Senate Bill 5 and related tangents

A quick overview:

I can understand the outrage: the bill boils down to a forced pay-cut for public employees.

Maybe it’s just my annoyance with the shenanigans of college professors, but I don’t mind seeing their union broken. Profs have it good even without a union. I work a mildly-technically-demanding job for $11 an hour with no benefits, and I manage to keep up with my apartment, my car repairs, and my taste for good food. Even after the passage of S.B. 5, college profs will remain comfortably above my current station in life.

Profs: deal with it. I can.

But outrage over S.B. 5 points to a deeper problem in our culture. An economy not based on the production of real value must eventually come to a day of reckoning, right? Profs may contribute intangibles to society through their broadening of young minds, their teaching of the arts, their inspiration of students; but intangibles have nil economic value.

Who helps the economy more? The farmhand or the professor of English literature? The electrician or the professor of music history? The architect or the professor of women’s studies? Of course all such disciplines have cultural value that can’t be measured in dollars and cents; but when the dollars and cents are missing from the state piggy bank, something has to give.

Higher education will survive Senate Bill 5. If professors value their contribution to culture over their own economic gain (which they must to remain consistent with what their skills contribute to culture versus to the economy), they will make sacrifices and continue teaching because it’s their passion. If they care about their own wallets more than their intangible contributions to culture, then they should seek jobs that contribute tangible value to the economy–in essence, they should receive what they give and give what they receive.

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