Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Budget Woes and Consequences

The recent post by Fred from Farmville on the budget woes in Wisconsin has got me thinking. As I mentioned in the comments there, last weekend I was in Madison, WI for a conference. I got a lot of second-hand info there from profs and students alike, scared for their jobs. There is a full-scale attack going on in Wisconsin against state employees -- including those employed through the state university. A quick google will get you all the details on cuts, so I won't go into it for you here. But back in my SLAC, it has started a debate, as one colleague assures me this won't actually do anything to the grad program.

Do you think that pulling all tuition waivers would lead to a collapse in a graduate program? Or are there enough desperate fools going to grad school that Wisconsin would be able to draw from people actually willing to pay $100,000 over 6 or 8 years for a graduate "education"?

Beyond the immorality of allowing someone to go that far into debt only to get into a job market that offers them a few grand for adjuncting, do you think there are potential grad students who would be that impractical?


  1. I'd have paid any amount of money for even the slightest chance to get into the best profession in the world. It's not like becoming a corporate drone in a cubicle is all that more attractive.

    So, yes, I'd be "that impractical."

    And it doesn't have to be 6 to 8 years. I did my PhD in 5.

  2. I do think tuition waivers would lead to the collapse of certain programs, but not others.

    A science student will expect a stipend on top of their tuition waiver. I sure as heck would have a regular job right now if I wasn't being paid to do get a degree. So, if your school could not offer money to science students, they would go elsewhere. But, if your grad program is in a humanities field tuition waivers wouldn't be the end of the program. In that case, students would just take out loans since that is what they do at so many similar schools around the nation.

  3. Define "collapse." Will there still be people who will come? Sure. I'm one of those fools - I had a crappy funding package to begin with and I haven't been funded at all in the last three years.

    But the lack of support results in the loss of a lot of really excellent candidates who simply can't afford to come without support. Smart people, creative people, people with good ideas - but if they don't have the money it's just not possible.

    This is particularly true of smart-but-poor people who may have managed to get through four years of undergraduate on loans, but they may hit their lifetime borrowing limit getting their master's degree, and then they're fucked.

    The loss of stipends will also have a further negative effect on attempts to diversify higher education, since minority status and lower socioeconomic status often go hand in hand.

    I consider these losses to be gutting a program.

  4. I was under the impression that the "free ride" wasn't as common in the humanities. I'm not in the humanities so I don't know for sure. If my belief is correct then I don't know that loss of funding would mean the end of a grad programs.

    I think it's more likely that the best students would decide not to go to Madison. I'd rather be funded at a number 10 school than not funded at a number 5 school. The student quality would likely decline and Madison would slip in the rankings.

    If one state cuts funding, then they loss out on the best students. If all states cut funding, then the best will become the best publics and mediocre privates will become the best of the best.

    As Barb suggested, I think that we as a nation might miss out on a fair number of great minority minds in academia. When given the choice between paying for grad school and paying for medical school I think that brightest minority students will take the higher paying outcome even though they might prefer physics/math/history/english/etc.

  5. Yeah, I think it wouldn't KILL a program, but it could wound it badly by sending its preferred students elsewhere. I was precisely one of those humanities free ride people at my discipline's #10 school because the #5 school wasn't offering me shit-- recruitment cash does work.

  6. @narfenugen and CMP: The top programs in the humanities and social sciences all give full-funding packages (tuition plus stipend). Some of them also admit pay-to-play students on top of the full riders, but as a rule of thumb, a PhD program in a non-science discipline that does not offer full funding to most or all of its students is by definition second-rate. My department, and many like it, only admits fully funded students with stipends. Our cohorts are small as a consequence, of course, but that is a good thing for the most part. The students are happier, and can do their work.

    All this to say that withdrawing tuition waivers and stipends from such departments will indeed spell the end of Wisconsin as a serious place for graduate study. Maybe some idiots will still be willing to pay for the long slog of a PhD there, but those departments will become by and large purveyors of Masters degrees to secondary school teachers and other individuals who need a credential and don't mind paying for one or two additional years of school.

    Now maybe that's no tragedy in the end, except perhaps for students already in those programs who feel the axe, and the ones stupid enough to go somewhere without a funding package. I won't speak to that. But certainly it would mean that Wisconsin and its faculty would have to rethink their programs and personal priorities. And it would certainly mean a steady stream of top faculty hitting the market in already over-crowded fields and disciplines. Good times.

