Saturday, March 10, 2007

Law and Economics True Believers

In my experience there is a correlation between those who scoff at law and economics and having a privileged background. Yet, ironically, these folks turn out to be the true practitioners of the teachings of law and economics. Or, more accurately, these are the people who best fit the economist's assumption of narrow self-interest.

I have already discussed the guilt free, free-riding tendencies of the privileged. The key is to never ever risk anything in the interest of the community. (And it is hardly a risk to grandstand about an issue close to the hearts of the choir.) In addition, they take no risks even in their own interest if there is a chance someone else will.

The other characteristic of the practitioners is that they are massive externality producers. They are always angling for the law teacher's ideal -- the 0 credit teaching load. If not that, then classes capped at low numbers, few preparations, classes on one or two days a week, etc. They never leave a penny on the table. All of these demands (opps, excuse me, the privileged do not "demand," they "require") mean more work for others. Or, they mean hiring more faculty. Either way, their pursuit of a life of leisure or of doing what they decided they want to do, whether or not it serves the interests of law school stakeholders, is costly to others.

One of the way these requirements manifest themselves is the treatment of those who are lower on the law school pecking order. At my school, when a staff person is mistreated there is a 90% change the faculty person involved is one of the privileged ones.

It appears the privileged and especially privileged members of the choir behave like the economist's economic man far more than any actual law and economics true believers do.

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