Because I’m an academic, I spend a great deal of time in the real or virtual company of other academics. For example, many of my facebook friends are in the higher ed racket, and given the general slant of academia, it’s not too surprising that they’re vociferous supporters of the public sector unions during the showdowns we’re currently seeing.
That’s fine, and everyone is entitled to hold an opinion. But I can’t help but wonder how many of these Woody Guthries in tweed have lives and careers that are subsidized by adjunct labor and grad student “apprentices.” In fact, as Bill “Thomas Hart Benton” Pannapacker has observed, only one in five Ph.D. aspirants ever makes it to the tenure track, and even then there’s an economic difference between the tracks at Michigan and Mondoville. And as Marc Bousquet notes, that seems to suit the current academic structure just fine.
I believe my friends sincerely mean well and see themselves as championing the working folks when they cheer for fugitive legislators and their ilk. However, I think their support might be more convincing if they were working to organize, say, the proles who dash through the faculty mailroom on the way to another school across town, where they’ll teach another couple of sections in the hope of making it off of food stamps. At least until next semester.