  7. I spent the last three years teaching in a department that offered support and tuition waivers to only a few grad students each year, and most of the rest of them were truly pathetic--most lacked the basket-weaving skills and knowledge needed to be graders for an upper-division basket-weaving class, let along productive researchers. Most were retirees, international students looking for a prolonged vacation abroad, and rich kids trying to "find themselves" -- qualified students, who no doubt knew they could get a better deal elsewhere, stayed away in droves.

    Whenever undergrads ask me for advice about grad school, I tell them never to enroll in a program where they're not paying you to be there. What I haven't had the chance to tell any of them yet, but would if asked, is that if they're not competitive enough NOW to land one of the couple hundred grad school slots in our field offering full support each year, what will their chances be of scoring one of the dozen or so tenure-track jobs that opens up every year?

    Wisconsin's graduate programs are toast. This is really too bad; there are a lot of good people there.

  8. And @ Clarissa: I too did it in 5 as did many people I know.

    But, and it is a big, huge, colossal but, you can only do that while self-funding (as you did) if you are in a discipline that doesn't require a lot of expensive travel. It turns out that a lot of humanities and social science disciplines actually do involve travel to places like Starvistan (Black Dog) or incredibly expensive world capital (me). And you can't do that if you are tied down by outside jobs, TAing, adjuncting and the like. And it isn't something that most people can solve by breaking the research into numerous short trips. For one trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific air travel is expensive, especially when you start making multiple trips. For another, you might need to learn Starvistani, which isn't offered at many US universities, if any. So that means a long stay overseas or in an intensive program somewhere else before you can actually even begin research or field work. You aren't going to pay for that doing office temp work or whatever else gets you through when you are in residence.

    So maybe some departments (english, philosophy, econ, politics), or sub-sets of departments might still find paying customers willing to pay to play for a PhD. But for any non-American field of research in history, hss, anthropology, sociology, art history, and so on, this is a death-sentence.

    And because of the fucked-up way we have structured undergraduate instruction (relying on TAs, graders, and grad students teaching stand-alones) with an eye towards maximizing butts in seats while minimizing labor costs, it ultimately means something like the end, or severe downsizing of undergrad instruction in non-U.S. and especially non-western fields of research.

  9. I would also say that anyone who isn't independently wealthy ought to think many, many times before accepting anything less than a waiver-plus-stipend offer from a humanities Ph.D. program. Ph.D. candidates in the humanities still end up spending some additional money, partly for reasons Archie describes above, but the basics should be covered so that the students can concentrate on their work (at least until they add TAing to the mix, and that's distraction enough), and no one should be taking out loans to get a humanities Ph.D. in the present climate.

    I would also hope that programs would think twice about making such no- or low-support offers, given said climate. It may not be exactly what they signed up for, but a department which has suspended its Ph.D. program because it can't offer funding, and in which the proffies who used to teach the grad courses are now teaching the sections that the now-vanished grad students used to teach strikes me as having far more integrity than one which creates opportunities for senior faculty to teach graduate students by somehow selling the idea that their Ph.D. program is worth paying full freight for. Of course, the latter description just might apply to a few humanities departments *before* the current wave of budget cuts -- which is part of the problem. I suppose the only silver lining to the Wisconsin debacle is that it might cut the total number of Ph.D. programs in some fields by one or two. But, even if that needs to happen nationwide, it's not at all clear that it's good for it to happen in one state. it would make far more sense for Ph.D. programs to retreat to one or two flagship universities in each state, with thought given to using new technologies to make those programs as accessible as possible to people throughout the state.

  10. This sounds pretty bloodless but anything that cuts the legs out from under programs providing Ph.D.s in humanities right now can't be all bad. What disturbs me about the articles is the union busting stuff.

    No Ph.D. program in English is going to regulate itself to turn out less Ph.D.s. Yet we're turning out too many of them and there are no jobs. That shit needs to stop.

    Overall, there need to be far fewer Ph.D. students, and those students should get remission and an assistantship. The people in grad programs in English need to be cut by at least half. At least. Shrink the grad programs. Eliminate half the students.

    This doesn't have to eliminate faculty. Let them teach comp. Teaching undergraduates in gen ed courses is perceived as a thankless task by many, but it's precisely because of this apathy that students are coming out of school knowing less than they did 20 years ago.

