Balkinization  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Pay Them to Leave

Ian Ayres

Crosspost from Freakonomics:

A business exec told me that he thinks of consulting firms a bit like Charlie Sheen thinks about prostitutes. When I asked him to explain, he said that when Sheen was being sentenced for using a prostitute, the judge asked him why a man like him would have to pay for sex. And Sheen reportedly replied: “I don’t pay them for sex. I pay them to leave.” The exec went on to explain that he prefers hiring business consulting firms that also do their jobs and then leave.


I’m repelled, but fascinated, by Sheen’s reasoning.


This story got me thinking about the demand for non-relational contracting. Ian MacNeil, my former colleague at Northwestern, was famous for claiming that most contracting is “relational” — or extends the duty to perform contracts through time and repeated transactions. But Sheen’s (possibly apocryphal) quotation has me thinking that there may be contexts in which people would pay a premium to avoid a relationship.



Some people may at times prefer A.T.M.’s to tellers in part because they don’t want to speak to tellers. Some people may prefer Merry Maids to a regular housekeeper (or may prefer to be absent when the cleaning is done). Or some people may prefer buying at Amazon.com in part because of the lack of human contact.


Indeed, what’s scariest to me as a professor is that part of the student demand for “distance learning” may come from students who don’t want to have relationships with their teachers.


A rising demand for non-relational contracting seems of a piece with Robert Putnam’s depressing Bowling Alone thesis that we are becoming increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors. I remember the day when you might have had a conversation with the person sitting next to you on an airplane. Nowadays, if you say more than a perfunctory hello when you initially sit down, you are trespassing into your seatmate’s personal space.


Of course, there are other ways to spin the demand for non-relational contracting. Restricting and regulating our contractual relationships allows us to control and concentrate our limited relationship energy on those people who matter most to us. Surely this is sometimes the case. But conserving our limited relationship energy may backfire. Our capacity to interact with others may atrophy if it goes unused.



Moreover, some of us may be healthiest and happiest when we interact with a variety of people on a variety of levels; it may not be good for us to concentrate all of our social energy on the most intense or important relationships in our lives.


I worry that there’s too much Charlie Sheen in the modern condition. Part of my revulsion is in the glimmer of self-recognition.





Comments:

Ian,

When you speak of the "modern" condition, this is a relative term. 200 years ago, most women would not, in their entire lives, have dealings with more than a few men outside their families. In the country, up to the early 20th century, a lot of men would have associated with relatively few people, as they would have grown up on farms, gone to small schools, and lived their lives working in the fields.

It's hard to get concerned about what has been a temporary blip in the human condition, especially since the time since 1900, say, has not been marked by unequivocal social progress on all fronts.

Introverts of the world, rejoice! You don't have to put up with all those disgusting extroverts anymore just to make a living.
 

Would a traditional, closed adoption be an example of non-relational contracting? Obviously, a family is forming a relationship with a child, but the birth-mother is severing a relationship with the child and may often choose not to know the adopting parents?
 

"Indeed, what’s scariest to me as a professor is that part of the student demand for “distance learning” may come from students who don’t want to have relationships with their teachers.

Relax, I'm pretty sure it's mostly due to the incredible expense and inconvenience of "up close learning", that renders it out of the question for anybody who already has a life, or lacks the desire to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt.
 

If you pay me to leave, I will.
 

lol .. so charles .. now that we have established what you are ..we're now down to simply haggling over the price .. eh ??
 

oh ..btw .. my new policy on this blog concerning the change in the availabilty of the comments section is i'm not reading ANY entry here which isn't open to comment ..
 

I have observed this phenomenon at the Shaw's grocery store in Boston. They have an automated self-checkout station, and plenty of others with staff and baggers. After repeated exposure to the indifference, haste, and unhappiness of the clerks, many people, myself included, prefer to endure the frustrations of the bar code readers and mechanical voice at the robot station, though it doesn't save time...
 

Groucho Marx(Captain Spalding sings)...

Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going.
I'm glad I came, but just the same I must be going.

Mrs. Rittenhous: For my sake you must stay.
If you should go away, you'll spoil this party I am throwing.

Spalding: I'll stay a week or two.
I'll stay the summer through.
But I am telling you that I must be going.

Mrs. Rittenhous: Before you go will you oblige us
and tell us of your deeds so glowing?

Spalding: I'll do anything you say.
In fact, I'll even stay!

All: Good!

Spalding: But I must be going.

Maybe Charlie Sheen can work up a script updating Groucho with his dating habits. Charlie is a libertine/libertarian.
 

