From PrecariCorps. This made my day.
As one of my Facebook friends remarked, “If PhD grads aren’t qualified to the point of being responsible for their labor mistakes, who is?”
Even if we accept for the sake of argument that most winners in the academic job market win by pure luck, the losers don’t become long-term adjuncts because of bad luck. They become long-term adjuncts because of their choices. They could quit any year and get any number of excellent jobs, such as working at GEICO. (I keep harping on GEICO because I worked there for a while. It’s an excellent company with a far more moral culture than any university I know of.) Though whoever made this is not good GEICO material. Perhaps Allstate.
Imagine in downtown Falls Church there’s a restaurant called Bob’s Steak or Poopburgers. Bob is a wonderful cook, but also a corrupt and nasty jerk. When you order a sandwich, there’s a 20% chance you’ll get a delicious steakburger, or an 80% chance you’ll get a foul poopburger. Now, if such a restaurant existed, I’d say Bob’s a real jerk. Still, I wouldn’t feel bad for the 80% of his customers who get the poopburger. They could just get up and walk away, and go to any of the other fine restaurants in Falls Church, such as Pizzeria Orso. No one’s making them eat the poopburger. If they eat the poopburger, that’s their fault. I can say that even if I think poopburger restaurants are bad and should be outlawed.
Let’s be clear what my position is with regard to what’s happening at universities.
1. I think Ginsberg’s public choice account of what happened at universities is basically right. Universities have been captured by administrators, and they tend to run things in ways that benefit themselves and those to whom they answer more than faculty or students. Universities suffer from all sorts of Niskanen-type problems and are in many ways highly corrupt. I’m not joking when I say that GEICO is the most moral organization I worked for, and that both universities I’ve worked for have far worse problems.
2. Most people who end up professional adjuncts chose to be victims. They either knew, or should have known A) that universities suffer from the corruption described in 1, and B) that their job prospects would be quite poor. Also, C) most professional adjuncts both could have taken a better paying job doing something else, and could get a better paying job now.
Notice that 1 and 2 are compatible. 1 is not evidence that not-2 and vice versa. So, yes, adjuncts, you are being fed a poop sandwich by a corrupt system. But for most of you, it’s your fault you’re eating it. They are wrong (blameworthy) for offering it to you, and you are wrong (blameworthy) for eating it.
Keep in mind, too, that if the Social Justice for Adjuncts movement succeeds, *most* current professional adjuncts will not get TT or other higher paying, more secure jobs in academy. The reason is that adjuncts are cheap and secure jobs are expensive. Instead, a small minority of them will get good jobs, and the overwhelming majority will be kicked out of academia altogether.
Anyways, I’ll let Tommy Victor have the last word (around 42 seconds in):