    There needs to be a renewed focus on undergraduate teaching, especially in core courses. Cutting grad programs and aiming grad faculty at freshman can accomplish this.

  11. @Stella

    I totally agree. In some ways, this is a good move for the health of the profession. But the language going on in Wisconsin about university employees "milking the state" and grad assistants being the "haves" stealing from tax-paying "have-nots" is just unreal.

    Cutting tuition remission from TAships, RAships, fellowships... what if this spreads? What if those tea party idealists think this is a bang-smacking great idea? That's what bothers me.

    So I don't know. Keep an eye on Wisconsin.

    (@Clarrissa and others: We might be in different disciplines, but my discipline PhD averages 8.5 years nationwide. I got out in 7, but I knew plenty who stayed over a decade)

  12. @Stella:

    I agree with the spirit of what you say, but it is totally impractical, and also possibly damaging.

    To take the second question first… A moratorium on PhDs in American and British lit, or in U.S. and British history probably wouldn't hurt. Those are fields in which you have anywhere from 300 to 450 applicants per position at the moment--many of them with published books and no job. That's immoral, or at least unethical, and I refuse to write for undergrads who want to go do grad work in those fields.

    But there are also fields in humanistic/social scientific disciplines in which the ratio of applicants to jobs is not nearly as insane. In some non-western fields of history you might only have 20 or 30 qualified applicants per job, which frankly isn't criminal or immoral.

    So to take Wisconsin, since that's our test case: they have a top program in African history, one of only a tiny handful of such programs in north America. Maybe we could eliminate their U.S. program without looking back, but frankly we need as many Africanists as they can produce. Even though there aren't enough tenure-stream jobs for them, there are many opportunities outside of academia for someone with training and expertise, not to mention language skills, in African history. Ditto for west, south, and East Asianists. So if you drive a stake through Madison's history department, yes you eliminate a lot of the waste product of the system (American and British historians). But you also destroy one of the few good places for scholars in a field that needs bodies and that feeds non-academic demand as well.

  13. @ Archie -- @narfenugen and CMP: The top programs in the humanities and social sciences all give full-funding packages (tuition plus stipend). Some of them also admit pay-to-play students on top of the full riders, but as a rule of thumb, a PhD program in a non-science discipline that does not offer full funding to most or all of its students is by definition second-rate.

    Sortakindanotreally. My Ph.D. program was one of the top three in the nation, but it didn't offer a full ride, and as far as I know, none of the doctoral programs in my discipline do, either. They all offer a stipend and in-state tuition.

  14. As for whether departments will self-regulate, that cuts across all fields and disciplines. The profession is currently structured in such a way as to require warm bodies at the lowest possible cost. In other words, the pressure isn't just coming from lazy silverbacks who don't want to teach comp.

    So one can imagine, as an amusing thought experiment, an English department that decided to engage in just such an act of self-regulation and stopped admitting graduate students. Let us even imagine, for the sake of our thought experiment, that it is an unusually large English department--say 50 tenure-stream faculty--at a medium sized university with a fairly streamlined core curriculum--say one comp course and maybe one or two other requirements that might be satisfied in any one of several departments, and student body of 8,000 undergraduates. Let us further assume that faculty in this English department teach a 3-2 load, instead of a 2-2, and that now that they've done away with graduate education, all those courses go to undergrads. That's a maximum of 250 courses mounted per academic year, but with sabbaticals, retirements, administrative course releases, maternity/paternity leaves, medical leaves and so on, you are probably realistically looking at something more like 200 courses a year. You also need to limit comp classes to a maximum of 20, although 15 students is probably more ideal, so just to cover the comp part of the department's obligation to the core, they have to mount between 100 and 130 sections of comp per year. That's half or more of their available teaching right there. Then let's conservatively say that for their other contributions to the core/general ed amount to another 30 or 40 courses--maybe more with lower caps (no TAs remember), they've already burned anywhere from 130-170 of their available courses on service teaching. Now let's assume that this department has 300 majors, probably a lowball estimate for a school this size, and that those majors need 12-14 courses to graduate, only two of which can be filled with core/general ed courses. And let's assume again that in a world with no TAs or graders, upper-division courses for majors would be capped at 25 so as to allow faculty to continue to require writing as part of the English major. So that's another 48 or 50 courses, minimum, that the department needs to mount just to allow 300 majors to take four courses a year in the major. Add the service courses and the major courses together, and you probably wind up with something like 220 courses as the typical staffing requirement for the department to tread water. And the department can realistically hope to mount a maximum of 200 without help from grad students or adjuncts. How long before the Dean is on the phone to the Chair saying "get some fucking grad students now!" And remember, this back-of-the envelope thought experiment involved an unusually large department at a medium size school with a non-R1 teaching load. The reality is probably a lot grimmer at most places.

