This is completely fucking absurd – the professor donating plasma

You do have to wonder about the intelligence of some in academia you know.

I’d driven 107 miles from my home in Bangor, Maine to the BPL Plasma Center in Lewiston to collect $50 for having my arm punctured and a liter of my plasma sucked out. The actual donation takes about 35 minutes, but the drive and its attendant wait makes for an eight-hour day. I clocked in for that trip five times this summer.

I’m a professor at the University of Maine. My salary is $52,000, and I am a year away from tenure. But like everyone else in that room, I was desperate for money.

OK, so why’s he desperate?

Here are my vitals: I have more than $200,000 in student loans and $46,000 in credit card debt—all accumulated during my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., and then search for a tenure-track job. My annual salary translates to a little more than $3,000 in monthly take-home pay. I pay $800 a month in rent, $1,100 in credit card bills (paying only the monthly minimums), $350 in student loans, and have $285 a month car payment. I also pay the usual insurances, utilities, groceries, gas, et al. I don’t have cable. Or a kitchen table. Or blinds on any of my windows.

Right, so needs more money. And it’s even possible that there are professors out there whose best option for more money is plasma.

Except, except:

an actual dilemma for a journalism professor.

A journalism professor can’t pick up a couple of hundred extra bucks a month with some freelancing? What the fucks are they employing him for at that university?

I mean seriously, Crippled JC on a Sodding Pogo Stick seriously. Even at current US pay rates that’s one 1,000 word piece at somewhere like Quartz etc. And if you can’t score that then what are you doing teaching journalism?

75 comments on “This is completely fucking absurd – the professor donating plasma

  1. Working at McDonalds at weekends or in the evenings would see him better off than travelling a couple of hundred miles on his own tab for 50 bucks and he might even find something to write about there.

  2. Perhaps he got paid for the piece itself. If you are going to hawk words blood selling makes for a better story than word selling.

  3. He’s driven 1,000 miles and spent 40 Hours for $250?

    He has $46,000 of credit card debt and no blinds on his windows?

    He has three degrees?

    He’s an idiot.

  4. So, he spends 2.5 hours to gross $50? Now minus gas – say $4.5 and wear and tear on the vehicle he nets $45ish.

    Approx 18/hr and only doable once every few weeks.

    FedEx delivery driver earns $21+ (plus bonuses). He would likely earn *more* as a FedEx driver – especially long haul – than he will as a tenured professor.

    And he wouldn’t have had to rack up $250,000 in debt to do it.

    So no, this guy just ain’t that smart – which is why he’s *teaching* journalism instead of practicing it.

  5. “Tim Worstall
    February 13, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Jeebus. They’ve got 209 journalism schools over there?”

    Free market baby!

  6. Key-rist. There are 1,698 schools offering Journalism degrees in the US.

    So I guess 209th ain’t all that bad over all.

  7. Good God. There’s only 40,000 people or so who work in the entire newspaper industry.

    And many of them, like me, never went anywhere near a journalism school.

  8. World’s smallest violin. $50K is like £40K. Not a bad salary at all, even in London where I guarantee he would pay more for rent and food. I checked quickly online and $1,000 a month allow you to rent a 2 bedroom flat in Bangor, Maine, near the university. I would say that he is doing well (I assume a he; most desperate women could raise funds more easily than by selling their blood) given his ludicrous career choice. Assuming he makes it over this financial ‘hump’ in his life (I assume he is not on the verge of retirement) he can look forward to a pretty comfy life.

  9. I know petrol (gas!) is cheap over there, but surely 214 miles in a no doubt inefficient American car is going to cost a reasonable proportion of the cash just in fuel, never mind vehicle maintenance etc.

  10. I would also guess that the majority of the credit card debt was built up during the “search for a tenure-track job”, which I translate into “refusing to do any job until he got the right one”

  11. Tim W: And many of them, like me, never went anywhere near a journalism school.

    I suspect that the large majority didn’t go to journalism school.

