Jay Greene learns G.I.-Speak


by David Safier

If Jay Greene were confident about the quality of the research in his report claiming university adminstrations have grown faster than the growth in their student bodies, he would proudly refute the specific charges that he used shoddy, slanted research techniques.

Greene is a college prof who does scholarly research as part of his job. He knows how to engage in scholarly debate.

Instead, he indulges in G.I.-Speak, where logical fallacies are employed to confuse the issue.

And, true to G.I. form, he uses one fallatious argument over and over, obeying the Rovian axiom: If you say something often enough, that makes it true.

Greene's argument goes like this.

Universities say, "Recently, due to budget cuts from the state, we've had to cut back, and whenever we could, we spared the classrooms and made cuts in administration."

Greene responds, "See? You didn't need all that excess administration after all."

UA spokeswoman Jennifer Fitzenberger questioned the way in which Goldwater counted administrators, because it included among them other professional workers, including academic advisers.

The UA's own figures for administrators show around 0.37 per 100 students consistently from 2000 to 2010, a period in which enrollment grew 18 percent and research spending grew 58 percent, she said.

During the recession and state budget cuts, the UA protected instruction and research jobs while cutting 600 other jobs, Fitzenberger said.

Greene said that shows the universities can cut fat when they need to without hurting the quality of education. [emphasis added]

No, Jay, you're wrong. Your logic stinks.It's very possible the cuts in "adminstration" hurt the quality of education, but the university made the cuts where they caused the least damage, in the short term anyway.

When a family or a business or a school cuts back on expenses because they have budgetary problems, they try to cut the areas that cause the least pain, but that doesn't mean those things weren't valuable.

In hard times, parents may wait until their children's toes are leaking out of their shoes before they buy new ones rather than cutting back on food. Would Greene say, "See, those kids didn't need new shoes after all"?

A business might cut back on Research and Development if it's strapped for cash. The business' future may be bleaker because it doesn't develop new products, but in the short term, it's more important to keep the products flowing and money coming in. Would Greene say, "See, you didn't need all those scientists puttering away in their labs after all"?

It's the same with schools. Lots of the positions Greene lumps in as "administration" can be cut, but the students suffer. They get less help from guidance counselors, which can result in students dropping out. The technology isn't maintained, so students lack resources vital to their educations. Librarians are cut back, so librarians no longer have time to assist students. And yes, genuine adminstrative positions are cut, which can mean things don't function as well in the present, and there isn't adequate planning for the future.

And Greene says, "See, you cut back on 'administration.' That means you didn't need it after all."

Jay, I don't know if you teach, but if you do, would you let a student get away with that kind of fallatious logic in class or in a paper? I hope not. I would have called a student on that kind of faulty reasoning in my high school English class.

Your logically challenged answer may be politically astute, but it's intellectually bankrupt. It's right up there with Ladner's assertion that Bus Drivers and Bureaucrats. (Do you believe Bus Drivers are Bureaucrats? I guess you do, since you maintain that IT people are administrators.)

I don't know what they do at Goldwater Institute to get their highly paid employees to act with such moral abandon. Maybe everyone is required to have a scruple-ectomy before they get their first swivel-and-tilt desk chair.