More Hypocrisy: University System Faculty Authorize Strike

Unhappy faculty at the 14 institutions of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education have taken a strike vote, authorizing a walkout. A walkout will depend on how negotiations go but the vote was overwhelming and faculty members say they are serious.

A professor asked about the potential strike said higher education was under attack and they would make a statement to the nation that the attack is not acceptable. What should happen of course is that anyone with tenure who leaves his/her classes should lose their tenure-at the very least.

Maybe the professor should look around at what is happening to the education system. Graduates are leaving college with massive amounts of debt and a huge percentage cannot find employment in their chosen field. What is the point of turning out millions of graduates whose education cannot be used to launch a career capable of paying off student loans and making up for the foregone earnings during the five or six years they took getting a degree?

And why do universities continue their push to offer degrees in more and more esoteric fields for which the only employment opportunities are with government or non-profit special interest advocacy groups that depend heavily on government dollars? But most importantly, why should faculty be rewarded for their heavy handed politically correct, statist views they try to impart to students? Survey after survey finds graduates in large numbers lack basic knowledge of the nation’s history and how a free economy works. Little wonder so many college graduates lean left politically and support government do-good programs and stringent regulations on the private sector.

College degrees have become increasingly less reliable as a predictor of future success as the quality of education and significance of a diploma have undergone a long and continuous process of being replaced by lack of rigor and focus as colleges have fallen under the seductive pull of the siren song of political correctness and progressivism. While at the same time there has been scant attention paid to the consequences of the deepening lack of basic discipline and abandonment of common sense.

Here’s a suggestion for the faculty so eager for more pay. Go find a job in the real world where you won’t be coddled but will instead get compensated based on the market value of your productivity. Pleading for ever more taxpayer dollars to subsidize higher education in its current form and condition should be an embarrassment rather than the manifestation of a false sense of righteous indignation it actually represents.

There is no ignoring the real world to compare to that exhibited by insulated faculty at state owned colleges. Whose taxes do they want to see raised to get the compensation package they seek? Let them answer that question.

Unionized faculties are anathema to quality education and any logical notion of how a university should be operated. One would have thought that tenure and other privileged status would be enough power vis-à-vis university management. Not so in Pennsylvania.

College Students, Welcome to Taxburgh

Fresh off his election victory, the Mayor of Pittsburgh has decided to take charge in dealing with the fiscal mess that is the City. No he hasn’t decided to cut spending. Instead he has found a new segment of the population to tax–college students. His plan is to tax college and university tuition at one percent in an effort to shore up the City’s runaway legacy costs. This of course sits well with one local newspaper that has yet to meet a tax it didn’t like, who editorialized that this is only fair since these students have the audacity to come into the City and use services.

The Mayor’s plan draws from Act 511, the state law granting permission to municipalities the right to tax certain privileges. For years the City has been able to tax the privilege of doing business as well as the privilege of working and earning a paycheck within its borders. The Mayor is now suggesting that going to school in the City is a privilege and should be taxed. The difference is that the business privilege and occupation privilege taxes are based on financial earnings and not on one’s sheer presence. What’s next, taxing the privilege of being buried in one of the City’s cemeteries? After all they already tax the living, why not go after the dead next?

And does anyone really think that this new tax would be the end of it? Recall that just a few years ago the City was granted the right to tax payrolls of for-profit firms and organizations and increase the occupational privilege tax (now called the local services tax) from $10 to $52 annually. This and the admittance of the City into Act 47 financial distress program was to help right the City’s finances. Apparently it has not happened and the City needs more help.

And why has it not worked? The City has not gotten to the root of the problem-it’s spending. It would have been nice if the Mayor would have used this creativity to cut expenditures. Without reducing spending and legacy costs there will never be enough tax revenue. But that is too politically unpopular and difficult to do. It’s easier to go after college kids who don’t vote.

The argument that these students use services such as building inspection without paying for them is preposterous. If the students live in off-campus housing, that housing and the landlords who earn rental income from these properties are paying taxes to the City and have every right to use building inspection services to keep them safe. If that is a major concern, increase the fees charged for these inspections. And many of these universities have their own police departments that handle the vast majority of crimes these students commit.

The notion that the City has already tightened its belt is patently absurd. What concessions have theyextracted from the public sector unions? What services have been privatized or contracted out with the County? Neither the Act 47 team nor the oversight board has held the City’s feet to the fire.

City officials are afraid to raise taxes on residents because they vote. But these residents are the primary beneficiaries of services, and comprise the vast majority of the City’s workforce and as such are the ones reaping the rewards of these legacy costs. Why should they not pay for such largess? Instead they will look to tax the non-voting segment of the population and make them the scapegoats for the City’s problems. And they wonder why few of these graduates remain in the City after their studies conclude. It’s probably because they don’t want to live in Taxburgh.