Interesting Links for 01-09-2014

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:00 pm
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Posted by Iain Donaldson

On 27th August as a party of the new Liberal Democrat media strategy of Manifesto by a Thousand Statements, in the name of the party it was announced that The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to introduce a trio of wealth taxes which will help to cut the deficit whilst ensuring fairness in our tax system.  I fully understand the need to wipe out the deficit, and the need for the wealthiest to bear the greatest burden in achieving that, but let us not confuse that with making our tax system fairer.

National Insurance is a tax on income.  It is paid at a rate of 11% on earnings between £7,956 per year and £ 41,865 per year above which it drops to just 2%.  Surely integrating NI into Income Tax, thereby raising the basic threshold to the proposed £12,500 and reducing the rate of payment substantially (we are always told that the richest 10% pay the highest burden in tax) would be a way of  ensuring fairness in our tax system.  This is a measure that would have a direct impact on the daily lives of the majority of our citizens, rather than just playing to the politics of envy.

Fairness could be further enhanced by having a wider set of income tax bands (let us say 0% to 50% with 10% increments) and basing the thresholds for those wider income tax bands on the aggregate national average wage for men and women.  By basing the threshold on the average for men and women you instantly make equal pay for equal work personally profitable to the board of directors because an increase in pay for women to equalise it with that for men would be a low cost option for increasing their personal tax thresholds.

Further we could make all income subject to the appropriate rate of income tax, on the transfer of capital we simply deduct the purchase price from the sale price at time of transfer and tax the increase in price at the appropriate tax threshold for the year.  Arrangements could of course be made to offset the threshold over 7 years and pay the income tax on transfer of capital over a number of years to give families the opportunity to retain property in the event of death.

As for the policy of limiting the tax relief on pension pots to £1m this is a fiscally illiterate gimmick.  Pensions are deferred income and taxed as such making them a very good investment, indeed the only investment we have in the UK that can compete with tax havens.  If we limit the pot to £1m then the balance which would generally have been invested in the UK will go instead to tax havens.  We will get no tax from the interest it accrues or the annuity it no longer pays out because instead of that money helping to reduce the British fiscal deficit it will be invested offshore.

* Chair of Manchester Gorton Liberal Democrats, a member of the NW Regional Executive and the English Council and a former City Councillor of 19 years

Ritchie on corporate management

Sep. 1st, 2014 09:44 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

What if it thinks there can be more than one business model (it was, after all, the Co-op trying to adopt the standard business model that caused its problems)?

Eh?

Set this in context. The Co-op succeeded. It cannot do so as any other business. It can only do so as a Co-op.

What?

The Co Op damn near went bust as a result of having an incompetent from among the insiders running the bank.

I was intrigued by Paul Myners’ demand that now that the Co-op has had the temerity to change his plan for its governance that they must ‘now bring in a top-class chairman and chief executive from outside’. Rumour had it that this is not the plan: insiders are tipped for these posts. I am not surprised; the evidence seems very clear that outsiders, Myners included, have great difficulty understanding the Co-op’s mind set. That to me makes an insider as as an obvious a choice for this job as an insider is to head John Lewis, where the current incumbent as CEO proves just how successful such appointments can be.

This, however, hadme thinking very slightly more than usual about the structure of UK board management and the conventions surrounding it, which it can fairly be said Myners represents.

??

Well done Ritchie!

Sep. 1st, 2014 09:36 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

So, he asks rhetorically:

How many things can you get wrong in a sentence?

In the comments he gets his answer:

A lot, it seems.

“From 1919 until 1970 peacetime debt was higher than now (and the above data fails to take QE into account). The claim that there is unprecedented UK peacetime debt is wrong.” (From Ritchie himself)

Apart from simply ignoring World War 2, you do realise wartime debt doesn’t suddenly disappear when the war stops, don’t you? During the two wars defence spending hit over 50% of GDP alone, pushing total government spending over 100% of GDP. In rough terms each war added about 125% to the debt/GDP number.

Under Labour, pre-crisis the UK had about 40% debt/GDP. We are now around the 90% mark. So it’s the biggest peacetime increase in the debt/GDP ratio, and the biggest ever peacetime budget deficit.