    A Meissen calf is a journo with a red top and did a course which included learning Pitman’s and the essentials of the law as it applies to the trade (which is what it is). Probably some other practical bits and bobs too and there was an exam at the end and perhaps a diploma too.

    BA in an academic subject from a proper university, no MA and no PhD. Credit cards under control, curtains where one would expect curtains and rather good at the job though I say so as shouldn’t.

  12. “Gasman
    February 13, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I know petrol (gas!) is cheap over there, but surely 214 miles in a no doubt inefficient American car is going to cost a reasonable proportion of the cash just in fuel, never mind vehicle maintenance etc.”

    Prices vary widely.

    Where I live, its around $2.19 for a gallon of Regular. Cross the border into CA (a mere 10 miles away) and it shoots up to $2.70.

    But barring stations in the middle of nowhere, gas prices on the west coast rarely hit $3.00/gal – mostly between $2.79 and $2.99.

    Plus, I figured the total mileage (and thus the time spent) wrong.

    At 214 miles, that’s roughly 4 gallons (say $10) and 4.5 hours spent.

    So he’s netting minimum wage for that trip at best.

    I guess he could keep his shitty TT job *and* work at McDonald’s and do better than he is now.

    But of course that might mean that he would have to admit that, despite taking on 250k in debt and, what, 8 years of his life, he’s still an ‘unskilled worker’.

  13. Jeebus. They’ve got 209 journalism schools over there?

    Hey, there are a lot of stupid middle-class kids in ‘Merica who’ve spent $100K to end up a junior in college with a G.P.A. of 2.5 in pre-law. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party and George Soros can’t employ all of them, so they have to look elsewhere for a dead-end career.

  14. “Good God. There’s only 40,000 people or so who work in the entire newspaper industry.

    And many of them, like me, never went anywhere near a journalism school.”

    And why would you really need to?

    It seems to me that degrees are really useful when people take them and do jobs that have a huge impact – you don’t want architects who will design buildings that fall down, or vets that will kill the kittens. And the degree is a bit of paper that shows that. You want to make sure people have been rigorously educated and tested.

    But what test do you need for a journalist? What’s the impact? Someone can just write a blog and you can look at it and see if it’s any good. That’s all. OK, maybe there’s some educational value to the course, but really, is there? Does it really take 3 years to do the academic stuff to be a journalist? Could you learn that by just reading half a dozen books, blogs and just trying it?

  15. And seriously, just move to Canada or Europe. You’ve got to be fucking mad to live with $200K of worthless student loans rather than just running away from them.

  16. It says in here that one can donate plasma twice a week.

    https://octapharmaplasma.com/donor/plasma-donation-faq

    But this guy, who says he has dire need for money and donates plasma for $50 a throw, says he donates much less frequently than twice a week:

    “I clocked in for that trip five times this summer.”

    Also notice this guy claims each donation is:

    “a liter of my plasma”

    A liter of plasma would be a LOT of fluid then, eh? Does this understand what happens? A liter of whole blood may be withdrawn but, after the plasma recovered, most of the remaining fluid is replaced. Isn’t that how it works?

    I’m suspicious that whatever truth there may be in this guy’s story – there’s not nearly enough of it.

  17. Agammamon

    “Where I live, its around $2.19 for a gallon of Regular.”

    FFS. That’s 3.8 litres. Cheapest petrol in central Edinburgh is £1.15. so 3.8 x 1.16 x 1.25 = $5.51 which is about 250% times the US cost.

  18. There were more men than women, many sporting tattoos in places that raised questions of foresight and long-term planning.

    Made me laugh.

  19. I can’t judge what a $200k + $46k debt is in UK terms, as there’s a whole lot to it above and beyond an exchange rate calculation. But it does seem a lot, and frankly if with 3 degrees he’s got a starter level job in academia, then he wasted the money on his PhD, even if he thought the MA was worth its cost.

    But, on a straight as-of-today exchange rate, he’s on the verge of being a higher tax rate payer here, with 1.5x or so the average wage in the UK.

