"Death of an Adjunct" and the value of labor
Robert Geroux September 20, 2013 - 8:11am
My condolences to Margaret Mary Vojtko's family.
I want today to make a small point addressing the question of labor and value. Again, I want to be brief. So here's an anecdote.
A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine developed a virus that damaged his hearing. He went to see a specialist who carried out a delicate medical procedure. The procedure involved the insertion of a needle into his eardrum, and the injection of some anti-inflammatory medication. Not a very pleasant experience to be sure, and upon leaving the doctor's office my friend happened to glance at the medical bill. The cost for a procedure that lasted approximately ten minutes? Three thousand dollars.
For those paying attention to the Vojtko story, that's the same amount, roughly, that many adjuncts are paid per course per semester.
Consider this stark contrast, then: two experts in their fields, highly educated and skilled practitioners following their respective callings. One person receives three thousand dollars for the labor of fifteen weeks. The other receives -- or rather, charges -- three thousand dollars for the labor of ten minutes.
Is this just?
About the Author
Robert Geroux is a political theorist and assistant professor of political science at DePauw University.