Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mike Lizotte writes great response to 'naive economic losers'

Mike Lizotte, Director of the New Aquatic Research Center(this may not be quite the right title), posted this great response to the COLS list. It is so nicely done that I wanted to repost it here:

A great example of how little some people value or understand human curiosity and creativity, or a desire to help others.

He *assumes* the only reason to get an education is to make money. As a parody, this is a good template for economic arguments against marrying for love, having children, traveling for experience, giving to charities, and all sorts of other behaviors that might run counter to economic self-interest.

I had 5 mentors between college and here, and none of them misled me about the tough job market. But they were very convincing that the perks (intellectual challenges, travel, lifelong colleagues, low-budget survival skills) were substantial and sometimes unique. I got paid (a little) to go to Antarctica seven times as a grad student/postdoc -- market value for a tourist would be well over $100,000. I met my wife there. I had adventures in exotic places: Chile (experienced the Pinochet regime and its fall over 3 years), New Zealand, Australia, Los Angeles. According to Mr. North, I was a sucker for not taking that job running the sewage treatment plant back in Massachusetts!

I read somewhere that PhD (scientists?) have an unemployment rate of only about 1% (I will dig if someone is interested -- it's probably from NSF).

Cheers to Big Brains, Empty Pockets, AND Full Lives

Mike Lizotte

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Mike. I think almost all of us who teach at UWO are happy to be here and happy we chose the life we did. We could sit for a long time and discuss the advantages of our profession, few of which have much to do with money.

But I do wonder about the people North mentions -- those who do not find a tenure track position. He jumps so quickly into generalizations, some solid numbers would help. What number of PhDs are unable to find a teaching job? What do they then do? I suspect we each know a person here or a person there who has gone on to a non-academic career, but we don't really have a larger sense of what goes on for those folks. North might have helped folks had he dealt more specifically with those who had not found academic creers, and spent less time name-calling those who found academic positions.