TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Kai Ryssdal: You know those people who you know have jobs, but you’re not exactly sure what they do?
Commentator and university professor Dan Drezner gets that vibe a lot, especially during the summertime. His number one critic is his little brother Jay.
Jay Drezner: Jay Drezner.
Dan Drezner: Hey, it’s your brother. How you doing?
Jay: Oh, good. What’s up, Dan?
Dan: Oh, not much. Mom called the other day.
Jay: Oh. She doing OK?
Dan: She’s fine. You know, a little worried about the price of brisket, but besides that, OK. She asked if I was teaching this summer.
Jay: Aw, jeez. Why is she asking you that?
Dan: She does this every summer. You know this. She always asks me, am I teaching? I say no and I still have to say that I’m doing work.
Jay: Sometimes that’s difficult to justify with what you do for a living, Dan.
Dan: You know perfectly well, my little brother, that I do a fair amount of work over the summer even if it’s not including teaching.
Jay: Oh, wait, that’s right. You’re doing “research.”
Dan: Dude, I can hear the air quotes over the radio. I’ve been a professor for 11 years. You know how this works.
Jay: Oh, wait a second. Explain it to me now how difficult your “job” is?
Dan: Fine, I confess. Without teaching, there’s nothing for me to do. Well, except for the book manuscript that I’m editing. Oh, and the book manuscript I’m writing. Oh, and the many conference papers I need to write. And the grant proposals I need to prep. And the multiple journal articles and book manuscripts to review. There’s the university committee I need to serve on, the professional committee I need to serve on. I got a lot of work.
Jay: When I think about what you do for work — and I’ll give you credit for what you do in the classroom because that’s actually teaching students and that’s a service that’s demanded for and they pay for that with their tuition — but what I really don’t understand are all those things that you theoretically do — and I do mean “work” at outside of teaching. How many office hours do you hold, Dan, for your students?
Dan: Maybe two a week.
Jay: Two hours? OK, and how many hours do you spend lecturing? Around five? Six?
Jay: OK, we’re up to eight now and that’s good for, let’s say, one shift at Starbucks. When do you go to the pool? There’s got to be time for the pool. My job, when I was in investment banking, I worked 80 hours a week. Now I’m at a hedge fund. I can’t just take off a month and decide to come back to see where my portfolio is. It doesn’t work that way.
Dan: By the way, the sound you’re hearing right now is the world’s smallest violin playing for you.
Jay: Well, Dan, I have to say, I do make more money than you. And I do get our parents better gifts as a result. And you know what? I think they love me more.
Dan: That was cold, man.
Ryssdal: Dan Drezner is a professor of International Politics at Tufts University. His brother Jay works in finance in New York City.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.