I can't write about money and higher ed.
I've been trying to post--here, and in a comment to squadratomagico's post--and I'm too afraid of incurring displeasure, I guess. I keep deleting.
But I'm going to bite the bullet and tell you why I appreciated squadratomagico's post, in which she states that she is not going to fight for a higher salary because a) she's happy with what she has and b) it would be pointless and dull (and some other, better stated reasons; you should read her post; I have not represented it very well).
Anyway. Here's what I started to write in the comments:
I make less than 40% of the salary that started the conversation ($43k, if you're interested-and I'm a fourth-year tenure-track assistant professor with a book, loads of service experience, and excellent teaching evaluations). Reading the discussion at TR's made me feel...well, to be frank, much worse about my income and generally resentful of pretty much everybody who makes more than I do. In fact, I couldn't get through the post/comments, it produced such negative feelings. Some of that's definitely my baggage; I feel deeply embarrassed about my salary when I hear what other people make, and angry that it's so little, although I know that Field couldn't pay me more right now (in fact, I just got a raise). But I do feel humiliated, and resentful, and--even though I know that this isn't the point (I know it! Don't remind me! I'm a petty bitch!)--a little pissed off that people who make so much more than I do trivialize their salaries.
That's not exactly a productive feeling, especially because I, like squadrato, enjoy a perfectly comfortable and pleasant life that is not visibly lacking in anything that money could buy. I work my ass off, it's true, but I genuinely like my job, and I'd still be working my ass off if I were making twice as much. Of course there are inequities, and combating inequity is laudable--but dude, *my* middle-class life is not exactly heart-wrenching--and yet, again, I make much less than that initial salary, and nearly all of the salaries mentioned in the comments.
I don't mean to suggest that everyone should just shut up and deal...but, well, I don't know. I don't think that faculty making over, say, $80,000 (unless they live in certain very expensive areas of the country) are necessarily hurting? --I'm kind of terrified of posting this, though, for fear of pissing everybody off. But...gah. Okay. Let's change direction. I can't change my salary (short of getting a new job). I can't. So do I compare upwards (and forget doctors and lawyers--that's waaay out of my league, and by the way, they have LOADS more debt than I do and are on call 12 months out of the year), or do I enjoy my actual situation as it actually is, rather than thinking about what it could be?
Hell, when it comes down to it, I would gladly take a course release over a raise--time is quite a bit more valuable, in the end. I'd much prefer hiring more faculty (instead of adjuncts), keeping our salaries the same, and moving to a 3/3!
(I am not at all talking about adjuncts or postdocs with $22k salaries, by the way. Just the privileged tenure-trackers. To be clear. In fact, maybe I'm only talking about myself.)
All righty--before I delete this or edit it into oblivion, here I go. Don't hate me.