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Academia Isn’t a Pit, It’s a Ladder
Bobby Mars
 April 02 2024 at 05:09 pm
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Higher Ed is Eating Everyone’s Lunch Think of an image of a college professor. Middle-aged, perhaps even older. Well-dressed. Dignified. A man or a woman, but still, you probably imagined a man. Bespectacled, of course. Tweed, leather elbow pads, mahogany bookshelves, maybe even a tobacco pipe puffing away. Strolling the campus, having deep conversations, researching, never getting rich, but living a life of quiet dignity and the pursuit of knowledge. What they don’t imagine are poorly paid, overworked, contingent laborers known as adjuncts. Or their equally unfortunate cousins, the graduate student instructors, who make up roughly a quarter of all instructors. Adjuncts and GSIs are the foot soldiers of the university systems, the shock troops filling the gaps where the regular soldiers can’t. They take heavy losses, of course, but that’s the point of mercenaries. Adjuncts make only a few grand to teach a class for a full semester. GSIs with a teaching stipend make just above the federal poverty line, something like $35k per year in most university systems. They’re expendable, and they know it. Adjunct positions still require advanced graduate degrees, but the low pay and lack of research support ensures that their focus remains elsewhere. Grad students focus on their own studies, research and career advancement—teaching courses is their Faustian bargain for financial survival. The irony is that this system undermines their future career prospects in academia. The academic job market is equal parts ruthless and over-saturated, with far more PhDs and advanced degrees granted than there are full-time positions. The tenurati (tenured elite) are able to focus on their research, perhaps a lecture or two per week, serve on a few committees, etc. This isn’t to say their jobs are easy. They’re undervalued by the system too. In fact, most of them are miserable. Even as they advance up the ladder, they never quite reach that dreamt of place of stability. There’s always a bigger fish, always someone up the chain who seems to be eating their lunch. Academia is still a medieval hierarchy, a complex system of rank obtuse to outsiders. The hypocrisy of all the ivory tower talk of equity, and social justice, stings like salt in a wound given the way academics organize themselves and behave to one another. There’s an old saying in academia: the severity of infighting is inversely proportional to the stakes of the outcome. As in, the smaller the consequences, the more brutal the fight. Ask any academic and they’ll laugh, they’ll think back to every committee meeting they ever sat in, the endless debate over minutiae of so little consequence it would make your head spin. All of this fiddling while Rome burns, while the colleges were swept out from under faculty governance by the legions of faceless bureaucrats. As a former professor, I’ve seen it myself. Once, a faculty meeting involved a seemingly endless debate over many classes each professor should teach. The administrators had just changed some arbitrary metric that, in the end, lowered the teaching load for all tenured faculty. Great, they said, but what do we do now? We’re all getting paid more to teach half the number of classes, but we still need our department to teach the same number of classes overall. The solution, of course—hire more expendable adjuncts, hire more contingent faculty to teach more and pay them less. The gap grew wider, and no one gave a shit. In these conditions, lifelong grudges, intrigue, severe burnout and even suicide have plagued many a college department over the years. One small college in Michigan had two such incidents of faculty suicide in the span of a single year. A music professor offed himself, followed shortly by a widely beloved art professor. Both tenured professors supposedly living the dream. Little was said about the incidents, they were swept under the rug, scandalous emails implicating faculty intrigue were deleted or lost. You only heard about it in rumors after the fact, hushed tones, whispers in the corridors. Nothing changed except the music department is now said to, “have issues,” and the art department got some more money and a fancy title for their replacement. All of this while the rest of the faculty are in therapy, only partially covered by their fancy health plan. All this intrigue happens at the expense of the students, of course, and boy you’d be shocked to hear the disdain with which they’re spoken of. They’re viewed, to put it mildly, as patsies, marks to be recruited into the cult. Faculty actively conspire on how best to manipulate them into declaring a major within their department. They pick their favorites to get scholarships, and openly disdain the students who don’t conform to their behavioral or aesthetic wishes. One particularly talented student was denied a scholarship because a tenured professor was offended that, “she’s missed two of my classes this semester.” Students keep the money flowing, they keep the faucets running and the lights turned on. With debt, of course. Who benefits from this? Surely not the students. Certainly not the expendable, underpaid adjunct instructors and graduate students. The tenured faculty may seem comfy from the outside, but they’re not particularly happy or well paid either. Who benefits, then? Mostly the well-paid bureaucrats, the administrators. That’s the goal, to join their ranks. I remember one department chair complaining about the administrators,, swearing she’d never be one of them… until they offered her a huge raise to become vice provost. She accepted and now makes more money than she ever would have as a professor. The purpose of a system is what it does, not what it claims to do. Don’t look at their words, look at what they actually accomplish. What higher ed manages to do year after year is continually grow its glut of fancy new buildings, bureaucrats, administrators, regulations, DEI officers, and political apparatchiks. The functionaries benefit themselves alone, the faculty are too afraid of losing their status to challenge them, and the students get shafted. Suspend all moral idealism and consider it for what it is—a grift on the dreams of the naive.
