What it is like to be an under-paid, over-worked Ph.D. teaching in a university in the USA…http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/09/academic-penury-adjunct-faculty-as-the-new-precariat.html
One of the favorite discussion topics for students of English in Europe is: “my vacation”, or “holidays.”
The extreme version of this used to be the TV show in the UK called “Vacations from Hell”.
I don’t have a vacation. That is to say, I do not have a paid vacation. That is to say: I have jobs (three, in particular), but no one of those employers is obligated to contribute time-off. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. If I take a month-long vacation, I lose money during that month.
In Europe, there are laws requiring employers to give employees time off. –Usually about a month. Those laws do not apply to me.
So, here I am, a citizen of (what they call) the world’s only super-power, the so-called “richest” country in the world, and when I take time off, I lose money. I don’t get paid during any time I spend on vacation. Unlike all of the Europeans I know….
And here’s the irony. When I meet a European, frequently their reaction is something like awe when they hear I am an “American” because I must (they think) somehow share in the wealth and glory which (they imagine) is “America”. And the truth is that I don’t. But they do not like to hear that. And they may even begin to abuse and insult me if I dare to say so. If I am poor, it must be my fault. (Just like the headline yesterday of the newspaper owned by the second richest Czech citizen…Czechs don’t save. Threatened by poverty.–as if the problem was not low wages or the suffocating presence of advertising encouraging people to spend…..) I must be somehow bad if I am not pleased at punch at my status as an “American”.
Note: Mexicans are Americans. Canadians are Americans. But most people are talking about the USA when they talk about “America”.
Czech politicians are proud of themselves. They’ve got what? a Budget Surplus?
Is that it?
Otherwise put: They have under-spent on schools, hospitals, and public transport.
Teachers are under-paid. Nurses and doctors go abroad for better pay. And the buses and trains are over-crowded. Buses in particular are crappy–not only crowded, but too high off the ground, and with awful stiff suspension. (Also noisy…but that’s another story..)
But the Czech political class is proud and smug about all of this…..Of course their salaries are more than ample and they do not use public transport.
Rules for dealing with unusual weather:
Never mention anthropogenic global warming NEVER!
Keep cheer leading for auto sales! The more you sell, the better!
Buy as many cars as possible, and drive them every chance you get.
Fly as often as possible.
ETC ETC ETC
And never say anything about human-caused climate change.
In the accommodation which I rent from the University, one of my employers, there is a curious sort of lock on the bedroom door.
I can lock it only when I am physically present within the room. It locks only from the inside.
This guarantees that the authorities have unimpeded access to my personal space, so long as I am not here.
It would never occur to them that this is offensive. Nor is there any sign that they plan to change this. (They regularly embark upon various programs of reconstruction and improvement, so they might well have done something about this–if they thought it were important….)
On the contrary, the manager of this accommodation once protested that students haven’t got the right to prevent an inspection of their premises….Students here have few rights. (And despite my age and education, I seem to be mostly treated as if I were a student….)
I am reminded of an English television show about “George Gently”and child abuse. The premise was that so long as people continue to “respect” their elders, the practice could continue….
What I heard in the USA:
There is massive denial of global warming-funded by companies who profit from the sale of vehicles…..
Every day, numerous times through the day, there are advertisements for cars on TV.
Ordinary people know more about car brands than they know about European countries.
The actual content on TV is crap, but to make things worse, there are frequent advertisements interrupting that so-called content (which has very little of substance),
and most of those adverts are for cars……
Do you doubt anthropogenic global warming? Scientists don’t. (I am not going to provide links just now….But, it is shocking that so many of my students seem to think there is a question here. It is no longer true, if it ever was true, that students in Central Europe have made a serious study of science. In the era of Communism, I believe that people said that students in Central/Eastern Europe were allowed to study and be good at the natural sciences and mathematics because they were not political subjects….From what I see today, that is very much a thing of the past….)
I am visiting family in August, so there may not be much posting. I expect to do more blogging in September.
Friday afternoon I had a job in the outskirts of Pardubice. Someone might call it an industrial “park”—or even a “greenfield site”. Both expressions would be misleading.
It is visibly in the start of the countryside. There are even fields being cultivated near my workplace.
However, to call it a “park”or to speak of “greenfields” falsely suggests–and this false suggestion is common to Communist tower-block suburbs (eg Petrzalka in Slovakia) and suburban neighborhoods just outside Capitalist metropolists (Chicago or Dallas)—that the area is more pleasant than it is.
Mostly, there are no sidewalks, and the pedestrian must avoid enormous trucks. (Like the one used to commit murder in Nice.)
The actual roads are devastated–not even full of pot holes, so much as falling apart. They are only spotted remains of what used to be a paved road.
And as the decrepit bus bounced and shimmied and shaked along one such devastated former road, my thoughts were interrupted by the abrupt presence of someone asking me to prove I’d paid. But shit! Really! I had only just gotten on the bus exactly one stop before, and I had purchased a ticket from the driver!
Out of my Way!
When they boarded the bus,
it stunk of cigarettes.
But they were young enough so that,
their bad habits had not caught up with them yet,
except just one that was going to.
Displaced and tired,
they might have been Ukrainians,
working at the Taiwanese factory known for exploitation,
and murder through the failure to put in elementary ventilation
in its Mainland China factories….
They still had some youthful hope,
and what the fuck,
they were free from work for another day,
or maybe two or three.
Except that they didn’t pay for their ride,
and the ticket-checker was coming to get them,
plodding and deliberate,
she had all the grace of a wilted flower,
she was righteous in her pursuit of free riders,
and I watcher her as she demanded legitimation from one young man,
sitting high in a seat in the front of the bus,
“Haven’t got it”.
And so she sat down to fill out the form,
using the ID he’d given her.
All of it done as if it mattered.
That’s the sort of place this is:
One miserable person pushes down on another,
and no one notices or cares.
Bicyclists proudly pedal their off-road bikes
and pedestrians scatter.
You have to keep your eyes open on Pardubice’s sidewalks:
there are bikes and roller-skaters who don’t care about you,
because you are in their way.
And if you get hit,
hell, it’s your fault anyway.
They will gladly run you down,
pedaling a bike with military tires,
they do not see you;
Like the ladies who guard the entrances to university housing,
they have an air about them,
an air of superiority and condescension:
you are beneath their notice,
an object of contempt.
When we’re on top,
we don’t hesitate to kick someone who’s stuck below.
Get out of my way!