Does the world have too many writers, or not enough? What about comparative literature professors? How should we think about the future of literary culture when the written word is becoming so much more culturally dominant at the same time as books and journalism are falling apart?
What variable are we changing at the margin? If people watch less TV and write more, that is probably a plus. I also would favour fewer photographs and more writing. But I wouldn’t cut back on charity to increase the quantity of writing. If only comparative literature professors were people who simply loved books — at the margin a bit more like used book store owners and somewhat less like professors — and would compare them to each other…then I would want more of them. Until then, I don’t know how to keep the extra ones busy.
—Tyler Cowen in Theo asks, and I intersperse my answers
I loved this (underlined) bit. Merely evaluating ‘change’ can be too broad, too subjective to whims. Evaluating variables that are changing at ‘the margin’, is a way better approach.