Earlier today I got the following e-mail:
"Dear Professor Shaviro:
"We represent a very small but very wealthy nation that has asked us to approach you. This nation is about to launch a revolutionary effort to adopt some of the values of countries that have been developed economic powers throughout recent history. In particular, this nation’s ruling family is interested in a modern and explicitly progressive system of taxation.
"The ruling family is acquainted, in some cases directly, with your thinking. We (my organization is resolutely obscure, but we did great deal of research to identify you) and they have identified three candidates in total to approach: you and one other from the United States, and one from Norway.
"While the intellectual challenge of designing a system of taxation from scratch would be of the highest order, the compensation alone would be enticing. For your time in consultation amounting to let us say some 500 hours, perhaps concentrated in the summer, something in the very high six figures seems appropriate, with the possibility of a continuing relationship.
"To date, revenue from this nation's resources has made progressive taxation unnecessary, and that state of affairs continues. The family’s motivation is not to find more funding, but rather to embark on a approach that embodies concepts of economic justice that we believe you understand and can apply.
"If this opportunity interests you in any way, we would appreciate the chance to meet with you in person. You should be advised that the ruling family, while moving toward Western values in many ways, appreciates what they consider a dignified appearance: coat and tie (or burnoose), highly polished shoes or boots, carefully combed hair, and so on.
"We look forward to hearing from you."
[Followed by organization name, Wall Street address, and 800 number.]
Okay, let's get this straight. On April Fool's Day, someone simply cold-e-mails me to offer close to a million dollars for doing what all academics ostensibly dream of - getting to play philosopher king. I guess I'd better get my burnoose cleaned and pressed.
What I actually did, just out of curiosity, was (a) google the supposed organization and draw a blank, and (b) have my secretary call the 800 number, which turned out to be a porno line.
At least they didn't ask me for $10,000 or my private security codes. But I guess that million-dollar payday for getting to play philosopher king will just have to wait.