We have so much cultural capital there are geniuses on the street

A man of his talents in 1700 would have been celebrated as the prodigy of his province or nation. In 2013 he is scraping by streetside.

Even though globalization has brought more wealth and the ability to sell and consume more culture, people like him now compete with the very best of every society. Is he a net loser, enjoying less status and acclaim? I often think the same thing of academia.

Then, of course, I remember our actual counterfactual is feudal serfdom rather than minstrel-hood, and I feel slightly better.