stopped by prosecution and the processes of Democracy are adhered to inequality of opportunity will stop every opportunity for increasing equality and vacuumed any and all assets and opportunity to the few.

  52. 52
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Monitor Note

    When quoting:

    <blockquote>Quoted text goes here</blockquote>

    Produces:

    Quoted text goes here

    It’s also helpful to name the person you’re replying to.

  53. 53
    cdds

    #49. Little fishy, you assume poorly.

  54. 54
    ledasmom

    Now that is a good question. It’s one that we should be rigorously asking instead of training in some esoteric discipline assuming that the jobs will be plentiful.

    What, some esoteric discipline like French? French, which is certainly not a language that is spoken by millions of actual people living on the actual planet? Goodness knows nobody would ever need to learn anything about that.
    Did you not read the previous post about Margaret Mary Vojtko? A large part of the problem is that people have jobs, but the jobs pay shit and there’s no overtime for all the hours that they are expected to work outside of the classroom.
    Who, in your opinion, should be teaching all the lower-level courses in math and English and history and science and languages and other such esoteric disciplines?

  55. 55
    Ichthyic

    Little fishy, you assume poorly.

    we base our assumptions on the evidence placed before us.

    you have lied, already portrayed a profound ignorance of the academic job market, yet you want to pretend MY assumptions are poor?

    seriously, just fuck off.

  56. 56
    Ichthyic

    Who, in your opinion, should be teaching all the lower-level courses in math and English and history and science and languages and other such esoteric disciplines?

    what possible value could an answer from this dolt have??

    why should you care WHAT his opinion is?

    it just gals me anyone is wasting time with this asswipe.

    grrr.

  57. 57
    No One

    WHY ARE YOU HERE??

    To devalue teachers and “academia” apparently:

    ” … instead of training in some esoteric discipline assuming that the jobs will be plentiful.”

    You know the useless stuff, like language, science, history. As opposed to getting an MBA.

    PZ hit the nail on the head… “fucking asshole”.

  58. 58
    left0ver1under

    Excuse the length of this, and the number of links:

    —–

    The situation in the US is bad, and getting worse:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/colleges-hiring-more-adjunct-professors-682176/

    Meanwhile, some are trying to rationalize the trend, and make it worse:

    http://chronicle.com/article/Ad-juncts-Are-Bet-ter/141523/

    (That “item” is dated September 9th, eight days after Ms. Vojtko’s death, though there’s no mention whether the “writer” knew about her.)

    Remember the OWS protests at UC Davis from 2011, and the unprovoked brutality and assaults by the police (state)? It wasn’t just wall street they were protesting – it was the doubling of annual tuition within a five year span.

    Where is that money going? I doubt the teachers are getting any of it.

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-28/local/35283348_1_davis-protesters-pepper-spray-incident-university-of-california-campus

    http://daviswiki.org/UC_Davis_Budget_Cuts

    The University of California is predicted to have a seventy percent rise in tuition in the near future:

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/blogs/prop-zero/Fearless-Prediction-A-70-Percent-Tuition-Increase-at-UC-113915134.html

    Meanwhile, the average tuition at a Canadian college or university remains reasonable, and the salaries of full time instructors livable. Is it any wonder Canada has the highest percentage in the world of adults with college degrees? The tuitions listed on the Statistics Canada site are only about 40% more than I paid back in the early 1990s:

    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/educ50a-eng.htm

    http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2012/05/04/professor-pay-ranked-from-highest-to-lowest/

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/27/and-the-worlds-most-educated-country-is/

    I could not find any information on adjunct professor salaries in Canada except for this article:

    http://chronicle.com/article/A-Canadian-College-Where/123629/

    Clearly, it’s not about a lack of funding. It’s about how the money is spent – or should I say, wasted.

    Stories like this make me glad Canadian university sports lag far behind the US (equivalent to Division III and NAIA), to know that large amounts of money aren’t spent on them.

    —–

    PZ Myers (#7) –

    I despise those who trot out “supply and demand” as the magical explanation for everything.

    I forget which college or university it was in California, but a year or two ago one of them chose to triple the course fees instead if hiring extra instructors. (Was it UC Davis? Does anybody remember?)

    The institution chose “supply and demand” to generate revenue rather than act in the students’ best interests and needs. Students ended up unable to continue or complete their educations out of the institution’s greed.

  59. 59
    David Marjanović

    who are paid below minimum wage

    I asked last thread, and I have to ask again:

    How is this legal?

    Is this legal?

    I know about the law that says it’s OK to pay restaurant personnel waaaaaaay below minimum wage under the silly expectation that tips will make up for the difference; but what additional income are professors expected to have, or what???

    @PZ. “I fucking despise you assholes..”

    This is your idea of a discussion? I expected better.

    It’s his idea of a conclusion. It follows without the slightest logical flaw from the facts, so I can’t find anything wrong with it.

    Reality also suggests too many academics relative to the available positions. Colleges and universities receiving >100 applications for a tenure-track position bears this out.

    And then you go on to call this “too much supply for too little demand”… while implying that it’s too much supply rather than too little demand.

    I contend that the demand is kept artificially low by underfunded institutions. Go back to reading comment 6, FFS, where PZ explains that UMM needs lots more faculty and is only very slowly getting any at all.

    Two years ago I applied for a job at the U of Chicago, where Neil “Tiktaalik” Shubin would have been my boss. Of course I didn’t get it – but that’s not because I was competing with a guesstimated 150 colleagues or more. It’s because nobody got it: the job was canceled, and now they have nobody working on a range of topics and nobody teaching an even broader one!

    Why?

    Because You The People of the United States either don’t value such things enough to finance the existing demand from taxes, or you haven’t managed to vote for politicians who do.

    Ah, perhaps you believe privatizing the U of Chicago would eliminate the public budget as a third factor and restore supply & demand to their rightful sovereignty? Stay in Chicago and look at the Field Museum. It is a private institution. It’s losing money, so the administrators who have no idea of their own institution have been firing people left & right, dissolved departments so they can fire the tenured people, and have sold parts of the collection.

    If I keep talking, I’ll probably make myself unemployable.

  60. 60
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    So this was referred to over in the Utterly Shameful thread, but here’s a bit of good news.

    The American Chemical Society, which accredits college chemistry departments, has updated their rules for what a department has to do in order to win such accreditation.

    It says, in part:

    3.2Adjunct,Temporary, and Part-Time Faculty. Full-time, permanent faculty should teach the courses leading to student certification in an approved chemistry program. Programs may occasionally engage highly qualified individuals outside the regular faculty when permanent faculty members are on sabbatical leaves or to deliver special courses. The Committee strongly discourages, however, excessive reliance on temporary, adjunct, or part-time faculty in an ACS-approved program and will review such situations carefully.

    (the entire policy can be found here)

    Now, this is one accreditation org. But I hope it will only be the first of many.

  61. 61
    cdds

    #54. In my opinion, all classes should be taught by full time tenure-track faculty. And, colleges and universities should be better funded. If the president calls me, I will pick up the phone and tell him such.

    However, given the set of circumstances that we find ourselves in, having a PhD in ancient french literature is only marginally marketable.

    #56. Fishy, name one place that I have lied please. And please provide evidence beyond your own feelings.

  62. 62
    David Wilford

    Thinking about the divide between tenured faculty and adjuncts teaching service courses, I’m reminded of back when I was at the University of Iowa and Dr. James Van Allen (of Van Allen radiation belt fame) taught the freshman General Astronomy course there for two decades. Everyone who took it remembers it as one of the best courses they ever took, whether they went on to work in astronomy or not. So it isn’t just an issue for faculty, it’s a detriment for students who are missing out when they’re stuck in a “service course”.

  63. 63
    maudell

    Funny story: my profs have convinced me not to get into academia for this reason. It’s a really sad state of affair.

    On a related note, I looked up Duquesne University yesterday. Their website says tuition is over $33,000 for 2 semesters. Is this normal in America? Do students get food, shelter and a yacht with their undergraduate degree?

    Look at the bright side: it would have taken Margaret Votjko only 4 years of wages to attend her classes for 2 semesters.

  64. 64
    cdds

    #58. “I contend that the demand is kept artificially low by underfunded institutions. Go back to reading comment 6, FFS, where PZ explains that UMM needs lots more faculty and is only very slowly getting any at all.”

    “Because You The People of the United States either don’t value such things enough to finance the existing demand from taxes, or you haven’t managed to vote for politicians who do.”

    I did read that. And agreed with it in #47. Unfortunately, I don’t set academic policy for the U.S.

  65. 65
    cdds

    #58. “Ah, perhaps you believe privatizing the U of Chicago would eliminate the public budget as a third factor and restore supply & demand to their rightful sovereignty?”

    Again, my points here have nothing to do with how I think things should be. They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

  66. 66
    moarscienceplz

    The professoriate represents the stem cells of an intellectual culture. Starve us into extinction and you won’t see the great progress of a sophisticated society; we make poets and engineers and doctors and leaders and scientists. And we do it for dirt cheap because we love our work, so why are people demanding that we do it for less?

    Because you don’t need all that hard work and book learnin’ to become rich and powerful. Just make sure your daddy’s the kind of guy who can earn billions of dollars selling crappy chinese-made mops and screwing over his employees. And if your daddy’s not that kind of guy, well, here’s your blue vest and your anal lube.

  67. 67
    maudell

    @cdds

    Is a PhD in statistics or math too obscure for your standards? Because this stuff definitely happens there too (this is my experience, anyway).

  68. 68
    Ingdigo Jump

    @moarscienceplz

    Yeah right. Like they’d just hand OUT the lube.

  69. 69
    Ichthyic

    How is this legal?

    Is this legal?

    it’s actually the calculated hourly wage based on the amount of total money paid vs the amount of hours put into the job.

    and yes, you can indeed get adjunct positions where your rate of pay actually ends up effectively below minimum wage.

    the universities get away with it, because they do a very unrealistic calculation of the amount of labor involved in actually preparing a class lecture, grading papers, etc. When I taught at Berkeley, it was a very strict calculation of actual classroom and office hours, plus about 30% for prep time.

    so if you taught say, 3 1 hour lectures a week, had an office hour twice a week, and taught a section for 2 hours once a week (so that’s 7 hours), they generously would calculate that as you having put 10 hours of work in for that week. In reality, it actually takes closer to 20 hours (often more when there are written essays or papers to grade) to manage all that. so, while they would calculate someone teaching that course should get say, about 150 a week for teaching it, but when you do the math, that ends up being below minimum wage for a person who is realistically doing the actual work to teach the class.

    so, it’s entirely legal, since they can claim they are even paying a considerable bonus above minimum wage when you look at JUST the hours the class is taught.

  70. 70
    cdds

    #66. It’s not about my standards.

    It’s been bad for years in the humanities. Things are getting worse in the sciences, and even in engineering.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/

    Although I still like the job prospects of a statistician a lot better than those of a PhD in classical languages.

  71. 71
    Ichthyic

    If I keep talking, I’ll probably make myself unemployable.

    heh.

    sometimes it’s best to just call out the stinky cheese bait and move on, rather than trying to nibble on it to see what flavor it is.

  72. 72
    Rey Fox

    Then what exactly is your point, cdds? What is your endgame here?

  73. 73
    Ichthyic

    Fishy, name one place that I have lied please. And please provide evidence beyond your own feelings.

    it’s right there, in the post, for anyone to read. you can’t read apparently.

    which of course is why you say this:

    They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    when it has been pointed out to you repeatedly that you actually don’t understand what the reality of the situation is.

    in fact, not only that, but the actual reality was spelled out for you, and you completely ignored it.

    if you want to know why people think you’re a moron, there would be a clue….

  74. 74
    Rey Fox

    They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    Oh, I see. It’s to be a cheerleader for the status quo. Fuck off, we don’t need you.

  75. 75
    David Marjanović

    The other is that more people are going to graduate school, so now we have even greater supply for decreasing demand.

    How is that related to the population increase…?

    There’s an established pattern of universities laying off faculty and then rehiring those same people to do the job they had before – just as adjuncts, for a fraction of the pay and no benefit. That is not a supply/demand issue, that’s a greed-at-the-top issue.

    No one’s denying that supply and demand are irrelevant forces in academia. Of course they are! But you’re ignoring the profound ways the demand side of the equation is being forcibly suppressed by money-hungry administrations.

    Or, in other countries, money-hungry finance ministries.

    In Austria, there are no ridiculously rich university administrators; the rector of each university, and all the vice-rectors, are professors, not business administrators, and most students pay no tuition fees at all. For years, the department for nutrition science at the U of Vienna had a single professor for its 2500 students – yes, two thousand five hundred, and that number kept growing. There were no master’s theses in that department because the professor simply lacked the time to supervise one! When the number of students reached 3000 or so, the department was finally given the money to hire one more professor…

    Again: Nutrition science. Not exactly something nobody needs.

