When Pigs Fly – How MBAs Scoff at Equal Pay for Equal Work

The universal declaration of human rights – slave wager or sustainable work

I’m thinking about education and inauguration, pomp and circumstance, the rippling waves of deceit, the smoke and mirrors of a nation inspired by small screen attached to the wrist vein. I’m thinking Twinkies and Doritos, all the puffed up words of “living an American Dream,” endless hours pushing shopping carts through the Disneyland of China-made junk, the lines of people hoarding the lines of give-away cheese and crackers.

I’m thinking these false promises of hope infecting even the sturdiest of activists – Beyond Hope, by Derrick Jensen really created a storm in my classes in Spokane when I used it as a read. Really pissed off the most vulnerable of us teaching at the community college: older, female, single adjunct faculty with a cross dangling around the neck.

 When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they—those in power—cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell—you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who depended on those who exploit you, the you who believed that those who exploit you will somehow stop on their own,  the you who believed in the mythologies propagated by those who exploit you in order to   facilitate that exploitation. The socially constructed you died. The civilized you died. The  manufactured, fabricated, stamped, molded you died. The victim died.

What a Party (family guy Obama retires at 10 p.m. to work on Tuesday’s Kill List) 

Alicia Keys, Exxon, all those unions footing the bill for the 10-hour DC extravaganza of inauguration in a country that still slops up hope in teary eyed wonder at how magnificent this union is, this empire that is so loving to its special people – CEOs like the heads of Goldman Sachs, DuPont, Chrysler, General Dynamics, Gates and Knight. Generals and club owners. Coaches and Boeing executives.

It’s still a small-thuggish country with unlimited firepower. Three dead due to a drone strike on the day after the Obamas danced and dined. The new movie, by someone I interviewed years ago on my radio show when he was promoting his articles and book on Blackwater, the mercenary terrorist security business headquartered in USA, says a lot about a Brave New World of Working for the Empire …. Dirty Wars: The World is a  Battlefield

Terror Tuesdays is another great manifestation of this grand old country’s kill list drone game, on game cards no less – you know, the new Vietnam mentality, and thanks to Nick Turse, Kill Anything that Moves, we have a renewal look at the American War in Vietnam which was a bloodbath blanched by ecocide, hit squads, drugs and alcohol induced mayhem, the complete dehumanizing of human beings in a country we invaded.

Weighing in on President Obama’s targeted drone strikes in the Middle East, journalist Jeremy Scahill  did not mince words.

During his appearance on MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes Saturday morning, Scahill repeatedly said  that such attacks, when they killed innocent civilians, amounted to “murder.” Asked by Hayes why he  would use such a “loaded” word to describe the strikes, Scahill responded at length.

“If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to send in AC130s to spray them down…”

“But that wasn’t the case here,” interrupted retired colonel Jack Jacobs. “You’re talking about a targeted person here.” Scahill continued:

“If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded clusterbombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do–the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen–those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to Al Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David  Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder–it’s mass murder–when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a  terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s  murder.”

Putting that into perspective, are we a nation really capable of tackling domestic economic terrorism? What’s Obama and Republicans and mommy-daddy CEO have to say about slave wages and at-will employment as the new normal? “Go get ‘em.”

Get that Teacher, a new game for an Empire on the Wane

So, yes, the day after benedictions and coronation, what does a lowly adjunct educator on the job market inching real close to 56 years of age do with all of this massively wonderful stuff from guys like Scahill who just a few short years ago was doing intern stuff at Democracy Now and had been refused entry into the Columbia School of Journalism?

Back to reality, the small issue of paying college teachers $7 an hour as microcosm of the bigger holes in the empire’s push toward a brave new world of work: “As Part-Time Faculty Wait for Payday, Peers Help Out With a Food Drive”

You can’t make up this stuff these days – people with graduate degrees, including doctorates, with years and decades individually as expert educators, teachers, college faculty following the gift of teaching and abiding by the wishes of those Obama acolytes, the administrators, all those municipal and state and county government officials, of all the business community Rotarians – educate more youth, make sure more youth graduate from college, get another 11 million graduated by 2020.

Get that jodie going –

Eleven Million by Twenty-Twenty. Yes sir, yes sir. Eleven mil by twenty-twenty.

Right. Left. Right. Left. Get that butt going, teach, teach, teach.