    So for departments to self-regulate in the way you suggest, administrators would have to open up the institutional wallet and hire more tenure-stream faculty. A lot more. That won’t happen, so bloated grad programs will continue to be the norm.

  15. @Mindbender: Can't really respond without knowing your discipline, but in history, hss, English, Anthro, Econ and more, stipend plus remission is the norm for the top-tier programs. Also, I'm not calling you a liar at all, but is there not a single top-tier department in your discipline at an Ivy or a pseudo Ivy like Hopkins, Stanford, Chicago etc.? Because those schools most certainly fund across the board in all departments. The stipends aren't always great, but at a lot of those places they are now nearly as much as I made in my first position.

  16. I don't have much I feel like adding here to the fray, only that I just finished at Madison this past year and I'm completely heartbroken at what is happening.

  17. @Archie: good point about the historians of Africa (and other non-American/European places). One could make the same argument, I think, about those studying post-Colonial Anglophone (and Francophone) literatures in English/literature departments (as well as those studying, using, and/or producing various kinds of new media, or studying composition and rhetoric, which is often not a separate department, or doing anything that sheds light on teaching ESL at any level). I'm not sure how you work that one out, since, at least in departments that traditionally assign graduate students only to tenured faculty, there can be an undersupply of people qualified to teach/advise in up-and-coming fields, and an oversupply in the already-oversupplied fields.

  18. @Archie--

    I like your thought experiment but it's a moot point because English departments never WILL self-regulate, dependent as they are on TAs for all sorts of things, as well as the fact that many faculty at R1s think teaching is only a tertiary concern and thus devote little time and energy to doing it well.

    But I'm not advocating doing away entirely with graduate programs in English, just curtailing them. This would be a good idea for law schools as well, but a curtailment there is just as likely--that is, not likely at all.

    As you point out administrators are also unlikely to hire ft teaching faculty to pick up any slack. Add all this together and you get our current state of affairs with regard to undergraduate education, especially with core courses.

    Many people think it's "beneath them" to teach undergraduates outside of their specialization. So at research universities the teeming masses are taught by those that are often ill-equipped to do the job, and/or grotesquely underpaid and overworked.

    This is why I would never send my daughter to an R1 school. Most of her teachers would be "TBA" for the first year or so. It would probably get better once she got to higher-level courses in her major, once she was "worth" teaching.

    I'm not paying top dollar so my kid can be taught by some wet behind the ears first-semester MA student, or an adjunct juggling seven courses at three different universities, for little pay and no benefits. I'm not sending her to a school at which the ft tenured faculty are busy with their own "more important" scholarly work and don't want to devote attention to educating students.

    I love The Iliad. But the world can do without another book on the Iliad. What it needs is more 22-year-olds that can actually think. To do that, they need to have had college professors that made teaching a priority, with all the work that entails.

  19. @ Archie: No offense taken. My discipline isn't found in any of the Ivies or sub-Ivies. Carnegie-Mellon, Purdue, and Rensselaer are about as close as it gets. Regular cash infusions from the parental units helped a great deal, as did the side job I got when I was working on my MA and then kept throughout the PhD.

    On a different subject, the calculation re: what would happen without cheap grad student labor is interesting, but it doesn't give full weight to what seems to be an obvious solution: lecturers. The situation at my present institution of higher ed-u-ma-cation is roughly similar to your hypothetical English department--a large English Dept., 3-3 loads, no significant grad program, scads of undergrads--and we've got quite the raft of lecturers.

  20. Anyone who goes to grad school in the humanities without full funding is a damned fool. This will, indeed, sink U. Wisconsin's grad programs. And good faculty will go where they can train grad students, if they can.

    I'm with Stella on not sending your kid to an R1. I'm a hell of a teacher and I work at one, but the classes are so large I don't know my students from Adam. And going that extra mile for lots of undergrads on a regular basis is a ticket to never getting a raise again. So it's mostly sink or swim, and lots of contact with TAs.