    Now that is a good question. It’s one that we should be rigorously asking instead of training in some esoteric discipline assuming that the jobs will be plentiful.

    LOL. I never assumed that jobs in my useless* discipline would be plentiful. I always expected to have to apply for jobs all over the world** and to have to hop from postdoc to postdoc before finding an actual position.

    * Actually, it turns out it can make a small contribution to paleoclimatology, which has suddenly become extremely important worldwide – as hardly anyone would have guessed 50 years ago. But it’s a small contribution, more of a spin-off.
    ** It’s a serious pity that most of the inhabited part of China is currently covered by smog, meaning I’d get serious health problems pretty quickly. I know at least one lab there where I’d otherwise love to apply. – The soot in the smog, BTW, adds to the greenhouse effect. We’re back to climatology!

    Their website says tuition is over $33,000 for 2 semesters. Is this normal in America?

    Yes.

    Do students get food, shelter and a yacht with their undergraduate degree?

    Nope.

    Again, my points here have nothing to do with how I think things should be. They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    My point is that this reality needs to be changed. It’s a matter of political will, not of laws of physics or something.

    We’ve all understood you as implying it’s fine the way it is!

    the universities get away with it, because they do a very unrealistic calculation of the amount of labor involved in actually preparing a class lecture, grading papers, etc. When I taught at Berkeley, it was a very strict calculation of actual classroom and office hours, plus about 30% for prep time.

    I see. *snark*
    Thanks.

  76. 76
    SallyStrange

    Again, my points here have nothing to do with how I think things should be. They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    “We” don’t need to adjust to it. “We” need to refuse to accept it and do whatever we can to change it. If you want to be a fatalist, go ahead, but I for one find it ethically questionable to look at an unjust system and, rather than asking, “How can I change this so that it’s just?”, ask, “How can I adjust to this unjust system? And how can I get other people to adjust to this unjust system?”

  77. 77
    David Wilford

    cdds @ 64,

    Again, my points here have nothing to do with how I think things should be. They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    This problem isn’t going to be solved by adjusting to the current reality, because this isn’t actually the inevitable result of the market. It stems from political decisions that have been made and deliberately pursued for decades by those who think higher public education (and public education in general) should be diminished for their own financial gain.

  78. 78
    maudell

    @cdds

    I’m surprised to learn that mathematics are now part of the humanities. Have statistics become an esoteric discipline now (I guess it kind of is esoteric)? Unless you didn’t actually read what I wrote.

  79. 79
    Bronze Dog

    I remember an old online argument where one guy declared a woman stupid for saying that a product’s market price has nothing to do with its production cost. He spoke as if it’s an ironclad rule that products sell for production cost + profit margin. Naturally, supply and demand are a textbook factor, and I brought up the example of that crappy old Atari E.T. game. There’s a landfill full of the cartridges because stores couldn’t sell them at any cost. Keeping them imposed a cost in the form of shelf space. Even then, we couldn’t convince him that there were market forces other than the vendor’s wishes.

    This argument strikes me as one notch above that one, with someone accepting supply and demand, but ignoring other forces in play: We aren’t dealing with a free market. We’re dealing with leaders who are more interested in personally profiting through manipulation of the system and culture than through selling competitive products. We’re dealing with workers who want a particular job, not the maximum dollar return on their degree and get exploited because they can’t exactly threaten to take their talent elsewhere.

  80. 80
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    cdds

    Again, my points here have nothing to do with how I think things should be. They are a reflection of reality and how we need to adjust to it.

    If the “reality” of supply and demand doesn’t fit our needs, would it not be better to improve “reality”? Say, by making fair wages and working conditions a precondition? Or would that be too “big government” for you?

  81. 81
    David Marjanović

    if you want to know why people think you’re a moron, there would be a clue….

    To be fair, being a moron and being a liar isn’t the same thing.

  82. 82
    Epinephrine

    @Esteleth:

    does it seem right to you that my job, which requires someone to have an Ph.D. to even apply for pays less than hers?

    Yes? I don’t think that credentials are that big a deal, or that having invested time in something makes it worthy.

    That said, I still think that the adjunct thing is a load of crap, and that universities should not be private, profit-based entities. But in terms of pay, I have no problem with people doing work that doesn’t require a degree getting as much or more than I make with multiple degrees. I REALLY find the elitism of your comment annoying – it sounds like you feel that they should earn less than you, because you have a PhD. Bollocks. We should ensure that professors and educators have a good living, as we want a good education system, but you are no better or more worthy than others who chose to go into lines of work that don’t require a degree. Don’t take this wrong, but you ARE asking about why a job should may more when yours requires a higher level of education. The answer is simply that it is more valued, and possibly for good reasons. Maybe for bad reasons, but that’s bound to happen, too.

    Frankly, the requirement for degrees is only a shortcut anyway; many jobs that “require” a degree don’t need one at all, but having a degree was an easy/lazy way to screen. If 50% of the non-degreed population could do the job, but 95% of the degreed population could, it’s an easy filter to apply, and makes hiring easier. You might miss out on some very good talent, but you save yourself some time. My mother is very bright, and only got a degree late in life to satisfy herself – but it didn’t make her the organised, talented, intelligent person she is – she was already all those things.

    Congrats on your move to nursing; there were cuts where I work a while back, and when I was thinking that I might be affected I started looking at option like that, too. I have nothing but respect for nurses, they do hard, often thankless work. And when my eldest broke out in a rash after a surgery, the doctor was puzzled, coming up with theories like a reaction to the soaps used on the hospital garments/sheets (she’d had a surgery pa couple of weeks previously, so that’s unlikely) or to the anaethetic (again, it was her second surgery there in a few weeks – unlikely). As soon as he was gone, a nurse came up, asked us if she had had a high fever a few days previously (Yes! We thought we would have to move her surgery, but it had disappeared suddenly as well, and she seemed fine) and pronounced it roseola. And that’s not the only time a nurse has demonstrated that experience and attention beats inexperience and education.

  83. 83
    maudell

    (I hope I didn’t come across as devaluing the humanities. I was just pointing out that the problem is generalized. But it definitely is more difficult in the humanities, and I deplore that.)

  84. 84
    Bicarbonate is back

    #75 Sally Strange

    I often like your comments but never before responded.

    “We” don’t need to adjust to it. “We” need to refuse to accept it and do whatever we can to change it.

    So, what can we do? This is a sincere serious question, not JAQing.

  85. 85
    Form&Function

    At my college, salaries have been stagnant for over five years due to the recession (and the state legislature’s response to it, which has been to cut and cut and cut and never to try to increase revenues). We’ve fired tenured professors; the rest of us have to take up the slack. All the faculty is demoralized and stressed and making noticeably less in real dollars than they did five years ago.

    Recently, as the economy has improved, we’ve had a few faculty lines open. We’ve run searches and interviewed candidates. And we’ve lost more than one when they found out what pay we could offer them.

    It is also getting more and more difficult to hire adjunct faculty in my field because the training required to teach organismal biology, human anatomy, etc. is extensive and the pay we can offer is nothing compared to what you can get actually working in the health occupations or industry. And just imagine how difficult it is to hire nursing instructors, who must be trained nurses, when nurses make easily 150% of what our tenured faculty make and close to double what an adjunct can make.

    I love my job. I love my college and my colleagues. But for the first time in more than fifteen years of teaching, I occasionally entertain the idea of looking for a job that pays me something more like what my friends with bachelor’s degrees are making. I haven’t reached the tipping point yet, but I guess I can see it from here.

  86. 86
    cdds

    #71. “Then what exactly is your point, cdds? What is your endgame here?”

    I’ve seen too many people spend a decade in graduate school, accrue $50,000+ of debt, and then assume that the world will beat a path to their door because they are the world-wide expert on the mating patterns of some tropical beetle. (Dear fishy, this doesn’t mean that I hate beetles. I am using it as an example of academic knowledge that most people undervalue because they don’t understand its importance). Unfortunately, there are too many of such people relative to the job openings. So, distorted as it may be, the job market is a real thing in academia too, and the prospects don’t look good.

    It seems that there is a tremendous amount of rancor on this site towards the job market (and towards me for pointing out reality). Okay. If you want therapy, go right ahead and continue. But if you don’t want to end up like Margaret Mary Vojtko, then you may need to take a long hard look at supply and demand in academia.

    I’m really just trying to help.

  87. 87
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Ah, perhaps you believe privatizing the U of Chicago

    Um…

  88. 88
    SallyStrange

    Bicarbonate –

    How to change it? I can’t speak to the specifics of reforming academic institutions. It’s not my field. I could tell you more about what reforms are needed in energy policy to mitigate climate change. The problem is, before we can do any of that, we essentially need to overthrow the government, or something about that drastic. Currently the American government has been entirely captured by industry and banking interests at the national level, and partially captured at the state level. I am seriously stressed and worried about whether we’re going to be able to do anything at all about that before it becomes too late to at least partially mitigate the effects of climate change.

  89. 89
    SallyStrange

    I’m really just trying to help.

    Now THAT is a lie.

  90. 90
    PZ Myers

    On a related note, I looked up Duquesne University yesterday. Their website says tuition is over $33,000 for 2 semesters. Is this normal in America?

    Sort of. State colleges, like mine, are often cheaper than privates — UMM costs about $15K/year, last I looked. But state college tuitions are climbing faster, because we’re more dependent on government support, which is waning fast. At this rate, there may be no difference between us & the privates, except that the private colleges typically have large endowments to live off of, and we don’t.

  91. 91
    SallyStrange

    Borked the blockquote! First sentence was from Cupcake.

  92. 92
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    cdds

    When quoting:

    <blockquote>Quoted text goes here</blockquote>

    Produces:

    Quoted text goes here

    It’s also helpful to name the person you’re replying to.

  93. 93
    ekwhite

    @cdds:

    I have to go to work, so I am not going to take the time to address your specific arguments. All I will say is that the treatment of adjunct professors in this country is unconscionable and indefensible. By trying to defend the practices of American colleges towards adjuncts in spite of counter-arguments by people who actually work in academia, you look increasingly like an idealogue and an insensitive jerk.

  94. 94
    Bicarbonate is back

    #71 cdds

    …they are the world-wide expert on the mating patterns of some tropical beetle.

    Hmm. In his manifesto, the Unabomber went on and on about specialists in the mating habits of coleopters. About how the kind of life that satisfies a man’s soul is to build his own house on the frontier and worry about having enough to eat in which case he wouldn’t be interested in said mating habits.

    Are you the Unabomber?

  95. 95
    David Wilford

    The problem is, before we can do any of that, we essentially need to overthrow the government, or something about that drastic.

    Pipe dreams aren’t going to change a thing. I work in Minnesota and live in Wisconsin, and am acutely aware of what a difference it made in 2010 to elect a Democrat governor rather than a Republican. Start at that level, it’s far more doable than a revolution at the moment.

  96. 96
    David Marjanović

    I’ve seen too many people [...] assume that the world will beat a path to their door because they are the world-wide expert on the mating patterns of some tropical beetle.

    That’s really hard to believe.

    I’m really just trying to help.

    If you were, you’d be in politics or a lobbyist…

  97. 97
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it later on the previous thread, but adjunct organizing, as I posted about a while back, is in full swing, reinvigorated in large part by the metro strategy (I believe they’re voting at Tufts right now). You can get updates and learn how to participate or support the movement at the SEIU’s Adjunct Action site.

  98. 98
    Bicarbonate is back

    #88 Sally

    The problem is, before we can do any of that, we essentially need to overthrow the government, or something about that drastic.

    Yep. Agree. But not just in the U.S. Now what?

  99. 99
    SallyStrange

    Pipe dreams aren’t going to change a thing. I work in Minnesota and live in Wisconsin, and am acutely aware of what a difference it made in 2010 to elect a Democrat governor rather than a Republican. Start at that level, it’s far more doable than a revolution at the moment.

    I didn’t mean to make it seem like a pipe dream. I believe it is achievable, and by the methods you describe: first electing officials to local, municipal, county, and state government, and going on from there. It is going to take a lot of hard work, but it is possible.

    My pessimism only kicks in when I consider the limited time frame we have to deal with climate change.

  100. 100
    viggen111

    United States is flatlining its research budget and building more sophisticated bombs, instead.

    Oh shinnagans, you hypocrite. This is not an either/or slippery slope. The vast majority of the U.S. budget is being vented into social programs that you ideologically support. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself and ask yourself what the difference is between “mandatory” and “discretionary.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_United_States_federal_budget

    You think we should be spending more money on research? It can’t only come from the piggybank you don’t want to put money into.

