Archive for March, 2012
There once was a group of business owners who owned competing businesses. These business owners formed an oligopoly: between them they controlled nearly all of their nation’s trade in their product. As members of an oligopoly tend to do, these business owners banded together in collusion–something which was illegal in that country–yet they were granted a special exemption from antitrust legislation by their government.
These colluding businessmen (nearly all were male) were constantly looking for ways to gain a negotiating advantage over their employees, who had also instituted collective bargaining. After years of scheming, the business owners devised a new and innovative way of lowering their labor costs.
Labor is, in many industries, the primary cost to employers, and this oligopoly industry was no exception. Hiring employees involves quite a bit of uncertainty: an employee may add more value to his employer’s product than he costs that employer in wages–or he might not. So, the business owners thought, what if there were a way to force prospective employees to work for no wages for up to five years? Then, those of the best quality would rise to the top. The prospective employees would then bear all the risk: if they were injured on the job, they would receive no compensation for lost wages.
The business owners set about putting this plan into action. They set up a dummy corporation, for which all prospective employees in the industry must work for a minimum of a year, and often up to five years. The employees of this dummy corporation were paid less than minimum wage (even though their managers made top salaries). The profits from this dummy corporation were paid to the business owners’ wealthy friends, who in turn passed those profits to the business owners through various legal channels.
The employees targeted by this dummy corporation were mostly poor and members of minority groups. Often these employees worked for four or five years for next to nothing, hoping to prove themselves worthy of a big payday. Yet most did not make the cut, and many sustained serious injuries for which they received no compensation or disability benefits.
But the business owners cared little. The profits rolled in: the most productive employees–the lucky few–made it into the industry proper and made a decent living for several years (before sustaining serious injuries). The managers of the dummy corporation made nearly as much as the oligopoly businessmen. But the majority of the prospective employees, who were often the most gifted members of their struggling communities–continued to squander their most productive years, making millions of dollars for other people, and putting their livelihoods at risk, in the slim hopes of achieving a chance for a single big paycheck for themselves and their loved ones.
And that, boys and girls, is why we have college basketball and football. Sweet dreams!
I haven’t had much time to blog over the last two months. I know that my faithful readers check daily for updates and are disappointed. I beg your forgiveness…
When I returned from South Africa after a successful thesis defense and a vacation with my bride, I dove (or dived) right into papers for ETS and SBL spring conferences. Both conferences were enjoyable, and my work was well-received. My ETS paper is posted on the Papers & Presentations page; I did not post the SBL paper because I am hoping to publish it very soon. My MTh thesis, “From Time-Bound to Timeless: The Rhetoric of Lamentations and its Appropriation,” is linked as well.
I’m currently throwing all my energy into my dissertation proposal, which I hope to have completed by the end of April. I am also teaching a summer graduate class at PBU in June, so May and June will be devoted to preparation/grading.
Daniel is as cute as ever, and he learns more words each day. He is having a difficult time learning that he must not stand on the couch, or touch the microwave or TV. He spends quite a bit of 30-second segments in "timeout." But he is a pleasant boy who loves his parents and his grandparents, and is generally healthy and happy. We are grateful.
I am visiting PBU and Westminster today, adding briefly-annotated bibliographical entries to my Chronicles notes…
An interesting article in BAR: "Cultic Practices at Tel Dan—Was the Northern Kingdom Deviant?" I typically hate archeology, but this article is relevant to my research into the periods of the late monarchy, the exile and the postexile. Any thoughts?
Another humorous critique of the state of American higher ed. Full disclosure: I have three degrees (including two master’s degrees) in biblical studies–yet I work in the pharmaceutical industry.
Yesterday I attended the Eastern Regional meeting of ETS with my sister, Rebekah Devine.
In past years, I have attended these meetings for the fellowship, for the book sales, and sometimes to present a paper–without much interest in the keynote speaker or the plenary topic. This year’s speaker and theme, however, were excellent. Peter Leithart spoke on his new book, Defending Constantine. I am not a Patristics scholar–nor am I the son of a Patristics scholar–but I found Leithart’s presentation compelling as history. As someone associated with the so-called “Federal Vision,” Leithart drew the FV-theonomist-Reformed crowd from PBU and elsewhere, so it was nice to connect with old friends.
Dr. Leithart was so gracious as to attend my presentation during the opening parallel session: “The Economic Failure of the Torah? Toward a Post-Industrial Reading of an Agrarian Text.” I was very pleased with the attendance and the feedback, including some comments from Dr. Leithart and Dr. Todd Mangum from Biblical Seminary. If you are interested in reading and/or hearing the presentation, the PDF and MP3 audio are posted on the Papers and Presentations page.
Rebekah received one of the prizes in the graduate student paper competition for her paper entitled, “No god Made With Hands: Pauline Idol Polemics.” Her paper will soon be posted online, along with the other winning submissions, on the ETS website.
What a fun day! Soli Deo Gloria.