Chad writes me:
What jobs (particularly ones we think of as being inherently beneficial to society) might America have too many of? Political journalism comes to mind this particular month, since we apparently have enough to carefully monitor the Chipotle orders of presidential candidates 19 months before the election. Writers might be another, particularly in a world of self-publishing.
One can imagine lots of reasons for a greater-than-optimal number of people in a particular profession, from government subsidies to cultural biases, but I’m curious if you have a gut feeling about any professions in particular.
A good question, in my view the answer is not so simple. Writers and artists are indeed a possible nomination, but some of the demand for these professions is likely for consumption, which makes the overinvestment difficult to judge. And what about lawyers? Relative to the number of laws and regulations (too many in my view, but take them as given), it is not obvious to me that we have too many lawyers. Someone has to tell companies when it is safe to proceed, or not.
How about too many people selling medical devices and other high margin items? Too many people making alcohol? Too many people raising and selling animal meat? Those would be my picks.
The finance sector is another obvious culprit, but as a fraction of wealth I do not think it is larger than in the past. Admittedly people in the finance sector may be engaging in the wrong activities, but I am not sure the case for fewer employees per se is so obvious. Still, it is another candidate, if only because it (often) involves people selling high-margin items.