This Slate article* about the recent Johns Hopkins plan** is symptomatic of a seriously -- and unfortunately widespread -- mistaken approach to the political economy of higher education, namely, a short-term and ahistorical focus on the TT section of the entire labor system, mislabeled as "the job market."
Abstracting for the moment from the details of the Hopkins plan, the article's premise that "there aren't enough [tenure-track] jobs for PhDs" is an unfortunate reification of the multiple decisions of university administrators to produce the current situation by their hiring decisions. The endorsed conclusion "therefore we should restrict the number of PhD students," by unquestionly accepting the premise, just reinforces the dynamic that produces the current situation.***
In other words, following the Hopkins plan would be allowing admins to create a "crisis" (which should really just be called the current structure of the labor system) and then apply as a "solution" more of what produced that structure in the first place.
What to do? To start with, we need short-, mid-, and long-term historical analyses as well as short-, mid-, and long-term future strategies. As well as multi-scalar analyses and strategies: local and national. And analyses of sectors with different histories, missions, and challenges: private research universities, public flagships, regional publics, SLACs, HBCUs, CCs.
One thing is for sure: you never get to the mid and long term if you are stuck reacting in the short term, if you always "adjust to the realities" as if they were inescapable and unchangeable and just fell from the sky.
* It's actually is a fine example of a #slatepitch (that is, conventional wisdom wrapped in facile contrarianism): "What if the Hopkins admins were right and they're looking out for student welfare by reducing grad school admissions? Huh, what about that?"
*** It's also paternalistic in the bad sense: are we really so sure that incoming graduate students don't know the realities of the labor system?
**** From an IHE piece: "To compensate for fewer graduate students available to teach undergraduate course discussion sections, Hopkins plans to hire more teaching assistants with master’s degrees."
***** Bousquet comments on Facebook, with links added for this post: "The math is straightforward, and discussed in "The Waste Product of Graduate Education" [link; commentary] and a couple of chapters of How The University Works, as well as the AAUP statement, "Tenure and Teaching Intensive Appointments," and a series of pieces at the Chronicle [e.g.]: 70% or more of all positions are contingent, approaching a million faculty. The fraction of these persons not holding a terminal degree far outstrips the (relatively) small number of persons holding a PhD and seeking academic employment in most fields. It is a management mythography to describe the degreed "waste product" of this system an excrement that must be shunted off to "alternate careers." Rather than, for instance, seeing that there is a "shortage of jobs" not an "excess of PhDs."