  21. Actually, I find that tenured faculty tend to be scared of the idea of teaching out of their comfort zone. I'm not sure why -- I find PhDs in their early 30s are willing to learn up and teach anything because it can be interesting or inspiring for their own projects. The older a PhD gets, the less willing they are to tackle new projects; by age 50 they seem positively shocked that I want to do an inter-disciplinary class or add Beetlenut Basket Weaving to my overall basketweaving studies course.

    Makes me sound harsh on the ageing, but the deeper someone gets into their own discipline, the less likely they are to think they are capable of stepping out of it.

  22. I don't know whether or not it might "kill" a program; but I know the state university system where I live has done just that at several schools. And it's threatening the same at others, due to the state-wide budget cuts that we've been facing for about two years now.
    From what I understand from some of my professors it's only going to get worse - having something to do with losing the "extra" stimulus money which the powers that be apprently burned through like sailors on shore leave. As my own program, in the Humanities, is under threat of being eliminated since it's not a revenue generating major, this has been a hot topic of discussion for the last two semesters.

    From the perspective of someone who is researching graduate programs, and the idea/prospects of pursuing a PhD in the near future, I have to say that the availability of a stipend and waivers offered by a school are the biggest factors in my decision. Simply put,there is no other possible way for me to realistically pursue an advanced degree otherwise.

    At least I have the luxury of having a job that pays me incredibly well to do what I do, as opposed to several fellow majors who will be strugging to find work come May.

  23. @Mindbender:

    OK, but then your discpline is clearly an outlier and not in any way indicative of the funding norms for humanities and social science PhD programs in the top tier.

    As for lecturers, it all depends. That sounds like a fancy word for adjuncts to me. And, sure, they're cheap, they're available, and they don't complain... much. But they are just another way to tread water and hope the problem disappears.


    Glad you brought up the 8%. That figure is in line with what most of the good state systems draw from their public coffers. Unfortunately, that 8% covers mostly employee salaries and benefits. So when the legislators want to show that they are men and women of action, the only part of the university's expenditure they can actually touch is compensation. They can't go after capital improvements, athletics, or any other number of things, because those come out of endowment and/or private sources.

  24. I spent some time at UW learning Starvistani. I also know that my Africanist colleagues teach classes here at Humpshack University (thanks, Strelnikov) that have waitlists TWICE the size of their classes. Yes, you read that right. If you teach a 30-person class on Africa, you'll have a 60 person wait list.

    Guess who's teaching those classes? Graduate students. Guess why there's no Africanist faculty member? Humpshack U's anthro department can't get its shit together to actually HIRE an Africanist...they keep getting distracted by sparkly gumdrop unicorns who study multiplayer video games in the Upper Peninsula. When they DO hire an Africanist, said Africanist sticks around for a couple of years and then figures out that, really? Humpshack U is not exactly hospitable to minorities...and most of the candidates that Humpshack short-lists for Africanist positions are minorities.

    Anyhow. Yeah. This blows. UW produces some fantastic Africanists and there is clearly student interest in taking classes from those folks.

    Among us experts on Starvistan, people going into our field used to be from the Moneyed Classes, and many still are. Others of us (points to self) sucked it up to get through school and now we have debt. My lending institution and I are on a first-name basis.

  25. @Mindbender: my English department, too, has "quite the raft of lecturers," meaning full-time non-TT people, who bear titles from lecturer (for those without a terminal degree) to Contingent Assistant Professor ("Contingent" is actually replaced with a slightly more euphemistic term for "non-TT") to Contingent Associate and (at least in theory; the system is still fairly new) Contingent Full Professor. We have full-time jobs with benefits, a 4/4 load, and no service or publication requirements.

    This may, indeed, sound like a solution, and to some extent it is; we're certainly better off and more integrated into the university than adjuncts. But we're considerably less well-integrated than the TT faculty (because we don't do service -- i.e. committee work); despite the titles, there's no real career ladder; and people like me, with a terminal degree and 20 years in the classroom, 10 of them at this institution, still make 2/3 of what an entry level TT assistant prof with minimal teaching experience does. And, of course, since we're not required to publish or given support for research (and since most of us end up teaching in the summer *and* doing some sort of other work to get by), our chances of finding another job should our contracts not be renewed, or finding a better (read TT) job, are even more limited than those of newly-minted Ph.D.s.