    For example: in London he’d pay more than £800 in a flat share with 2 chums, and running a car is probably more expensive. He should get rid of the car and buy a bike.

    He is the sort of stupid twat that proves that three degrees can be awarded to the totally fucking clueless.

  20. Shi-ite. I read his article. Now I understand that he is a total, brainless, fuckwit of the socialist, blood-sucking, rent-seeking (did I understand that right), ‘the world owes me a living even though I don’t contribute usefully’ sort.

  21. He isn’t donating a litre of fluid in one go, ever. The fact that that figure doesn’t trigger his inbuilt sense of implausibility speaks volumes about the woeful standard of journalism today.

    The fact that he includes “credit card” in his outgoings shows he is ignorant of even basic accounting. He is probably equally dreadful at budgeting, although he seems to have a reasonable idea of at least he liabilities part his balance sheet. And indeed, net indebtedness of 5x gross earnings is a pretty shitty place to be.

    He’s an idiot, because he broke the first rule of PhDs.
    That rule being – if you cannot persuade anyone to pay you cash, and pay your fees, you shouldn’t do one.

  22. Oh, and took 7 years over his PhD, and paid for several intercontinental jollies. What a plonker.

  23. I would guess that applications for his school are going to decrease now, so at least some people will be saved from a wasted life, which is a bright side.

    There was a programme on radio 4 a few years ago about I think cinema studies (might be a different name) and they said more people study it, than work in cinemas in the UK and that includes people selling popcorn – what a sad waste of time and money.

  24. $1,100 in credit card bills (paying only the monthly minimums)

    What? Hmmm, I think I have tracked down why you have no money. You have accumulated so much unsecured debt on your credit cards that it is taking over one third of your net pay simply to pay a small fraction off said debt each month.

    I wonder how you got that debt? Perhaps the real story is there?

  25. And let no-one utter the dread phrase “carbon footprint” as he describes his ludicrous 214 mile round-trip to get fifty bucks.

    It’s different when they do it.

  26. When I was an undergraduate contemplating going to graduate school, my favorite professor encouraged me by saying, “If there’s anything worth going big-time in debt for, it’s education.” I never questioned her.

    SUCKER!!! Another dupe into the insatiable maw of further education. What a colossal racket it is, unbelievable.

  27. Could tutor English as a foreign language online, or maybe high school English – perhaps there’s even a market for private tuition for undergrad journalism/media stuff though maybe nothing more than the thesis-writing-for-sale industry – and he ought to earn more than that, while putting some of his learning to use.

    At any rate, he isn’t poor in income terms, not once you compare to a typical worker. And in U.S. academia holding out for a tenure track post is understandable, and in his case has paid off. Not an immediate payout from it and many people will try to get tenure track and fail, but in terms of setting up a comfortably middle-class income for life, job done.

  28. Why university courses in journalism?

    Stage 1/ Look at a newspaper. Really look at a newspaper.
    Stage 2/ Now find out why the newspaper you looked at looks like it does. Ask questions. Do research.
    Stage 3/ Write it up in less than 1000 words

    Ta boom! You’ve now acquired & demonstrated the talents needed to be a journalist. Cost: under a dollar & about a week´s work, if you stop for a lot of coffees.

  29. All journalism “qualifications” worldwide need to be urgently abolished. Because even with the staff of UK provincial papers all that is being turned out by such training is semi-literate cultural Marxist agitators.

    Of course such a move would finish the Penurious Prof once and for all but too bad. He could declare bankruptcy but his govt loan pals won’t let him.

  30. @Hallowed Be – The article says it was ‘funded by members’ and if this link is any way near accurate he got about $0.25 a word.

    A cynical person might be inclined to think the article was the real pay off in the first place…

  31. I’m wondering how they got pure plasma out of his arm. Separating blood cells from plasma takes serious Gs. I think the time he had to spend in the centrifuge may have done bad things to his brain.

