Pimps, Hos, and When to Get Out of the Ghetto

I recently compared Humanities (Cultural Anthropology, English Literature, History, Philosophy) professors at research universities as pimps who rule the ghetto. Razib Khan liked the analogy so much he extended it with question: “do pimps facilitate good healthy sex for society, or do they encourage the spread of unpalatable contagion by perpetuating the ghetto and its conditions?

The answer: In the ghetto, pimps provide wages to hos who, depending on their character, either become accustomed to the poverty (thus joining the self-perpetuating underclass) or use the capital they accumulate to escape the ghetto.

To review: the ghetto is a neighborhood defined by economic deprivation. A very noticeable ghetto in academic life is the humanities ghetto of low wages and low employment:


Remember that the ghetto has four types of people: pimps (who make the best of a bad environment by running the ghetto), escapees (including those who are planning their escape), losers (including hos who work for pimps), and disaster tourists (including johns who provide the wages for the losers). Here’s an example of a loser ho:

“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.

That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.

But the “ghetto” is larger than just the humanities. Many non-progressive sciences are in the ghetto, because they are run by old boys networks — by their pimps. Likewise, even having progressive research programs does not (necessarily) protect against ghettoization. Using information from Indeed (which suffers from all sorts of biases, but the relative values of which have face validity), this is a chart of the overlapping ghettos by PhD concentration, against where you want to be:


The humanities does not confine you to poverty (you can escape). Whether or not science comes to an end, the myth that scientific training means a successful life certainly should. Being in a normal science does not guarantee success. Personal success comes from finding something that can provide you with joy, provide you with the ability to be the best, and provide you with pay. If you have these attributes in what you are doing, you can be successful, whatever your compensation (in terms of money, power, and prestige).

Petroleum engineers who enjoy their work can enjoy these from heights. Pimps can enjoy these from the ghetto. But without these three, you are much more likely to be miserable.


In other words: if you can’t pimp, get out of the ghetto.

4 thoughts on “Pimps, Hos, and When to Get Out of the Ghetto”

  1. “In other words: if you can’t pimp, get out of the ghetto.”

    Easy enough in theory… but how many who start off in the ghetto think they will become a/the pimp one day… vs just accepting their place?

    “Getting a masters or phd in bitterness studies is surely the way to be a pimp!” they would say, then upon graduation only finally realize their predicament and the massive student loan debt and little way to pay it.

    Like so many things… this comes down to good parenting… either the parents do the right thing and say “Oh you want to get a degree in philosophy, that’s great! Especially now after they opened that new philosophy factory across town! Unless you have become independently wealthy without me finding out, I think you should go back to studying your chemistry & physics textbooks a bit more.” anything less is simply selling their own children to the pimp.

  2. “Oh you want to get a degree in philosophy, that’s great! Especially now after they opened that new philosophy factory across town!


    Parents who abandon their kids to the ghetto don’t just fail as parents — they directly contribute to an uglier society.

    It is morally right that the great mass of workers individually and directly own the means of production. “Modern” command-and-control economies where all tools are owned by organizations are dispiriting and lead to social collapse — this was as true for East Germany as for Detroit.

    But for most individuals, the most important means of production is knowledge. Absent a skill its hard to do anything, but with it it is possible to climb to a frugal position of power, influence, prestige, wealth, comfort, etc. When parents direct children into the ghetto — when they deprive them of the means of production they would otherwise use in adult life — they are selling their children into bondage.

    “anything less is simply selling their own children to the pimp.”

    Absolutely correct.

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