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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Limbaugh's Class Warfare Vs. College Presidents

Rush Limbaugh normally hates class warfare. So it was a bit unusual today when he came out and denounced millionaires. Of course, Limbaugh only hates one particular kind of millionaire: college presidents.

Limbaugh declared,
the bottom line here is 36 college presidents make a million dollars a year or more. Where is Occupy Wall Street? Has somebody told them about this? The tuition keeps going up. We keep pointing it out here. The tuition keeps going up. Nobody ever talks about the greed of Big Education, 'cause that's where Obama's buddies are.
Actually, that's where one of Limbaugh's buddies is. He specifically exempted from his criticism Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College (which spends vast sums of money advertising on Limbaugh's show). Arnn earned $608,615 in compensation in 2009, making him the second highest paid college president in the state of Michigan despite running a tiny and not very prestigious college.

Limbaugh added,
So Big Education keeps raising prices. Tuition keeps going up. As we know, the Occupy crowd and a lot of students all over the country are unhappy with the student loan situation. And never once do we hear about the greed of Big Education. Never once do we hear about the millionaires that are the college presidents.
In reality, lots of progressives on campus criticize the excessive salaries of college presidents and other administrators. I'd love to see colleges adopt a practice of never paying college presidents more than twice the median professor's salary. Colleges would have much better presidents if they stopped paying them so much money.

Limbaugh concluded,
I'm really struck by the fact that nobody ever talks about the greed in Big Education, and the students, the children, the future are going into hock. Student debt, loan debt, all of this, and what's the solution? It's never to be critical of the institutions of higher learning for charging too much.
Actually, there's an enormous amount of criticism of high tuition at colleges. Many Occupy protests on campus are devoted to opposing tuition hikes. In fact, just today on Truthout, Henry Giroux writes about students “protesting the ways in which universities now resemble corporations.” As Giroux notes,
higher education has been increasingly corporatized and militarized and subject to market-driven values and managerial relations that treat faculty and students as entrepreneurs and clients, while reducing knowledge to the dictates of an audit culture, and pedagogy to a destructive and reductive instrumental rationality.
Rush Limbaugh was inaccurate, as usual, to attack the Occupy movement for ignoring the institutions of higher education. But he was right to question the high salaries for college presidents. It's too bad that Limbaugh only questions excessive salaries when he dislikes the institution someone works at. We need to question the misguided priorities of Big Education, even while we denounce the cynical attacks of Rush Limbaugh who want to destroy higher education because of crazed conspiracy theories that “most citadels of higher learning are the incubators of Marxism, liberalism, socialism, that's where the indoctrination takes place.”

Crossposted at DailyKos and AcademeBlog.