Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Qui ministrare? 

Instapundit checks in with a report from Brad DeLong's website on conversations overheard on his trip to the Allied Social Science Association meetings. Whenever my department is hiring, the chair ends up spending three days in a small hotel room interviewing candidate after candidate. (Due to our odd hiring manual, we're not allowed to interview unless we fly out the whole search committee; unlike Berkeley, we haven't budget for this.) Professors DeLong and Reynolds took delight with this observation:
Well, we do have a strong system of faculty committee governance. But that isn't a blessing: it's a curse. You see, rule by faculty committees translates into rule by those who come to meetings and stay a long time. And thus it becomes rule by those who have nothing better to do--rule by those who place a very low valuation on their time. In most cases, those who place a very low valuation on their time are correct in doing so. It's thus a form of rule by the incompetent.
A colleague has suggested we have a student run a senior thesis based on a difference-of-the-means test (note to Margaret: "mean" means average; sum up the observations, divide by the number of observations) of publications between those who serve on our Faculty Senate and those who do not.

DeLong reports the other person in this overheard conversation charged the first with finding the "proper Greek-derived word" for this. I'd suggest Mencken's "boobocracy: plebianism ad absurdum."