Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Taxation with too much representation is . . . bureaucracy! 

Eighteenth-century revolutionary James Otis is said to have coined the original version of this phrase before he was �rendered harmlessly insane� during an altercation. But even throughout his years of lucidity, it�s doubtful that Otis could have been able to comprehend the twisted nuances behind this blog�s title. Today, however, increasing numbers of our colleagues on this campus are coming to understand that over-representation by burgeoning bourgeois bureaucracies represents a uniquely insidious and insane form of tyranny.

Try to imagine yourself as both a taxpayer and a tenured professor at a large taxpayer-supported university in the middle of an unnamed state that�s surrounded by Wisconsin, Iowa, the Dakotas, and Canada. Regardless of how it�s measured, your state�s per capita tax burden consistently ranks among the top five in the nation.

But at least you have representation. In fact, per 100,000 citizens, your state has by far the highest number of legislators who represent you. Who pays for this legislative labyrinth to represent you? You, as taxpayer do.

To get themselves reelected these representatives decide to establish the most number of state-supported community and/or technical colleges and universities (53) spread from border to border across their legislative districts. Who pays for this porcine largesse? You, as taxpayer do.

To govern this sprawling web of higher education - that offers an incredible diversity of courses that range from Plumbing Materials & Tools, to Manicuring Techniques, to Understanding Oppression, to Classical Philosophy - an overarching central bureaucracy, headed by a Chancellor, is mandated to represent the interests of diverse programs. After all, �diversity is our strength,� these representatives of yours tell you. Who pays for these administrators to represent your discipline and university when carving up state appropriations? You, as taxpayer do.

To get more of your own tax dollars from legislators (who are paid for with your tax dollars) to pay for the central administration of your academic program that he represents, the Chancellor of the central office adds staffers as directors of government relations to lobby the legislature on your behalf. Who pays for these people? You, as taxpayer do.

To oversee the work of the central administration, you are represented by a statewide Board of Trustees and its Audit Committee. They employ the state�s taxpayer-paid office of legislative auditor to audit the system�s books. Who pays these people to represent your interests? You, as taxpayer do.

To audit the taxpayer-paid office of legislative auditor, an outside accounting firm is hired to represent your interests as taxpayer. Who pays for this firm? You, as taxpayer do.

But your own campus needs representation also. To represent your interests to the Chancellor your campus needs its own President, Provost, Vice Presidents, and an expanding office of administrators. Who pays for this representation? You, as taxpayer do.

To represent your collective interests as a faculty member, your taxpayer-paid legislature says that you must form a single inter-faculty union to represent all of your diverse interests as university professors across the state. In order to represent all professors, your own salary must never be linked to your personal performance. Even if you do not want that kind of representation, without your approval you�re still �taxed� a �fair-share� of $554 a year by the union.

To represent the interests of all university campuses to the taxpayer-paid legislators, a centralized statewide union, complete with a professional lobbyist, is established in your state�s capital city. Who pays for the representation that you don�t want? You do, through your �fair share taxes.�

Back on your campus, your local Faculty Association deems it necessary that you should be represented against any possible egregious behavior committed against you by your university�s administrators for whose services you have paid with your tax dollars. So they elect a local union president and senators to establish oversight governance committees to watch over and micro-manage every action by the university�s administrators for whom you pay. And of course, they'll represent you no matter what kind of nefarious deed you commit . . . even academic fraud; for you see, they'll represent you as a "victim." Who pays for the local union president�s release time and the work of the local senate? You do, both as taxpayer to the state and as �taxpayer� to the union through your �fair share� assessments.

If some of your colleagues perceive any wrong doing committed by any individual on your campus, of course the administration (and hence the taxpayer) must be vicariously liable. Lawsuits abound. But guilt must never be ascribed to any individual; collective �representative� guilt is the order of the day, as plaintiffs allege discrimination and win huge out-of-court settlements based on age, gender, race, and religion. Who pays for these settlements to plaintiffs and their attorneys? You, as taxpayer do. But at least you�re represented.

Bureaucracy rules! Just try not to get into an altercation, as James Otis did. After that incident he lapsed into insanity, and later died when he was hit by lightning.