The most visible and most highly touted aspects of MIT are its faculty and student body. But amid the faculty and students are thousands of hard workers who make possible everything that students and researchers do. The MIT custodians, administrative assistants, police, and countless other employees are just as much part of the MIT culture and success as are the students, faculty, and those ridiculously overworked and underpaid things commonly called post-docs. For anyone who considers the importance of the MIT labor force, it is immediately clear that MIT’s success depends on the groundskeepers, police, staff, custodians, and other facilities personnel. Many of the MIT workers have been on campus for a long time and know the ins-and-outs of the facilities better than anyone else. They know where money is wasted and where inefficiencies arise. With this in mind, it is only logical that the top MIT administrators should make it a priority to maintain and invest in the MIT workforce. MIT administration should consider the campus workforce as an essential partner that is to be respected as much as the faculty and student bodies.
In an October 27 column in <i>The Tech</i>, Ryan Normandin argues that “state capitalism” is right for America. Capitalism works, but for whom? Let’s us look at some numbers. The top 1 percent richest people own approximately 25 percent of all wealth in the US as of 2004 and that number has likely gone up. The bottom 80 percent of people own less than 20 percent of the wealth (Economic Policy Institute’s “State of Working America” 2009). So whether the current system works depends on whom you ask. Does the system work for the millions of uninsured, unemployed, and homeless? How about for the millions of hard working people that barely make ends meet?
The fundamental debate is whether the right to increases in capital and property supersedes the right to equality, i.e. the right to equal access to labor and life. If the two rights are considered absolute they cannot coexist; one destroys the other (per “What is Property” by French anarchist Joseph-Pierre Proudhon).