How about the US army’s Jodie for snipers:

Through the woods we were walking
Silently we were stalking
It was a one shot kill
From the top of a hill
Walking in a sniper Wonderland

Well, Obama, Build the Schools, and Adjuncts Will Come 

 Here’s Obama in Austin, Texas, three years ago admonishing adjunct faculty to do the job, on the cheap:

 It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have. It’s an economic issue when nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade. It’s an economic issue when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.

 

Ahh, the story in contrasts – what do I do with my two masters degrees? Wait tables with goatee and 56-year-old leftist’s perspective on consumption?

 Most top earners earned a college degree. But college-educated workers also appear in the  lowest-earning categories: Among those making $20,000 or less annually, 6 percent have  master’s degrees or higher, 14 percent have bachelor’s degrees, and 9 percent have associate’s  degrees; In the group earning between $20,000 and $35,000 per year, 5 percent have a master’s or higher, 15 percent have a bachelor’s, and 11 percent have an associate’s degree.

Ten percent of cashiers have an associate’s degree or higher and 23 percent more have “some college,” George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy writes. How many students choose to go to college anticipating a job as a cashier?

Youth, Enjoy the New Precariat Movement

So, back to the headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education, with some 48 comments weighing in –  many of which are absolutely, finally! … attacking the haters, attacking those who blame the victims for their plights in a broken market, so called free market, where top administrators get cash thrown at them, get the laurels for more unused buildings and parking lots built on those campuses, who laugh in the front row seats when Cats comes to town, who have these golden parachutes and take-away life insurance policies and whose job is to cut, cut, ax, ax, smear, smear to make their campuses run like Walmarts.

More adjuncts, precarious workers, at-will, easily-intimidated, thrown-to-the-side, marginalized detritus …  in many places around the country, they are not paid on time, with their sorry economic states not on the minds of HR and admin folk, with no provisos by all-knowing presidents making adjuncts’ underpaid statuses at least someone’s priority.

Instead, bake sales and food drives –

Faculty members at Kalamazoo Valley Community College are gathering nonperishable food  items,  gift cards, and cash donations in one of the lounges on the campus. But the collection  isn’t for a local charity; it’s for their colleagues.

The college’s part-time employees will not receive their first checks of the year until February 1,  and  many are struggling to make ends meet until then. Classes for the spring term began on January 7, and full-time faculty members were paid on January 15.

The Drug Called “Hope”

Ahh, yes, that miracle drug called hope. You know, having full-time faculty and a few others, including students, bringing Skippy peanut butter and Wonder Bread to campus for their, err, leaders, err, welfare state teachers.

Anyone got insulin to go with those cans of creamed corn?

When the drive began last week, they first distributed aid to employees who had the greatest needs.  “There was someone who has diabetes and won’t get through the month without insulin,” she said.  “She got a gift card.”

Some sick shit, and as a teacher who has done the hard living and hard teaching and low pay since 1983, I know this sort of story should be number one in all classrooms today, this week. All eyes on Nickle and Dimed – at least go to the author’s web site.

And listen to her presentation in Portland, “This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation.”

Have those students parse the realities of a nation, a war nation, wanting all those kiddies and youth educated by 2020, according to Mister Drone President.

You think we might be able to get some other disciplines involved, besides we poets and writers teaching lit and drama and basic writing?

How about the economics teacher on the realities of poverty and the new  brace world of work? You think those deans and admin types will approve this sort of edification? We want to pull the veil of blind hope from our youth before they get strangled by debt, pepper sprayed when demanding back wages from wage thieves, when they see the American dream as one endless shopping cart filled with donated items and Goodwill clothes?

Is there a structural (1) explanation of the disproportionate proliferation of low skill, low paying jobs? A  key to an illuminating explanation is the remark, in the New York Times last summer that “The disappearance of mid-wage, mid-skill jobs is part of a longer-term trend that some refer to as a  hollowing out of the work force…” (“Majority of Jobs Pay Low Wages”, Catherine Rampell, Aug. 30, 2012).

A “hollowing out” implies a polarization, an emerging structure of inequality within the labor market. The job market is bifurcating into high skill, high paying, advanced-education jobs at one  extreme, and low skill, low paying, low education jobs at the other. Disappearing are occupations in the .middle of the skill and pay distribution. Much research in recent years (2) throws light on this phenomenon and implicitly calls into question common explanations, that this job shedding is due largely to off-shoring and outsourcing, that it is concentrated in manufacturing and that is the result of a mismatch between skills required by employers and the skill-level of job seekers. The citation from Keynes … is closer to the truth.

