This is a very nascent thought, and should not be viewed as a long-held, deeply thought upon position, but I cannot understand why the abolition of tenure is not considered more often, except for the fact that so many people who are contributing to this conversation already have it.
It seems fairly obvious that tenure serves many functions, and is of vital importance to the academic freedom of those who have it – it also seems obvious that there are an increasingly small number of people who are afforded the luxury of this freedom. I am not suggesting that all the rights that are coincident with tenure should be done away with, but if the ultimate result of extending these rights to certain professors is that universities will create far fewer positions that have them, then the end result is that fewer professors are being served by this system.
The participants in the tenure track lottery system are no more immune than anyone else to the human irrationality of aspiring to a position that they will, in all likelihood. spend many years preparing for and not receive. If there are fewer tenure positions a decade hence this aspirational discrepancy will still exist.
So why not simply do away with tenure, in favor of a strong academic union? Many other trades appear to have created strong unions; unions that afford protection to their members, and unions that these members join without the same level of resentment, worry, and public self-reflection that tenure engenders.