Ouch. Guess Ritchie won’t need to walk into a door to find out what it feels like now.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

This one. Want to check something in it……

And having read it, yes they did correct for socio economic status (or at least, maternal education, as a proxy) Meaning it didn’t make the mistake I thought it might.

RIP Simon Titley

Sep. 1st, 2014 08:00 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Just two and a half months ago, we had to report the desperately sad news that Simon Titley, stalwart of the Liberator collective, was seriously ill.

Simon passed away yesterday morning. The thoughts of the LDV team are with all who were close to him.

At this time of year, the Liberator Collective are busy preparing for Conference, putting together the Liberator Song Book and their pre-Confeernce magazine. The Glee Club will be full of emotion this year.

Simon wrote several articles for this site as well as his regular Liberator previews which you can read here. I want to highlight just two.

In 2012, just after that dazzling Olympics opening ceremony, Simon told us to basically stop being so craven and to get out and shout our liberal message because we clearly had support out there for it:

The Liberal Democrats should take heart from this trend. For as long as I can remember (and I first joined the Liberal Party in 1975), Liberals have been inclined to apologise for their liberalism, too willing to pull their punches, too keen to split the difference, more concerned to mollify illiberal opinion than to enthuse and mobilise liberal opinion. (Don’t believe me? Just look, for example, at the shameful way our party has fought recent Euro elections). And this is basically why the Liberal Democrats have failed to consolidate a core vote.

The question of a core vote has been the subject of two recent pieces on Liberal Democrat Voice (here and here). In response to both of these pieces, I commented that a potential core vote already exists, among people who are younger, better educated and more cosmopolitan, as I explained in more detail here.

Social trends are moving our way; more people have what pollsters describe as ‘drawbridge down’ values. So the party should abandon its habitual cringe towards illiberal opinion and express pride in its Liberalism. Let the Tories, Labour and UKIP fight over the ‘drawbridge up’ vote; we have no business competing on that crowded territory. Our job is to rally the growing number of tolerant, educated and cosmopolitan Britons – people who have nowhere else to turn if we let them down by being too timid or defeatist to be true to our values.

Three years earlier. he was irked by the use of jargon and translated the opening of the Bible into PR speak to illustrate his point.

1. At the outset, God’s agenda was to basically focus on his core deliverables, namely two leading-edge products, (a) heaven and (b) earth.
2. However, the earth lacked an overall concept, and had a low profile in terms of its key audiences. Obviously the Spirit of God had to step back and benchmark the existing waters before his game plan could get the green light.
3. And God’s key message was that light was a strategic objective, and it was covered-off.
4. And God’s perception of the light was that it was fit for purpose. However, his desired goal was that light and darkness should be differentiated in the marketplace.
5. So God branded the light ‘Day’, and the darkness he branded ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Light’. And the evening session and morning session made up Day One.
6. Then God set out with the object of factoring-in a firmament to interface with the existing generic waters, to bring to the party two segmented brands.
7. So God tasked himself with the job of rolling-out a firmament, to supply a proactive vehicle for launching his two distinct waters products, and it was up and running.
8. And God branded the firmament ‘heaven’. And at close of play, the prioritised actions for Day Two were ticked off.

Please feel feee to share memories of Simon in the comments thread.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The date at which a foetus might be viable has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose.

The thing being that we’ve a Sorites Paradox here.

At one end of the process we’ve entirely separate gametes, each housed in their entirely different host bodies. Usually, but not always, there are two people involved in the process. And at the end of that process we end up with a third, entirely autonomous, different and unique, human being.

The process takes some 22 years in our current culture. From the meeting and fusing of those gametes to the near universally acknowledged full independence of that child when it reaches 21 years of age. Actually, it’s getting a little later as child support notionally stops when the child leaves university these days.

Our problem is that this is a Sorites Paradox. It’s very difficult to insist that the unfertilised egg is a human being deserving of all the protections against, say, being torn limb from limb, that we grant to fully independent human beings. It’s equally very difficult to insist that one 3 days from uni graduation is not eligible for those protections. But where exaclty is that dividing line? That’s what the Paradox itself is: where does a pile of sand become not a pile, where does life become life?

