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From the New York Times:

If People Were Paid by Ability, Inequality Would Plummet

Some may argue that top earners are simply super skilled, but that’s not what the evidence suggests.

By Jonathan Rothwell
Nov. 8, 2019

Income inequality in the United States would fall drastically if people were compensated based only on their ability.

The fundamental reason that income inequality is extraordinarily high in the United States relative to other democracies is the disparities in power across groups. Both the left and the right often miss how these disparities can play out.

The skills that really matter in the workplace are much more evenly distributed than many people assume. Most low-wage workers are underpaid relative to their measured intelligence and personality traits, and many of the highest-paid professionals — including doctors, lawyers and financial managers — are overpaid according to the same metrics. …

Data from the Census Bureau are consistent with this pattern. There are more doctors in the top 1 percent of earners (15 percent of the total) than chief executives (11 percent of the total). In fact, across nearly 500 occupational categories, doctors make up the largest group in the top 1 percent.

Lawyers and financial managers make up 7 percent and 3 percent of all top earners. Dentists are among the most likely to be in the top 1 percent; they actually outnumber software developers in that group.

About a generation ago, I believe, dentists went through a period when they weren’t very prosperous due to fluoride in water and toothpaste reducing the number of cavities to be filled, but they have since rebounded nicely.

Some may argue that top earners, whatever their occupation, are simply super skilled. But empirical evidence shows that skills cannot explain their pay.

The actual range of worker productivity is much narrower than the range of incomes. Research from management science finds that high-performing managers or professionals are roughly 50 percent more productive than a typical worker in the same role. That’s a large gap, but the salaries of many highly paid professionals — say those in the 85th percentile of their occupational group — are consistently at a far higher level than the median worker in the same field.

Why are top performers paid so much more than average performers in their field?

One way to think about this is to look at baseball, where statistics on productivity and pay are public. The world’s best baseball player during the current decade has been the Angels’ centerfielder Mike Trout. Trout is like Mickey Mantle, if Mantle were bigger and had a fanatical work ethic.

As a hitter, Trout’s career On-base Plus Slugging average (adjusted for park effects) is 176. In other words, over his 8+ seasons in the big leagues, Trout has been a 76% better hitter than the average hitter.

That actually doesn’t seem like all that much. Mike Trout is only a 76% better hitter than the average.

(Of course, the average major league hitter is somewhere between one in a thousand and one in a million at hitting a baseball compared to other males of his age.)

Trout currently makes just under $37 million per year, compared to a mean salary of $4.4 million and a median salary of $1.5 million. Trout’s was the third highest pay in the big leagues in 2019 behind World Series-winning Washington Nationals pitchers Max Scherzer ($42 mil) and Stephen Strasburg ($38 mil).

Now, you could say he is only a 76% better hitter than the mean, so why isn’t he paid, say, $7.8 million? Or, because MLB has monopsony rules to depress salaries for players during their first six full seasons, why not, say, $15 million?

On the other hand, Trout is fabulously better on average than any other hitter around. (He’s also good at defense and baserunning.) Here are the top ten active players in career OPS+ (seasons, age, OPS+, handedness):

1. Mike Trout (9, 27) 176 R
2. Joey Votto (13, 35) 150 L
3. Miguel Cabrera (17, 36) 148 R
4. Albert Pujols (19, 39) 147 R
5. Giancarlo Stanton (10, 29) 144 R
6. Paul Goldschmidt (9, 31) 141 R
7. J.D. Martinez (9, 31) 138 R
8. Freddie Freeman (10, 29) 137 L
Bryce Harper (8, 26) 137 L
Christian Yelich (7, 27) 137 L

Votto, Cabrera, and Pujols are, presumably, Hall of Fame locks. Of course, their career averages have been coming down lately as they’ve aged. But the next six players are still in their primes and they aren’t close to Trout at all.

Basically, there is a giant pyramid of baseball players and at the tippy-top is Mike Trout.

And here are the top 11 active starting pitchers in career ERA+, a similar measure where 100 = average:

Rank Player (yrs, age) Adjusted ERA+ Throws
1. Clayton Kershaw (12, 31) 157 L
2. Jacob deGrom (6, 31) 148 R
3. Chris Sale (10, 30) 140 L
4. Corey Kluber (9, 33) 134 R
5. Max Scherzer (12, 34) 132 R
6. Stephen Strasburg (10, 30) 130 R
7. Justin Verlander (15, 36) 129 R
8. Gerrit Cole (7, 28) 127 R
9. Zack Greinke (16, 35) 125 R
10. Cole Hamels (14, 35) 123 L
David Price (12, 33) 123 L

So pitchers stand out even less than hitters, probably because over the course of their careers, they tend to have some sore arm seasons that drive down their career averages.