  32. anon,

    “There was a programme on radio 4 a few years ago about I think cinema studies (might be a different name) and they said more people study it, than work in cinemas in the UK and that includes people selling popcorn – what a sad waste of time and money.”

    And no-one even needs it. Just make a movie. Got a story to tell? Do it. Not got a story to tell? Find one. Still nothing? Don’t go into movie making.

    Then, buy a few books or online courses about technique. How to use colour, focus, zoom, pan. Then get an iPhone, some friends and make a movie. Edit it on your PC with £30 of software. Stick it on YouTube. See what the reaction is.

  33. He’s buying all those listed things PLUS SOMETHING ELSE BOUGHT USING HIS CREDIT CARD. No wonder he’s short of money if that’s his accounting. “My monthly bills are rent, groceries, blah blah and the minimum on my credit card”. No!!! That’s rent, groceries, blah blah PLUS whatever you’re buying with your credit card.

    BUY CHEAPER STUFF. Plus, learn that stuff you buy with a credit card is still stuff you’re buying.

  34. Why would this surprise anyone. Mosley came from the Labour Party and was regarded as part of the broad left coalition by Nye Bevan, up to a very late stage
    Fascism is essentially collectivist it’s just that the collectivism is conceived along ethnic lines .
    Aside forma dusting of deluded Conservatives Free Traders like Tim Brexit is a Fascist movement and you will see this the second some jobs must be risked or some vital interest risked in the cause of open trading

    Not going to happen , and this , of course is basically why a really open Free Trade area like the EU needed a political dimension . It is also why the UK will not be able to be part of the club without paying the dues most of which come as the political cost of pooled sovereignty

    I find that many people who claim to hate the EU don`t even begin to grasp what it was and is

  35. I was going to say that the guy needs to read “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, but then I read all the comments and realised that he doesn’t deserve to sort out his life, he deserves to end up as a wino on the streets.

  36. “Brexit is a Fascist movement ”

    That has to be one of the dumbest comments I think I’ve ever read on this site…

    Back to the good professor and his credit card: his £1,100 a month is quite possibly not “current expenditure” as some might suggest?

    It may simply be that he is paying down the debt and interest (from earlier expenditure). If that’s the case, unless he’s got a low interest rate on his card(s), he would likely be better off swapping the liability out for a lower interest rate loan (if he can) and paying that off instead.

    And then (obviously) ripping up his cards from what we’ve seen…

  37. 1698 journalism schools and 141 medical schools tells us everything we need to know. Obviously 92% of the college degrees are, in fact, worthless using the required course, Statistics for Journalists, knowledge.

    If anyone here didn’t understand the entire reason the “professor” bothered to drive across the state was journalistic integrity to justify his pay for writing the piece then the joke is on you. It is possible for you to understand the intent. All you have to do is sign up for the “professor’s” courses.

    The last point I’ll bring up is that most people here are greatly underestimating the cost of driving. Fuel makes up only a small portion of the cost. We’ll assuming he has a rather efficient car and gets 33.3 mpg. Current prices for gas in Bangor average $2.25. This puts the fuel cost at roughly 7¢ per mile. Based on the $285/mo car payment and the other stated details I will assume he has a 10,000 mile per year lease. This gives us a finance cost of, assuming all 10k miles are driven every year, roughly 34¢ per mile. Lease terms will require purchase of full coverage insurance which, based on the situation, will be between $100 and $600 a month. To make the math easy we will assume that insurance is $142 a month giving us a, best case, cost of 17¢ per mile. We also have to include maintenance. Because I’m already bored we’ll pretend most is covered by the lease and his costs are only 3¢ per mile. State and local fees will add another penny or two per mile. This puts the actual per mile cost of driving at a minimum of 62¢. At this point the estimated cost the trip to Lewiston, and back, is at ~$133 before we consider the opportunity cost of the time spent driving. Please note that I made some generous assumptions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actually cost per mile is closer to $2. After all driving the full 10k miles per year is not good for global warming so I expect a journalism PhD will try to limit the miles traveled to the greatest extent possible.

