First World Problems For People Wanting Cushy Academic Sinecures

The last few days have seen the eruption, among academic bloggers, of a tense discussion over tenure. These discussions have been going on for a while, of course, as the situation for newly minted PhDs keeps getting more dire, and the reaction of people with tenure is to tut-tut about how awful it is and say that someone should do something.

From Megan McArdle over at Bloomberg View.

I would contrast the despair of humanities PhD students with the centrally planned PhD job market for economics Phds. They almost all seem to get high paying jobs straight off the bat – it may not be at the university of your dreams but you’ll be fine. If they don’t want to become publishing monkeys they will get picked up by the finance sector at several multiples of a tenured professor in compensation.

Noah Smith wrote a good article about getting into an economics PhD program over at Quartz a while back. But let’s think about reality – when I can watch Tyler Cowen on Marginal University or John Cochrane on Coursera – what is the value added to society of a tenured academic these days?