Friday, September 27, 2013
I Am So Polite About Money
One of the things upper class people do not talk about is money. Most have never worked two jobs, struggled to pay a morgage, or had to send money to a relative to get out of jail. Money is beneath them! It's just downright tacky to show concern about money! (It makes we queasy just thinking abouty it.)
Not exactly! Part of the life long negotiation that governs their lives is not to show vulnerability including with respect to how much they are paid. In fact they do care. This is not to say that the money per se is the issue. Instead the money symbolizes whether they are valued by someone else as much as they value their selves. And since everyone is above average (apparently this is a universal thing) each person deserves more than the average. (I am pretty sure this is numerically impossible which means one of a law dean's most closely guarded secrets is what the average actually is.)
So, here is how it works. Let's say for the first time your law school has money to give raises. No one talks about it except maybe to their closest friends or in code by mentioning the type of work that is "valued."
And then, they individually directly or indirectly make their cases where no one can see. I do not know what percentage find their way down to the dean to talk about the importance of their work, how many students they teach, why they should be making more than Sue, how the new salaries to new people mean they are not making a "fair" salary, why they were so busy with important matters that there was no time to write, or the jobs they could get if their salary is not high enough. Each one probably imagines he or she is different from the person who just left the office. Each story is imagined to be unique.
I probably agree with many of the cases they make. It's the pretense that puzzles me. Do they actually not know the dean has heard it 1000 times? One thing that is worse than the pretense is the, I hope, remote possibility that anyone listens.