  38. Journalism was always doomed the moment they started outsourcing the training to universities.

    It’s now just an extension to the gender studies department in churning out of another generation of journalism grads with massive student debts simply to get jobs as journalism professors to train another generation of journalism professors.

  39. Liberal Yank: I’ve found a good rule of thumb for UK driving costs is twice the cost of the petrol. Eg, 12p-ish per mile for petrol, 12p-ish per mile for everything else car-related, 25p per mile total comparable cost.

  40. LY – if you’re that bored, your numbers might be a bit off. I can get nearly 30mpg out of a 3 litre diesel Landcruiser that’s 20 years old. A 1.6 litre diesel Nissan that’s 8 years old gives us nearly 56mpg.

    Actually, I might be a bit bored myself.

  41. Wilts,

    “But what test do you need for a journalist? What’s the impact? Someone can just write a blog and you can look at it and see if it’s any good. That’s all. OK, maybe there’s some educational value to the course, but really, is there? Does it really take 3 years to do the academic stuff to be a journalist? Could you learn that by just reading half a dozen books, blogs and just trying it?”

    You’re right based on my sample of one. I did a 5-day sailing course with a young lad who was doing a photo journalism degree. I was quite interested in it and talked to him at some length about what he was doing. Best I could fathom was that he just did a series of projects on his own and the lecturers offered critiques.

    (pun intended)

  42. jgh: How about depreciation? I may well be wrong, but isn’t the acceptable tax-deductible rate for business driving somewhere around 50p per mile, up to 10,000 miles? HMRC is unlikely to be generous on this point, I’d have thought…

  43. And no-one even needs it. Just make a movie. Got a story to tell? Do it. Not got a story to tell? Find one. Still nothing? Don’t go into movie making.

    Then, buy a few books or online courses about technique. How to use colour, focus, zoom, pan. Then get an iPhone, some friends and make a movie. Edit it on your PC with £30 of software. Stick it on YouTube. See what the reaction is.

    Worked out all right for Peter Jackson, even without the YouTube part: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092610/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    Filmed over 5 years, starring his mates, all props made in his shed (or his Mum’s oven).

  44. UK costs of driving: HMRC will let you claim 45p / mile without being charged tax on it (first 10,000 miles p.a.). Therefore, I think it unlikely that the actual costs of driving to be significantly lower than this on average.

  45. jgh,

    That doesn’t tell us much about the per mile costs in Maine. My understanding is that gas prices in the UK are around 5 times as much as the US. That alone takes your 1:1 ratio to 1:5. Assuming a fuel cost per mile of 7¢ we already have a base per-mile cost of 42¢ without finding any other differences between our nations.

    Ducky,

    I have to ask if your numbers are based on British or US gallons? If it is British then drop your numbers by roughly 20%.

    Additionally you are using diesels. We don’t use a lot of diesels in passenger cars over here. Assuming the lower bound of diesels being 20% more fuel efficient means an equivalent American gasoline engine for your Nissan would get 33.6 mpg in US gallons. Are you sure my numbers are that far off?

  46. Nautical Nick,

    HMRC allow 45p a mile for all expenses of all sort to cover travel expenses when using a car up to a threshold I never get near. (It was 40p for most of the Noughties but went up a little recently)

    Bloke in Wales.,

    Glad I’m not the only person who remembers that movie! Pizza, Special Brew and an atrocious yet somehow brilliant Kiwi zero-budget horror movie back in 1990 or so… (I was a student, it was fun)

    “I’m a Derek! Dereks don’r run!”

  47. The mileage allowance for business use of a vehicle was 57.5¢ per mile in 2015. As one is almost always better off saving receipts and itemizing once again my 62¢ per mile still looks fairly good.

    I should note that the additional tax savings from saving receipts is rarely worth the time necessary, especially since itemizing mileage can trigger an audit.

