Who pays for what we know?

August 12, 2006

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we pay for the knowledge we use to make life better, and how we have no good way to compensate many who do the most important work.  I had lunch today with some of my former co-workers at Verizon Wireless.  The gaps in pay between the best teachers and market-equivalent jobs in private industry are enormous — 100% or more in many cases.

Even small incentives to keep people in academia can produce huge results.

Over at a new, interesting blog, “Aspirations of a Joint Doc,” blogger Carpus notes that he’s got approval from NIH for a grant to pay off part of his student loans, if he can find funding and devote 80% of his time to research.  It’s supposed to be an incentive to keep this guy working in rheumatology — he saves lives, or reduces pain, or makes life worth living.

And I’d wager that his loan excusal isn’t half of what some companies throw away on projects that waste resources, but pleased a boss somewhere, at some time.

In academia, people are held accountable.  In private industry, stockholders rarely hear about it.

So, what’s this big drive to “make teachers accountable?”  Hello?  Are we even on the same planet?

But I digress.  Go give Carpus some traffic at Aspirations of a Joint Doc.

(Did I mention that he reminds me a lot of David Kessler when Kessler was finishing his pediatric residency, and working the Senate Labor Committee?  Can’t tell you exactly why, and it’s a gut reaction in any case with no data.  Joint doc guys always fascinate me.)

God we trust, to Girard we owe

August 12, 2006

Steel engraving of Stephen Girard, with his signature, by Alonzo Chappel,

Steel engraving of Stephen Girard, the man who personally saved the United States, with his signature, by Alonzo Chappel,”National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans from original full length portraits by Alonzo Chappel” Vol I, New York: Johnson, Fry & Co. 1862 “The Cooper Collections” via Wikipedia

Irony strikes the White House.

I mean, you can’t really make stuff like this up.

To be sure, the humor is quite Santayanaesque — if you don’t know the history, you won’t see the irony.

President Bush issued a proclamation noting the 50th anniversary of one of our national mottoes, “In God We Trust.” No big deal, these presidential proclamations. Note the occasion, say it’s worth commemorating, urge citizens to commemorate it “appropriately.”

Somebody in the White House communications commissariat decided to dress it up a little, add some history — you know, pad the proclamation to please the partisan pundits. What better thing to mention than, say, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem, which has a line in it, “in God is our trust?” Read the rest of this entry »

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