Thursday, February 18, 2010

What is maskirova again???

So I was recalling a conversation several years ago with my now retired department chair about why he purchased so much copier paper during the year for the department. He told me that he had learned that an underfunded university like ours didn’t function like other institutions. Rather we employed a Cold War era barter economy with department chairs having different commodities to barter with each other. Our department’s stock and trade was copier paper. When we needed pens, or clipboards or chalk, we had a Fort Knox supply of copier paper. Copier paper dependent departments knew in those days we were the OPEC of copier paper. This Soviet style economy, though not ideal, did serve its purpose.
The current regime is implementing its own Soviet era tactics, the most obvious being ‘maskirova.’ For the non-Russian speakers, maskirova is the Soviet doctrine of tactical deception. If you want your enemy to believe you have more aircraft than you do, build some out of balsa wood and when they are gathering intelligence, they will see what looks like airplanes. If you want visitors to a university campus to believe that all is well what better way than wide screen televisions in all of the buildings. The televisions are part of the deception that all is well. We are financially stretched. Morale is not even low, it is non-existent. Our accreditation is purportedly at risk because of more than a decade of mismanagement by the Board of Trustees. And our students are facing mounting debt in a down job market that is not offering the benefits that university degrees once did.
Maybe the maskirova will convince the world that we aren’t what we are perceived to be. Maybe we will continue like the past two regimes on a building spree while we ‘right size’ (spelled downsize) and hire more administrators earning more than $100,000 per year. Maskirova could be vital in the contracts that are awarded and the people that are hired. It is refreshing to see a regime with an appreciation of Russian military history. Who knows, maybe there is an interest in 18th Century French history as well.

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