I do not usually respond to responses to my columns, but in this case, a few points are necessary to counteract the disinformation leaked by certain members of the Wesleyan community.
Firstly, I am grateful to Mr. Canalia for providing the actual figures on the Physical Plant story. In the absence of any administrative source on the matter, I’ll accept that his figures prove that I was wrong about the union obfuscating its figures, and I am sorry for writing that. The union clearly has a case (whether it is a good one remains to be seen), and if nothing else, my column can be read as a critique of how it is making that case.
However, I do have to respond to the absolutely disgraceful allegations of Rob Wohl, who seems so intent on auditioning for Media Matters that he ignored his own role in my so-called “dishonesty.” I do not have my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary handy, but the term “dishonesty” implies willful desire to mislead one’s audience, which my column does not exhibit. He claims I proved “absolutely nothing.” To the contrary, I proved that, depending on the percentage of the union members’ income which they spend on healthcare, the University’s proposed plan COULD be profitable, and so the union’s arguments were nowhere near as conclusive as one might think. Of course, if Mr. Wohl had done something useful like providing the figures in his article, this whole mess might have been avoided, but apparently he was too busy quoting biased sources to be concerned with the facts.
Unlike the pious Mr. Wohl, however, I admitted that my numbers were not an attempt to describe reality. I chose the $100,000 figure because it was a round number (which Wohl would find out if he bothered to read the column, which he clearly didn’t). I was not attempting to prove that the union WILL make profit, but that they CAN make profit. If Mr. Wohl does the math with a smaller number and the same proportions, I’m sure he’ll find that my logic holds. In fact, it gets stronger because as income gets smaller, that $2,500 lump sum raise gets increasingly generous, percentage-wise, even if it is one-time. However, Mr. Canalia has provided the numbers, so this is a moot point.
As for the “four percent inflation rate,” it should first be noted that Mr. Wohl’s piece makes absolutely no reference to this, and secondly, it should be noted that inflation is not the fault of the University, and thus not its responsibility. The same goes for “rising healthcare costs.”
But finally, let me make one thing clear, which I also made clear in the column—the union has a right to negotiate in unfavorable circumstances, and it should exercise that right. However, that does not mean it is immune from being questioned, especially when it will impact the students. I did not mention this in my column, but a raise in union wages necessarily means that less money will be spent on the students, and more will be spent on the union. Money is tricky that way. Moreover, as I mentioned in my column, these jobs can be done with less hassle at a lower price by subcontractors, meaning that the money COULD be spent on the students. Therefore, while it may give the student demonstrators warm fuzzies to side with the union, the union’s case actually goes against student interests. As such, no matter how convincing their case is, trying to enlist students into a cause which will potentially compromise their own education is, at its most basic definition, “Wesploitation.”
So good luck, Mr. Canalia. For your sake, I hope this works out. Nothing personal, but it’s not the students’ fight. Moreover, Mr. Wohl, writing a column about something when your only source of information on it left out most of the facts is not “dishonest,” it’s “the best that can be done under the circumstances.” Bill O’Reilly called. He wants his unwarranted moral indignation back.