Tuesday, January 29, 2013

first they quit?

It is of course absurd, unfair, and unoriginal to describe any recent shenanigans in American higher education to anything related to Nazi Germany, but Paul Fain's piece in Inside Higher Ed reminded me of this poem from my childhood.

Martin Niemöller: "First they came for the Socialists..."

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

They've already come for so many different kinds of "nonessential" workers on many different campuses, from adjunct instructors to garbage collectors to a guy I knew whose job with a college degree was to do all the laundry for another school's men's basketball team (20K, no benefits), and, thus, it's not at all surprising that online instructors are being let go. Administrators aren't gassing anyone, it's humane termination, so to speak, and by some criteria the benefits of not working seem to be on the rebound (Affordable Care Act, food stamps, etc.), but it's still a peculiar time we're in, and it's hard to know where it will all end, and what kind of United States we'll be living in when we get there.

And then again, the market is roaring higher, hundreds of thousands of jobs are going unfilled, and if we discount hundreds of thousands falling off the employment rolls then we've had positive job creation for several years. We'll see what this Friday's jobs numbers say. There's some rosy America out there where angry scientists don't need to teach classes at Marist, and adjuncts who quit find rejuvenation in a full-time job beyond the groves of academe. BRIC economies thrive and every discounted European worker flies away to find gainful employment! Perpetual growth is an unstoppable force of jobs and social justice!

Oh. You said, "contraction"?

Well, what else?

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