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Cancelled again!
Bettina Arndt
 March 27 2024 at 12:00 am
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Last time I spoke at Sydney University, the riot squad had to be called in to protect my audience from the baying mob of feminist activists trying to close the speech down. They didn’t like the fact I was speaking out about their efforts to force universities to set up kangaroo courts to adjudicate sexual assault. Funnily enough, this kerfuffle led to the Federal government calling an inquiry into free speech on campus, which ultimately led to laws which require universities to promote open discussion rather than allow activists to determine the public discourse. Obviously, those regulations haven’t had the intended impact because unruly students just go on their own sweet way. Earlier this month I was cancelled again – and this time by the Young Liberals, for Heaven’s sake. What does that say about the future of the Liberal Party when they are the ones shutting down proper debate? The University of Sydney Conservatives Club was hosting a discussion evening focussed on the Higgins rape case. I was approached three months earlier to appear on a panel, along with Chris Merritt, Vice President of the Rule of Law Institute, and author Andrew Urban. The young women organising the event did a terrific job putting together thoughtful discussion points including the use of the case for political ends, undermining of the presumption of innocence, concerns about unmeritorious cases being brought before the courts, damage to the credibility of the media, the impact of #MeToo. It was just perfect for setting the scene for civilised debate for a select audience - the event was promoted solely to the Conservative Club students. Ironically the previous event hosted by the club just two weeks earlier featured Tony Abbott and the famous UK commentator, Konstantin Kisin, who argued freedom of speech is the cornerstone of Western Civilisation. Clearly Kisin’s important message failed to impact on the blinkered views of the President of the Young Liberals, Chanum Torres, who took it upon himself to cancel me. The week before the event he suddenly announced to the female students running the event that they weren’t permitted to include me at a Conservative Club event – apparently Young Liberals NSW has final control over the Club’s activities. It is interesting to note the new NSW Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic applauded the decision to ban me - to think that this woman won the seat of the late, great Jim Molan. Chanum Torres actually suggested that hosting an event which included me could ruin the career of the art/law student who was the major organiser. It is quite bizarre and extremely alarming that this young man who presumably has set his sights on a career in Liberal politics should join the ranks of the thought police. Torres preferred the event didn’t take place at all – but the organisers stuck to their guns and initially decided to go ahead with the event, with my two fellow panellists to handle the discussion. But when it comes to promotion, once again Torres interfered, demanding that Higgins was not mentioned in the advertising for the event. The promotion simply mentioned “Lawfare in Australia,” a very bland and rather misleading presentation of the proposed discussion which was originally promoted as “Higgins Unpacked.” In the end, the event did end up being cancelled, after the other panellists decided on principal to withdraw. Apparently, Torres was not acting off his own bat, but rather had been leant on by other senior members of the organisation. And there are many Young Libs who objected strenuously to my exclusion, so there’s dissension in the ranks, with factional issues at play. Yet the fact remains that key Young Libs were determined that Higgins remains unpacked. Torres failed to answer a series of questions asking him to explain the reasoning for his decision. These included my suggestion that he may subscribe to a preferred narrative regarding the Higgins case and was concerned these beliefs might be challenged. Heaven forbid that some of the student audience might open their minds to alternative perspectives on the issue. It just shows what a great job the Brittany Higgins cheer squad has done to shut down proper discussion of true facts of this case. Given the biased media coverage it will be interesting if the Bruce Lehrmann wins his defamation action against the media – the outcome is to be announced on April 4. The general public has been so misinformed about the holes in the Higgins case that many will be outraged if the judge finds the media was wrong to promote her very dubious story. It’s a very bad look for Young Liberals to be opposed to uncensored public discussion of the social and