So writes Michael Bérubé, [update: citing the slogan of the New Faculty Majority], in his Presidential Address to the MLA. He reminds us that we can't let the internal rewards or "psychic wage" cover for the material conditions of many of our HE colleagues who are worse off, materially, than K-12 colleagues: "The truth, of course, is that contingent college faculty members earn lower wages, have less professional autonomy, and endure significantly greater job insecurity than unionized teachers in the K–12 system." On this point, see the Adjunct Project. And here also.
Speaking of K-12, t wouldn't hurt to recall this point I'm fond of making, and start thinking in terms of K-16:
Public university colleagues: let's start thinking in terms of K-16, so that we highlight our solidarity with our K-12 colleagues. Because we are the leading edge, the experimental subjects, of "flexible" labor practices for our TAs, adjuncts, instructors, and other colleagues forced into precarious labor, just as our K-12 colleagues are sites of experimentation for tying evaluations to standardized testing. The admins in each area look longingly at the practices of the other. In other words, we are each canaries in the other's coal mine.
W/r/t the "psychic wage," Bérubé touches on internal vs external motivation in a way that seems to resonate with our recent discussion of assholes.
I grew up in an environment that venerated teachers, that considered teaching a vocation—a vocation that did some good for people and would never destroy an ecosystem or bring the world to the brink of financial collapse. So I have been mystified at the level of vitriol directed at schoolteachers over the past five years. Some of it ... comes from elites who believe that doing something you love, something that involves more psychic than material rewards, is for suckers.
But I can't make an exact connection and would ask for discussion. Is it that academic assholes are materialists in this external motivation sense? They're in it for the money and the titles? Or is it that they have internal rewards, but that they come from defeating others in combat, no matter how small the stakes?