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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 66 of Gregg Easterbrook’s 2004 book, The Progress Paradox (footnote added):

Unknown-2A few generations ago, to be an intellectual or artist required risk and hardship, often combined with a life of penury.  Today, the Western nations support tens of thousands of tenured professors – the majority assured of a reasonably comfortable existence and effectively exempt from any political consequences of their words – plus thousands of full-time writers and artists.

Strictly in economic terms, increasing the supply of intellectuals, regardless of how much demand there may be for same, shows the productive power of current market systems.  As George Stigler, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has written, “Since intellectuals are not inexpensive, until the rise of the modern free-enterprise system, no society could afford many.”*  Only a few generations back, the typical national economy produced enough surplus value to support little more than handfuls of writers and artists.  Today, the Western economies support huge numbers of professors, thinkers, writers, and artists who devote themselves to denouncing the system that gives them their sinecure and ease.

DBx: * The Stigler quotation is from Stigler’s 1965 monograph, The Intellectual and the Marketplace.  The precise quotation (on page 2 [page 69 in the original, 1965 version]) reads: “Since intellectuals are not inexpensive, until the rise of the modern enterprise system no society could afford many intellectuals.”

The woman pictured above is Naomi Klein.