Two telling tales: value of honest labour in the neoliberal society

Teaching is a remarkable and fulfilling profession. But, to touch up the G&S line in Pirates of Penzance,  ‘the teacher’s lot is not always a happy one.’ Nor a financially attractive one.

Many who have gone the adjunct professor route can attest to the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment when students leave the course educated and energised. Of course, the consultant who has done so to supplement the tardy arrival or absence of contracts can also attest to the very rigorous demands of course preparation, even if exhilarating, demands not reflected in the remuneration. The Guardian offers us the ‘confession’ of an adjunct professor, I am an adjunct professor who teaches five classes. I earn less than a pet-sitter. And those other fellow travelers cannot but recognise the joy yet pain, mainly financial, of teaching. One excerpt,

The reason I field such questions is that, as an adjunct professor, whether teaching undergraduate or law-school courses, I make much less than a pet-sitter earns. This year I’m teaching five classes (15 credit hours, roughly comparable to the teaching loads of some tenure-track law or business school instructors). At $3,000 per course, I’ll pull in $15,000 for the year. I work year-round, 20 to 30 hours weekly – teaching, developing courses and drafting syllabi, offering academic advice, recommendation letters and course extensions for students who need them.

The awkwardness in all this has been that to teach more than three courses, with the attendant demands, one should, in a rational world, be eligible for full-time employment, or at worst, eligible for some health benefits. However, the neoliberal world is more inconsiderate of the normal human than imagined. As further evidence, we also have, Goldman Sachs restricts intern workday to 17 hours in wake of burnout death. Yes, that is 17, not 7 hours. Interesting observations from article in The Guardian,

Go home before midnight, and don’t come back before 7am. Goldman Sachs – one of Wall Street’s toughest firms – has told interns they have got to work hard, but not too hard.

And why such unstinting generosity toward interns?

Wall Street’s shift to caring capitalism comes in the wake of the death of a 21-year-old Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern who had regularly pulled all-nighters in a desperate bid to impress his bosses.

Moritz Erhardt was found dead in the shower at his London accommodation after working 72 hours straight. An inquest found he died of an epileptic seizure that could have been a triggered by his long working hours.

Somewhere in all this, the term predatory capitalism asserts its preeminence in such countries, where corporate qualifies their democracy. Fortunately, opposition to such a philosophy (and uts lack of compassion) continues in many countries where dignity of the individual and a healthy and wholesome society reside in policy.

A Panglossian view would be that the evident, albeit gradual, shift in the world toward civility and civilisation will halt and even reverse any dalliance with the neoliberal model. To say and abide by, ‘Il nous faut cultiver notre jardin.’, is to forestall capture and control effected by agents of predatory capitalism, under the guise of ‘policy’.


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