Sunday, January 22, 2017

Movement or Pajama Party?

As I understand it one million women and some men marched in DC. A million more if you add up the rest of the world. As best I can tell, and to my great disappointment, no bricks were thrown, there was no substantial blockage of traffic. Some of the speakers sounded a wee bit angry but I certainly did not sense that was the mood of the crowd. I read the list of complaints, and with the possible exception of Planned Parenthood and Obama care, where there may be some overlap, none of the issues addressed the blight of poor and working class people -- the very ones the Democratic Party needs to bring back into the fold.What's the use of preaching to the choir?

So, when 1 million people who already agree with each other get together, is it a movement or a pajama party?   I hope the former, I fear the latter. To me, a movement means, ideally, a fair amount of civil disobedience, some bricks thrown, police clearing away determined demonstrators who refuse order to leave the Mall or the roads. A pajama party means going home tired because you stayed up too late but you had a great time. Maybe it's the difference between a rally and a demonstration.

Unless there is major follow-up and a concerted effort to cross class lines to recruit the poor and working class women who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, what's the point? In any case, probably by mistake, Trump played his cards exactly  right. Although he engages everyone for even the most insignificant slight, he seems to have largely done the only thing he could do to win -- he ignored the marchers. I know this cuts against the grain of most readers but you've got to engage the enemy to make something happen, That or recruit more people to your side. So far, I do not see progress on either score but I sincerely hope I am wrong.

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Lorenz Curve and Law School Administration: Are the Greediest at the Top?

P.J. Waterstone
(cite as 2 Class Bias & Random Thoughts 17 (2017)

The Lorenz curves illustrates what percentage of income the lowest ten percent of wage earners get and then what percent the lowest 20% get and so on. If income is equally divided you get that 45 degree line. The gini coefficient is the same idea expressed as a number. If one person gets all income, the coefficient is 1 -- perfect inequality. In the US it is slightly over .40.

The concept has a great deal of promise for running a law school. Suppose a Dean or Associate Dean kept a record of how much time was spent attending to each individual faculty member.  Then they would be ranked from least amount of time to most. Suppose it is a faculty of 50. The percentage of total time taken up by the lowest 20% (10 people) could be calculated. The percentage of time taken up by the most demanding 10 could also be determined.  My hunch is that the bottom 20% take up about 5% of the time and the top 20% take up about 50% of the time. The Lorenz curve could be even  more bowed than the one in the graph. 

Actually, the real Lorenz curve and the faculty demands on administrative time may be similar in an important respect. If you think of the real curve, the upper 10%, income-wise, may very well be the greediest most self-interested in the land. Now switch over to the faculty-demand-on-administrative-time Lorenz curve. My hunch is that people in the top 10% share many of the same characteristics as those in the top 10% of the real curve. Instead of money, though, it is badgering and complaining about leaves, courses, teaching loads, days spent teaching, special treatment, self-promotion, and being "helpful."

The analysis bogs down a bit at this point. The real Lorenz curve can be used as a basis for thinking about income redistribution. It is hard to apply that to the demand for administrators' time since people in the lower regions actually are likely to be pretty happy with their jobs and do not want or need greater attention. In fact, my bet is that the time hoggers are actually generally unhappy people at work and in life. Still,  if you could just lop off the top 20%, administrators would have much more time to tend to the needs of the students and the institution.

You could also use the gini coefficient to assess how many students people teach. Again, take the bottom 10 (20%) in terms of student contact  hours generated and my guess is they generate about 10% of all the teaching that goes on. The top 20% of teachers in terms of student contact hours probably account for 40%. Plus, I am willing to bet the people in the bottom 20% never pull their share of the load and the to top 20% are consistently the work horses.

In both cases -- demands on administrative time and student contact hours -- I'll bet the happiest law schools are those where both curves approach 45 degrees.