Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are one of the LumpenProf's newest favs, although an African-American old-time string band seems about as likely to me as an African-American President. Evidently, we live in amazing times. Just because they are so much fun, here's one more. Enjoy.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A very brief exchange over on Bardiac about the problem of low adjunct pay has been bothering me this week. Since it also touches on material from Marx I have been teaching this week, I decided to write a bit more on the topic.
In Marx's terms, the issue revolves around the difference between "labor" and "labor-power" and the way the wage tends to obscure this difference. I find this a difficult point to explain to my students. I find it an impossible point to explain to my colleagues. Here's why:
In the original post, Bardiac recounts baiting one of her lefty colleagues with the following provocation:
I was having a conversation the other day with Super Rad, one of my colleagues who's just too radical and cool for school, if you know what I mean. Super Rad talks a lot about interventions and commitment to revolutionary action. Standing in the hallway, leaning on the door jamb, Super Rad was complaining about how poorly the adjuncts are paid.Fine. Super Rad should be able to handle a little idle hallway banter, and the idea of spreading the wealth around is currently much in vogue. However, Bardiac then goes on to try to explain her own higher salary as compared to adjuncts in her department and concludes:
So I said that we could go a long ways towards solving the problem if everyone with tenure in our department (including both of us) agreed to take a 20% paycut and redistributed the money to the adjuncts. You should have seen the look of abject horror that passed his face. It was worth it.
I think I bring significant skills and qualities to my work that our adjuncts don't bring. And so I think I'm worth my salary.This bothers me. Beyond the fact that it seems to imply that adjuncts may be worth their miserable salaries too -- which is a very harsh judgment to pass on any fellow human being -- this remark also reflects a very commonly held misperception that one's wage correlates with one's labor. The more and better work you do, the higher your wage. In Marx's terms, this would mean you are paid for your "labor" -- for the actual work done. The form our wages take and the way our raises and promotions are structured encourages this view at every turn, but it is always wrong.
Instead, Marx demonstrates that what the wage actually pays for is our "labor-power" -- our capacity to do work. The wage pays a value equal to our means of subsistence -- our house, car, food, clothes, cable-tv, health care, and kids -- so that we can continue to come to work. This means that there is always a difference between the value of the wage paid and the value of the actual work done. The greater this difference, the better it is for the employer. This means that the difference in wages between tenure-track and adjunct faculty is not really about the amount or quality of work done, it is just about how well they eat.
Anastasia adds this eloquent comment to the original post:
Honestly, the original post says "I think I bring significant skills and qualities to my work that our adjuncts don't have" not "I do work that adjuncts aren't paid to do." Obviously, I know t-t faculty have responsibilities I don't have. But am I less qualified? Less skilled? Less worthy and that's why I'm paid $3,000/semester and I feed my kids government funded cheese?
No. Fucking hell.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I must make lots of popcorn:
About the CourseA close reading of the text of Karl Marx's Capital Volume I in 13 video lectures by David Harvey.
David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) and author of various books, articles, and lectures. He has been teaching Karl Marx's Capital for nearly 40 years. Read his CV.
Discuss the course.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This has not been the most productive week. Only 315 new words were written towards the 10k goal. However, the very coolest thing that happened this week was being invited to contribute an open letter to Barack Obama for an online journal edited by Amitava Kumar. This marks the first time my blog pseudonym has been invited to contribute to an academic publication. I love blogging.
Here's this weeks wordle pic of the new project so far.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Tennessee Board of Regents has a very simple policy that allows its constituent institutions to decide in which of four categories to place adjuncts. Colleges can devise systems based on educational experience, market differentials and so forth. But the policy is strict on one thing: It sets maximum levels of pay per credit hour. Because the colleges typically avoid classifying people as being in the most “lucrative” pay category ($700 per credit hour), most earn much less, and a college would be correct in saying that $1,800 is the maximum allowable pay for a three credit course of someone in the second level of adjunct classifications. Paying more would violate state rules.The LumpenProf worked for a semester at a Tennessee school as an adjunct about ten years ago. It was my worst pay ever. Today I read that the rates for adjuncts at Tennessee schools is unchanged after 11 years and that:
After two years of encouraging meetings organized by AAUP leaders in Tennessee, the board — through its presidents council — decided this month that the current policy works just fine, and that there will be no increases in pay maximums.I am unsurprised. However, I was chagrined to learn that I was paid about a third less than the maximum allowed rate for even the very bottom tier of adjuncts. Fuck.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Via. The Rocky Mountain News published this 128 mugshot slideshow of protesters arrested at the Democratic National Convention last August. It looks as if the Denver police managed to arrest a good sized college class -- give or take a priest or two.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
This morning, on the way to school on this most auspicious of election days, my littlest lumpkin asked me out of the blue "Daddy, who is Bill Murray?" I said something about him being a comedian and actor. Then, curiosity got the better of me and I said "Why do you ask?" She replied, because I have this song stuck in my head, and this is what she sang for me:
123456 Pokemon, PokemonShe knew Pokemon and she knew Barack Obama, but the Bill Murray reference escaped her. I confess it escapes me a bit too in this context. However, the song was stuck in my head too now.
123456 Pokemon, Pokemon
Who ya gonna vote for? Barack Obama
Who ya gonna vote for? Barack Obama
Don't worry, Bill Murray
Don't worry, Bill Murray
I went to vote shortly after this surreal pop-culture and politics exchange with my grade-schooler. I voted for Barack Obama.
This has been my very favorite election day ever. I'm looking forward to staying up late tonight with my daughter to watch history be made. I'm going to make us root beer floats. 123456 Pokemon!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
InaDWriMo 2008 has begun. And with an awesome 344 words written on a Saturday afternoon too gorgeous to be stuck inside, I will count this as a moral victory. Plus, as a bonus, here's a wordle picture of the writing so far. I like these pictures, so I'll be posting one each Saturday as I march towards my 10k goal. Care to guess my topic?