Tenure is under attack in conservative states. Republicans want to take a career that is already difficult to enter, demands extreme flexibility in where you can live, and doesn’t pay particularly well, and they want to make it even more unattractive, and they are finding that increased uncertainty means their university positions are harder to fill.
But I’m not going to try to defend tenure here. Instead, I was floored by this one comment:
Tenured university professors are the only people in our society that have the guarantee of a job,Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said upon passage of the bill.These professors claim ‘academic freedom’ and hide behind their tenure to continue blatantly advancing their agenda of societal division.
That’s not their agenda, so that’s a lie. More shocking, though, is the implicit notion that no one should have a guarantee of a job. We live in a society where everyone is totally dependent on a reliable source of income for food, housing, and health care, but you are not promised the means to obtain that income. They want your life to be precarious, because then they can control you. That threat of potentially losing the job you need to live is a powerful tool of manipulation, it’s the knife at your throat they can use to force you to accept lower pay, or terrible working conditions, or long hours.
Why shouldn’t truck drivers and welders and fruit pickers and make-up artists and poets and electricians and house movers be guaranteed a job? These are all positions that are in demand (oh, sorry, except for poets — but that just says there ought to be a way for people to live while doing art), so why can’t we, as a nation, agree that this pool of ability ought to be reasonably maintained by paying the people willing to do it? Let them have the power to demand the right to live because they’re willing to do the work.
I know, this is what unions are for. Republicans hate unions, too. Republicans want your life precarious so they can extract maximal profit from you.
This is a little bit personal. When I was growing up, my father was a mechanic, a skilled job that I couldn’t do, you probably couldn’t do, and that required a lot of hard labor to do. Employers played games with him all of his life, though. Boeing was the dominant employer in the region, and they’d constantly fine-tune their work force, letting people go on short notice, and then later re-hire them, only to fire them a little later. Life under that regimen was like being a yo-yo, and it wasn’t easy having to scramble to find a new job every 6 months to a year, and maybe accepting a lesser job that didn’t suit your abilities because you’ve got kids to feed. It kept the workers hungry and willing to compromise on pay, though!
That’s what Republicans want for everyone. Professors should all be forced into adjunct positions with semester by semester contracts; they should be doing academic piecework, cobbling together a curriculum and doing research in spaces they have to periodically take down and reassemble. That’s what they want for everyone, if we’re all living hand-to-mouth and at the mercy of our employers, that’s great for profit-taking. In the short term, anyway. It might compromise quality in the long run, but by then the managers will have extracted the wealth that pays for their mansions and boats and expensive cars, and that’s what matters.