Solidarity with OWS at Temple

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In yet another testimonial that inadvertently reveals that the term “college education” is rapidly becoming an oxymoron, a group of faculty members from Temple University has posted a statement on Facebook expressing their support of the Occupy Philadelphia chapter of the OWS movement. “Statement of Solidarity from Temple University Faculty” is a reiteration of the boilerplate progressivism that passes for wisdom and/or open-mindedness on far too many college campuses around the nation. Here’s what they have to say, with some reality added to the mix.

We are proud to serve at a public university that has helped generations of Philadelphians, many of them the first in their families to attend college, to improve their own economic situations, to produce new knowledge, and to become more engaged in civic life. But we see that legacy under grave threat when we consider the increasingly difficult lives of our students, many of our faculty, and our neighbors in North Philadelphia. It is a threat born of a collusion between concentrated wealth and political power; Occupy Wall Street gives eloquent testimony to this dangerous alliance and offers some hope for a solution.

Among the many demands made by the OWS movement, most of which bear no resemblance whatsoever to “eloquent testimony,” the one over-arching sentiment that has been expressed is the idea of kicking capitalism to the curb in favor of a “fairer” more “socially just” society. Yet the professors and others might wish to consider what is more likely to produce a “collusion between concentrated wealth and political power”: an expanded socialist state in which a handful of bureaucrats pick winners and losers–aided and abetted by well-connected crony capitalists protecting their market share in the process–or a free-market capitalist system in which millions of people making millions of decisions tethered to talent, ambition, self-interest and hard work produce goods and services?

The statement continues:

As faculty and staff at a public university, we understand that cuts in state funding for higher education and in federal student grants have driven the costs of a college education beyond the means of many. Students are increasingly forced to finance their education through extraordinary levels of personal debt. Thus, we support the Occupy Wall Street movement, in part, because only by restoring progressive taxation at the federal and state level can we restore adequate funding of higher education and render it accessible and affordable to all. We also endorse calls for a federal program that would relieve students of the back-breaking debt levels they have been forced to assume. Higher education, for those able and willing to pursue it, should be a right and not a privilege.

Education cuts to state budgets undoubtedly make college more difficult to afford. But if one wonders what else contributes to driving the costs of a college education beyond the means of many, the Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2010-2011, reveals that railing against the collusion of concentrated wealth and power pays quite well at Temple University. The faculty there earns the following in total compensation, which includes salaries and benefits: $163,500 for a professor; $118,900 for an associate professor, $87,000 for an assistant professor, and $68,700 for an instructor. The average income in the state of Pennsylvania? $41,152 per year. And the average Pennsylvanian lacks one other job perk that applies to many college professors: the lifetime job security of tenure.

As for restoring progressive taxation, when did it ever go away? The state of Pennsylvania may have a flat personal income tax rate, but even there, the top one percent pay 14 percent of the state’s income taxes. On the national level, the top one percent pay 36.7 percent, while the bottom 47 percent pay no income taxes at all. As for college being a right as opposed to a privilege, perhaps the professors might wish to explain how a “right” whose costs average more than $30,000 per year should be underwritten. Costs which have risen 130 percent over the last 20 years, far outpacing inflation. And far outpacing salary increases for a lot of Americans–college professors not included.

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    • tagalog

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  • davarino

    Its funny how these kids get a degree like communications and think they should be able to find lots of jobs for lots of money. Try getting a real education, then your worth something. Here is a clue, if the degree is easy to obtain then it probably will not command a high wage.

    • tagalog

      For my own part, I think that after all, they're only 22 or so years old, and the world is still new to them. But it's puzzling that they now think it's somebody else's fault.

  • StephenD

    There are some simple measures these altruistic professors can take. They can, for starters, voluntarily take a reduction in salary with every bit of that reduction shared among those with a "right" to higher education. How about it Teach? What with such a strong belief in "Social Justice," opening their wallets may "stimulate" student relief.
    These, not so subtle, Socialist ploys only serve to expose them for what they are. Do they think it isn't understood that the very thing they supposedly abhor; the few elites in collusion with the Government, isn't EXACTLY what a Socialist System is? All we need do is look at recent history of Eastern Europe. Better still, look at Cuba. Everyone is equally poor except…the few elites and government officials.

  • Rifleman

    Government involvement is what has driven up the cost of higher education. The more the government becomes involved in something, the more expensive it becomes. The quality always goes down as government involvement becomes dominant. We’re spending more money on education than ever, and more than any other country, with a negative effect on quality.

    You won't ever see these professors calling for cuts in their own salaries and perks to make higher education more affordable. You won't ever see them call for the elimination of tenure to make their profession more competitive and effective.

  • truckwork

    Peacefull movement my a$&.… "windows at two bank branches and a Whole Foods store were broken and graffiti was painted inside one of the banks"

    You may wish to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us a large sum of money but the total defense budget is only 20% of the US Budget. Approx. 20% of our budget is Social Security, another 20% is for Medicare and Medicaid and another 20% for other social programs.… Now with all that spending, more than twice that of our military spending each year, and our "War on Poverty" begun during the Johnson administration more than 40 years ago, and we still have poor people? Now that's worked out great hasn't it! "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" Albert Einstein

    Now please find for me the article in the Constitution that allow Congress to expend tax dollars on the benevolence of others.

  • BS77

    OWS are a motley mob of losers!!! These roving crowds of obnoxious people are not the 99%, do not represent the 99% and never will, as if there is a 99%. In Oakland mobs of the OWS anarchists broke windows in stores and banks, created chaos in the streets and generally offer nothing in the way of solutions to the economic problems. I am sick of OWS…

  • Asher

    Please Understand that these Revolutionaries are going to try and collapse our system before the next elections…If they are not stopped this will go into the 2012 elections and intimidate the voters in precincts near the chaos, riots, and fires. This will subvert the Will of the People, look at what the Black Panthers did to intimidate people in Philadelphia from voting! Congress should pass a bill (Now) that says if the Mayors cannot protect their citizens from harm, then their districts will be defunded!

  • scum

    Why would they take any pay cut at all, when CEO's earn $50 million a year? And furthermore, note that in your own post you speak to the amount the professors earn in 'salaries and benefits.' It's precisely those benefits that you apparently champion that are at risk. Furthermore, the entry-level salary at many colleges (some in New York, where the cost of living is even more expensive), is around $60,000. Many professors, who spent ten years in graduate school (therefore, out of the workforce), also paid to do their own research, make less than standard school teachers.

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