Inside The Ivory Cocoon

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

David Rubinstein, a retired University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor wrote an article which originally appeared in The Weekly Standard that sarcastically thanked Illinois taxpayers for their contribution to his well-funded “cushy life.” He pointed out several problems with taxpayer-funded state education benefits for professors and teachers alike, in addition to the lack of turnover, ideological diversity, and union management.

Rubinstein provided an honest insight into the “working” schedules of tenured professors. Regarding benefits, he said his retirement package almost doubles his actual salary by including a “generous health insurance plan” and “a guaranteed 3% annual cost of living increase.” His typical work day started at 9:30 AM and ended by 4 PM. Professors who focus on research have even less demanding office hours, Rubinstein observed. It left him questioning why taxpayers funded academic research. A Berkeley research psychologist found that predictions made by academics “did not beat chance” and Rubinstein stated “the increasingly ideological nature of social science will not improve this record.”

If that doesn’t alarm readers, he continued to disparage the liberal academic establishment and lack of ideological diversity. For example, the Center for Responsive Politics discovered that 92% of professors at the University of Chicago donated to Democrats. Though his political leanings were not a concern, he acknowledged that “universities cherish diversity in everything except where it counts most: ideas.” Rubinstein himself is a sociologist, a job description that usually does not lend itself to a right-wing outlook on life. “I guess that if Lenin were around today he would be teaching sociology and seeking grants to fund the revolution,” Rubinstein wrote.

Some argue that college professors are underpaid, but he found that “the average [salary] was $108,749,” which is hardly average. In his years as a tenured professor, only one faculty member in the sociology department quit for a nonacademic position, and for every opening there were about 100 applicants. He suggested that “the rarity of quits and the abundance of applications is good evidence that the life of the college professor is indeed enviable.” On a larger scale, applications for public sector (federal) jobs exceed those for private sector jobs by 25%, and as workers move from the private to the public sector, their earnings go up 12%. This also affects schools on the local K-12 level, leading the liberal mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, to call union leadership an “unwanted roadblock to reform.” In Ohio, to avoid bankruptcy of public employee pensions, Governor John Kasich suggested an increase in course loads of professors by one course every two years.

Rubinstein sadly concluded that academia is “squeezing taxpayers…whose lives are in most cases far harsher than their own.”