I agree entirely, as I always do on this subject, that I’m an extremist. My position is that life starts where positive action has to be taken to stop it doing so. Thus the egg that needs to be fertilised is not life: contraception is fine. But a fertilised egg left to its own devices in a fallopian tube, which will, if left alone, implant and grow and in that fullness of the 22 years become that independent human being? One that requires positive action to prevent it doing so? That’s life. Meaning that Ru-486 (or whatever) is not OK. That’s an abortifacient.

There are subtleties here: an ectopic pregnancy isn’t ever going to lead to that 21 year old. Thus intervention to stop it killing the mother is just fine (an attitude which even the Catholic Church supports even if you’ve got to ask a few times to get them to agree publicly).

But as I say I’m an extremist on this point, something I know and happily admit. I’m also entirely aware that most of the people I share this society with don’t view it this way. further, that the law ain’t ever gonna be the way I think it ought to be.

However, this still leaves us with the point that this really is a Sorites Paradox type problem. There is no clear and solid dividing line. All we can do, when setting the rules, is go with what most people think is about right. And that’s where viability becomes important. Almost all, almost (sadly only almost) are revolted at the sometimes US (and also Chinese for forced abortions) practice of inducing birth then sucking out the brains of the foetus/child (still Sorities here!) so as to make sure that a live and viable baby is not born. Because almost all agree that that’s sometime past that point at which this new human being gains those protections against being torn limb from limb.

Similarly most are, if not happy, will at least acquiesce, in the idea that a gob of 6 week old meiotic cells is not a human being and can be done away with according to the putative mothers’ wishes.

All of which brings us to what the society around us generally believes is the defining point about which is that tipping point in our paradox. I may not like it that my fellow citizens think this way, you obviously don’t either. But they all do: viability is the defining point. Far from that date of the foetus potentially being viable having nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose our fellows regard that as the defining moment. As and when it can be born and live it’s a human, before that it’s not.

Monday morning

Sep. 1st, 2014 08:56 am
[personal profile] strangecharm
In a moment of Morrissettean irony, I woke up too sick for my doctor's appointment this morning.

The headache I've had off and on for a week has come back, but I'm also feeling generally achy, dizzy, and I think slightly feverish. And of course I'm exhausted, but I did have a poor night's sleep, waking up partly because I was feeling so rough.

I got out of bed to phone and cancel my appointment and get a glass of water, and have gone back to bed feeling very sorry for myself indeed. Which is the last thing I needed more of, really, isn't it.
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Poverty inquiry finds growing inequality in schools
Gulf between children from low- and high-income families is starker than ever, leading to social isolation and bullying

The obvious answer to which is that children from poor and children from rich families should be educated separately. Yet the entire thrust of education policy for the past 70 years is that all children, rich and poor, must be educated together in comprehensives.

Meaning that it’s just not possible to win, is it? Either all are educated together in which case there will be such inequalities but if we do something about separating the unequal then we’re divisive fuckers, aren’t we?

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Gas cooker

Free school meals for all primary school children is today’s Liberal Democrat proposal floated in the media:

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Laws rejected criticism of the current programme to provide free meals for five- to seven-year-olds, and said the scheme would be rolled out for seven- to 11-year-olds in the lifetime of the next parliament if the Liberal Democrats are re-elected…

Mr Laws was speaking as 16,500 infant and primary schools prepare to start serving free meals to five- to seven-year-olds this week – realising a commitment made by Nick Clegg as his party’s conference last September…

“It is one of the most important policies that we in the Liberal Democrats have delivered within the Department for Education since 2010,” he said. “It is on a par with the pupil premium” – which gives schools extra money for every disadvantaged pupil they take in, extending early years education to two-year-olds and improving accountability measures for schools.

“I’m a passionate advocate of the policy because it achieves so many things – it deals with child poverty and increases the socialisation of children,” Mr Laws said.

