Saturday, November 30, 2013

I am kingpin and so can you. Academics are like drug gangs

This piece, "Academe as a Drug Gang", is getting a lot of play … like being republished on Slate. It was posted on Inside Higher Ed by Scott Jaschik and builds on a blog post by Alexandre Afonso, here. It's a basic line of argument you hear pretty often in various forms, that young scholars will endure impossible hours, wretched pay and low odds of success for the potential payoff down the road if you do make it. Certainly the risks and rewards are virtually identical to those of large-scale organized drug dealing.

As the ruthless kingpin of a mighty cartel dealing straight, uncut truth on street corners all around Wisconsin and rapidly expanding beyond, I can only say 'yup, you got me pegged'. It's not all a bowl of cherries, though, even at the top of the food chain. Had a little problem with the distribution network and it looks like we have some entry-level openings to move some product, in fact, new batch with the street name Phonetic Enhancement. But we're offing the whole effin' crew that hit our people, some gang goes by 'Dispersion Theory' or something. Beyond that, I'm running out of things to do with my cash. I mean, how many Caribbean islands am I supposed to own? It's not easy. Like my role model, Scarface, said way back when: I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.

Seriously, the commenters on Inside Higher Ed in particular have nailed the key points already: Getting a PhD is about much more than ending up with tenure or any academic job; the pool of brilliant young PhDs (and grad students) is hardly expanding dramatically, etc., etc., etc.

Don't get me wrong … I get the joke and love the snark. But you gotta have some caveats for the uninitiated … some young person out there is reading this stuff and thinking that they should get an MBA instead of a PhD in some social science.


Anonymous said...

I did some hard time for my involvement in Sympathy Theory, but I'm clean now and staying far from the game.

Joe said...

Well, there are serious issues with graduate education but I'm not getting the sense that this story advances our understanding of things. Also, do I have to get some weird tattoo or anything?

Monica said...

And I wasn't so convinced by the repetition of the "high salary" parallel... I don't know about you, Mr. Verb, but I don't have a storage locker full of cash.