I have observed this phenomenon at the Shaw's grocery store in Boston. They have an automated self-checkout station, and plenty of others with staff and baggers. After repeated exposure to the indifference, haste, and unhappiness of the clerks, many people, myself included, prefer to endure the frustrations of the bar code readers and mechanical voice at the robot station, though it doesn't save time...

# posted by curly37 : 7:02 AM


I love the new self-checkout stations. No one uses them at the Shaws near where I live, so I can save all sorts of time.
 

Jkat:

Do you have an opening bid?
 

oh ..btw .. my new policy on this blog concerning the change in the availabilty of the comments section is i'm not reading ANY entry here which isn't open to comment ..
# posted by Blogger Jkat


I'm with you. No comments, no read. The turning off of comments, and JB's attempt to explain that decision is embarrassing. I was/am embarrassed for Jack. The false evenhandedness to avoid the accusation of censorship... "takes two to tango" crap, when the problem is -- quite obvious to everyone -- a couple of devoted vandals. Vandals who win, when you devalue your site by closing comments. If the Right could shut down comments on all liberal blogs tomorrow, do you think they'd do it? Would they consider that a win? You betcha.

Preferably, you tolerate the annoyance. Believe me you've lost a lot more than you've gained by ending comments. If you can't tolerate it, then use the ban hammer - nobody has a Right to post here, on your private property.

Been wanting to get that off my chest for a while now.

B
 

B:

Would you like to contribute to the "Pay Charles to Leave Fund"? It's a simple cost-benefit analysis. That way you can "win" by getting comments back on?
 

no charles .. i don't have any opening bid .. lol .. my previous snark was/is just a corruption of an old joke and since you left that door open .. well..

i couldn't resist the barb .. i'm too cheap and easy .. eh ??

but .. fellow commenter .. absolutley no animosity was intended ..
 

None taken.
 

On the original question[s]:
I think 'modern' life is so overly full of social interactions that a certain inclination to retreat when possible is not surprising. That said, I do think "Bowling Alone" discloses some genuine social problems. The trick would be to find ways to minimize/eliminate athe interactions we really do not want - unwanted phone calls, the local 7th Day Adventists at the door, all those people in the stores/on the roads/etc. - and revive the ones we do want - knowing our neighbors, chatting pleasantly in the line, joining a political action group, etc.

On the offer to buy out Charles: I don't see the point unless we can get a linked deal with He Who Shall Not Be Named.
 

I'm sure we can negotiate a package deal. Is there a couple spare billion left in the "Stimulus" Bill?
 

Human contact can be inefficient. If tellers were faster than ATMs (and with better locations), I would use them. If bookstores had better selection and prices than Amazon I would use them.

It's only gotten worse as every human interaction is an opportunity to upsell or promote something else. It's a lot quicker to click a box declining this, that, and another option that it is to spend time deflecting that garbage.

Sheen is no different--he doesn't want to cuddle, make small talk, or cook breakfast.
 

Be careful: what do tarts, taxi drivers and lawyers have in common?

We all have members of the public as clients.

We render services for a fee often based on time and distance.

We are all prepared to work that bit harder for an unreasonable client who pays "double the clock".
 

I'm an academic with no business experience. But I would guess, regarding consultants, that one "pays them to leave" not to avoid human contact, but to avoid paying for their support over the long term. That is to say, it costs less to pay a lot for expertise when you need it than it does to to employ a team of experts coving all fields that might inform your business at all times.

Perhaps another way to phrase this is it is not to avoid personal contact but to avoid commitment. That seems to be what Sheen is going for too.
 

Because, obviously, Sheen is paying for physical contact (unless he's into something really, really weird).

Last chance for the U.S. Senate to include a couple billion dollars for Bart and I to leave . . .
 

Not that it's particularly germane, but if Sheen really did say that, he's just quoting from Dean Martin, who is alleged to have said that to someone who asked him, during the height of the Rat Pack's fame, why, with their celebrity and wealth and natural appeal to women, they would have to resort to prostitutes. Dino's response was what Sheen reportedly said in this instance.

It makes perfect sense.
 

Does anyone else find irony in the the fact that the chosen forum for this conversation allows the participants to avoid face to face interaction?
 

HD kaliteli porno izle ve boşal.
Bayan porno izleme sitesi.
Bedava ve ücretsiz porno izle size gelsin.
Liseli kızların ve Türbanlı ateşli hatunların sikiş filmlerini izle.
Siyah karanlık odada porno yapan evli çift.
harika Duvar Kağıtları bunlar
tamamen ithal duvar kağıdı olanlar var
 

Post a Comment

Older Posts
Newer Posts
Home