political implications of this critical legal case. The conundrum faced by young conservatives was addressed by Konstantin Kisin, during his recent tour of Australia. At the end of his two-week tour of Australia he warned that this country has been infected by the woke virus, with people afraid to speak out on any number of issues. “While the centre left appears its extremist fringe, many on the centre right hesitate to challenge the cultural vandalism they observe for fear of being described as ‘cultural warriors’.” Was that the fear that prompted this worrying move by the Young Liberals? They know that a thorough dissection of the Brittany Higgins saga would lead to the usual twitter storm from the lunatic fringe who control so much of university culture. If that was enough to lead our future Liberal leaders to cower in fear, the future of inspiring political leadership in this country looks very bleak indeed. It’s a strange thing that this 74 year-old grandmother still has them quaking in their boots.
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The true purpose of Public Schools
CanadianLibertarian
 April 13 2024 at 01:24 pm
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To truly awaken the masses, in particular our youth, they must first be made aware that our public education system is based on a model of obedience and conformity. The Prussian model (modern day Germany) on which it is based is designed to teach them what to think, not how to think. It was first introduced in Ontario (Upper Canada back then) in the 1840's by Egerton Ryerson, son of Colonel Joseph Ryerson, who was not only an authoritarian type military man, but first and foremost, a united Empire Loyalist. It is not surprising, therefore, that Ryerson believed that monarchy gave dignity to government and acted as a check on the radical excesses of the people. The system had proven to be wildly successful at maintaining a large degree of control over societies, regimenting their behaviors, and in establishing more productive labor resources. It was generally accepted that it takes multiple successive generations of implementation for the established goals of the curriculum to be fully realized. Now, with the Woke DEI agenda and Identity Politics being added to the curriculum, there is even more reason for parents to be concerned and seek out alternative forms of education for their children. This style of education has been widely used throughout Western cultures, and has been upgraded and modified to suit the social, economical and labor needs of the given time, but the core principles of Authority, conformity and obedience are still the foundation of the system. It is the very reason why most full grown adults who have spent almost the entirety of their childhood in these institutions clamor for a ruling class, parental surrogates, or protectors, while rejecting self-ownership, independence, and genuine liberty. Completely enveloping the mind of each individual in such an adolescent state assures the continuation of power in the hands of those who seek to dominate us and plunder our resources, while giving the illusion that bowing to the demands and edicts of central planners is in fact an act of benevolence and being a good citizen. The instinct to defend oneself from external threats subsides entirely if a person can be convinced that their forced sacrifices and subjugation defines what it means to be contributors to the great good. When, in fact, it is voluntary acts of kindness, generosity, charity, and contributions that truly defines a person's merit, in terms of social/economic values. I have a lot of hope for the future if enough people can break free from their slave-psychology, and help usher in what I have termed 'Enlightenment Era 2.0 in the 21st Century. It is not only plausible, but very much possible, considering we live in the age of information. Full on human ownership was once part of the fabric of past societies, and accepted as normal until the ethical implications were thoroughly brought to light and vigorously fought against by an ever growing population of enlightened individuals. Today, nobody advocates for human ownership as it was practiced in the past. Which shows that cultures can change, and adopt entirely new ways of living socially with each other, and dealing with each other economically. For anyone that is skeptical about the validity of these claims or just want to learn more about the history of our education system, you can always take it upon yourself to Google, use any other search engine, or visit your local Library in order to seek out other literature or information regarding the history of our education system. A truly informed individual is much better suited to making rational decisions and forming opinions.Bennett (CL)
