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I think many humanities professors would argue getting a PhD is an end in itself, an opportunity to study a field you love for a decade, and what impact it has on your career afterwards is secondary.
I know one top school basically has a two tier track for PhDs in one field. Everyone enters at the same level. However, at the end of a couple of years, it culls the herd. Group 1 is essentially kicked out with a master's degree. Group 2 is told that if they want to quit with a master's they can. If they choose to stay and get a PhD, they can. However, they are not at the pinnacle and thus will not get the kind of recs that make getting a TT post possible. They are pushed through more quickly and usually get a PhD within 4 or at most 5 years. They go into industry, to work for government and NGOs, and in some cases, get teaching jobs at boarding schools. Only the tip top candidates are promised support for something like 7 years. The department spends a lot of time and energy supporting them--paying for them to attend conferences; making sure they have lots of publications, etc. In other words, it does what it can to give these candidates the best possible odds of getting a TT job.
There have always been quite well paid lecturers at Harvard. For example my drawing teacher there was a permanent lecturer. Harvard was just too snooty to give him tenure though he was one of their best teachers.
What Is An Adjunct?
An adjunct is a teacher that has either no contract or a very short term contract for a single semester or year. These teachers often instruct only a single class or two at a given college and may have teaching or non-teaching jobs elsewhere. The term 'adjunct' can be used very loosely in academia, and many schools classify these instructors differently. To account for this difference, we use the total number of part-time non-faculty and non-tenure track faculty to represent the count of adjuncts for the college or university.
I don't know if I'd say it's a "great part time job",