  101. 101
    David Marjanović

    Um…

    Oh, so the U of Chicago is private? I guess their problems are just like those of the Field Museum, then.

  102. 102
    SallyStrange

    And, to be clear, electing officials to national government who actually represent their constituents’ interests rather than those of their big donors WOULD be a revolution of sorts.

  103. 103
    Ingdigo Jump

    The arguments that boil down to “Such degrees are useless and those jobs don’t exist because they’re useless” has a really really disturbing implication.

    Things like humanities, specialized sciences, and arts are “unimportant” don’t go for those jobs, don’t try to do that. No one should try to do that. What does this imply? Either a) that those domains are only for the affluent, the aristocrats and appeasements shouldn’t bother because they’ll just embarrass themselves or b) capitalism says such things should not exist. Our resources shouldn’t go to them. Everyone should do something ‘practical’. It’s a bizarre call to subsistence living mixed with the worst elements of industrialization. Production is all that maters. Nothing else is important. That which is not important should be excised. It’s almost like arts and humanities and science are things capitalism can’t control so it wants to stomp them out or colonize them. Imagine what a world that would be if everyone took that advice? It’s a world devoid of art or literature, everyone is either a producer or a “business man” (aka people paid to be in charge of producers) . Can anyone imagine or want a world that doesn’t have people producing our art or literature? It sounds fairly nightmarish to me; almost as if art and media is the only escape some people have from their daily life and now the system is trying to cut off that escape. For lack of a better term, it’s soulless

  104. 104
    David Wilford

    My pessimism only kicks in when I consider the limited time frame we have to deal with climate change.

    Yeah, I am but a frog in a warming pan of water myself. I’ve been aware of climate change since the mid-1980s thanks to taking a course in global modelling at a public university and we’ve long ago gotten the necessary scientific signal that we’re indeed responsible for the planet getting warmer. The problem is what sort of political signal will it take to get us all to do something about it? IMO, it’s going to take the same level of political action that we witnessed during the civil rights movement to change enough minds to effect a change in our use of fossil fuels.

  105. 105
    cdds

    #93.

    By trying to defend the practices of American colleges towards adjuncts in spite of counter-arguments by people who actually work in academia, you look increasingly like an idealogue and an insensitive jerk.

    Did I get the quotes right this time?

    I tire of repeating myself. I am not ‘defending’ the adjunct system (see several earlier comments). Moreover, I am not the one perpetuating the system by taking such a position (in fact, I made a point of not doing so when I had the chance). Chew on that for a minute.

    For those of you fighting to change the system — I wish you the best.

    For those of you who just enjoy the emotional outbursts — enjoy your group therapy.

    For those of you who are serious academics looking for a productive career — take a long hard look at supply and demand before investing an inordinate amount of time, money, and sweat. Yell and scream if it makes you feel better, but heed my warning.

    And I’ll try not to hit myself with the doorknob on the way out.

  106. 106
    Ingdigo Jump

    You think we should be spending more money on research? It can’t only come from the piggybank you don’t want to put money into.

    Factually it can. ESpecially if Military spending is really bloated. or some like the whole shadow budget is either unethical or unnecessary

  107. 107
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Cdds

    Gee, it’s almost as if people don’t like the White Savior model.

    “Hey i’m not in your field and don’t know you personally but let me explain all about your situation to you”

  108. 108
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Oh, and in related stories, I love the quotes from the administrator in this article about adjunct organizing at Tufts. Referring to the emails the administration sent out to adjuncts that angered many, dean James Glaser:

    Glaser said that the emails were meant to clarify legal concepts, given that this is a major decision for faculty.

    “We felt obligated to provide as much information as we could about the legal implications of unionization and collective bargaining and what it might involve,” he said.

    Because they care. They’re just that thoughtful. It’s like the union-busting equivalent of a required ultrasound.

    Also, a victory for unionized faculty rights at the University of Oregon. If anyone thinks this isn’t as much about power as it is about money, they’re very much mistaken.

  109. 109
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Fixed:

    Oh, and in related stories, I love the quotes from the administrator in this article about adjunct organizing at Tufts. Referring to the emails the administration sent out to adjuncts that angered many, dean James Glaser:

    Glaser said that the emails were meant to clarify legal concepts, given that this is a major decision for faculty.

    “We felt obligated to provide as much information as we could about the legal implications of unionization and collective bargaining and what it might involve,” he said.

    Because they care. They’re just that thoughtful. It’s like the union-busting equivalent of a required ultrasound.

    Also, a victory for unionized faculty rights at the University of Oregon. If anyone thinks this isn’t as much about power as it is about money, they’re very much mistaken.

  110. 110
    Bicarbonate is back

    #105 cdds

    Some regulars here are indeed opting out of academia. Go over to the Lounge, it’s a current topic, people are talking about why they are doing it. It is because the prospects are not good.

    What you are saying is stuff people know. You are getting attacked here because despite what you say about what you wish (“If I could wave a wand..) the language you use “supply and demand” makes it seem inevitable and natural rather than the result of political choices. Political choices not just about funding of academia in particular but the ensemble of those choices that effect where the money goes.

  111. 111
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Glaser told the Daily in an email that the university would accept the results of the election but fears a union would lead to administrative difficulties and a more confrontational relationship with part-time staff.

    “We prefer that quiet, clubby atmosphere in which we make all of the decisions and they have no say. The relationship that got them a five-year salary freeze. Confrontation is so vulgar and unpleasant. Think of what this will do to civility.”

  112. 112
    No One

    I am using it as an example of academic knowledge that most people undervalue because they don’t understand its importance.

    Such as Governor Rick Scott of Florida with his quip about Anthropology? Or perhaps Governor Sarah Palin and her quip about fruit flies? This is the problem right there. Ignorant, under-educated, “tow the line” fuck-wits in power.

    “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” – Jonas Salk (creator of the Polio vaccine)

  113. 113
    rowanvt

    I went through a vet tech program at a community college. I had to apply to get into it, and only about 1/3 of applicants were accepted because of a lack of *room* and *teachers*.

    The demand was there. Very much there. Even the non-vet-tech classes I went to would have 20 or 30 people asking to be put on a wait list in case people dropped out.

    The demand is there. We need more colleges, and less football/baseball stadiums. We need to make college affordable again. But why do that when for-profit colleges can squeeze supply down to a bare trickle and charge thousands of dollars a semester for it? It’s not “more demand = more supply”, it’s “more demand = less supply = higher tuition = PROFIT!”

    Our population is *growing*, but our supply of teachers is getting smaller.

  114. 114
    Epinephrine

    @Indigo Jump

    It’s a world devoid of art or literature

    I’m not arguing that there isn’t a use for study of art or literature, but do you really think that people would stop producing art and literature if university study of these things were to stop?
    Many authors and artists don’t have degrees in those fields. Many of those who study such things aren’t particularly gifted in those fields (e.g., art history is an interesting field, and the art history majors I know certainly enjoy art, but they aren’t artists.) I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that if we weren’t pushing degrees in the arts and humanities that literature and art would disappear.

  115. 115
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Removing support from art, literature (etc) departments is ultimately to the detriment of society because those fields will become the domain of those who are independently wealthy.

    Meaning, the person who (with an amount of lifetime support that is negligible in comparison to the DoD’s monthly budget) could be the next Picasso/Hemingway but won’t realize that potential in the absence of that support, will do something else. This is ultimately to the detriment of not just that one frustrated artist, but to all.

  116. 116
    Duth Olec

    Pfft, money. If I wanted money, I wouldn’t have gotten an English degree!
    No, I’m after something more important than money. that’s right fame

  117. 117
    Bicarbonate is back

    Epinephrine #114

    do you really think that people would stop producing art and literature if university study of these things were to stop?

    No. But Indigo Jump was responding to ccds who at #61 and elsewhere did broadside the humanities with his

    having a PhD in ancient french literature is only marginally marketable.

    Yes, it’s true that

    Many authors and artists don’t have degrees in those fields.

    But I think of Ezra Pound who went to college but refused to take any requirements for graduation or get a degree but discovered the Troubadour tradition (relatively ancient and definitely French or in any case Provençal) that so inspired him.

  118. 118
    Ingdigo Jump

    I’m not arguing that there isn’t a use for study of art or literature, but do you really think that people would stop producing art and literature if university study of these things were to stop?
    Many authors and artists don’t have degrees in those fields. Many of those who study such things aren’t particularly gifted in those fields (e.g., art history is an interesting field, and the art history majors I know certainly enjoy art, but they aren’t artists.) I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that if we weren’t pushing degrees in the arts and humanities that literature and art would disappear.

    It’s the act of devaluing them.

  119. 119
    futurechemist

    @60

    So this was referred to over in the Utterly Shameful thread, but here’s a bit of good news.

    The American Chemical Society, which accredits college chemistry departments, has updated their rules for what a department has to do in order to win such accreditation.

    I did some more looking. Those are actually the 2008 American Chemical Society rules. The 2013 proposed rules go even further at phasing out adjuncts.

    “requiring that 80% of the lecture courses leading to certification be taught by full-time, permanent
    faculty OR requiring that 80% of the individuals who are teaching the lecture courses leading to certification be fulltime, permanent faculty.”

    Though my personal experience has been that adjuncts are a much more significant problem in the humanities compared to the sciences.

  120. 120
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I’m happy to be corrected there, futurechemist! Here’s hoping ACS enacts those rules, and other orgs follow suit.

  121. 121
    SallyStrange

    I tire of repeating myself.

    Poor, poor diddums. Keeps saying nasty things, and then says them over and over again when people express disgust and anger. You must be exhausted!

    I am not ‘defending’ the adjunct system (see several earlier comments).

    When you paint the system as something that’s a natural inevitable result of implacable and rational market forces, you are effectively defending the system. Perhaps you didn’t mean to convey a defense of the system. If so, you failed at communicating your non-defense of the system.

    Moreover, I am not the one perpetuating the system by taking such a position (in fact, I made a point of not doing so when I had the chance).

    Blaming the people with the least power in the system for perpetuating the system is also effectively a defense of the system. The people perpetuating the system are the ones with the power. That’s not adjuncts.

    Chew on that for a minute.

    Tasteless, no nutritional value. Blegh.

    For those of you fighting to change the system — I wish you the best.

    Except you don’t, not really. Apparently you think people who pursue academic careers out of love, and also express discontent with the lack of economic justice in the system are to blame for the very lack of justice they’re complaining about, and your version of “wishing the best” to those trying to change it is fatalistic shrugs about “Well this is just the way things are, don’t you realize that this is just the way things are?” Yes obviously people realize that, otherwise they would not be objecting. See how that works? TL;DR: you’re not helping and your well-wishing is not in evidence.

    For those of you who just enjoy the emotional outbursts — enjoy your group therapy.

    You have a problem with emotions, Mr. Spock? Don’t see why we can’t both fight for change AND express, say, anger at the status quo and its defenders (such as yourself). Seems to me that some sort of negative emotional response to the status quo (and its defenders) is a prerequisite to getting up the energy to change it.

    For those of you who are serious academics looking for a productive career — take a long hard look at supply and demand before investing an inordinate amount of time, money, and sweat. Yell and scream if it makes you feel better, but heed my warning.

    This is the sort of thing that blatantly contradicts your claim of a.) not liking the current system and b.) wishing well to those who want to change it. You must have an extremely low opinion of the intelligence of those who are interested in academic careers. As if the first thing one hears upon announcing the intention to go into an “impractical” field isn’t “But how are you going to make money?” As if pissant defenders of the status quo weren’t a dime a dozen. Why should people heed your warning? What good will it do? The fact is that we really do need smart people with the education and skills to solve complex problems, for example, climate change, not to mention systemic political reform. You’re actually encouraging people who are talented and interested in pursuing those endeavors to do something less useful for their society and for humanity, because it will probably make them more money, at least in the shorter term. And of course, belittling people for supposed “outbursts” is just mean. Is meanness a useful skill in this economy? Must be, otherwise you wouldn’t be so good at it, huh.

    And I’ll try not to hit myself with the doorknob on the way out.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  122. 122
    consciousness razor

    David Wilford, #29:

    And the guitars these days cost far less than they used to for better instruments that you used to be able to get. Yes, a lot of them come from China but you can still get U.S. made guitars for a very reasonable price too. The problem as I see it is that interest in playing music in the U.S. is declining and eventually we’ll see a cratering in the number of producers and sellers of musical instruments. But right now it’s a good time to buy a guitar.

    Guitars have become increasingly popular in the past 60-70 years, because of artistic and aesthetic change, in our culture as well as others. The technology (not just for electrics but also acoustics) is also relatively cheaper than it used to be, and the businesses are generally much more industrialized. The people who make guitars for the large manufacturers, even though it takes a significant amount of skill and training, don’t get paid much compared to what a local mom-and-pop luthier used to get. They can churn out lots more of them, when only a few people at the top make most of the profit.