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Celebrating Discrimination
Right Away
 April 05 2024 at 09:07 pm
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My oldest son was a good student in terms of grades and behavior in the classroom, but he was mediocre on standardized tests. He wasn’t bad at testing, and I am not belittling him. However, he was average. He went on to play collegiate football, get married, and have kids, all of which are considered good outcomes. But he didn't get the same consideration as my youngest son, who was a good test taker. My youngest son is a rockstar when it comes to test-taking. He has exceptional insight into the patterns within the words and numbers and always scores at the top, regardless of the type of test. He and his brother had similar classroom grades, but the nationwide tests that they both took showed them to be much different. However, he wasn’t at the absolute top of the list. The National Merit Semi-Finalist Qualifying Test (MNSQT) had a rubric that said if the student scored in the top 0.2%, they were given the label of Semi-Finalist. That said, he did well. I don’t remember the number, but he wasn’t in the top 0.2%. He began applying to colleges and playing the game of admission, financial aid, and scholarships. He didn't have the football card that his brother had, but he could appeal to reverse discrimination and get a good outcome. Unexpectedly, our son received a letter congratulating him on becoming a National Merit Minority Scholar. We didn’t know what a minority scholar was, so we investigated. We learned it is a revisitation of his test scores once all the scores from students who list themselves as Caucasian or Asian are removed. With the upper crust of test takers now out of the pool, his score became in the top 0.2%. His name was placed on a form that every university could download, and recognition was sent to his high school. As a national merit minority scholar, he got national attention. On the back end, the guidance counselor received an affidavit to complete that affirmed that Alex was a minority. His word was not enough. A copy of his grandfather’s birth certificate from Puerto Rico was all we needed, and then, the money started to flow from every corner of the country. Without applying, our son received full scholarships at multiple universities. That doesn’t sound strange, but it was. He never applied to most of the schools that offered him full tuition and fees if he had only agreed to attend their institution. They saw his singular accolade, and they wanted it as a feather in their marketing cap. Sure, he has proven himself to be a good test taker, but a lot of applicants are good test takers. They were offering scholarships without looking at his classroom grades, behaviors, criminal background, or the like because he was a minority, and they wanted to show to the world that their student body was diverse. They knew the world was drinking the Kool-aid of diversity as a nearly indisputable justification that diversity leads to all the good things in life outcomes. The mailbox filled up with offers. His phone rang. That all sounded normal. Some schools offered more than tuition and fees. Some offered airplane tickets to come. When we went on one visit, we were met by several other students who had “similar profiles.” My phone rang one time, asking for him. That didn’t seem normal. He ended up selecting one of those schools, and he has long since graduated without ever paying a dime of Fall or Spring tuition and fees. Our son was the beneficiary of a celebrated form of discrimination. At his high school graduation, I watched as his friends walked on the stage to receive their diplomas. I wondered if some of his friends who were at a disadvantage of being Caucasian were going to college for free like he was. A few were. Most weren't. Yet, that pathway is gone. Like the Jim Crow laws, it only resides in stories like these. As of the writing of this post, the National Merit website now reads, “Winners are chosen on the basis of their abilities, skills, and accomplishments—without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.” There is no minority scholar referenced on the site now. That advantage our son got is now gone. The Supreme Court unwound all of this. Yet, it happened. Our oldest son was not the only beneficiary. I put the unused portion of his college savings in a new account for our grandchildren to use when they are old enough to go to school. I wondered. Had our youngest listed that he was white on the standardized test form like his brother did, he would not have received that minority scholarship and that money would not have been passed from one generation to the next. Just because the scholarship is gone, we still reap its benefits for at least one more generation.

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