With the Beatles‘ recent popularity with generations who weren’t even around the first time around, you’d think that love is all you need. However, we live in times where even that sentiment, as lovely as it is, is not enough to counter the malaise of this recession. One of the feature stories in this month’s Atlantic Monthly, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America,” paints a grim future for the American job market in the next few years. The New York Times, not to be beat, is doing a series about “The New Poor” (coming off an era with the new rich) with a similar article: ” Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs.” The Atlantic Monthly makes predictions about the cultural changes to come while the NY Times takes a closer look at the systems in place to deal with unemployment and how they’re ill-prepared for this crisis. With the grimness pointed out by both sources, why not laugh at the futility of paying off credit cards on Cracked.Com.
Losing a job during these times is painful, but losing one after a several year probationary period can be quite infuriating. Last week, Amy Bishop, an assistant professor of biology at University of Alabama in Huntsville, shot at her colleagues at a department meeting, her motive largely that her tenure was denied. She was described as eccentric, which isn’t unusual for a professor. Academia is full of misfits. At the behest of her attorney, the assertion is made that she is crazy, therefore not responsible for her actions. Of course, the insane are full of rage and literary aspirations, as it has been revealed that she wrote not just one, but two novels, one of them reflecting her anxiety over tenure denial. Perhaps if she read “Life after Tenure Denial” right on time, the whole massacre might have been prevented. Or, maybe not. Unfortunately, for Bishop, life after tenure denial most likely means behind bars or in the mental hospital.
While “going postal” is never right, the anger in investing so much time to gain job security, in this case tenure, is understandable. Tenure track, unlike the typical probationary period of 90 days, can take a few years for the department to evaluate and decide if they want to retain the professor.
In this age of disposable employees, a New York Times career column (which really should be on Monster) tells us how to make ourselves indispensable to our workplaces. So cheery, optimistic, and guaranteed to get you the axe. Watch your back while following that piece of pop wisdom. You never know who else is trying to keep their job.
If you want to wait out this crisis until it’s over, you might want to consider this mid-1930’s idea.