The is one part of the pre-manifesto document which will get debated at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow this October. Nick Clegg’s foreword to that document, along with some of its highlights, was published at the weekend.

Take a look at my archive of policy posts to see the other proposals recently launched that will also feature at Glasgow.

Timmy elsewhere

Sep. 1st, 2014 07:09 am
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Posted by Tim Worstall

At the ASI:

An open letter to Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP.

She really needs to have a word with the Daily Mail for the paper has made her views sound like those of an idiot.

Quite clearly you’ll want to make sure that the Daily Mail corrects this terrible misrepresentation of what any sane or sensible person could possibly believe on this subject. My suggestion is that you start by calling 020 7938 6000 and ask for a certain Mr. Paul Dacre. He should be able to sort out matters for you.

Interesting news from Saxony

Sep. 1st, 2014 06:58 am
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Posted by Tim Worstall

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which wants Europe’s crisis countries, including Greece and France, to leave the eurozone and aims to retrieve powers from Brussels, stormed home with a record ten per cent of the vote in polling in the eastern state of Saxony.

Not so much will France leave the euro but will the Germans force them to at some future date?

This comes only a year after AfD’s founding……

Erm, no, this isn’t quite correct

Sep. 1st, 2014 06:48 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Half of young women can’t ‘locate their vaginas’

I think that it would be fair to say that 100% of young women can locate their own whatsits even if their boyfriends have certain problems with the more technical details like G-Spots and the like.

As Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Cancer month kicks off, a study shows half of 26 to 35-year-old women are unable to correctly identify a vagina on a medical diagram of the female reproductive system

Half are unable to locate a diagram of a whatsit on a diagram of lady bits, a diagram stripped of all the flesh that usually covers them, well, that’s not quite so bad, is it?

I’m pretty sure that all young men and women can locate their shoulder but wouldn’t be surprised if a rather lower number could identify it as the ball and socket joint in a diagram.

This leaves with the real problem in our society which is the inability of politicians to locate their arses with their own hands, or to distinguish such from their elbows. That is a serious problem and one which we have struggled with for some centuries now.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by admin

The more that follow Kelly route the bigger the task at GE2015

Dudley South was won by the Tories at GE2010 with a majority of 10.1% and is LAB target number 75. On current national polling it is one of a critical batch of seats that Labour needs to gain in order to secure a working majority. Currently Ladbrokes make the Tories 4/5 favourite to retain it.

It was won by the Tories in 2010 by Chris Kelly who announced last night that he will not be standing again at GE2015 making him the eighth from the CON 2010 intake to announce such a move.

The chances are that his decision will impede the Tory effort to retain it. For one of the electoral dynamics that we have seen is that first time incumbents do better than the national average for their parties when they seek to retain their seats for the first time. See my post from last year.

Labour has been seeking to undermine this factor by in quite a number of cases re-selecting former MPs to fight the LAB-CON marginals that were lost in 2010. My own seat of Bedford and Nick Palmer in Broxtowe are good examples. It will be interesting to see if this strategy has an impact.

    The Tories have been investing a lot of hope in the first time incumbency dynamic and they are probably right to expect a 1-2% boost. But this requires the MP who won for the first time in 2010 to stand again.

The more that first term Tory MPs follow the Kelly route the bigger the challenge for their party in hanging on to power.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Apparently I got someone arrested

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:41 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
On my way over to catch the bus, noticed a guy sleeping on the edge of the bus lane, next to the wall that defines its edge. Safe where he was but one roll away from being where bus tires pass. Pointed him out to a security guard on the grounds being crushed under a bus is not restful. Found out this evening a very drunk guy was arrested at the terminal about the time I pointed the fellow out, so I guess that is what happened.
[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by Corey Robin

The New York Times has weighed in with a strong piece on the Salaita affair. This is significant for two reasons. First, while we in academia and on social media or the blogosphere have been debating and pushing this story for weeks, it hasn’t really broken into the mainstream. With a few exceptions, no major newspaper has covered it. Now that the Times has, I’m hoping Salaita’s story will get even more attention, possibly from the networks as well. Second, in addition to covering the basics of the case, the piece shows just how divisive and controversial Chancellor Wise’s decision has been, and how it has isolated the University of Illinois.