    None of that is simply “supply and demand.” Also, there’s no evidence whatsoever that interest in playing music in the U.S. is declining.

    cdds, #34:

    I hear a lot of screeching and minimal understanding of my point. I am not arguing that the invisible hand of the marketplace is the answer to everything. If I could wave my magic wand, the highest paid people in the US would be firefighters and first-grade teachers. Professional sports would not exist and Hollywood starlets would make minimum wage. But, that is not the reality. Nor is it the reality that universities are adequately funded. Again, I’d love to wave the magic wand and make it different, but I can’t.

    All you have to do is not accept “the market” as an answer. Doing that does not require a “magic wand.” Reality is what it is, yet it can be different than it is now, so long as enough people realize how pointless your inane fucking counsel of despair is. If you really do want it to change, stop pretending to yourself that it’s impossible, then stop spreading that bullshit to everyone else.

    Epinephrine, #114:

    I’m not arguing that there isn’t a use for study of art or literature, but do you really think that people would stop producing art and literature if university study of these things were to stop?
    Many authors and artists don’t have degrees in those fields. Many of those who study such things aren’t particularly gifted in those fields (e.g., art history is an interesting field, and the art history majors I know certainly enjoy art, but they aren’t artists.)

    Stop producing it altogether? No, but what’s the point? Would people stop studying the natural world, if all university science departments were closed? No, they certainly wouldn’t, but it would still be fucking catastrophic.

    And you do realize that many artists and movements and artforms are heavily influenced and supported by universities, right? Being “gifted” has nothing to do with it. Being “classically-oriented” has nothing to do with it. Many communities depend on what little the universities can do, to the extent their funding isn’t already completely gutted, because they have don’t have the infrastructure or the organizational networks to do it themselves.

    And the “study” of them, not just their production, is valuable in itself, as you seem to admit. Humanists have understood for several fucking centuries now that art’s future depends on understanding its past. We won’t get development if everyone’s pig-ignorant about what art is already out there, and how and why it was made.

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that if we weren’t pushing degrees in the arts and humanities that literature and art would disappear.

    Who’s pushing what? The people saying “don’t get a degree in that, because there’s no point” or the ones saying “get a degree in that, if you want”?

  123. 123
    unclefrogy

    And we do it for dirt cheap because we love our work, so why are people demanding that we do it for less?

    because they are ignorant, resentful and greedy

    uncle frogy

  124. 124
    Inaji

    Epinephrine:

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that if we weren’t pushing degrees in the arts and humanities that literature and art would disappear.

    For every person who thinks like you, it’s another penny taken away from the arts. People who think as you do are the reason that arts are not only continually underfunded, they are cut completely from one school after another – and no, I’m not talking about universities. The arts are vital to humanity, and there are a fucktonne of children who are aching with the need for artistic expression, and have no outlet, no means of learning, nothing. Children who lean towards the arts already feel like outliers. How is the constant demeaning and devaluing of the arts helping here? How is cutting funding to the arts in favour of the constant shoveling of money into sports helping?

    Your attitude is poison, and it hurts many people, be assured of that.

  125. 125
    vaiyt

    The devaluing of arts courses always brings with it the devaluing of art itself. Of course, if culture is too esoteric to pursue a formation in, that means it’s not valuable as a career choice, only as a hobby.

  126. 126
    Rich Woods

    The market is not a fairy that delivers what you need, it’s a beast that pares down life to minimal calories and barest shelter and just enough education to do your work.

    I want this on a t-shirt. Unfortunately I’d have to put a bit more weight on to make it easily readable.

  127. 127
    David Wilford

    @122:

    Guitars have become increasingly popular in the past 60-70 years, because of artistic and aesthetic change, in our culture as well as others. The technology (not just for electrics but also acoustics) is also relatively cheaper than it used to be, and the businesses are generally much more industrialized. The people who make guitars for the large manufacturers, even though it takes a significant amount of skill and training, don’t get paid much compared to what a local mom-and-pop luthier used to get. They can churn out lots more of them, when only a few people at the top make most of the profit.

    What has made a difference in the mass production of guitars has been CNC (computer-numerical-control) technology. Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitar fame started using CNC machines in the late 1980s to produce guitar necks and then other parts in far less time and with no decline in quality. Other manufactures later followed suit and you now can get a much better quality guitar at the lower end than you could thirty years ago. For beginning players it’s a boon to be able to afford a decent instrument that sounds better and is easier to play than the Sears and Roebuck guitars that were what you could afford back in the 1960s.

    None of that is simply “supply and demand.” Also, there’s no evidence whatsoever that interest in playing music in the U.S. is declining.

    The demand was there, but it’s now being better supplied. It’s really a win-win for all involved. As for the general interest in playing music, that’s just my subjective opinion.

  128. 128
    consciousness razor

    For every person who thinks like you, it’s another penny taken away from the arts. People who think as you do are the reason that arts are not only continually underfunded, they are cut completely from one school after another – and no, I’m not talking about universities.

    Agreed. Primary and secondary education are seriously important too (wasn’t trying to neglect them above). And they’re connected with universities, in some obvious and not-so-obvious ways. For one thing, art, music and literature teachers don’t just spring up out of the ground. They are made at universities. Lose university arts curricula, and you’ve lost primary and secondary arts education too, whether you want to or not.

    Of course, you’ll probably still have a large “supply” of coaches with nothing to teach, and some remaining “demand” for art classes (until people forget what that means). So you could just give the jobs to them, whether or not they know what they’re doing. It’s not like there’s anything to learn in those classes anyway. And hey, don’t blame me: I’m just telling you about “reality.” </supply&demand>

    Besides that, many university-supported arts programs are for the benefit of the entire community, but especially younger children (or their school systems). Elementary and high schools just can’t do that shit by themselves, nor can a municipal government. And private/charitable institutions? Not a chance.

  129. 129
    consciousness razor

    The demand was there, but it’s now being better supplied.

    Do you understand how little this actually says? You could say “supply and demand” about literally anything, because it’s so stupidly fucking simplistic, while in the process miss all kinds of factors that don’t conform the model you just pulled out of your ass.

    It’s really a win-win for all involved.

    Not for the people scraping by making the fucking things. Do you notice how “supply and demand” makes it seem like everyone wins, if you’d only just ignore all of the ways so many people get screwed over badly by the system?

    As for the general interest in playing music, that’s just my subjective opinion.

    There is a fact of the matter about it. You are either wrong or not wrong. That it’s your subjective opinion has no relevance to any such fact. If this is just a way of saying “I don’t care whether I’m wrong,” then you’re bullshitting. So it would be more honest if you just said “I’m bullshitting.”

  130. 130
    Epinephrine

    Caine, Fleur du mal:

    For every person who thinks like you, it’s another penny taken away from the arts. People who think as you do are the reason that arts are not only continually underfunded, they are cut completely from one school after another – and no, I’m not talking about universities. The arts are vital to humanity, and there are a fucktonne of children who are aching with the need for artistic expression, and have no outlet, no means of learning, nothing. Children who lean towards the arts already feel like outliers. How is the constant demeaning and devaluing of the arts helping here? How is cutting funding to the arts in favour of the constant shoveling of money into sports helping?

    Your attitude is poison, and it hurts many people, be assured of that.

    You don’t know my thoughts. I encourage the arts; I was countering the statement that if we didn’t have these programs we’d have a world without literature and art. It’s simply not true. I didn’t advocate cutting of funding to arts in schools (or even in universities), merely stated that without these art wouldn’t disappear. And it wouldn’t. We had art and literature before there were universities, universities are not required for art to flourish. I have no use for sports (as a part of university education; I enjoy a good game of ultimate or a jog as much as the next guy), and expressed earlier my frustration with coaches being the best paid public employees.

  131. 131
    David Wilford

    @129:

    The demand for *better* instruments was there, but it wasn’t being adequately supplied because skilled luthiers couldn’t make them at the price that the vast majority of beginning players could afford. So they had to make do with guitars that sounded dead, had poor intonation, and were harder to fret. Those cheapo guitars weren’t made by skilled craftsmen, they too were made on assembly lines working to a blueprint using cheap materials that they could afford to waste when errors were made. Now that technology has made producing parts more precise, there is less waste and better quality materials can be used, with the big improvement being solid tops instead of plywood.

    As for people being screwed by the system, tell that to those workers who make automobiles using robotic technology. Yes, it takes fewer workers now than it used to to make a better car, but those workers are better paid. One hundred years ago half the labor in the U.S. was employed in agriculture, now it’s more like four percent and food is cheaper than it was back then. If’ that’s being screwed by the system, hey, I’ll take it.

  132. 132
    brianl

    PZ, you miss the point, which is destroying higher education.
    Look what happened when the country was fat and happy and made university level education available at a low cost to essentially anyone who wanted to pursue it (gross oversimplification–work with me). Hippies. Free speech movement. Equality movements for blacks, women, gays, and other undesirables. There was a moment when the whole educated society thing almost worked, too.
    The organized right has been funding think tanks for over forty years to shape the direction of study in academia. Forty years ago, they were the fringe. Now they’re the Deans.
    I vividly remember the day I first heard the whole line of “the student is our customer” bullshit since it was foisted on higher ed and began undermining education by treating it as a consumer good.
    I wish I had a solution, but I don’t. I do know it’s getting worse. Scariest of all is the “school isn’t worth it” meme that’s grown from the fringe to the mainstream in less than five years.
    This is deliberate. US Higher Ed is being destroyed because there’s a group of people who did not like the way it turned out the last time we tried the whole let’s have an educated population thing. Now kids are being forced to go into indentured servitude to have any hope of getting a job (this includes union (or formerly union) trades that are now based around the vocational school market instead of apprenticing).

  133. 133
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    cdds #34

    I hear a lot of screeching and minimal understanding of my point. I am not arguing that the invisible hand of the marketplace is the answer to everything. If I could wave my magic wand, the highest paid people in the US would be firefighters and first-grade teachers. Professional sports would not exist and Hollywood starlets would make minimum wage. But, that is not the reality. Nor is it the reality that universities are adequately funded. Again, I’d love to wave the magic wand and make it different, but I can’t.

    Ah, good old TINA , the song sung by assholes, greedheads, and sociopaths since the 1980s. As wrong now as it was then, but that would require acknowledgeing that policy is actually a changeable thing.

    viggen111 100

    Look for yourself and ask yourself what the difference is between “mandatory” and “discretionary.”

    An act of Congress. That’s all it would take to make, say, research funding “mandatory” rather than “discretionary.” That’s also all it would take to make Social Security “discretionary,” for that matter, although it would be a bad plan. See above, regarding policy not being magically set in stone. Did you have a point?

    It can’t only come from the piggybank you don’t want to put money into.

    It certainly can, given that there’s no need nor justifiable use for 90% of our military apparatus, so moving funding from there to domestic priorities would have a net beneficial effect on the economy, whereas further degrading the social safety net will have negative effects on the economy. You see, not all spending is exactly equivalent. I know this is a hard concept for you to grasp, but you’ll look like so much less of an idiot if you at least try.

    rowanvt113

    But why do that when for-profit colleges can squeeze supply down to a bare trickle and charge thousands of dollars a semester for it? It’s not “more demand = more supply”, it’s “more demand = less supply = higher tuition = PROFIT!”

    And this perfectly illustrates the problem that jackasses like viggen and cdds refuse to acknowledge. The problem is that education is a form of infrastructure, and optimal levels of infrastructure fundamentally cannot operate at a profit, and therefore should not be expected to.

    brianl132
    Also, this.

  134. 134
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    And this, despite great performance reviews as a TA for the last five years, is why I am entering the private sector when I graduate next year with my second Masters–as a heavily quantitative social scientist (emphasis on methods) with an MFA and a background in programming.

    I really like teaching, but I’m not going to starve my family to do it (local going rate is ~$1000/month per class, you can’t get more than 3 classes unless you’re tenured; they’d rather hire another adjunct with no insurance and no compensation package).

  135. 135
    consciousness razor

    You don’t know my thoughts.

    You evidently don’t know Ingigo Jump’s. You took that one statement out of context, then used the most exaggerated and literal interpretation you could come up with, which if you understood and agreed with Ing’s line of thought you’d know is irrelevant. What do you think that says about what your thoughts probably are?

    I encourage the arts; I was countering the statement that if we didn’t have these programs we’d have a world without literature and art. It’s simply not true.

    How much art needs to go, before you’d be fully satisfied that the world is “devoid” of it? The word can just mean “lacking,” so let’s suppose it’s something just shy of all traces of art being completely wiped from the face of the planet. Would you agree that the disappearance of whole art communities, arts education, and perhaps even whole artforms, makes a (relative) “void” of art where it would’ve been otherwise?

