Furloughs at the University of California may be a “foregone conclusion,” but faculty members would be wise to carefully consider how the steps are taken, warns Ari Kelman, an associate professor of history on the Davis campus, in a post at The Edge of the American West. Given the choice between taking furloughs on “calendared days of instruction” or on “calendared intersession days when no formal instruction is scheduled,” he says he would pick the former, lest a dangerous precedent be set:
My sense was and is that if the state Legislature chooses to impose what amounts to a highly regressive tax (in the form of huge cuts in funding that necessitate furloughs) on a tiny subset of California’s population (most state employees), because it cannot or will not tax all of the state’s citizens, then we (those people being furloughed) need to make sure that the rest of the state understands that cuts in funding will result in cuts in services. I also think that if we don’t cut services, we’re in effect saying that we were overpaid before, allowing that the Republican fantasy of the lazy public sector employee is accurate.
Of course, he’s concerned about how those furlough days would affect students:
[L]osing more of the already scarce time we spend in the classroom with our students is going to be very difficult. In most cases, students will learn less. But these are very difficult times, and something has to give. [...]
And, he adds …
I think we have some responsibility to — along with a great deal of self-interest in — teach our students that taxes often equal services. Otherwise we’re withholding an important lesson about the spuriousness of Libertarian arguments and allowing the myth of a tax-free Ponyland to romp free through the fields of our charges’ unbridled imaginations.
Tell us what you think.