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Two weeks into my second attempt at a college degree, (after taking 26 years off) I can definitely say I am enjoying myself.  Thanks to some suggestions I received at Dailykos I found a job as a research assistant at lab, and while my job primarily entails cleaning mouse and rat cages, it seems like a good start and it’s more interesting than my job previous job at a golf course. Even at the lab I am noticing massive inequality seems to be the norm.  My supervisor told me she makes about thirty thousand dollars a year, not poverty wages, but she has a master’s degree in biology.  I overheard a postdoc, which is someone with a PhD but not as cool as principal investigator, discussing the 30% pay cut he was about to take due to lower grant funding.  I thought low wages and pay cuts were a problem of the uneducated but it’s starting to sound like it is a problem for almost everyone, and the expense and time of getting a master’s degree or PhD is just more salt in the professional wound; and speaking of salt in the wound,

While all the cuts are going on, one of the principal investigators asked me if I could give him a ride to the car dealership to pick up his new, just delivered, Land Rover, in a limited orange color. Today is Labor Day and the only people working at the lab are laborers.  Not only does most of the money go to the elites but even the holidays meant to honor labor are now mostly enjoyed by the elites.  I know that our winner take all culture is detrimental to people trying to figure out how they are going to get by on 30% less money, but I am starting to think it might also be bad for the guy spending hours trying to figure out what color of Land Rover will make his vehicle stand out from his neighbors.

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Comment Preferences

  •  did the North Carolina GOP legislature (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    END merit pay for teachers with Master's degrees?

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 06:06:07 PM PDT

  •  Non t - the reason the PI gets the big bucks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Ckntfld, Eyesbright

    is because he is the person who secured the grant funding. It is the reputation of the PI, and the quality of the research grant, that provides the funding that pays everyone. The other issue is that in the academic job market there is a supply/demand imbalance, with more eager employees than jobs available and that drives down wages.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 06:22:29 PM PDT

  •  Huge diff between masters and PhD (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, Eyesbright

    In most fields a masters isn't worth much -- and often means the person started a PhD program and didn't manage to finish. (There are exceptions in fields that award masters as basically a terminal degree -- M.Div., MBA, MFA for example.)

    The distinction you may be noticing is between full-time tenured professors (almost all of whom have PhDs) and everyone else -- people on postdocs and others who are on grant-funded projects, or adjunct/contingent, or one-year contracts of various kinds, and may or may not get full benefits if any at all. And more and more of the on-campus jobs are of the latter variety.

    •  The difference between adjunct professors (0+ / 0-)

      And tenured ones seems enormous. I am taking four classes and two of them are taught by tenured professors and one is taught by an adjunct, the adjunct seems like a really nice guy but he floundering a bit.  The tenured guys definitely know the subjects but they do seem a little bored.  And my PE class is being taught by an a 20 something and she is really funny.  

      •  I haven't seem much correlation (3+ / 0-)

        between teaching skill and tenured status.

        Twenty some years ago I was a junior in Cornell's School of Engineering. My best engineering professor was an as yet untenured PhD. I believe she got tenure.

        It was also that year that I figured out what engineering was all about. You must have a strong technical base, but if you are good, you will spend at least half your time communicating with others. As a result of figuring that out, I took "Technical Writing" in my senior year. The instructor was an adjunct, if that -- I'm not sure what her title was. She had no PhD, no tenure, and no job security. [In addition to parallel structure in lists, she believed in the serial comma.] Without that course from that teacher I would not have the satisfying job that I do. My job security is an ability to understand a problem (talk to people), understand all the available solutions (talk to more people), and clearly layout all that information and my recommendations for those who need to know (write clearly for a specific audience). Doing exactly that was the core of Penny Beebe's class.

        She had no particular credentials other than a clear understanding of what her students would need in their professional lives and the ability to clearly explain it in little steps.

  •  I imagine that (0+ / 0-)

    this is a problem stemming from the sequester. A lot of grant money dried up for some of the less immediately useful sciences - by which I mean stuff that doesn't involve metal and machinery for military applications.

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