Friday, September 14, 2007


I swear that this university becomes more strange every year.

Today I saw TWO outdoor sinks, half a block away from each other, where men in bathrobes were shaving. To the side of one was a hobo playing guitar and harmonica who probably hasn't shaved in years.

A block away was a family of ultra-conservative preachers spewing forth vitriol against just about everyone. Accompanying them was a man displaying a "Trannies are God's children too!" sign.

Accompanying all of them (literally) was a shirtless crazy man wearing a construction helmet playing a horribly tuned guitar, punctuating its dissonance with randomly shouted inquiries into who in the crowd loved Jesus.

THEN there was a crew, or troupe if you will, of jugglers.

I don't know what to make of it. But I like it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pay! Up! Go!

It would appear that there is a strike at the University. And the title of this post, despite approaching absolute nonsense, is one of the unfortunate cheers of the strikers. Leaving aside judgments of strikers' ability to form coherent sentences, I still have some issues with the whole thing.

Let me say that I'm not anti-union. I'm not pro-union either. Being consistently pro or anti labor seems extremely simple-minded to me. The circumstances of each situation seem to vary reliably and so a consistent opinion would be little more than bias.

Essentially my position boils down to waiting and seeing. If the political conditions surrounding a labor dispute are permitting the necessary degree of freedom (no legally enforced closed-shops, secret ballots, no union-busting, strike-breakers permitted) then I believe that contest will be fair and that the winner will win because they deserved to win.

More clearly, if the market is such that a strike permits labor to effectively damage an employer's ability to operate such that they concede to labor's demands then that means one important thing: that the employer was unable to find other workers for the offered wage. This means that the wage was not high enough, plain and simple. So, the workers deserve a higher wage as there aren't any other people willing to work at that wage.

But, if the strike fails to shut down operations, then that means that there are people willing to work for that wage and, more importantly, that fact means that they are more deserving of the wage. The simple fact that they are willing to work for the wage refused by others means that the employees who broke the strike are more deserving of the job (if only by their greater poverty) than those that struck.

Additionally, I do have a problem with the idea that everyone deserves a raise. Just as much as I do with the idea that no one deserves a raise. Such uniform implementation of changes in wages that are, at least to my mind, intended to reflect ability and reward merit seems to lack sense.

People like to throw around the idea that unity between workers is the only way that they can have any power. But, there is weight to the idea that by joining all of their fates the workers are harming themselves. If an employer wishes to reward a good worker with a raise it would be impossible as it might violate seniority-guided pay-rates. In fact, by negotiating as a group any pay increase become massively more expensive for the university, thus increasing the disincentive to provide anyone with a raise.

Also, what kind of union can only convince a third of its members to strike?

One that might not have a real issue.

Why is it that the liberal, progressive students support the union but then also denounce the University for raising tuition (making the University less accessible to the poor). Where do they imagine the money comes from? Where would they like it to come from?

Some thoughts. Hopefully I will become more consistent in writing this thing.