Thursday, June 27, 2013

Class Warfare in Law School

My law school has decided to hire a new supervisor of about 5 secretaries. Anyone can interview the candidates so I tagged along.  I do most of my own work and rarely use a secretary but have never had any complaints. Nor have most of my colleagues. It's a pretty good relationship.

BUT, as one secretary said in the interview "our biggest problem is the faculty." The story is like this. A couple of faculty make obviously out of bounds requests -- skirting copyright laws, tons of personal work and lots of work that would not be necessary if their own jobs were treated as full time -- If a secretary balks at all, off the faculty member is to the administration which promptly orders the secretary to "do it."

So you've got privileged over affirmed elitists who mostly have not done a hour of real work in their lives or come close to walking in the shoes of a secretary dealing with secretaries who generally have not been to college.  Oh, and they are tenured and quick to sue  if they feel wronged. Plus, no dean I have known has the balls to say "you are wrong and the secretary is right." My goodness, he or she is "just" a secretary right?  Instead there is appeasement and ultimately the "do it" order.

As I said before, respect should be afforded people in inverse relationship to their status and wealth. You will rarely go wrong unless you have an Aztec. Then you will never go wrong.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Income Redistribution Summer Program Style

From high school through graduate school study abroad programs are always iffy. I did not realize it completely until one of my high school age kids asked about going abroad on a program offered by a teacher at his school. When I checked it all  out, I realized that if the professor got enough students to sign up, he and a partner could go free. And, behind it all was essentially a travel agency that arranged everything. The teacher was for all practical purposes the agent of the agency casting about for students.

But that does not really take the cake. It might well had been worth it to have a chaperoned trip to Europe or where ever.

What takes the cake is more like this. A public law school offers study abroad summer programs.  The school pays the teachers' salaries and the students pay enough for their own housing, meals,  and transportation and for the housing and transportation of the professors.  This is great for the professors and the students. The students get credit while essentially hanging out. Not so great for taxpayers. They are the ones who foot the bill for the biggest expense of all - tens of thousands of dollars for teachers teaching a handful of the students.

But wait! What's the big deal. This is the way public schools work after all. Taxpayers pay and students are subsidized.

The little twist is that, as you look over a sea of students,  which ones would you expect to be the ones who can pass up  summer jobs and afford to travel abroad for six or seven weeks on their own dime?  I'll go way out on a limb and suggest it is, not always but most of the time, the relatively affluent ones. When you get down to it, it is a matter of taxing everyone  in order for the well to do to have a good time abroad. After all, we would not want the rich to actually pay the full cost of educating them in places those paying the tab can only hope to go.