I write this as a 10+ year member of the ACS* - after reading that, I was never so close to resigning my membership.
Dr. Carroll writes about an early ACS president, Henry Hill, who established the first code of conduct for both chemists and employers of chemists. I find the guidelines kinda quaint ("The employer should, by appropriate business practices, provide stable employment and avoid terminating employees whenever possible except for cause."), but hey, at least there are some guidelines. He talks a bit about President Hill's thoughts on job loss from chemists in the early 1970s and then really goes off the rails here:
...Our predecessors—even before the dismal economic days of the ‘70s--had many of the same concerns with respect to employment and the balance between supply and demand as some of our colleagues express today. In many ways, today’s situation is more difficult and complicated. The enterprise is profoundly global, and it was not in 1975. The business that employs so many chemists—big pharma—struggles to find its place in the context of 2015.[deep breath]
And even more startling: we’re graduating about twice as many bachelors and 50% more PhDs today than we were then. Yet the overall unemployment rate is relatively low, even if it’s higher for new graduates.
So here’s a hypothesis: maybe then and now are not so different. Maybe for some reason we virtually always have too many chemists and too few jobs…or if not always, maybe most of the time.
So if that hypothesis is plausible, what do we do about the situation, individually and collectively? If chemists are in oversupply, our first thought is to encourage industry to hire more of us. But realistically, that only works for them if they can make more money by doing so. That’s harsh, but it’s the nature of the enterprise.
I believe that each of us is a single-proprietor business—even if we work at a corporation or a university. If we take that point of view and constantly work to improve our capabilities we have a greater chance of avoiding the tragedy of an atrophied career and a layoff because the enterprise changed and we didn’t realize it was happening.
Employers have a responsibility to us as employees, but our responsibility to ourselves is an order of magnitude greater. That’s what it means to me to be a professional: to make a career a continuous series of learning experiences; adding to our toolkits; making ourselves better and more valuable in a competitive market. ACS’ responsibility in exchange for your dues is to do what it can to enable you. I think Dr. Hill might agree.
First, let's establish who William Carroll, Jr. is. He is a current director-at-large of the American Chemical Society. That means that he sits on the board that ACS members elect (one from each district); this board hires the CEO/executive director (that CEO used to be Madeleine Jacobs, it's now Tom Connolly.) Dr. Carroll was president of the ACS in 2005 (?) (which means that he was on the board in 2004 through 2006, I think), and then he's been on the board since 2007 and has a seat on the board until 2017. He was chairman of the Board from 2012-2014.
I mention all of this to say that Dr. Carroll is just about as responsible as anyone for ACS' response to the Great Recession. Let's remind ourselves of the butcher's bill of those years: thousands (if not tens of thousands) of layoffs of chemical professionals, the highest unemployment rate for chemists in the history of the ACS' Salary Survey, and median wages that continue to fall against inflation over a decade.
Instead of analyzing the lessons that ACS staff and volunteers have learned over those Great Recession years, how the response of the ACS could have been improved and what lessons could be learned for the future (and his role in that response), instead, he has the temerity to remind me that I'm a "sole-proprietor business." Are you freakin' kidding me? After over a decade of zero loyalty from multi-national/American corporations, the last thing a working chemist member of the American Chemical Society needs is that we're on our own. Yeah, buddy, I $*&*&@ know that already.
Instead of reminding me once again that I need to prove myself at my job daily (something I actually really do believe), I would ask Dr. Carroll to have the courage to analyze his successes and failures as a member of the board of directors and how ACS is doing at "enabling" us.
*Yep, not very long, comparatively.