The decision, which raised questions about contractual loopholes and academic freedom, almost immediately drew pushback from the academic community. Thousands of scholars in a variety of disciplines signed petitions pledging to avoid the campus unless it reversed its decision to rescind the job offer. A number of prominent academic associations also urged the university to reconsider.


In the past few days, several people have followed through on promises to boycott the institution. Two scholars declined invitations to speak at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study/MillerComm Lecture Series this fall, and a campus-based project called off a four-day national conference that it was scheduled to host there in October.


David J. Blacker, a professor of philosophy and legal studies at the University of Delaware, notified the Center for Advanced Study on Aug. 20 that he no longer wanted to participate. His lecture had been scheduled for Sept. 29.


“Instead of choosing education and more speech as the remedy for disagreeable speech,” he wrote to the committee, the University of Illinois “has apparently chosen ‘enforced silence.’ It thus violates what a university must stand for — whatever else it stands for — and therefore I join those who will not participate in the violation. In my judgment, this is a core and nonnegotiable issue of academic freedom.”


Mr. Blacker added that he “would be delighted to reschedule my talk” if the university should decide to reinstate its offer to Mr. Salaita.


The following day, Allen F. Isaacman, a professor of history at the University of Minnesota, also pulled out of the series, offering a similar message. His talk had been scheduled for Oct. 30.


“The University of Illinois’s recent decision to disregard its prior commitment to appoint Professor Salaita confirms my fear of the administration’s blatant disregard for academic freedom,” Mr. Isaacman wrote in a letter to Wayne Pitard, a professor of religion and head of the lecture-series committee. “I do hope that the university administration will reverse its decision before it does irreparable harm to your great institution.”


That same day, the Education Justice Project, which is part of the department of education policy, organization, and leadership at Urbana-Champaign, announced that it was canceling the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison, which it had been scheduled to host.


“This decision has not been easy,” Rebecca Ginsburg, an associate professor in the education policy department, said in an announcement posted on the project’s webpage. The project’s leaders reached the decision only after speaking with would-be presenters and attendees, she wrote. “We concluded that for EJP to host the conference at this time would compromise our ability to come together as a national community of educators and activists.”


Ms. Ginsburg could not be reached for comment Friday; university administrators also did not respond to calls for comment.


On the campus, tensions are just as high.



That evening, however, faculty members in the American Indian studies program, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in Ms. Wise’s leadership, criticizing her handling of the last-minute withdrawal of the offer to Mr. Salaita.


“In clear disregard of basic principles of shared governance and unit autonomy, and without basic courtesy and respect for collegiality, Chancellor Wise did not consult American Indian studies nor the college before making her decision,” reads a statement posted on the program’s webpage.


“With this vote of no confidence, the faculty of UIUC’s American Indian studies program also joins the thousands of scholars and organizations in the United States and across the world in seeing the chancellor’s action as a violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech,” the statement says.


The note goes on to encourage other departments to do the same, and to question whether the chancellor deserves the confidence of Illinois’s full faculty.


My only objection to the piece is that its numbers are out of date.


Cancelled Lectures


As of today, five scholars, not two, have canceled lectures or turned down an invitation to a University of Illinois campus. (And there may be more I am not aware of.)


In addition to David Blacker and Allen Isaacman, Eric Schwitzgebel has canceled a talk he was due to give on campus in December and also notified the organizers of a conference on experimental philosophy that he would not be able to deliver the keynote address, as he had been invited to do.


Jonathan Judaken, a humanities scholar, was asked to deliver the keynote address at conference at the UIUC in October; he was also scheduled to speak, while on campus, at the Program in Jewish Culture and Society. He has turned down the invitation. Despite his opposition to the idea of an academic boycott of Israel, and despite his visceral reaction to Salaita’s tweets, he believes the academic freedom issues in this case are so vital that he must boycott the UIUC.


