Rank Order

Dear readers,

Alan Singer sent out an e-mail entitled “Let’s Rank Everybody.” The scary thing is when satire seems like reality. With doctors being ranked by mortality rate of patients, police on recidivism of arrestees (or maybe that should rank prisons?), sanitation workers on how clean the streets are an hour after, and on and on. Actually we know what happens when “merit” pay goes to cops who arrest more people. It is interesting to think of who would rank where on other such metrics.

pecking-order

Lani Guinier once presented data that demonstrated that lawyers with lower LSATs do MORE pro bono work than lawyers with high LSATs. So maybe that’s a rank order we should turn on its head—if we’re thinking about the common good.

Once one is “required” to differentiate people in a way that can produce a rank order—or in the old days, a normal curve—the deck is stacked. Anything will do, or… How can one prove that any of these are valid?

In another article describing the problems with choice, a researcher notes with surprise that parent don’t always choose higher achieving schools. Why?? But in most cases that “higher achieving” simply means schools with more White and rich people taking the test. It is not the school that has a higher score, but it is students. And we know what that higher test scores correlates with directly—income and above all total wealth.

It might be interesting to rank order the percentage of their income that people give to charity. Gates and company might not look quite as generous as the nice little old poor black lady who gives regularly at her church. We also know that old lady may well be paying a higher portion of her income to keep the nation floating, that is paying her taxes (both income and sales).

One Response

  1. I will look for a citation but am sure I have seen solid research supporting the hypothesis that lower income folks give a larger percentage of their income to charitable causes.

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