“We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the  name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come – namely, technological  unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor.”  – John Maynard  Keynes, Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, 1930 See The Long-Term Jobs and Wage Picture

What about a political science teacher tackling this topic from the duopoly and oligarchy nature of America’s lobby-ruled war government? Or a health sciences instructor looking at the long-term physical effects of part-time employment under a scenario of bad nutrition and no health care? What about the psychology teacher looking at the short-term effects of mental stress on young and old people forced to take any job to pay off the money lenders’, AKA bankers’, YOU KNOW, the loan shark payola as in education debt?

A Community College in Michigan is No Place for hungry Part-timers with No Credit

Any number of ways to frame the basic issue of faculty, deemed the heroes in the Obama graphic novel, the Eleven Million by Twenty-twenty leaders, teachers, on food stamps? But, that headline is also both poignant and illustrative of our American warped dreamland. These people ARE the majority of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College – “ 80% of the faculty at Kalamazoo Valley are part-time adjuncts, and that’s up about 10% from 1995 – so the use and abuse of part-time adjunct faculty, again, is and has been the norm there, as it is nation-wide, and, after some forty years of this trend, it’ll not be long before almost all higher ed faculty are adjunct or contingent,” according to Alan Trevithick.

I’ll make this post short since the continuing story of low pay, no care, zero benefits, zilch for respect and the like will continue, unfortunately, to plague the realm of education and intellectualism; that is, this is the  influenza of our time – market-driven principles rule the realm, the holy consumer market, the creative class tsunami of what would be a new atmosphere created for knowledge economy workers while the rest of us end up perpetually treading water in the precarious job market.

The majority at KVCC, huh? The ruling majority? Powerful majority, uh? Nope.

A number of those part-time instructors work multiple other jobs to help them pay their bills, she said. The gap in paychecks from the college amplifies that hardship.

“I have no discretionary money to put aside for this,” said one part-time Kalamazoo Valley instructor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job. She said she lives from paycheck to  paycheck, trying to pay her student-loan debt and her monthly bills. “They don’t realize there’s a huge  number of us who depend on this as their sole income.”

As most of know, the very computer and worldwide net I am deploying for this DV piece have their long-term negative consequences on us, the writers and the teachers … part of the reason I am hitting a wall in the job market in Vancouver, WA, so close to Portland, but, still, a whole state away from another economy, based on the rice paper schemers looking at all sorts of magic from sustainability deals and green this and green that mentality.

We are part of the problem, but like Jensen says, we can’t individually recycle, reuse, reduce our way out of climate change and energy consumption and pollution. We have to stop technology in its tracks, or, else . . .

Nasser, again –

An office in the 1980s employing 40 people working without computers may require, in the early 1990s, only 4 workers using 4 computers. The productivity -output per unit of labor input- of the office can be further enhanced not by adding skilled workers nor by replacing less productive workers with more productive computers, but by replacing less powerful computers and software with more powerful ones. In the initial case, actual workers were replaced by computers. In the latter case  potential workers were kept out of the workplace by better computers. Thus the notable reduction in the demand for office workers.

Trash Hope, Resurrect What It Is to Be Human — Rebellion

So, maybe we absolutely need to give up hope and give action a go. Maybe we need to continue to hammer trolls and hammer the administration class and market-driven gurus and continue to demand and reclaim a different market, a different narrative, and just a different thinking process that says – pay us once a week. Pay us more. Pay us respect. Put the brakes on the stock whores and the financiers and One Percent destroying public commons, the public will, the public power:

Jensen, again –

 Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is  possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate  response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves  to  perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well,  the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a  great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting  for what (and whom) we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that  if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction—the use of any excuse to justify inaction—reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

Let’s Upset the Money Changers’ Tables and Toss Out the Metrics of HR, MBAs and Institutional Leadership Graduates

Let us rise above the cluttered desks of the HR personnel, above the chatter of feel-good VPs and presidents, above the chugging old “let the market rule the people” from clucking free market lovers. Starbucks gift cards, cans of Friskies, sacks of flour, and coupons for buy-one-all-you-can-eat-get-one-free for humans with real aspirations, real dedication to the community, unsung heroes with college degrees and the licks to help Obama’s dream of Eleven Million by Twenty-Twenty? Can’t do better than that?

Maybe the so-called Kill List that’s looked over on Terror Tuesdays is just a few steps away from the Who Is Next In This Economy to Die List, watched over by those on Free-market Fridays.

“And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for — don’t ask me I don’t give a damn
And it’s five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates
Ain’t no time to wonder why, whoopee, we’re all gonna die.”

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.