    I mean, technically even screwdrivers and ballpoint pens are art, and when people write user manuals for a microwave, that’s literature. So even if we did get rid of everything most people normally construe as “art” (i.e., fine arts and crafts, etc.), you’d still have room to quibble about it, assuming you’re willing to ignore what Ing actually meant.

  136. 136
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    And, since I’m discussing it, do you know who teaches 2/3 of the undergraduate courses in the two departments I’ve been in so far?

    Graduate students. The admin only has to pay us $740/month per class, and they can override the course limit of 2 per semester (and have, in my department. There are graduate students teaching as many as 4 courses, including stats labs.) We’re a great savings to the university, and if we fail our classes, who cares? Just allow the department to accept nearly anyone who applies.

  137. 137
    Ichthyic

    And, since I’m discussing it, do you know who teaches 2/3 of the undergraduate courses in the two departments I’ve been in so far?

    It was 80% when I was at Berkeley, and that was over 20 years ago.

    It was sufficient numbers to shut down the university for 3 days when we went on strike to get health care benefits.

  138. 138
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    Ichthyic: We’re not that organized, unfortunately. I’m a little surprised–I know a few hard sciences students who, on top of their teaching duties, were also expected to do things like pick up their professor’s dry cleaning (my partner was a physics grad student here–this was his experience.) Or being kept as a graduate student in order to finish some prof’s pet project despite finishing studies (a French engineering PhD who needed someone to complain to during a break in a required seminar on research ethics for people who use human subjects.) I’m not even going to get into the reams of sexual harassment complaints I’ve heard about.

    There’s more than enough outrage and things to be outraged about, but not any sense of solidarity. The only reason I know about incidences like these is because people seem to like to tell me about their problems. I get to hear about more dirty laundry than a team of professional cleaners. And unfortunately, I’m the kind of person who stays troubled by it and remembers it in the long term.

  139. 139
    A. R

    Now that is a good question. It’s one that we should be rigorously asking instead of training in some esoteric discipline assuming that the jobs will be plentiful.

    Really? It should be noted ccds, that I’m rather unhappy with certain people here (you know who you are), and I had decided to stop commenting, but this little turd has me pissed off enough that I’m going to say fuck it to that. I’m a virologist working on emerging high-lethality viruses like Ebola, Nipah, Lassa, and Marburg. Mine is not an “esoteric discipline” it’s one that is vitally important in the fight to prevent the next pandemic. I have a friend who works on Avian Influenza transmission. Is her work “esoteric”? There SHOULD BE “plentiful” jobs in these fields, and they should pay damn well, because if you want people to go into them, you have to make sure that it doesn’t involve them having to starve through 10-12 years of post-secondary education and end up with loans in the tens of thousands. As last I checked, my undergrad was charging $48,000 per year. Many, if not most people in the US don’t make that in a year. Oh, and by the way, there are about forty people on the planet who do the kind of work I do. We aren’t exactly “glutting the market” of whatever nonsensical phrase it was that you used earlier.

  140. 140
    unclefrogy

    the arts = culture.
    I do not mean culture to mean high art I mean all culture is art and is informed by “high art” and can be characterized by art as to which culture (country) it came from
    to down play art to De-emphsize is to down play one of the most important thins we as humans do.
    I will go further and say that those who call for the reduction in emphasis of the arts are advocating basically anti-human policies. Man does not live by bread alone is not just a platitude it is a psychological truth.

    Another aspect of a healthy culture is the education of the young into the ways of the culture.
    For the last 40 years there has been a steady assault on all levels of education from preschool to universities often in the name of budget constraints.
    The essence of the argument seems to be that we can not afford this type civilization any more, which seems rather self destructive.
    such happy thoughts!
    uncle frogy

  141. 141
    pygmyloris

    #100

    Oh shinnagans, you hypocrite. This is not an either/or slippery slope. The vast majority of the U.S. budget is being vented into social programs that you ideologically support. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself and ask yourself what the difference is between “mandatory” and “discretionary.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_United_States_federal_budget

    You think we should be spending more money on research? It can’t only come from the piggybank you don’t want to put money into.

    Can you read? The largest portion of discretionary spending is on the military. It’s right there on the chart.

    Social security is the largest social program. It is completely paid for currently by dedicated payroll taxes, but there will be a n “rising shortfall” to start over the next few years. Also, it’s important to remember that a large part of our debt service goes back to the federal government, in particular the Social Security Administration, since the largest single holder of our debt is “our government”.

    The complete lack of understanding of the federal budget is really irritating.

    Besides, state budgets are where most of the money for public colleges and universities comes from. My old university is losing tenure-track professors like rats off a sinking ship because the state government consistently underfunds the university.

    And, since I’m discussing it, do you know who teaches 2/3 of the undergraduate courses in the two departments I’ve been in so far?

    Graduate students.

    That’s been my experience at a research university. I believe adjuncts are more common at smaller colleges and regional universities where there are many programs that do not offer graduate degrees, and therefor, there are no graduate students to teach the classes. Of course, community colleges seem to exist mainly on adjunct labor.

  142. 142
    pygmyloris

    Oops, I messed up that first link.

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43649

  143. 143
    ck

    left0ver1under wrote:

    Meanwhile, the average tuition at a Canadian college or university remains reasonable, and the salaries of full time instructors livable. Is it any wonder Canada has the highest percentage in the world of adults with college degrees? The tuitions listed on the Statistics Canada site are only about 40% more than I paid back in the early 1990s:

    While Canada is not as bad as the U.S. is, things are still getting worse here, as well. Probably the only thing preventing Canada from following the U.S. in lockstep is the fact that so much of our populace is highly educated, and actually demand that our politicians fix problems rather than merely reduce taxes. The Quebec student protests (or “riot” if you read and believe Québecor Média tabloid papers and “news” stations) is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen in the U.S in my lifetime (I’m 30).

  144. 144
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    pygmyloris: I’m aware it’s standard practice at research universities. It’s just bad practice. You can teach as a graduate student at my university and go three years between reviewers showing up in your class to see what the hell you’re teaching, and our preparation for teaching is substandard.

  145. 145
    Marc Abian

    I’m completely agree with cdds’ first post. There’s too few academic jobs for everyone who wants one, and if people will do a job for such low wages then low wages will continue to be offered.

    PZ

    No, it isn’t, actually. We’re starved for faculty. We lose someone to retirement, and it takes two or three years for the replacement position to be authorized by the higher-ups; enrollment increases, we don’t get new faculty, existing faculty are just told to work harder. We just got our first new faculty line in years this year (hello, immunologist!), and we’ve needed her for ages.

    Isn’t this just a basic misunderstanding of what demand means? If you’re not actually authorised to hire then the demand isn’t there. If a person starving has no money the demand for food isn’t there, as far as the law of supply and demand goes.

    By the way, I fucking despise you assholes who trot out “supply and demand” as the magical explanation for everything. It’s the solution that

    Unless there’s some background on cdds I’m unaware of you’re jumping into is/ought fallacy.

    Ichthyic #73 (on being asked for specifics about how cdds was a liar)

    it’s right there, in the post, for anyone to read. you can’t read apparently.

    Is it also right there in the post for anyone to actually quote?

  146. 146
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    There’s too few academic jobs for everyone who wants one, and if people will do a job for such low wages then low wages will continue to be offered.

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with the need for permanent faculty, and the paying of benefits to those who do work part time. Whoosh, you free marketeers keep missing the picture.

  147. 147
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    If a person starving has no money the demand for food isn’t there, as far as the law of supply and demand goes.

    Then the so-called “law” of supply and demand is not something we should wish to base a society upon.

  148. 148
    Jerry

    Marc Abian in comment 145 said:

    If you’re not actually authorised to hire then the demand isn’t there. If a person starving has no money the demand for food isn’t there, as far as the law of supply and demand goes.

    That does not mean the college doesn’t need to hire people nor that people aren’t starving. It means the “law” of supply and demand is not taking into account real world factors outside of its’ model, which is a flaw in the model (law). It is being distorted by other factors such as a drain of resources to e.g. college sports or admin (hiring) or wars or tax cuts (both). The “law” of supply and demand does not explain what is happening in real life, so it is the *model* which should be set aside as unfit to explain reality, not the other way around.

    This is called an “own goal”, where the argument you make actually favors the other side. This is also why progressives call them gLibertarians vice Libertarians, because simplistic and glib comments are not realistic, but are glibly put forth as the answer to everything. Abian and ccds are wrong to use supply and demand- the world is more complicated and the solution to this problem requires other solutions than ‘market forces’. A sense of humanity and empathy would help. A sense that people starving due to the mindless mantra of ‘tax cuts’ when the country throws out tons of food every day is *wrong*; that people dying when we have the medical system to help, but will not due to University profits is *wrong*. Market forces or supply and demand can’t explain it and will not fix it, so people damned well should.

  149. 149
    rowanvt

    Isn’t this just a basic misunderstanding of what demand means? If you’re not actually authorised to hire then the demand isn’t there. If a person starving has no money the demand for food isn’t there, as far as the law of supply and demand goes.

    No, not really. Because the head of the college is the “supplier”, and we students are the “consumer”. The number of students goes up, demand for classes increases, therefore demand for teachers. But the supplier says “Nope, gonna stay the same number of teachers AND we’re going to raise the price.” And because these people want an education, they pay the price, and they get on class wait lists.

    The colleges are like companies that sell diamonds and even gasoline to a degree; they control the outflow of the resource entirely and so can make it cost whatever they want. They could release more supply, but then the price might have to go down from astronomical to merely ridiculous and that’s just not cool.

  150. 150
    dogmeat

    CDDS,

    As many have suggested, you are being overly simplistic with your market argument (note: this comes from someone who teaches economics). In the case of academics, universities have increasingly replaced full tenured academics with lecturers and adjuncts because they often weren’t allowed to hire fully qualified replacements. That isn’t an issue of supply and demand, that is an artificial limitation placed upon the labor market due to outside considerations. Universities are knowingly sacrificing quality because of these outside considerations. A prime example comes from my own academic experience. 15 years ago I was finishing my first MA and prepping to go on towards my doctorate. At the same time I was doing so, my mentor was retiring. 40 year academic record, more than a dozen books, chair of the department at multiple times, mentored and taught more graduate students than he even knew. Because upper administration wouldn’t allow it, they “replaced” him with three graduate lecturers. It wasn’t because there wasn’t demand for a full professor, it wasn’t because there was more demand for entry level instruction, in fact the opposite was true, they had a shortage of professors qualified to teach graduate courses and were turning away graduate lecturers who were trying to get positions teaching 100 and 200 level classes. It was purely a top-down administrative position.

    When I saw that, I shifted from upper academia to secondary education. What I see in the K-12 “market” is just as bad and just as idiotic. Wages have been frozen because state governments simply don’t want to pay for anything, nothing to do with supply and demand in the labor market, all about outside influences on the revenue available. Classes are overcrowded, teachers overworked, and the turnover rate is roughly 10% every year. The people we’re losing are highly qualified, often exceptional, you know, the people that the market is supposed to value and reward? The people we’re replacing them with, while they have potential (that’s why we hired them in the first place), don’t have the same level of ability. To make matters worse, we often lose them about the time they start approaching the level of ability of that first person we lost. In the end it is a cycle where the net result is that the person in that class room is less and less qualified with each repetition of the cycle. We then see a new cycle in which they argue that the public schools are “failing” so they argue for charter and voucher schools where the results haven’t been shown to be any better than in the public sector and where the wages are even worse with a correspondingly higher turnover.

  151. 151
    Rey Fox

    tl;dr:
    “Supply and demand” is not a law of the universe.
    Even if it was, you’re still getting it wrong.

  152. 152
    throwaway

    The way things ought to be cannot influence how things are because the marketplace is a force of nature and there is nothing we puny mortals can do to influence it or make it more equitable so give it up fleshlings! Iä, Iä! Aynrand fthagn!

  153. 153
    unclefrogy

    the “law of supply and demand” looks like it is a pricing method as practiced.
    With success being measured by who has the most control of the process. If you can control the price and the availability you win.profit.
    Is education just a business to gain power and wealth by simply supplying a service?
    Why does an I-Phone sell for what it does?
    uncle frogy

  154. 154
    Marc Abian

    In the case of academics, universities have increasingly replaced full tenured academics with lecturers and adjuncts because they often weren’t allowed to hire fully qualified replacements. That isn’t an issue of supply and demand, that is an artificial limitation placed upon the labor market due to outside considerations. Universities are knowingly sacrificing quality because of these outside considerations.

