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So… what exactly do you do again?

Marketplace Staff Jul 24, 2008
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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?

Dan: 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.

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