Inordinate Ordnance: The Sunshine List Doesn’t Shine Light on the Real Problem

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Written by Chris Carr

Zeitgeist. It’s a German word roughly translated to mean, “ghost of the times”. As the English language has no apt equivalent, the language has adopted it. The zeitgeist of the sixties, for example, was one of free love, rebellion and the evolution of human rights. The reason I bring it up is because one day, someone will ask you what it was like to live in this time. This is the time of banks, Barack and Bieber. And what about the Occupy movements? Surely they would deserve note in this history. But the one of the majors, the real grease of this era, must be its attitude toward money.

Recently, the Sunshine List was made available to the public. The list, for those who don’t know, is a collection of people who work in the public sector of government who make over $100000 per year. The idea being that this makes the government a little more transparent. As university professors and workers are government employees, students at the University of Guelph may find some familiar names on that list (the list can be found here).  So next time your professor assigns a textbook he wrote as course reading, you’ll be able to see how much of their salary they may be padding.

What a snide comment. If a professor writes a textbook, of course it should be course material. They are the authority on the subject. Any reasonable person can see that. However I’m sure more than a few students would hold this same view. And this is my point, there is a certain disconnect between the rich and poor that is defining this era. It isn’t a surprise that we be defined by social unrest, this is normal. But what struck me as odd was how much the people who made the Sunshine List were immediately resented and harkened as “undeserving” or the “one per cent”.

What the Sunshine List becomes is a list of people who need to validate their earnings. It takes the emphasis off of the public sector of government and puts it directly onto the people it employs. The list is no longer about the transparency of government and its institutions, but rather, it’s a hit list. I looked up my professors and immediately made snap judgments about whether or not they were worth their yearly salary and I don’t think I was the only one. I fear that too many people are concerned with the cogs and forgetting about the entirety of the machine.
Now this may be the zeitgeist I mentioned. With the Occupy movements still fresh in the minds of students, how could their not be bad blood between we-who-owe and they-who-charge? But it is not the individuals who cash the cheques made by the inflated tuition rates students pay. It isn’t the teachers, councilors and police officers taking money from the ninety-nine-percenters, it is the institutions. This isn’t a tirade against the “man”, or any such thing. However, pick your institution of choice and I’m sure that the pay scales for those employed have been grand-fathered and in great need of reevaluation. Do university professors deserve six figure salaries? Maybe they do. In fact, a great many of them do deserve every penny. However, for those who do not deserve—those who may have failed upwards—are not at fault for the wasted money. They beat the system, good for them. The real culprit is the failure of the institution that allows such people to gain such positions. Use the Sunshine List as a lesson of misdirection and concentrated fire, rather than a source of validation and criticism.

The zeitgeist of 2012 should be one of calculated rebellion and social commonalities. The Sunshine List only perpetuates a kind of neo-McCarthyism that separates the classes rather than unifying them against a common threat. We should be biting the hand that feeds, instead of fighting over the scraps on the floor.

Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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