[Chancellor Wise’s] new doctrine of civility ostensibly created to foster a climate where open dialogue, discourse, and debate must be respected has actually planted the latest land mine in this academic battlefield. The result will be opposite of what she intends. Now faculty and students will feel more anxious than ever that views or viewpoints that go beyond the policed confines of what administrators—or worse, the lapdogs of the watchdog groups—define as the norm, will be able to be expressed as part of an open conversation.


It is consequently on the basis of the principles of faculty governance, academic freedom, and freedom of speech that I will not speak at Illinois until Salaita’s job offer is upheld.


This all could have been avoided if Chancellor Wise trusted faculty governance procedures. The faculty who hired Salaita were fully aware of his position on Israel and Zionism and fully equipped to determine if it would negatively impact his ability to teach his classes. There are international experts on the faculty who could have aided the administration in assessing Salaita’s tweets. It is faculty as the leaders of the communities of inquiry in universities and colleges that are best equipped to judge in such cases.


Contrary to the muddled ways it is being used today as a political cudgel, academic freedom is about the right of academics to say what they will without the interference of groups outside the academy policing their positions. Faculty governance is about giving faculty the right to make all decisions within the academy pertaining to their domains of expertise, most significantly hiring decisions. And freedom of speech is our most basic right as Americans.


Campus watchdogs who monitor the academy claim they do so to uphold what is best in higher education. But Salaita’s case shows once more that they threaten to turn campuses from refuges of critical inquiry into battlegrounds of political correctness and narrow norms.


And Julie Livingston, a Rutgers historian and MacArthur Fellow, has canceled a talk at the University of Illinois at Chicago (a UIUC sister campus, whose chancellor came out in support of Chancellor Wise). Livingston writes:


With great sadness I am writing to cancel my upcoming talk at UIC scheduled for September 17, given your chancellor’s recent statement of support for the actions of Phyllis Wise and the U of I Board of Trustees in the Steven Salaita case. While I had been looking forward to engaging with colleagues and students at UIC, I cannot in good conscience visit your campus until the Steven Salaita matter is resolved in a manner that upholds the principles of academic freedom and shared governance that are fundamental to American higher education and the necessary exchange of ideas, especially where difficult and potentially polarizing issues are concerned. I very much hope that your leadership will listen to their faculty and to the several thousand scholars (including myself) who have signed a pledge to boycott the University of Illinois, reflect on their actions, and reverse the errant course on which they have embarked in this matter. Should that happen I would welcome very much the chance to come and speak.


So five cancellations or refusals of an invitation.


No Confidence Votes


In addition, three departments at the UIUC, not one, have taken a vote of no confidence in the leadership of UIUC. In addition to the American Indian Studies department vote discussed by the Times, the Asian American Studies department and the philosophy department have voted no confidence in the chancellor. The philosophy department resolution states:


Whereas the recent words and actions of Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and the Board of Trustees in connection with the revocation of an offer of employment to Dr. Steven Salaita betray a culpable disregard not only for academic freedom and free speech generally but also for the principles of shared governance and established protocols for hiring, tenure, and promotion, the faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign declares its lack of confidence in the leadership of the current Chancellor, President, and Board of Trustees.


Boycott


The philosophy vote is especially important, to my mind, because it demonstrates the power of the boycott. Of all the disciplines, philosophy has been the strongest in defending academic freedom at the UIUC. Over 530 philosophers have joined the boycott, more than any other field. Why that’s the case, I’m not sure. But the fact that philosophy is the only department at UIUC—besides Asian American and American Indian Studies (where Salaita’s  connections are strong)—to have voted no confidence is symptomatic of the power of the boycott. Seeing so many of their colleagues across the country and around the world take this strong stand, the philosophers at UIUC have now communicated to the administration that the campus is growing increasingly ungovernable. Chancellor Wise will not get any peace on campus till she and the trustees reverse their decision. As even this generally negative piece in a local paper acknowledges.


This is why I  want to press one of the newer boycott initiatives, from Alan Sokal of NYU, for natural scientists. Getting support among the natural scientists is critical, as they are often a favored constituency at big research campuses like UIUC. They draw the big money from federal grants; they have a lot of power. I want to urge any one of you who is a natural scientist to join this boycott pledge and to urge your friends and colleagues in the natural sciences to do the same. With just the right amount of pressure from all of you, we might see something similar to the philosophy vote on the natural sciences side of the UIUC campus.