    Why does it matter if a limitation is artificial or natural or free range? No matter the cause of it, it ultimately means decreased demand right? And in your example the administration were in charge of the demand right? Like if for example, all the ladies who love expensive shoes got fired simultaneously for showing up late, demand for expensive shoes would decrease right? And the price would fall? Even though they still like fabulous shoes just as much

  155. 155
    Marc Abian

    The way things ought to be cannot influence how things are because the marketplace is a force of nature and there is nothing we puny mortals can do to influence it or make it more equitable so give it up fleshlings! Iä, Iä! Aynrand fthagn!

    Except no one here has said that.

  156. 156
    unclefrogy

    except it has been implied supply and demand are market forces and were the reason for the state of education employment.
    Using supply and demand as the the metric to measure and evaluate education implies that money is the highest value by which to judge
    uncle frogy

  157. 157
    cdds

    #152.

    The way things ought to be cannot influence how things are because the marketplace is a force of nature and there is nothing we puny mortals can do to influence it or make it more equitable so give it up fleshlings! Iä, Iä! Aynrand fthagn

    Ironically, I have been saying the exact OPPOSITE of this. Folks just can’t seem to get past the words ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ without a lot of spurious assumptions.

  158. 158
    Jerry

    cdds in 157: Of all of the replies, many thoughtful and one from an economics professor, you choose to reply to the Satire?!?! At least Marc Abian (also) replied to the prof. He ignored the points made, but at least he tried.

  159. 159
    Marc Abian

    except it has been implied supply and demand are market forces and were the reason for the state of education employment.

    The sheer amount of people willing to get paid peanuts to work in academia is a reason why they’re paid so poorly. Do you think it isn’t?

    Using supply and demand as the the metric to measure and evaluate education implies that money is the highest value by which to judge

    I don’t even know what that means. Supply and demand is how price is determined. How can we use it to measure education? Do you mean the price of education?

  160. 160
    unclefrogy

    we talk about access to education generally, we talk about race and racism in conjunction with education, we talk about what to teach like creationism, we talk about safety issues.
    By we I mean society, we have all heard these discussions.
    The one we are talking about now involves money primarily does it not . All through the process money looms high.all subsidies are under threat (except sports of course).
    The cost is complained about it is too high for the State or the federal budget to sustain tax payers complain,. the cost is too high for the students.
    All of that is about money. The Universities are thought of as poor if they operate at a lose.
    It is the money that is the focus not the social role they play. While we complain about the high cost of our defense budget and will be complaining about the security budget when ever we figure out what it might be we pay it because while it costs money and a lot of it we judge that the purpose warrants the expense. We do not look at education like that at all the overriding rule in practice seems to be what it costs not the outcome an educated population.
    As has been pointed out supply and demand the wages payed are manipulated by “management” and not for any improved result a better education but only in order to keep the amount of money spent as low as possible. so yes money is the metric by which we judge educations success in practice. and like many modern businesses practices it they manage for the short term
    uncle frogy

  161. 161
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Marc Abian
    Econ 101 is not sufficient to make you an expert.
    145

    …if people will do a job for such low wages then low wages will continue to be offered.

    This is one of the standard failures of the TINA crowd to accurately model reality, as it assumes an infinite supply of other jobs for which someone is qualified, and no significant competition for said jobs, and ignores the fact that in a society as lacking in social safety nets as our even a short period of unemployment can lead to homelessness or death. More generally, it is a case where free choice is assumed by the model , but does not exist in reality due to the need of people to eat etc. This means that wages do not actually operate according to Econ 101 descriptions of supply and demand, and helpfully illustrates why an indifferent showing in an Econ 101 class is not sufficient expertise to not make a fool of yourself when discussing the topic.

    Isn’t this just a basic misunderstanding of what demand means? If you’re not actually authorised to hire then the demand isn’t there

    There is, but it is on your part. In addition to what I noted above, you are failing to accurately identify where they are occurring. There is a quite large demand for the services of academics and teachers: A large number of people are willing and able (if only through taking on debt) to pony up considerable amounts of money to receive education and training. That’s the demand portion of the equation. The supply portion is artificially bottlenecked by administrators and governing boards who refuse to take the money they’re being offered and hire sufficient staff to meet the existing demand.

    Unless there’s some background on cdds I’m unaware of you’re jumping into is/ought fallacy.

    We’ve heard this bullshit enough times that we know the tune when the opening notes play.

    #155

    Why does it matter if a limitation is artificial or natural or free range?

    Bluntly, this is the stupidest question I’ve seen today, except for the nonsense that followed it. The point is that depending on what’s causing the bottleneck, different actions have to be taken to change it, and the consequences of it may be different. This should be blatantly obvious to anyone with the brains of a barnyard chicken.

    #159

    The sheer amount of people willing to get paid peanuts to work in academia is a reason why they’re paid so poorly. Do you think it isn’t?

    Yes, that is precisely what we’re saying. As I described above, wages are not fully subject to the ‘law’ of supply and demand (which isn’t a lawper se, but a descriptor of a particular subcategory of economic activity within certain boundaries.) In a situation where capital is primarily controlled by a small part of the population and the remainder are reliant on wages, there is no ‘free’ market, because the power imbalance between employer and employee is such that the employer has the power to set prices for labor. The only way to redress this imbalance is labor organization and collective bargaining , aided by a robust social safety net. Or, of course, movement to worker cooperatives, which would eliminate the power imbalance in question entirely.

    I don’t even know what that means. Supply and demand is how price is determined. How can we use it to measure education? Do you mean the price of education?

    Within certain limitations this is broadly correct, but there are many, many assumptions built into this, including a lack of externalities. In the case of education, for example, there is a large positive externality created by an educated population. As even a 101 level understanding of economics will tell you, markets underproduce things that cause positive externalities, because it is impractical for the producers to capture the economic benefits thereof. Thus, leaving such things up to the market results in an economically and socially suboptimal level of them, and that provided at an excessive cost (excessive in the sense that the personal benefit to the payer is less than the price they pay, despite a net economic benefit which is greater; we all benefit from having civil engineers more than any particular civil engineer benefits from being one, let alone paying to become one). Another word for these things that produce positive externalities (as I mentioned back in 133, as you’d know if you’d bothered to read the thread) is infrastructure. This category also includes things like roads. In order to get levels of infrastructure that maximise total benefit, you cannot leave it up to the market. This is one of the big reasons why governments and taxes exist: to provide and pay for infrastructure. So, you see, to move back up to the bottleneck in supply, the problem is that the state governments have been shirking their duties and cutting infrastructure funding in favor of ‘market solutions’ pushed by right-wing crypto-fascists. So, when you and cdds come in here blithering about supply and demand, you are demonstrating that you know nothing about the topic, and that you at least tacitly support the aforementioned crypto-fascists, because otherwise there is no good reason for you to be parroting and defending their talking points.

    cdds 157

    Ironically, I have been saying the exact OPPOSITE of this.

    Then you’ve been doing a piss-poor job of getting your point across, whatever you think that ‘point’ is.

  162. 162
    Marc Abian

    This is one of the standard failures of the TINA crowd to accurately model reality, as it assumes an infinite supply of other jobs for which someone is qualified, and no significant competition for said jobs, and ignores the fact that in a society as lacking in social safety nets as our even a short period of unemployment can lead to homelessness or death.

    I don’t assume any of that. Gravity can lead to death too, but it still exists. You’re reading what I wrote, which is descriptive and about a proximate cause of the current system, and seeing value judgements which aren’t there.

    A large number of people are willing and able (if only through taking on debt) to pony up considerable amounts of money to receive education and training.

    And they’re ponying up that money right now, to colleges which don’t supply them the well paid permanent staff we both think should be there, so I don’t think the demand is there really. Though, of course, I believe that the college bosses are the ones who do the demanding in this case.

    We’ve heard this bullshit enough times that we know the tune when the opening notes play.

    Apparently not.

    Bluntly, this is the stupidest question I’ve seen today, except for the nonsense that followed it. The point is that depending on what’s causing the bottleneck, different actions have to be taken to change it, and the consequences of it may be different.

    The question was asked in the context of whether the demand existed or not, so what actions have to be taken to change the demand are irrelevant. It may well be a stupid question, but it remains unanswered.

    The only way to redress this imbalance is labor organization and collective bargaining

    What do you mean? Like the workers coming together and refusing to work for such low pay? How would that work? After all, what you’re precisely saying is that the sheer amount of people willing to get paid peanuts to work in academia isn’t a reason why they’re paid so poorly.

    Econ 101 is not sufficient to make you an expert.

    Actually the things I know about economics come from what you would call high school and from the internet.

  163. 163
    gakxz1

    Hi PZ. Can greatly sympathize with this post, well said. I’m a physics doctoral student, with hopes of some day being a professor (if I’m so lucky): publishing papers, teaching classes. If money was my motivator (though I have to say, it doesn’t hurt), I would’ve chosen… anything else. I suppose when you’ve wanted to be a physicist since middle school, there’s no other substitute…

  164. 164
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Actually the things I know about economics come from what you would call high school and from the internet.

    Which is why you are missing very important points. Like working for a university/school system/government is absolutely not the same as working for a private enterprise, subject to rapid market swings. The swings are much slower and predictable. Which is why there is absolutely no need for temporary workers to fill a void, that SHOULD be filled with full time workers with benefits. Which is why your ignorant and superficial analysis is ignored.

  165. 165
    Ichthyic

    I suppose when you’ve wanted to be a physicist since middle school, there’s no other substitute…

    no other equivalent substitute.

    That said, I highly recommend you develop an alternative skill set, just in case.

    mine was computer and networking tech.

    and photography.

    and nonprofit management.

    I hope you get your wish, truly I do. But it would be beyond risky not to develop at least something else you can do.

  166. 166
    Ichthyic

    Gravity can lead to death too, but it still exists.

    so, supply and demand is now a universal physical law.

    riiiiighttt….

  167. 167
    Marc Abian

    NoR

    Which is why you are missing very important points

    The only point I could be missing only applies to a pedantic question about what demand is. Is it from the students, or from the hiring bodies?

    there is absolutely no need for temporary workers to fill a void, that SHOULD be filled with full time workers with benefits.

    You’re preaching to the choir, or cheering to the pep squad if you prefer. Of course I think there should be full time workers with all the benefits. Overworked underpaid adjuncts are used only because it’s cheaper, and damn the consequences. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are too many people who want to be academics, and lots of them are willing to get paid very little. I think that it’s obvious that that contributes to the current situation.

    Ichthyic

    so, supply and demand is now a universal physical law.

    The comparison with gravity was to illustrate why appeals to consequences were not valid. Sorry if it confused you. Incidentally, you still haven’t actually pointed out where cdds was lying.

  168. 168
    carlie

    The other thing usually not accounted for in discussions of adjuncts is the number of stresses that a large group of adjuncts place on the university. The easiest to notice is the amount of extra work it places on the HR department, having to renegotiate and process every adjunct contract every semester. But another effect that is almost never mentioned is the amount of extra work it places on the full-time faculty that are there. There is a set amount of work that has to be done for collegewide accreditation, program accreditations, state program assessment, general education assessment, curriculum oversight and development, academic policies and procedures, special program development, student recruitment activities, student retention activities, searching/hiring/reappointing personnel activities, etc. All of that has to be done by full-time faculty, and the fewer there are in proportion to the adjuncts, the higher the load on those faculty to do all of that stuff instead of research or focusing on their own teaching. When a college relies heavily on adjuncts, students don’t only suffer from those adjuncts being overworked, they suffer from the full-timers also being overworked because there aren’t enough of them to get all of the jobs done that nobody else ever notices but would shut the college down if left undone. (and the types of universities that are cheap enough to rely on such an adjunct pool also are the ones who refuse to give any release time or extra service pay to the faculty doing all of those extra jobs).

  169. 169
    Anri

    Marc Abian:

    But that doesn’t change the fact that there are too many people who want to be academics, and lots of them are willing to get paid very little. I think that it’s obvious that that contributes to the current situation.

    So – just so I don’t misunderstand you – you believe schools are overstaffed?

  170. 170
    Marc Abian

    So – just so I don’t misunderstand you – you believe schools are overstaffed?

    I believe the opposite of that. I’m completely behind everything written in the OP, and with what cdds wrote in post number 5. I’m saying that mismatch between the amount of people who want to be academics and the amount of academics being hired is driving down the conditions of the jobs. That’s completely obvious. The only way it wouldn’t apply is if there were regulations enforced to keep the working conditions above a higher standard so that people wouldn’t be able to accept such poor conditions even if they were willing, something which I am very much in favour of.

  171. 171
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    gakxz1,
    Like you, I decided I wanted to be a physicist at the ripe old age of 12 years. I dallied a bit with history, chemistry, even psychology, but only physics kept me fascinated.

