Jo(e) the Law Professor
Jo(e) the law professor has mixed emotions when it comes to the economic and financial turmoil of recent weeks.
Jo(e) thought s/he made a smart decision when s/he started work at a “Tier 2-Tier 3” law school in the middle of America a few years ago by electing a portable and individualized pension plan, rather than the traditional defined benefit plan most professors of an earlier generation had chosen. Jo(e) observed increased mobility by professors over the course of their careers, and thought there was a chance s/he might someday move to another school or community. The traditional 20-year pension plan seemed inconsistent with professional trends, and Jo(e) questioned whether the traditional pension system would be solvent when s/he faced retirement.
Jo(e) watched his/her pension fund contributions grow during those pre-tenure years. This year, s/he noticed, with some anxiety, that his/her account now had less money in it then s/he had contributed. Distressing, needless to say.
Yet Jo(e) gets a kind of pervese happiness in seeing law school classmates-turned I-bankers transformed into handout-seeking neo-socialists.
Jo(e) thinks the root of today’s crisis has to do with the lack of lawyers involved in the real estate transactions that launched this downward spiral. Real estate “agents” with undeniable conflicts of interest steered buyers into homes they couldn’t afford and mortgages they couldn’t bear. Lawyers, those ethical founts of wisdom, might have protected buyers from the kinds of products that now seem so toxic. And Jo(e) knows that bad economic times have a way of inflating law school class sizes, which means more money for schools facing budget cuts and more room for selectivity in law school admissions.
Jo(e) is intrigued that one of the major party candidates for president had a professor-like educational background and academic inclination. At the same time, Jo(e) has long been a fan of the other party’s independent-minded nominee.