Regressive Aspects of the ASA Leadership’s T&T Policy
| Gabriel |
There are two big ironies about the ASA leadership’s preferred framing of the monotonic dues hike as being about a progressive fee structure rather than an increase in aggregate revenues. The obvious irony is that nobody has challenged the basic idea of a progressive fee structure or even a revenue-neutral bracket adjustment. What we have challenged is the aggregate increase in revenues and the lack of transparency in explaining why the ASA needs more money despite already being much more expensive than AEA.
The less obvious irony is that us aggrieved blogger types have proposed other reforms to make ASA more progressive and didn’t hear anything back from the leadership. The last time us bloggers got angry at ASA it was about treating the job bank as a profit center. ASA charges departments $200/month to be listed in the job bank, even if it’s a cross-disciplinary search. Not only that, but it discouraged the use of section listservs to circulate job announcements. That is, the ASA seems to view the job bank less as a service to the membership than as a fief bringing in rents and in this understanding alternative flows of job market information constitute something like tax evasion.
One obvious consequence of this set of policies is that while soc departments will just suck it up and pay hundreds of dollars for the ASA’s version of Craigslist, cross-disciplinary searches (area studies, various ethnic studies programs, comm studies, b-schools, etc.) that might be open to hiring sociologists can hardly be expected to pony up $200-$800 over the course of a search to attract PhDs from just one of the several disciplines they are interested in. This means sociologists don’t get these jobs. We can be even more specific and say that it is the younger and/or poorer sociologists who would be most interested in these openings and are most hurt by ASA’s high job bank fees. That is, current ASA policy of nickel-and-diming departments has a regressive incidence on the membership. The bloggers’ interest in revoking or relaxing this policy would mean relatively greater reliance on dues (which have always been progressive) and relatively less reliance on job bank fees that have an indirect regressive incidence on our weakest members. Net result, the total “tax and transfer” system of ASA is less progressive than it appears and that we proposed to make it through reforming the job bank.
When ASA eliminates its regressive job bank policy, then I’ll take the leadership seriously about how it would be progressive to adjust the dues structure upwards for the top-earning members but downwards for nobody. Until then I’ll assume that it’s just an organization that doesn’t know that there’s no shame in being a humbly efficient membership service organization and so it seeks all possible sources of revenue — whether they be progressive dues or (indirectly) regressive job bank fees — to finance its K-Street fantasies.