    Basically, it's a system that was created to be the Humanities equivalent of a postdoc, with the holders of these jobs moving on to TT positions elsewhere after a few years (or maybe, in the case of a few spouses of TT faculty, staying and treating the position as a "mommy track"). But instead it's become a dead end street for Ph.D.s and M.F.A.s (who are considered terminal-degree-holders, at least at my school), a bit more livable (and hence seductive) than an adjunct slot because the salary's a bit better and it's closer to being a "real" faculty job, but ultimately almost as exploitative. Although my department offers only a few small Ph.D. programs targeted to specific needs in our state/local area, I worry that our (highly-rated, high-quality, and in many ways very successful) M.F.A. program is taking the place of a Ph.D. program in providing cheap TA labor for intro comp and lit classes, and a supply of candidates for the FT Contingent slots (we hire some of our own, and also trade MFA grads turned full-time comp instructors with another large program across town).

    So, no, lecturers/FT Contingents aren't the solution. And one of these days, you just might see us marching along with the adjuncts, demanding equal pay for equal work/education/experience. It probably won't do us much good, but I can't help thinking that parents and legislators might be at least somewhat receptive to the argument that the people who are actually teaching the crucial but difficult intro classes should be paid as well as those teaching the esoteric, and in some ways easier-to-teach, upper-level ones. In some ways, I hate to make that argument, since it plays into so many stereotypes of proffies, and I know that getting to the point where one is qualified to teach the upper-level classes, and maintaining the degree of currency necessary to do so, isn't easy -- and I'd love to tackle that kind of difficulty myself some day. But the more of us there are stuck on the intro-class-only, low-pay track with no hope of escape, the more attractive any tactic for getting some respect, and decent pay for our at least equally hard work, and an institutional voice, and more security, looks, even if it's at the expense of the traditional TT faculty whom we now, at most institutions, outnumber.

  26. @AA: what you say about money coming from different places, and salaries (and benefits) being the most vulnerable, is definitely true at my R2 state school. We haven't had a raise in several years, course caps have gone up, adjuncts have been laid off, and the FT faculty are now receiving emails announcing a planned change in our retirement benefits (basically, we will have to pay more ourselves to get the university contribution; despite a lot of fancy footwork, part of the bottom line message is "you can put what you're saving on FICA this year into retirement," which of course defeats the purpose of the FICA reduction's economic-stimulus goal, and doesn't answer the question of what happens after the FICA reduction ends).

    At the same time, we're dodging construction vehicles on increasingly muddy and rutted campus roadways, crossing trenches flanked by enormous piles of earth on temporary walkways, and watching half a dozen shiny new buildings with all the latest bells and whistles go up. And there are signs marking the locations of still more buildings-to-come dotting the landscape. Part of the issue is the time lag associated with construction; the current projects were mostly planned and funded before the economy tanked (and are keeping at least some people in work during the recession, so that's to the good). But part of it is the different-coffers issue, and the total effect is a bit surreal: the post-neutron-bomb version of higher education, in which we'll have lots of buildings but few people.

  27. I tell my students that if a grad school doesn't offer you money, don't go, because that grad school doesn't want you enough to pay for you, which is a sure indicator of how you're going to be treated once you get there. (In my discipline money usually = TAship, ideally + some kind of fellowship or tuition waiver).

    I also tell them that they would be insane to go into debt to go through grad school in my discipline, because while the statistics in my field are not terrible (used to be 50% of PhDs got jobs; these days it's more like 20%) it's no slam dunk and it's not a degree you can go into industry or even teach high school with. So you have to go through grad school prepared to become a legal secretary at the end of the process anyway, and satisfied that you got to spend a few years doing something genuinely interesting, that you really loved. (And if that is not how you feel about it, get the hell out now ...) - but don't go into debt to do it, for heaven's sake.

    So Wisconsin would be off my list of places I would ever send a grad student to.

  28. I wrote this in the other thread, but thought I'd add it here: 40% of public teachers called in sick today, completely shutting down the Madison school system:


    Oh, and apparently the Packers came out against Walker. Football players supporting Unions?


  29. Monkey:

    Of course the football players are supporting the unions! Professional athletes in this country enjoy pretty effective union representation--much more effective than what more modestly remunerated workers enjoy. And with the NFL's collective bargaining agreement set to expire next month, you won't find another group of wealthy Americans more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of Wisconsin's public employees than professional football players.


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