Basically, being a baseball hitter is a healthy, non-debilitating career with moderate amounts of outdoor exercise and few extreme strains. It’s like being a more athletic golfer. Being a baseball pitcher, however, puts you closer to the edge of wearing out your arm at any moment.

In fact, Trout is often said to be underpaid.

Baseball players are often ranked on Wins Above Replacement (player). A replacement player is a below-average player whom a team could pick up easily from another big league team or bring up from the minors. A run of the mill regular is worth about 2 wins per season out of 162 games: e.g., replacing a replacement player (0.0 WAR) with an average regular (2.0 WAR) would likely boost an average team from 81-81 to 83-79.

Trout has averaged about 9 WAR per season over the last 8 years. I’ve seen rules of thumb suggesting that for a free agent eligible player, each 1.0 WAR is worth 7 or even 10 million in salary per year, suggesting Trout might be worth twice what he’s making.

It’s not immediately obvious why being 76% better than average is so awesome. Similarly, Scherzer has been a 56% better pitcher than average for his five seasons in Washington, which earned him his immense salary.

Some of the mystery is opportunity cost. You can’t hire 1.76 average hitters to do the work that Mike Trout does, because they’d make 1.76 times as many outs, and you only get 27 outs per 9 innings.

Similarly, you can’t hire 1.76 average brain surgeons to do the work of the Mike Trout of brain surgeons. Likewise, when I was working for my firm’s CEO in 1988 on mergers and acquisitions issues, I wondered why our outside M&A investment banker who advised the CEO was paid so much. One reason was because the CEO wanted one adviser who was familiar with his situation and whom he trusted to give him good advice. Hiring 1.76 mediocre advisers to carry on this task wasn’t equivalent.

Rothwell continues:

… Consider the measures that best predict economic performance. Cognitive ability, years of education, experience and noncognitive traits (like conscientiousness, enthusiasm and emotional stability) are all strong predictors of income and health status. Taken together, they make up much of what economists mean by human capital and consistently predict high performance in the workplace.

As part of research for my new book, “A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society,” I calculated what each individual’s income would be if she or he were paid according to the attributes listed above (using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey). Comparing actual income inequality to predicted income inequality results in a reduction from 0.44 to 0.19 as measured by the Gini coefficient of inequality. Paying people based on their fundamental skills would make the United States as egalitarian as Sweden.

The reason? The distribution of skills is far more egalitarian than the distribution of income — and would be more equal still if access to high-quality education and skills training were more widely available.

Consider that the top 1 percent of earners in the United States score one-third of a standard deviation (or 5 IQ points) above the average adult on cognitive and workplace skills — measured from an assessment of adults by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Not bad, but not that unusual, either: Roughly 45 percent of adults score that high.

Nah, I don’t believe the average top 1% income earner has a 105 IQ. Rothwell vaguely links to the PIAAC test but not to where in its huge website his data resides.

But, I think his general point is an interesting one.

 
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  1. anon[195] • Disclaimer says:

    As part of research for my new book, “A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society,” I

    Is there anyone writing for the NYT who isn’t pimping a book? Anyone?

    • Replies: @Henry's Cat
    , @Hypnotoad666
  2. Sheesh. Your salary is based primarily on what it would cost to replace you.

  3. newrouter says:

    ctrl f for immigration = 0 for this article.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    , @Lugash
  4. I think everyone of these economist types who comes up with stuff like this should be forced to spend a good month in a place like Camden, New Jersey including its well funded schools before saying that just changing the tax code and making some regulatory changes can turn the US into Norway.

    • Agree: Redneck farmer, Travis
    • Replies: @bomag
    , @another fred
    , @Forbes
  5. newrouter says:

    >“A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society,”<

    Why isn't Hillary Clinton in jail?

    • LOL: bomag
    • Replies: @Prester John
  6. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    I thought most people were paid ostensibly for what they actually did and not for what they COULD do.

    The BNSF Railway has conductors and engineers who are licensed attorneys, at least one pharmacist, and several with real estate, securities and other similar licenses, but they don’t get any extra pay because those qualifications are irrelevant to their duties. TWA had a famous Captain who was a Ph.D clinical psychologist (he wrote a book on “fear of flying”) , and several attorneys, CPAs, etc, but likewise they got no more pay for the same reason.

    MENSA is full of, as one commentator put it, “truck drivers, waitresses, and Sealy Posturepedic mattress queens”, many of whom could have been doctors, lawyers, or CPA’s had they had a little more drive or discipline. But they are not, and therefore make less, much less, money.

    I myself can play guitar better than Joan Jett or Chrissie Hynde but they make a lot more money. They are, however, better singers.