    Initially, I wanted to go the academic route. Then I saw what it was like. At major universities, faculty get little chance to do actual science as they chase funding to support poorly paid post docs and grad students doing the actual science. At small colleges, course loads are high and increasingly there is pressure to bring in research dollars and run “world-class” labs with piddly-shit resources.

    Ultimately, I went the applied route. I was able to find an area of research that was interesting to me, but still in demand, and I am well paid for it. Ultimately this worked for me because I was able to find something in a field that interested me.

  172. 172
    Ichthyic

    Incidentally, you still haven’t actually pointed out where cdds was lying.

    step 1. go back to the post where I accused him.

    step 2. find the quotes I posted in his previous missives.

    step 3. compare what he said in his first post, with the post I took the quote from.

    step 4. logic, use it, fuckhead.

  173. 173
    Ichthyic

    The comparison with gravity was to illustrate why appeals to consequences were not valid

    it actually shows the exact reverse.

    do you have any clue, any idea at all what you’re talking about?

  174. 174
    Ichthyic

    I believe the opposite of that. I’m completely behind everything written in the OP, and with what cdds wrote in post number 5.

    then you understand neither the OP, nor what Cdds wrote.

    the two are at odds, or did you not understand that given the reply by PZ immediately after the first post by cdds?

    wow.

  175. 175
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    The only way it wouldn’t apply is if there were regulations enforced to keep the working conditions above a higher standard so that people wouldn’t be able to accept such poor conditions even if they were willing, something which I am very much in favour of.

    Well, what’dya know? Cdds’s “shrug, it’s supply and demand, that’s life” turns out to be not only wrong in its implication, but easily fixed by a few ethically based laws and regulations.

  176. 176
    Marc Abian

    Oh I think I see. You think there’s a contradiction between thinking

    The market is glutted with too many overqualified academics who will work for a pittance. As long as that is the case, they will be paid a pittance

    and agreeing that the jobs market is being distorted by departments not being allowed to hire all the staff they feel they require.

    I also believe both of those things, and that you should have given specifics when asked for specifics.
    I believe that even if departments were allowed to hire as much people as they require there would be too many people wanting to get into academia for them all to get into it, so pointing out how much demand for staff is being artificially depressed doesn’t change anything for me, though it is absolutely relevant to the topic of the OP and more important to discuss than what I’m focusing on, which I consider trivially obvious, almost tautological.

  177. 177
    Marc Abian

    it actually shows the exact reverse.

    Just so I’m clear…

    I said there are too many people willing to accept poor wages hours etc.
    Someone took issue with this and started talking about homelessness and death
    I made the point that just because something is undesirable doesn’t mean it isn’t true and made the comparison with gravity which we all believe in, but has bad consequences*
    And instead of proving that appeals to consequences are a fallacy, it actually proves the opposite i.e. that appeals to the consequences are valid arguments against the factual accuracy of something.

    That’s what you’re saying?

    then you understand neither the OP, nor what Cdds wrote.

    I definitely understand the OP. I’m pretty sure I understood what cdds’ #5 said.

    the two are at odds, or did you not understand that given the reply by PZ immediately after the first post by cdds?

    I certainly understood that PZ thought they were at odds, and I’ll concede that cdds’ actual position might be at odds with PZ’s (though I’ll only believe that when cdds confirms it despite the fact that his later posts did move towards being at odds), but I disagree that what’s written in cdds’ number 5 is necessarily at odds with what PZ thinks, because I agree with both. I think people are looking at the words supply and demand and jumping to conclusions.

    *Admittedly this isn’t perfect because gravity’s good points outweigh its bad, but this is the kind of thing people do in conversations

  178. 178
    Ichthyic

    Just so I’m clear…

    you evidently are simply unable to be so.

    I think you tried being as clear as you could when you implied using gravity as an analogy was arguing against using an appeal to consequences.

    but since gravity, unlike supply and demand, is not a construct, and not subject to modification, it actually indeed suggests the reverse. you CAN argue from an appeal to consequences quite rightly.

    like you can argue the limitations of free speech by using an appeal to consequences of someone shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

    so, yes, you failed. That was indeed clear.

    I definitely understand the OP. I’m pretty sure I understood what cdds’ #5 said.

    saying so doesn’t make it so.

    I certainly understood that PZ thought they were at odds

    you mean you understand NOW, or you misinterpret NOW?

    (though I’ll only believe that when cdds confirms it despite the fact that his later posts did move towards being at odds

    clear as fucking mud.

    run along.

  179. 179
    Marc Abian

    saying so doesn’t make it so.

    By pointing out the obvious you’re losing all the time you gain from not using the shift key appropriately.

    but since gravity, unlike supply and demand, is not a construct, and not subject to modification, it actually indeed suggests the reverse. you CAN argue from an appeal to consequences quite rightly.

    like you can argue the limitations of free speech by using an appeal to consequences of someone shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

    The limitations of free speech isn’t a fact, it’s something we decide on. We don’t get to decide on the law of supply and demand, though we can decide on the supply of and demand for something.

    Take a second to remember that you’re arguing against the idea that it takes a whole bunch of people willing to be be paid poorly for a whole bunch of people to be paid poorly.

    you mean you understand NOW, or you misinterpret NOW?

    It would be quite odd if I wrote understand when I intended to write misinterpret.
    I understand now, and understood initially.

    though I’ll only believe that when cdds confirms it despite the fact that his later posts did move towards being at odds

    I’ll rephrase.

    though I’ll only believe that when cdds confirms it, despite the fact that his later posts did make it seem more likely that his position is at odds.

    run a long

    Cutting stuff.

  180. 180
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Marc Abian #162

    And they’re ponying up that money right now, to colleges which don’t supply them the well paid permanent staff we both think should be there, so I don’t think the demand is there really.

    See, if you’d been paying attention to the discussion on this topic, you’d have noticed the people talking about programs turning away students for lack of instructors to teach them. Thus, we can see that the total demand for educational services is larger than the current supply

    The question was asked in the context of whether the demand existed or not,

    Which, as has been noted, it does, but there are bottlenecks in the supply chain that are completely unrelated to demand, which is what you keep missing.

    What do you mean? Like the workers coming together and refusing to work for such low pay? How would that work?

    See, there are things called Unions. Say it with me now, unions. Perhaps you have heard of them? If not, then I strongly recommend you remedy your ignorance before you try to have this sort of discussion.

    After all, what you’re precisely saying is that the sheer amount of people willing to get paid peanuts to work in academia isn’t a reason why they’re paid so poorly.

    FFS, you jackass, are you actually capable of reading for comprehension? Wages are not determined by the ‘law’ of supply and demand. Employers have sufficient power in the existing system that they can dictate prices regardless of the number of people in the employment pool. It is not at all clear that there currently are enough skilled academics in the U.S. to fill the actual demand at any wage, but regardless of the number of workers available, the institutions can pay what they feel like unless there is law or a union to stop them (if you’ve been following this discussion, you’ll recall that DuQuesne has engaged in union-busting to prevent people like Vojtko from having representation, for instance)

    Actually the things I know about economics come from what you would call high school and from the internet.

    That explains a lot, actually.
    #167

    The only point I could be missing only applies to a pedantic question about what demand is. Is it from the students,

    The fact that you think this is a pedantic question underscores your incomptence to discuss economics at a meaningful level. You just come in and shout “Supply and Demand!” without the slightest conception of what the terms mean even in contexts where they’re relevant (which contexts you also can’t identify).

    I think that it’s obvious that that contributes to the current situation.

    Yes, you’re just wrong.
    #177

    I said there are too many people willing to accept poor wages hours etc.

    And I pointed out that the concept of ‘willing’ is essentially meaningless in a wage economy, because oftentimes there is no viable alternative to taking whatever wage is offered, and you ignored that point because it doesn’t fit your ideology.

  181. 181
    Marc Abian

    See, if you’d been paying attention to the discussion on this topic, you’d have noticed the people talking about programs turning away students for lack of instructors to teach them. Thus, we can see that the total demand for educational services is larger than the current supply

    You’re talking past me here. I don’t think it matters how much the students want teachers, it matters how much the guys hiring the teacher want teachers.

    See, there are things called Unions. Say it with me now, unions. Perhaps you have heard of them?

    See there are these things called rhetorical questions. If the sheer amount of people willing to get paid peanuts to work in academia isn’t a reason why they’re paid so poorly, unions can’t work. Unions are only effective precisely because they control the supply of workers.

    Wages are not determined by the ‘law’ of supply and demand.

    Disagree. Obviously there may be employers who are happy to pay more than they could get away with and minimum wage laws and stuff which are additional factors determining wages.

    Employers have sufficient power in the existing system that they can dictate prices regardless of the number of people in the employment pool.

    Absolute nonsense. If everyone bar 6 people withdrew from the employment pool, there would be massive competition among employers to get those people. They’d offer big wages, fancy cars, those blue cupcakes they have sometimes.

    The fact that you think this is a pedantic question underscores your incomptence to discuss economics at a meaningful level.

    It is a pedantic question. Is the word demand relating to the people hiring or the students who ultimately get taught? In the end it is no matter, because the people hiring decide on the wages.

    And I pointed out that the concept of ‘willing’ is essentially meaningless in a wage economy, because oftentimes there is no viable alternative to taking whatever wage is offered, and you ignored that point because it doesn’t fit your ideology.

    If someone has no viable alternative then they’re willing. Very simple.

    Also, you don’t know anything about my ideology.

  182. 182
    SallyStrange
    Employers have sufficient power in the existing system that they can dictate prices regardless of the number of people in the employment pool.

    Absolute nonsense. If everyone bar 6 people withdrew from the employment pool, there would be massive competition among employers to get those people. They’d offer big wages, fancy cars, those blue cupcakes they have sometimes.

    The fact that employers have sufficient power to set wages regardless of demand is “absolute nonsense” because you can imagine a hypothetical scenario that most reasonable people can agree is not at all likely to happen in reality?

    That’s not very convincing for your thesis that the notion that employers have the power to set wages is “absolute nonsense.”

    If someone has no viable alternative then they’re willing. Very simple.

    If someone has no viable alternative then the notion of “will” with its comcomitant expectation of the ability to exercise said will freely and without compulsion is meaningless. One might as well say that enslaved Africans were “very willing” to kill themselves in the cotton fields, since they had no viable alternatives for survival.

    Also, you don’t know anything about my ideology.

    We can extrapolate based on what you’ve written. So far, it seems pretty victim-blamey, resistant to systemic analysis, and supportive of the fucked-up status quo.

  183. 183
    carlie

    If everyone bar 6 people withdrew from the employment pool,

    AND DID WHAT, EXACTLY?

  184. 184
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Marc Abian, #181

    Wages are not determined by the ‘law’ of supply and demand.

    Disagree. Obviously there may be employers who are happy to pay more than they could get away with and minimum wage laws and stuff which are additional factors determining wages.

    So you disagree that wages are not determined by the law of supply and demand.

    But you also want to state that wages can’t be predicted based on the law of supply and demand because the ethical principles of employers, minimum wage laws, and “stuff” affect wage levels.

    this word, “Disagree”. Perhaps it does not mean what you think it means.

  185. 185
    Marc Abian

    It is not at all clear that there currently are enough skilled academics in the U.S. to fill the actual demand at any wage

    I’d be shocked if that were true. Every position being advertised over this side of the pond attracts many applicants. I know many PhD’s and post-docs who have left academia reluctantly after they couldn’t get a new position. I fear I’m soon to be one of them. Unless you mean something by skilled beyond qualified by possession of a PhD or several years post-docing experience, I’d be very surprised but delighted to believe this.

    a hypothetical scenario that most reasonable people can agree is not at all likely to happen in reality?

    I don’t make the rules. This is what I was responding to

    Employers have sufficient power in the existing system that they can dictate prices regardless of the number of people in the employment pool

    If you’re saying it’s an employer’s market out there right now, I’ll agree completely. In fact, one of the reasons that’s true is because so many people want to work in academia, which is what I’ve been saying all along.

    If someone has no viable alternative then the notion of “will” with its comcomitant expectation of the ability to exercise said will freely and without compulsion is meaningless. One might as well say that enslaved Africans were “very willing” to kill themselves in the cotton fields, since they had no viable alternatives for survival.

    Yes, within the narrow definition I’m using here, I would say they were very willing.

    We can extrapolate based on what you’ve written.

    I know you can, and I know you’re doing it. But you’re very inaccurate.

    AND DID WHAT, EXACTLY?

    Whatever you want, it’s completely hypothetical.

  186. 186
    SallyStrange

    Yes, within the narrow definition I’m using here, I would say they were very willing.

    So you’re using a definition of “willing” to describe how workers relate to their employers that doesn’t exclude slavery.

