Jason Michael Sisk

Who’s Making What at IU?

The Indianapolis Star just ran a story on public salaries, including numbers on IU and Purdue employees. It’s interesting to know this sort of stuff (much of which I’ve already known for years, thanks to an internal site at IU). You can even look up my salary if you’re profoundly curious – information is born to be free.
Following are more points I hope people will consider, in addition to the Star’s story.

  1. From my individual perspective, there are a lot of folks at IU that are paid way more than they’re worth to the student body (and thus, the public we serve). I can’t really say much more about this, for fear that it may sound gossipy or slanderous. (Heck, people probably think the same about me.) For my part, I do my best to do my job, stay educated, and share my knowledge when possible. I like my work, and feel fortunate to have my position. Such is not the case throughout the entire system. (Then again, this complaint probably applies to 90% of the world’s workforce. Employment, by nature, is antithetical to human existence, in my stupid opinion.)
  2. When you think about public salaries, keep in mind that there are many numbers you don’t see. Two examples. First, consider that the numbers you’re seeing for IU employees are base salaries only. They don’t include things like dual-appointment faculty, medical practice income, kickbacks from public/private partnerships, and so on. When you add up some of those numbers, the results can be pretty different for certain individuals. (In some cases, it evens the playing field. In others, it makes some look like the greediest bastards in the state.) Second, remember that a lot of state and municipal employees are privately employed under government contract. (My wife is an example of this, actually.) Public revenues are still funding these folks, and they still fall under the scope of public service. How much they’re paid (or not) very much comes down to how the contract was negotiated – and either way, those records are not for public disclosure.

Point two, of course, means that free-market forces attempting to privatize government will also shut off the information valves that contribute to the public’s ability to debate these very sorts of issues.