Eric, Regarding long-time-fandom, thanks very much and the feeling is mutual. But you haven’t described my views accurately.
I’m not pleading on behalf of academics; rather on behalf of humanities and social science academics, a group of which I am not a member. As I pointed out, professors in the sciences have access to other sources of income that are generally closed to humanities scholars. Your analysis of the state of US faculties is interesting but wrong; you’ll find that the US intelligentsia had clearly-formed left-wing views long before 1920. Teddy Roosevelt complained about them when he was president (and he pointed out the absurdity of pacifist condemnations of, e.g., the famous British victory against the Mahdists at Omdurman). What happened to the universities is simple: after World War II, they were taken over by intellectuals. Before that point Yale, Harvard, Princeton et al had been run by social (not intellectual) bigshots. Once the intellectuals took over, the political future was clear. The main determining event was the way US intellectuals turned Vietnam into a pseudo-American First World War. They didn’t want to be cheated out of the cathartic experience Euro-intellectuals enjoyed after 1918; therefore they made the absurd claim that Vietnam, like the First World War in the Keynesian view, was a doomed and pointless exercise in bloodletting.
But, anyway, your claim that English professors are merely getting what they’re worth is clearly wrong. A Harvard education is worth a lot. Not because the students learn anything much (not much that’s true, at any rate), but because a Harvard degree is clearly worth money in the job market (or is believed to be, which amounts to the same thing). Therefore students or their parents (or US taxpayers) are willing to pay huge sums to Harvard in exchange for Harvard degrees. The question is, what happens to that money? The same thing that used to happen to ticket receipts at ball games before the players got smart. It’s not that a Harvard English professor is worth what a right fielder (or whatever) makes. Just that he’s worth a lot more than he gets today.
The solution is obvious: a free market in education; a market controlled by the producers (namely the professors) and not the institutions. The road from here to there isn’t trivial, but one way or other that’s where we’re going.