Pareto in action

In these times of recession and crisis, economics is getting a bad rap. Well, it has for some time in some of the circles I find myself in. Left leaning people of a conspiratorial nature tend to see economics and economists as some kind of cabal out to worsen the life of the every day person by describing how value moves in society. These people tend to lump ‘economics’ and ‘capitalism’ into the same bin.

I have no idea why. But there you go.

But economics really can do a great job describing the world around us. Case in point: the Pareto principle.

The Pareto principle was popularized in the early 2000’s by Malcolm Gladwell, and refers to an idea found by an Italian economist which states that there tends to be an 80/20 division of resources in any given circumstances.

I am shocked as to how true this is looking for me right now.

I have teachers who do the lion’s share of the work, and I never hear a peep from them. They do their job in a timely manner, never complain about anything, and are not complained about. These are the 20% that do 80% of the work.

Then there are the inverse teachers, who cause 80% of the problems and do very little actual work. One, despite maybe working 5 hours a week and having been repeatedly complained about, constantly asks for more money. She also seems to want to run every little thing that happens with her classes by me, as if I did not have an additional 30 teachers that I also have to work with. She doesn’t seem to realize that to a large extent, I just need her to get things going and make the choices that need to be made. Another teacher refuses to do most work and sends me an email of complaints every week. 20% of the teachers seem to take 80% of the sick leave. The one employee who has started the latest has already taken more holiday than the rest of the staff combined (which is zero).

I also have one who might be clinically depressed, but we can leave him out of this.

It’s the exact same with customers. A select few seem to make 80 percent of the outrageous demand, which another select few seem to bring in 80 percent of the profit. One student has complained about every teacher he has had, and has asked for new teachers about once every other week over the course of three months. What’s worse, we actually obliged this person.

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