San Francisco's KSFO, bastion of right-wing talking points for the poor out-numbered arch-conservatives who live in the Bay Area, has been cutting back. High-priced hosts like Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers have been shown the door and their erstwhile sidekick, Brian Sussman, has been elevated into the anchor chair. His feet may not be able to touch the floor as he sits in it, but Sussman is now KSFO's monarch of the morning drive time (although actual traffic reports come from “Officer Vic,” who now gets to be Sussman's yes-man).
My inner masochist occasionally takes over when I'm driving and tunes the radio to KSFO, just to see what the crazies are promoting at the moment. On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, listeners were treated to yet another paean to the wonders of running government “like a business.” This shows remarkable resilience in right-wing ranks, especially after the debacle of George W. Bush's “MBA presidency.” Yeah, another dose of the business acumen that destroyed the world economy is just what government needs these days!
During the 7 o'clock hour, Sussman started a little rant about the Obama administration's shocking lack of business people in its top ranks. While Reagan and the two Bushes had over fifty percent of their appointees coming from the world of business, the current administration's tally is only eight percent. Shocking! (While the numbers may be true, they came from one of Sussman's devoted listeners, so a block of salt might be indicated.) With Officer Vic providing sycophantic punctuation, Sussman began to rail against academia—the reputed source of the bulk of President Obama's political appointments.
By itself, this is no surprise. Right-wing talk-show hosts really don't like higher education and its purveyors. We tend to be too liberal for them. (Funny how education tends to make people more liberal, open-minded, and opposed to right-wing radio bigots. No doubt Beck University will fix that.) Nevertheless, Sussman managed to surprise me, a jaded liberal listening to a usually predictable spewing of right-wing talking points from KSFO. You might not guess, however, just how he managed to surprise me.
Check it out:
I begin to suspect that Sussman has never been on a university campus. Good thing tenure is so easy to obtain, though. Practically automatic.
Officer Vic: No.
Sussman: Basically you go out there and get a degree and maybe another degree and another degree. And then you work your way into— You get a job at a university and you publish papers that no one reads and you publish books that are unreadable and you speak [Officer Vic: You get tenure.] and your speaking can be completely boring and you teach and you can be the worst teacher on the planet but you get tenure.
Officer Vic: Yep.
Sussman: And then, you're in! That's it. You're in the club. It's nothing about being the best. There's no competition involved to move up the ranks of academia. It's not like in the real world. And that's who Barack Obama's surrounded himself—a bunch of propeller-heads, who have never produced anything. They've never produced a job. They've never managed large numbers of people. But it's all unraveling for these guys.It's true. Competition is anathema in academia. We don't compete for choice assignments, office space, grant money, promotions, or anything else. Never, ever. It's contrary to our communitarian nature.
Officer Vic: Payroll.I don't think Sussman actually goes into classrooms to listen to professors and deem them awful. He strikes me as a class-skipper. But that last sentence? Yeah, that's the part when Sussman took me by surprise. Millionaires? I think I need to talk to my union rep. I may be getting cheated! (Of course, I'm not a university professor, so perhaps I shouldn't quibble—except that I know plenty of university professors who earn less than me.)
Sussman: Never had to make payroll, never had to balance a budget. Never had to manage a profit-and-loss statement. Oh, they'll write about profit-and-loss statements, they'll write about how to manage people, they'll write and write and write and write, they conduct all this research. And again, I think it's hilarious. You read some of the books that these people write and they are unreadable. You hear some of the speeches that they give and you can't listen to them. You go to their classes and you listen to them teach and they're awful. But they've got their jobs and they're millionaires.
So Sussman thinks professors are millionaires who never have to make payroll, never create jobs, and never balance a budget. What an ignoramus. One of the problems at universities is the management of research teams, the budgeting of grant monies, and the allocation of lab space. One jumps through all kinds of hoops to get the funding the first place and then gets to do further mountains of paperwork to document its expenditure on personnel and resources. We even have similar challenges at my community college, even though on a smaller scale. (We seek external funding more frequently now that the state budget is such a mess, but it all comes with strings.) Maybe we have to deal with the NSF instead of the SBA, but many of us can commiserate with the entrepreneurs who deal with the latter.
KSFO's morning oracle continued:
Oh, good. Fashion advice from a radio jockey. Nice hair, Brian. What training academy does it for free just for practice? As a millionaire professor, I shell out $14 for each of my haircuts.