    None of this seems unfair to me in any way.

  7. Gabe Ruth says:

    I suspect his plan will end up being a little antisemitic.

    • LOL: Kiel, ben tillman
    • Replies: @Paul Jolliffe
  8. Uhh.. baseball… uhh… zzzzzzzzzzzzz….

    • Replies: @jim jones
  9. Sometimes the NYT is clueless.

    What the author is complaining about is the Left’s intentional concentration of wealth in as few hands as possible because concentration of wealth makes it possible for a tiny minority to police the use of that wealth.

    • Replies: @Forbes
  10. Income inequality in the United States would fall drastically if people were compensated based only on their ability.

    How is this different from “comparable worth”, which Clarence Pendleton once called “the looniest idea since Looney Toons“?

  11. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    Most of the discrepancy between income and ability is the result of rent-seeking, both between different types of industries or occupations and within them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent_seeking#Description

    Rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent (i.e., the portion of income paid to a factor of production in excess of what is needed to keep it employed in its current use) by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth. Rent-seeking implies extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity.

  12. Yes, a software developer with 150 IQ should be paid about twice the software developer with 75 IQ. And LeBron is about 10% taller than me, so I’d like 90% of his salary please.

    • Replies: @bomag
  13. ziel says:

    Much of the business world operates as a pyramid scheme. This is obviously true in sales where commissions on a sale are divvied up between the salesman who actually made the sale, some crumbs thrown to support staff, then substantial kickbacks up the chain to regional/territorial management.

    But even in the corporate ranks, incentive payments are typically from a fund allocated to a business unit where management decides how to divvy up the fund, getting to keep the lion’s share for themselves and then parceling out to the minions as they see fit.

    I get the feeling that back in the high-growth 50’s and 60’s it wasn’t this way – most compensation was salary and salaries were a lot less skewed towards management.

    Probably the biggest innovation to change in how management is compensated was the leverage buyout – a handful of people could just literally take over a company and grab all the goodies themselves. So perhaps super-compensation of upper-management is just a way to keep the wolves at bay.

  14. 25% faster, though, when running from police.

  15. Life is winner take all. There is only one winner. The best win. Everyone else loses. Maybe the best should get all the money; everyone else gets the steak knives or nothing. Sorry but life is not fair.

  16. Software developers will tell you that the best developers are hugely more productive (like 10×) than the just-adequate (but still employed) ones. And yet developer salaries (plus RSA options etc) at any one company are pretty tightly bunched (in Silicon Valley right now, they all make between $100-$200k/year).

  17. Anon[154] • Disclaimer says:

    Apparently notion of non linear effects is too complicated for most people to gasp. If the input is X% bigger the output should be X% bigger too. Otherwise – injustice. (As an anecdotal observation in software engineering the difference in output between mediocre and best engineers is many orders of magnitude.)
    Also doesn’t the whole piece read as another example of Sailer’s law of journalism? Come the revolution not very bright people like the author should be paid much more comparatively then now.

    • Agree: bomag
  18. slumber_j says:

    OT sort of, but my good friend Bob Freeman who was the Beatles’ official photographer through I think the cover of Rubber Soul and who died yesterday was a very good photographer indeed.

    How much better was he than a normal very good photographer? Who knows–but probably not an order of magnitude better.

    He took a portrait of me in a Homburg hat maybe a decade ago that is easily the best photo anyone has ever taken of me. His pictures of the Beatles and a lot of other famous people were really, really good too, and probably at least marginally better than almost any other photographer would have done.

    How do you figure out how much that work is worth? I have no idea.

    By the way, I’ve heard that “Norwegian Wood” is about John Lennon’s affair with Bob’s then-wife, but I have no idea whether or not that’s true. There are other stories about that too.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    , @Buzz Mohawk
  19. How about say, the difference between the pay of a small town newspaper reporter and a staff member of the Atlantic? Oops, that’s different!

  20. @International Jew

    Autism doesn’t make you a very effective negotiator.

  21. “because MLB has monopsony rules to depress salaries for players during their first six full seasons”

    For nearly a century, MLB had monopsony on all players for the duration of their MLB careers: The Reserve Clause (a form of collusion and a salary cap), which was intentionally designed to suppress salaries across the board. So apparently MLB is bringing back a form of the Reserve Clause, to guarantee that many of a young player’s peak earning years aren’t as high as they could be if true free agency existed for players no matter the period of their careers.