    So, why should anyone listen to your opinions about this? You’re clearly not a moral person (or your masquerade as a severely ethics-challenged person is so convincing that there’s no point in finding out which option is the true one).

  187. 187
    carlie

    Whatever you want, it’s completely hypothetical.

    Then what’s the point? You’re assuming a spherical cow.

  188. 188
    SallyStrange

    Then what’s the point? You’re assuming a spherical cow.

    The main point seems to be that Mark is not wrong, even if the conditions under which he stipulates he’d be right could never happen in the real world.

  189. 189
    Marc Abian

    But you also want to state that wages can’t be predicted based on the law of supply and demand because the ethical principles of employers, minimum wage laws, and “stuff” affect wage levels.

    No, I don’t want to state that actually.
    Supply and demand affects wages and so does a bunch of other stuff.

  190. 190
    carlie

    And even in the hypothetical, that person already has a huge sunk cost in training to be an academic. They are not going to be competitive in getting any other job compared to someone of their age who has a degree and/or several years of work experience in whatever other career they are trying out, they are not going to be competitive with someone younger than them with similar lack of experience due to age discrimination, they will be deemed “overqualified” for any job that doesn’t require education, and they probably have student loan bills that may not be able to be deferred any longer and cost more than unemployment benefits would cover. Oh wait, fun fact: adjuncts aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits because they don’t get fired, they just don’t get a new contract after the old one is filled. Even in your hypothetical world, the decisions they have made to that point have closed most other employment doors to them.

  191. 191
    Marc Abian

    So, why should anyone listen to your opinions about this? You’re clearly not a moral person

    We’re not discussing moral questions. We’re discussing whether it’s true that the high amount of people who want to be in academia is part of the reason it’s such a shitty gig.

    Then what’s the point? You’re assuming a spherical cow.

    The spherical cow was assumed when I was told that “Employers have sufficient power in the existing system that they can dictate prices regardless of the number of people in the employment pool”

  192. 192
    Marc Abian

    Even in your hypothetical world, the decisions they have made to that point have closed most other employment doors to them.

    Who gives a shit? It’s a hypothetical world. It only exists to demonstrate how supply of employees affects wages.

    Ok. I’m out. Sorry for wasting everyone’s time, we’ve got nowhere. Cdds, if you can explain your position and settle my discussion with Ichthyic, I’d be interested.

    Goodnight all.

  193. 193
    SallyStrange

    Who gives a shit? It’s a hypothetical world. It only exists to demonstrate how supply of employees affects wages.

    Right, so basically you’re like, “X exists,” while we’ve been saying, “X is not sufficient to model reality.”

  194. 194
    Inaji

    Marc:

    Who gives a shit? It’s a hypothetical world.

    It must be nice to inhabit a hypothetical world. The rest of us have to give a shit, living in realityland and all that.

  195. 195
    carlie

    Who gives a shit? It’s a hypothetical world.

    You actually said that about an argument you were actually making on a post about an actual woman who actually died in part due to lack of support from her employer.

  196. 196
    cdds

    #192, Marc Abian.

    “Cdds, if you can explain your position and settle my discussion with Ichthyic, I’d be interested.”

    Marc, here is your response. The rest of you are welcome to read it as well. Maybe you can think of some new and creative insults about me (featuring random words in all-caps) for pointing out reality.

    Look gang, I made it clear in #34 that I’m not supportive of the current job market situation in academia and elsewhere. I also made it clear in #5 that supply and demand are real things in any market. Exactly what determines supply and what determines demand is up for debate. Is the academic market distorted because society is treating it as a short-term profit generator instead of as long-term infrastructure? Probably so. Am I happy about this? No. Again, I’m not in charge of the job market. Seriously. I’m not. But, the market exists. (Take a deep breath Sally, you’ll be okay).

    And the reality is that there is an overabundance of trained academics (supply) relative to the number of available jobs (demand for said academics). Or, you could say that the supply of jobs is far less than the demand for them. Anything controversial yet? Note to screechy people: look again and see if I’m claiming that this is a good thing. Hint: I am not.

    The harsh reality of the current job market is that many PhDs who thought that they could write their ticket to the ivory tower are finding themselves teaching way below their pay grade simply because there are too many people who will take any job in academia, even at absurdly low pay rates. As long as this is the case, pay will stay low.

    Again, I am not claiming that this is a good thing. Nor am I blaming the ‘victim’ who takes an adjunct position because it’s the best available option. I do not presume to tell anyone what to do with his/her life. I am simply pointing out reality — each of us contributes to the market through our actions, whether we like it or not.

    And for the record, silly little fishy, I DO have a tenured academic position. I also have sat on many hiring committees that looked through 100+ applications for one opening. Many of these people had multiple post-docs and adjunct positions — years and years of high-level training for an entry-level position. Again, this is the result of too much demand for jobs in short supply, regardless of the initial cause of the imbalance.

    Now, perhaps you can change the market through political pressure, organization, or something of the sort. I wish you the best in such endeavors. This approach is refusing to be a victim. As for me, I made a point to not contribute to the system by rejecting any low-paying adjunct positions. This approach is also refusing to be a victim, as well as a very small market correction.

    Alright, was there anything remotely controversial in this post? If so, then it is due to my inability to express myself, knee-jerk reactions to the words ‘supply’ and ‘demand’, or spurious assumptions about people who use such words. Or, perhaps some of you are bitter and taking it out on me. That’s fine. Whining affects me very little.

    More importantly: Marc, did I clarify things?

  197. 197
    cdds

    Obviously, any snark in the above post is directed at the screechers, not at Marc.

  198. 198
    SallyStrange

    Screechers? Why do you feel the need to describe the disagreements with that particular kind of emotionally laden language? What exactly strikes you as “screechy” about regarding “supply and demand” a vaguely useful but ultimately insufficient tool for modeling human economic behavior?

  199. 199
    Ichthyic

    By pointing out the obvious you’re losing all the time you gain from not using the shift key appropriately.

    cutting stuff.

    *yawn*

  200. 200
    Ichthyic

    And for the record, silly little fishy, I DO have a tenured academic position

    so does Michael Behe.

    still an idiot, and apparently doesn’t even understand the larger field in which he was trained.

    point being, conclusion is well warranted given the evidence YOU provided.

    still is, frankly.

    If so, then it is due to my inability to express myself

    just so.

  201. 201
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    cdds

    Let me see if I can make this clear. Whether there is a glut on the “market” or not, is not the issue. The issue is that those who are employed are being treated unethically.

  202. 202
    Ichthyic

    More importantly: Marc, did I clarify things?

    yes, because that was the really important part of your diatribe.

    LOL

    sad

  203. 203
    chigau (違う)

    cdds
    Nothing is “obvious”.
    Especially if you refuse to use Preview.

  204. 204
    Ingdigo Jump

    So much of this feels like someone insisting “Guns don’t kill people” and inventing elaborate hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate their point while the other side is pointing to the poor bastard who just got shot by a gun.

  205. 205
    Ichthyic

    ^^ +1

  206. 206
    Ingdigo Jump

    Another thing I was reminded of was in grad class for entomology and pest control one of the things hammered into us was the lesson

    “Invitro data, no matter how well collected and how well crafted the study, is completely fucking worthless without invivo”

    An example given (and going off top of my head so forgive me if details are wrong, the point is still illustrated) was researchers looking into treatment for parasite infections and found some wonderful invitro success with a common fungicide/herbicide chemical. It was cheap, already wildly manufactured and worked WONDERFULLY against a horrible disease. They sent a preview of their idea to the herbology department before publishing to have them look over it but were very excited, allegedly it came back with a single note of critique “Chemical causes serious kidney damage”. oups. It was a wonderful, brilliant, completly worthless idea

  207. 207
    Anri

    Marc Abian:

    I believe the opposite of that. I’m completely behind everything written in the OP, and with what cdds wrote in post number 5. I’m saying that mismatch between the amount of people who want to be academics and the amount of academics being hired is driving down the conditions of the jobs. That’s completely obvious. The only way it wouldn’t apply is if there were regulations enforced to keep the working conditions above a higher standard so that people wouldn’t be able to accept such poor conditions even if they were willing, something which I am very much in favour of.

    (bolded for emphasis)

    Ok, what’s this, then?

    But that doesn’t change the fact that there are too many people who want to be academics, and lots of them are willing to get paid very little. I think that it’s obvious that that contributes to the current situation.

    Too many for what?
    For the available positions?
    Isn’t that the definition of overstaffed?

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that there are plenty of lucrative jobs in academia. I believe what is being said is that the number of jobs in academia, lucrative or not, is suffering from an artificially imposed lack of demand by academic administration. It’s not Blind Market Forces Enforcing Their Harsh Reality On Poor Wide-Eyed Idealist Professors, it’s a conscious decision by actual people to not hire as many professors as colleges need to be effective places of higher learning.

    The money’s there (rising tuition and rising profits prove that). The students are there, the infrastructure is there. It’s a decision being made by people, industry-wide.

  208. 208
    cdds

    #210 Daz.

    The issue is that those who are employed are being treated unethically.

    That was clear in the original post. If a university offers an adjunct position with miniscule wages and nonexistent benefits, and gets 50 applications for it, it will continue to offer such positions. If it can drop the adjunct and receive 75 applications for a position with even lower wages, it will likely do so.

    Again, no one here is arguing that this is a good thing. It’s cruel market forces at work and we would be wise to realize such.

    # 198 Sally.

    Screechers?.

    See #s 25 and 49 for a good primer on screeching.

  209. 209
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Again, no one here is arguing that this is a good thing. It’s cruel market forces at work and we would be wise to realize such.

    No. We should realise that to bow to supply and demand as if it’s a law of the universe, and allow people to be treated unethically on that basis is unethical. Sitting back and shrugging, “It’s supply and demand, what can ya do?” is unethical.

    You don’t watch a person drown and say “Oh well, that’s buoyancy.”

  210. 210
    bargearse

    See #s 25 and 49 for a good primer on screeching.

    Well since those were both by the same person you really can’t use screechers as a plural. Also there was a lot more contempt than screech in those posts.

  211. 211
    Ingdigo Jump

    That was clear in the original post. If a university offers an adjunct position with miniscule wages and nonexistent benefits, and gets 50 applications for it, it will continue to offer such positions. If it can drop the adjunct and receive 75 applications for a position with even lower wages, it will likely do so.

    Again, no one here is arguing that this is a good thing. It’s cruel market forces at work and we would be wise to realize such.

    Hey if I keep beating my wife and she keeps coming back I’ll just keep doing it. It’s a market force

    Cause you know people are AI that only respond to the keyed in rules of the market. No one can choose to pay a decent wage.

  212. 212
    Ingdigo Jump

    What’s unethical bullshit about cdds is that he removes the moral agency of everyone, BUT the people hurt by the policy.

    Those who made the policy and continue it are as blameless, mere cogs. the people effected by it are the nasty nasty bunch who keep the system going don’tcha know. It literally is taking an abusive system and hiding the human element of one side.

  213. 213
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    So.

    Group A is saying, “This situation sucks.”
    Group B agrees, and offers a hypothesis as to causes.
    Group A says, “You’re oversimplifying the situation, but in any case, we should do something – possibly by doing X.”
    Group B protests. “Hey! You haven’t considered hypothetical Y! And besides, I’d rather keep padding my hypothesis.”
    Group A rolls their collective eyes and says, “Yes, yes, very well, but can we discuss what to do to improve the situation?
    Group B whines, “Why are you being so mean?”

    Have I missed anything?

  214. 214
    Jim Newman

    That’s cuz free market purists can’t allow that economies exist within social structures. That would reek of Marxism where labor value is distinct from labor service or labor power. More importantly the inevitable downward pressure on wages by those having the most power, those holding the capital, will always separate labor into a class struggle against their employers. Without some sort of balance of ethics there is no good reason not to continue lowering wages until slavery and even better if those slaves are from other countries so capital doesn’t have to bear the burden of raising a body until it can produce.

    But the one thing everyone agrees on is that this woman’s plight was a sad and lamentable situation, and representative of egregious value and behavior. What kind of mild sociopathy wishes to hijack this post to a discussion of whether it fits a model, follows the law of entropy, or some other reductive distraction from this empathetic eulogy to what we all seem to wish to change.

    Can we not put down this tedious and often droll support of variegated economics to acknowledge this woman’s situation for the horridness it is? Or must this funeral be accompanied by jesters, reminiscent of Westboro church, declaiming the victim for being too stupid to follow the money.

  215. 215
    Marcus Ranum

    Everyone should think to the future.

    Yup. There are a lot of “IT Automation” experts who experted their jobs right out of existence.

    I’m a bit more concerned by the folks who are building technologies for mass repression. They don’t seem to realize that they’re the customer base.

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