Monday, February 7, 2011

Final Jeopardy! (2)

I love my job.

I enjoy my teaching and my research. The committee work is boring, but if that's the worst part of my job, I'm doing just fine. I consider it a gift from God that the taxpayers, students, donors, parents, and alumni that support Florida State University pay me to do something I enjoy so much, and I try to make sure that they receive their money's worth.

Just a couple of months ago, the FSU administration announced a program to provide raises to 40 of its senior faculty. I was told I was eligible, so I began work on what FSU calls "the binder." A couple of weeks ago, the FSU administration realized that it was in a bind with the faculty union, and that, in fact, I was not eligible to even apply for the raise. (Quiz question: what criteria do you think that a faculty union requires for raises of this kind? Quiz answer: essentially seniority on site in Tallahassee! This shouldn't surprise any economics student.)

Anyone who knows me knows that even before this situation I have criticized unions which reward seniority above everything. I say that because it's obvious that I have a personal reason to be upset with the union over this. Set aside for a moment the fact that I put in several weeks of work on my binder before I was ruled ineligible. At the end of the day, I was not hurt. I am making exactly the same wage I was before, doing the same job I love. It's just that there are now 40 other people who are getting raises for a criterion I believe to be unjust. I feel that I am losing-out in a Tournament World? I am worried that I will receive the six months worth of Rice-A-Roni rather than the first-place prize. How does that make me any different than one of the workers in Jesus' parable about the workers in the field? It doesn't. My attitude makes me just like one of those workers. This situation causes me to be be deeply sympathetic with the attitude of the worker who wondered "Why is he getting that money instead of me?" But what I cannot ignore was what Jesus replied to someone very much like me (ESV):

"'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."

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