Entitlement for Some

In Iowa, steps are being taken by the state house of representatives to repeal the practice of giving professors at state universities, which are funded by state taxes, paid vacations known as sabbaticals. The incoming speaker of the house of Iowa, Kraig Paulsen, argues, “Why should the taxpayers of Iowa be paying to basically give these folks a year off from teaching?”

College professors who support sabbaticals say that the paid breaks are necessary, in that they allow professors the chance to advance research, get grants, write books and gain new knowledge to share with their students. They further urge the government to stay out of the affairs of academics.

There is a lot of talk lately about entitlement, usually in reference to people seeking extension to unemployment benefits and food stamps. It seems a lot of people don’t believe the citizens of this country should be allowed the right to eat and sleep indoors, while at the same time, these same people think it’s just fine that the poor can be drafted to defend it with their lives. I would argue that there should be some entitlement, in that since U.S. citizens owe their entire country their lives in its defense, their entire country owes them enough food and proper shelter and healthcare to be in good enough shape to do so.

However, should state college professors, alone among all government employees, be given paid vacations, on the vague promise that some good will come out of it? What hard evidence do they offer that paid vacations for professors benefit society as a whole? Are professors at universities the only people who can advance academics? I think that arrogance alone would make any educated person answer yes.

Important inventions and new ideas come often from the private sector. After all, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were not college professors. They funded their own research and profited from it. These professors who want us to fund their research and writing projects will own the patents to their industry. Any profit that would result would belong to them, not to the state that funded the research.

Of course college professors will rant and rail against the ending of their paid vacations, but to actually claim that these people must be given paid vacations while their employers, the citizens, are losing their houses, dying from poor health care, and starving in the streets, and then claiming that this is for the betterment of society is laughable.

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