For a complete list of the boycott statements, go here. While I haven’t gotten a complete update on the numbers, we have at least 3849 signed up for the boycott as of tonight.


AAUP


The American Association of University Professors has issued a strong statement on the Salaita affair. Here are some of the highlights.


The letter details the extensive dealings between Salaita and the University of Illinois subsequent to his signing of the offer letter he received in October 2013. Among other things, the AAUP reveals that Chancellor Wise invited Salaita to a welcome reception for new faculty.

Toward the end of January, Professor Salaita wrote to Professor Byrd about scheduling a visit to Urbana-Champaign in order to make arrangements for a place to live for him and his family. He states that they visited the area in March and subsequently initiated the purchase of an apartment, including payment of “earnest” money, which was subsequently forfeited when the agreement was voided following the abrupt notification regarding his appointment. During this visit, the AIS faculty hosted a dinner for him and his family to welcome him to the faculty. In early April he was notified of his fall teaching assignment, and he finalized his course book orders in mid-summer.


In the intervening months between his October 2013 acceptance of the appointment and early August 2014, when you notified him of its termination, Professor Salaita received information from various offices of the university, indicating that they had been informed of his appointment, including an invitation from your office to attend your August 19 reception “welcoming faculty and academic professionals who joined the Illinois community in 2014,” as the invitation stated. Nothing was said to Professor Salaita about board action still to come, and we are informed that it is not uncommon for board action on new appointments to take place only after the appointment has begun and the appointee is already at work.


Because the AAUP recognizes that Salaita was in fact hired by the UIUC, they reach a vastly different conclusion about what Chancellor Wise has done to him and what Wise must now do.

Aborting an appointment in this manner without having demonstrated cause has consistently been seen by the AAUP as tantamount to summary dismissal, an action categorically inimical to academic freedom and due process and one aggravated in his case by the apparent failure to provide him with any written or even oral explanation.



Until these issues have been resolved, we look upon Professor Salaita’s situation as that of a faculty member suspended from his academic responsibilities pending a hearing on his fitness to continue. Under the joint 1958 Statement on Procedural St andards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, any such suspension is to be with pay. As detailed earlier in this letter, Professor Salaita has incurred major financial expenses since he accepted the University of Illinois offer. We urge–indeed insist–that he be paid salary as set in the terms of the appointment pending the result of the CAFT proceeding.


Brian Leiter has an interesting followup on the AAUP letter, which I urge you all to read, along with the fascinating comment thread that ensues.


The AAUP brings up the issue of Salaita’s financial standing. If you haven’t donated to the fund set up by his friends and colleagues to help him fight his case and support his family, please do so now. Click on this link and then go to the right-hand side of the page. People often urge individuals in Salaita’s situation to sue. He may have to. But lawsuits cost money. Like a lot of money. Unless you’re independently wealthy, they’re hard to paid for. Like really hard to pay for. So please help Salaita out. And while you’re over there, check out these awesome testimonials from his former students. You know, students: the very people Chancellor Wise and Salaita’s critics claim to be protecting.


Update (midnight)


Someone on Facebook just brought to my attention that there is a sixth lecture cancellation. This one by Pomona English professor Kyla Wazana Tompkins, who was scheduled to give a talk at UIUC in September.


Update (12:30 am)


I should have also mentioned to other cancellations. The first, which the Times discusses in that excerpt and which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is that the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison, which was scheduled to be hosted at UIUC, was canceled. The second is that Columbia Professor Bruce Robbins canceled a screening of a film that was supposed to take place at UIUC. I should have remembered this one especially, as it was what inspired my original call for a boycott of UIUC.


So the title of this post should really be: “Salaita By the Numbers: 6 Cancelled Lectures, 1 Cancelled Screening, 1 Cancelled Conference, 3 Votes of No Confidence, 3849 Boycotters, and 1 NYT Article.”

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Mat Bowles

August 2014

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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