I would argue that it is you who have not learned that economic principles apply to everybody, that includes academics and the subset that is mathematicians. The world does not owe academics a living.

It is an archaic form of employment contract that forces Leicester University to sack its entire mathematics department, and then rehire everybody minus six.

I’m sure that mathematicians will point to the economic value of some work of earlier mathematicians, and use this to justify their view that they should be employed to do mathematical research. The fact that in earlier times there were many fewer mathematicians, and their funding was a lot less generous than it is today, never seems to get mentioned.

I think the way forward is to go back to governments funding prizes for discoveries. People can still do mathematics to their hearts content, but the taxpayer gets a more direct say in what problems get the attention.

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