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November 23, 2015


Steve Lewin

Dear Dr. Metablog: No doubt, you will be surprised to hear that I thoroughly disagree with your musings on welders and philosophers. I've long felt that philosophy, not economics, is the dismal science; that apart from a few brilliant guys who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, no philosopher has said anything that is in any way germane to my world; indeed, much of their debate is akin to the medieval practice of arguing how many angels can fit on the point of a needle.
The fact that there is a surfeit of unemployed philosophers and a shortage of welders (if indeed there is a shortage--I don't know) is no knock on the capitalist system, for even if it is self-regulating, it is not instantaneously self-regulating. It takes a while for the system to balance itself, and the overload of philosophers is in part caused by extraneous factors, for example the Vietnam war when there was a draft, and the impetuousness (if such a word exists; I've got to be careful with you wordsmiths) of college students, who may stumble around in the academic world for five to ten years before realizing there's no longer any room for them, and entering the commerce, finance, law, etc.
As I said in an earlier e-mail, I think it is scandalous of professors to encourage year after year of students to enter professions like pianist, philosopher, archeologist, in which there are no jobs. To wit: I have a friend who has a son who graduated with honors from U of Chicago and then got his doctorate in psycholody at Cambridge, came home, and it took him more than a year to find work,at Florida State.
As always, I love your postings, Dr. Metablog, and look forward to reading them as you write them.
Give my regards to Elihu.
Steve Lewin

deeply concerned

No wonder Rubio is concerned. "In 1988 there were 570,000 welders in the U.S., according to data kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2012, there were fewer than 360,000," according to Bloomberg Business News; whereas philosophers - a devious lot - keep their numbers secret. Bloomberg doesn't say how many of those 360,000 also philosophize while they're welding ("je pense, donc je soude") but the way the country is going, I'd be surprised if the number of non-welding philosophers hasn't dwarfed the welding population. This is indeed a dangerous situation. Thank goodness we have articulate, far-seeing candidates like Rubio to point out these things. It's about time we tracked philosophers and made them wear special identification badges.

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