I hate it when academics complain about the lousy money we make because it sounds so arrogant. Most people in the country are nickel and dimed to death, so what right do we have to complain from our ivory towers about the amount of money we get paid to read all day? I mean, I had it a lot tougher when I was getting paid to pick up road kill and pave highways with the road crew: not that I made less money, but it was more grueling. Actually, I made more money on the road crew, and as a janitor, and as a stock boy, and... To be honest, I don't think I've ever made less money than I do as an instructor.
I'm not mad exactly, but today I'm wondering how I'm going to do this. After the summer, I'm in debt. The research funding wasn't enough to do the research, and so things went on the credit card. No problem, right? But, now I've been teaching for four weeks, and finally, the state of New York has paid me. My paycheck? $459.76
I hate it when people tell me about their finances, but seriously, how am I supposed to pay off a mortgage, and car insurance, and eat food on that and a very occasional scholarship check? I'm fine with getting my videos from the library and my dental work from the dental school and all of the other shortcuts that we take to get through the month. But, I'm getting tired of this ponzi scam of higher ed. I'm tired of being told that I should be glad to be making less than a stock boy at Wal-Mart because other grad students can't get funding. I'm tired of being asked to starve for the first seven years of my career in order to secure another 'instructor' job at another university for another ten years or so, at a slight pay increase. And then maybe get denied for tenure and have to start all over again. Or perhaps I could go teach at a high school- and never get the pay increase. And listen to fatheads complain about how good I have it because I can take summers off!
Look, my point is that there is nobody who does this for the money, and they would be nuts if they did. We all do this job because we feel that it's some sort of sacred duty to society. There's no glamour to it, the pay is terrible, and there's really no respect conveyed by the role in this society. We do it because we think that in some grand scheme of things education is a noble profession- that it's a sacred role. And it is. But, man, it's hard to live a normal life in this role.