Harman has this post up on the funniest (grim humor, I suppose) on the Middlesex problem. (I should say, though, that since Freelancer Extraordinaire has read the book of that title and talked it over with me, I’m really trying hard to find other ways to put that.) Someone wrote, “First Athens sins against philosophy; now Middlesex administration.“
My analogy, however, is less to ancient Greece, but to modern Greece. Our problem in academia is that philosophy and the humanities in general are expected to have a tightfisted monetary policy like Germany, while other business-minded programs actually spend away like Greece (n.b., I’m not saying anything about Greece’s economic policy, just siting the common wisdom). Thus you have at many business schools in the US business assistant profs making more than full professors at other parts of the university. And the “profits” of the humanities programs goes to help fund just those type of programs. You’d think we were the ones living it up and partying like its 425 BCE, but it’s the grim tasks of the modern day Meletus to accuse us of both costing too much money even as we run profits that help fund these other programs.
We will always be a cheap bunch: Socrates just needed some sandals and somewhere to amble. We just need a decent salary and a room somewhere, and maybe some money to publish a journal. We don’t need labs, we don’t need fancy software and CEO-like salaries, and yet the tuition to be one of our majors is still the same.