Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's a Lovely Paper You Have. You Wouldn't Want Anything to Happen to It Would You?

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.-Upton Sinclair
Speaking of the CDT and Penn State flack Bill Mahon, he recently penned an op-ed for the paper. It was in response to a CDT editorial which criticized the University for having the highest tuition of any public university in the country. What makes this op-ed interesting is that it contains a veiled threat to use the University's economic muscle to punish the CDT. In fact there were two veiled threats. The first is this reminder to the CDT about which side of their bread is buttered by the University.
Two-hundred-eighty million dollars [of the Penn State budget] is associated with self-supporting budgets such as housing, food services, athletics, the Bryce Jordan Center, conferences and the Nittany Lion Inn. Cutting that just means fewer jobs and less tourism in the region, not to mention less material available to fill the CDT sports pages.
Then there was a reminder that many CDT readers depend on Penn State for their livelihood and they suffer when Penn State holds tuition down.
Before editorializing that Penn State's administration needs to have its feathers ruffled, it might be a good idea to speak to the thousands of CDT readers who are Penn State employees. These dedicated Penn Staters, in order to help us keep tuition increases down, received pay raises that barely kept pace with inflation, had their college and department budgets cut by millions of dollars, will see their instructional workloads grow and are asked year after year to tighten their belts further.
The unspoken premise is that we will redirect their ire about the measly raises and heavier loads from us to you.

Now most people understand that a paper like the CDT in a town dominated by a single employer, as Penn State dominates the Centre Region, cannot be too critical of that employer for fear of economic retaliation. However the threat is typically understood but not spoken. Rarely do you see even a veiled threat such as this. Therefore the op-ed is educational, while at the same time, it is appalling.

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