McGill economist William Watson, a panjandrum at Montreal’s Institute for Research on Public Policy, is everywhere.
Open the pages of the National Post and up pops Bill with a nice little earner advertising the virtues of flat taxes (a great idea for triple-dipping economists), or decrying government waste.
Turning his attention to university education the occasional pedagogue often proclaims the virility of his own discipline, to wit: “Economics is the tough, self-critical result that challenges received wisdom.”
Watson sings the praises of the C.D. Howe Institute (where, incidentally, he’s a “research fellow”), which occasionally brings together selfless academics to debate the best way of shoveling yet more money into Canada’s impoverished universities. Their conclusion? Increase tuition fees.
And who would be the beneficiaries of such a fearless, self-critical approach? Shurely not university profs seeking ever higher salaries?
Sadly lacking in this “tough, self-critical” study, and in the editorial peregrinations of Dr. Watson was any examination of why Canada’s universities are quite so costly. Why do other Western countries manage perfectly serviceable systems without leaving graduates in the poorhouse?
The answer would indeed require some tough self-criticism, since it is to be found in the extraordinarily generous pay and minuscule teaching obligations of Canada’s tenured professoriate.
Had McGill’s erudite professor taken time out from his exuberant flatulence to turn to publications such as Inside Higher Ed (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/22/new-study-analyzes-how-faculty-pay-compares-worldwide), he would have found a table describing academic pay levels in Canada, the United States, Germany, France, Australia, the UK and 22 other countries. And where were Canada’s cognoscenti?
Why we’re No. 1!, so far ahead of Britain, Germany and the U.S. as to be almost off the chart. What Inside Higher Ed sleuths failed to add, but what C.D. Howe’s authors cannot help but know, is that in Canada the professorial pay is just the icing on the cake.
Much more is to be made by running a nice little consulting business from the university office, or taking up a second career as a journalist, or even a third wonking for dollars at a think tank.
With a year’s paid vacation in Europe looming (sabbatical shurely!?—ed?) the good professor will no doubt find ample time to share the efficiencies of the European universities with his Canadian readers.