  48. I get over the 45p a mile threshold occasionally (10k miles iirc) and it does drop off after that.

    The 45 p/mile is generous if you drive an old/cheap car, but on a new car you do get a lot of depreciation per mile (plus insurance costs are a bit higher).

    Even tyres are a non-negligible cost per mile – let’s say £200 for a set of tyres that last £10,000 miles and that’s a marginal cost of 2 pence per mile. Less than fuel but on a fifty mile trip, that’s another pound. Other maintenance costs work a similar way.

  49. Don’t forget – If you have a work colleague in the car with you on a business trip you can claim an extra 5p a mile.

    And that the 45p is simply the amount an employer can pay free of tax. If they want to pay more they can but it is taxable. If they pay less you can claim the difference as a tax deduction.

  50. NewRemainia –As you drink your EU Kool-Aid piss at least try the caffine/LSD- lite kind. You can’t spread your lying, treasonous cockrot if you can’t write coherent prose you face-painting FUB.

  51. Nautical Nick: My figures are my historical expenses, which include £495 to buy a car in 2014 and £200 to buy a car in 2010. They don’t include the 18 months of driving lessons immediately before as I don’t know how to appropriately amortise those as theorietically they will spread over the rest of my life.

  52. Can I say how impressed I am that a college can offer a course taught by someone who has done a BA, an MA, and a PhD – at least the last one of which was in journalism and perhaps all three were – without ever having actually worked as a journalist.

    Straight from grad-school to teaching without passing through the real world. Isn’t this fraud?

  53. I’ve just stamped on my fucking tiny harp.

    He’s spent years pissing about in order to get a job that is entirely worthless, entirely pointless. It’s basically a scam and he’s moaning even though he’s very much one of the lucky ones; on the track to unsackable, well-pensioned tenure.

    He even gets a few quid out of his bad life decisions for a poverty-porn story and it looks like he’ll go bankrupt and get a chunk of his debt written off.

  54. Ecksy – I don’t think there’s that much point in replying to Newmania. It must be a bot of some sort: off-topic, makes no sense at all but throws in a few keywords.

  55. what a sad waste of time and money.

    Hardly. It funnels billions of dollars to left-wing academics to spend attacking the nation that gives them that money, and gets kids to pay to stay off the unemployment figures for years.

  56. SMFS

    The standard academic reason is that academics are meant to publish in top peer reviewed journals. Having perused this chap’s site, his publications are all in a journal called literary journalism studies, which appears not to be rated amongst journalism and communications journals, so not even that excuse…

  57. Bloke in Wales,

    And in Peter Jackson’s days, you still had to get a camera, pay for film stock and processing and go through the tedium of editing film.

    El Mariachi was made for $7000 and the only cost apart from film stock was squibs (fake gunshots). You can do those for about $500 today. So, literally, $500 to make a movie.

  58. Imagine that instead of a middle-class pseudo-journalist this was a working-class plumber. I imagine the number of fucks given would be just under zero.

    However, middle-class and (uselessly) credentialed, so a comfortable living for life is his birthright.

  59. Lots of people love writing so much that they blog for free.

    The only reason journalists aren’t all begging in the streets already is because the competition also has a day job to do.

    Sorry…

  60. 1. Go to leasetrader.com and get rid of the $285 per month car expense
    2. Buy a $1000 car and put up with driving an old car

  61. Arts graduate can’t make enough in his chosen profession to maintain the lifestyle he’d like to become accustomed to?

    Cry me a river.

  62. Witchie said:
    “He should get rid of the car and buy a bike.”

    Agreed. He’s used the car to do five blood donations, grossing $250 (net $150 or less after fuel) over “the summer”, while paying $285 per month for the car loan ($1,140 if there are four months of summer). And he’s had to pay insurance and (unless he’s lucky) maintenance. He’d save a lot more by getting rid of the car.

    As someone said above, this is more about his sense of entitlement to a certain level of lifestyle.

  63. Sounds like he would have been better served by a community college certificate in personal finance…and lowered his $200,000 tuition debt by about $199,000

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