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If professors want to leave California, they should do so without whining

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POSTED July 18, 2009 1:56 a.m.
Mansour Farhang was my Government 17 professor at Sacramento State.

Most folks remember him stepping in to serve as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations after the United States kicked out that country’s existing diplomatic corps during the Iranian hostage crisis.

I learned virtually nothing from Farhang about the subject the class was supposed to be on – the three branches of our government. Instead it was a virtual non-stop diatribe about U.S. imperialism.

In fairness to Fahrang, though, he nailed one thing to the wall. He contended his liberal colleagues on the CSUS faculty staff were essentially all show and no go when it came to them embracing socialism.

He doubted they’d embrace “sharing the pain” with workers and were too attached to capitalism.

Now let’s fast forward 30 plus years to California’s budget crisis.

University of California professors are bemoaning pay cuts up to 10 percent that the higher education system is putting in place to deal with a projected $813 million shortfall for the current year.

There are two reoccurring themes in their laments. First, it is unfair that higher education is taking such a big hit. Second, the lack of salary increases combined with unpaid furloughs or salary cuts is going to drive the better professors away to institutions that pay more money.

It is obvious the general philosophy espoused by many professors over the years about the importance of workers and so forth means zilch. The only way to keep professors – who make an average of $121,000 a year – whole is to do so by putting the burden of more cuts on school-age children, health care for farm workers, and poor people in general. It sounds more like a Robber Baron capitalist’s outlook on social responsibility than someone who leans toward socialism.

I get the fact that professors have families and expenses to look after. Their comments though are in sharp contrast to what many UC and CSU professors over the years have espoused in terms of social responsibility. Obviously Fahrang was right — when push comes to shove, money rules.

Making this all the more ironic was one semester where all of my professors – except a geology professor – were hell-bent on talking about the excess of the rich, the unfairness of the American marketplace, and then would devote large segments of class time complaining about everything from Sacramento State’s lack of adequate parking for faculty to inadequate pay raises.

I was listening to this even in English classes while going to school full-time, had a full-time job, plus a side business to pay my tuition and stay afloat while making just under a fourth of what the professors were making.

That didn’t bother me as much as I would expect them to be well-paid for their background, knowledge, and longevity. What did bother me were them spending an inordinate amount of time bemoaning their lot in life and slamming the government – state and national – while telling all of the students they were basically mindless robots who were only going to college not to broaden their horizons but so they could earn more money.

Which, judging by how many UC and CSU professors are reacting to California’s economic crisis, is why they are in college as well – to make more money.

Many professors aren’t just pulling down a salary.

They often are paid handsomely to do research while using CSU and UC facilities.

It would be akin to where you work allowing you to run a business on the side while using their resources for free.

Again, I don’t begrudge professors anything. It would be nice, though, if they had a touch of reality instead of joining the non-stop streaming 10-second sound bites we’re hearing daily about how unfair this budget crisis is to the victim du jour.

In case someone hasn’t noticed, everyone is taking a hit on this one since California’s wealth is truly that of the working and middle classes.

Taxes on the masses built our great university systems, infrastructure, and preserved natural wonders.

If they want to check out of California for more money, go for it. They should do everyone a favor, though, and do so quietly.
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