    Question: Suppose someone like Trout came into MLB and decided to simply sign a one year deal for the first 3-4 years. He puts up phenomenal stats. Certainly after 3-4 years, a larger market team may decide to make an offer to that player, rules or not. Unless that’s the sort of thing that the next MLBPA collective bargaining contract has to decide. Seems like that’s a fairly new development in MLB contracts, free agency, etc. Like the owners don’t want to have to pay phenomenal salaries to star players any sooner than they have to.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  22. Anon[154] • Disclaimer says:
    @International Jew

    The best ones (the 10x and 100x) make much more than 200k.
    However, your general observation is correct. Engineers salaries are very depressed compared to C-suite. Hint: immigr….

  23. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    People don’t get paid based on their IQ. If they did, this woman would be getting paid more than most Fortune 500 CEOs.

    • Replies: @Charlesz Martel
    , @Anon87
  24. Russ says:

    Votto, Cabrera, and Pujols are, presumably, Hall of Fame locks. Of course, their career averages have been coming down lately as they’ve aged.

    Trout is #1 while Pujols is #4 on that list, they’ve been teammates for eight years, and all their team has to show for it is a sweep out of the ALDS in 2014. Pujols posted a Trout-like 170 OPS+ in his 11 years in St. Louis, but only a paltry 110 OPS+ in eight Anaheim years, so the “is Trout underpaid?” argument is swamped by overpayment to Pujols and lack of a supporting cast.

    Perhaps it should also be asked whether Trout plays an entertaining brand of baseball. One sees that his team barely draws three million per season; one wonders. Ozzie Smith was a gold-glove shortstop in St. Louis, but his fielding was also spectacularly entertaining. Reggie Jackson once had (and may still have) the highest slugging percentage in World Series history, but his swings and misses in which he’d corkscrew himself into the batter’s box were a sight to behold (even though failures by “SABRmetric” standards).

    It’s also worth noting that no matter what Trout’s hitting prowess, his offensive contribution may only occur once every 2-3 innings, due to the structure of his sport. This, unlike basketball, wherein the Cleveland entry is either dozens of games under .500 sans LeBron James, and in the NBA Finals avec the Black Maoist. Baseball is much more the team sport: Thus, Trout and his 176 OPS+ and his zero playoff game wins in eight full years, and Mantle and his 172 OPS+ and his five World Series rings in his first eight years. Unlike the former, the latter played on a great team.

  25. It doesn’t surprise me that linear performance gains at high levels are rewarded with nonlinear pay gains.

    There’s only one Mike Trout and there’s only one Tom Brady (or, Bill Belichick). Rare talent can’t be replaced so easily.

    Also, in my experience, rarely is success at high levels measured in continuous values. A high-profile paper is published or it isn’t, you win the Superbowl or lose it, etc.

    • Replies: @onetwothree
    , @Anon87
  26. “Some of the mystery is opportunity cost.”

    no it’s not. there’s no mystery here at all.

    for practical purposes there’s a nearly unlimited supply of even doctors and dentists. there’s about 25 guys in the entire world capable of playing NFL quarterback.

    professional athletes are in a bidders market. you bid for their services. so the prices go up fast for the top guys. what’s your payroll? how much can you afford for one of the best players? bam. that’s his price. it’s economically rock solid too, since the sports leagues are solvent and in the black. there’s no argument to even be made, beyond the NBA television contracts possibly being too large to make economic sense.

    that’s it. that’s all there is to it, and it’s not any mystery at all.

    and, if you want to win a championship, there’s only a few players who can get you there. so absolutely, you need to pay big for the guys who are ‘only’ 50% better. or you won’t win. you can only even get to the superbowl with, maybe, 15 of the quarterbacks in the league? and the baseball numbers don’t work there, because the best couple quarterbacks are like, what, effectively 100 times better than the average ones over a 15 year career? the new XFL explicitly took this into consideration and is paying the quarterbacks 10 times as much as the other players.

    who even knows how distorted this guy would think the soccer player market is. 100 million dollars a year for the top players.

    • Replies: @Sam
  27. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    It’s in the collective bargaining agreement: no free agency for the first six years.

    Teams have recently responded by not offering much to 30-something players. The owners seem to be colluding again, like back in 1987, although some of it is analytics like WAR mean everybody is using the same stats, not their own hunches.

    • Replies: @Anon87
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  28. “But, I think his general point is an interesting one.”

    no it wasn’t. it was standard issue cultural marxism. he wants janitors paid about the same as doctors. he wants people who could never even be a doctor ever, to be paid about the same as a surgeon. how much better is a surgeon than a high school dropout janitor who could never, EVER, EVER do the hundreds of surgeries the surgeon does? 1 million times better? can you even put a number on a binary thing? most people can’t be surgeons no matter what. well, not surgeons who save lives, anyway. anybody can cut you.

    aside from that, even his point about doctors and dentists income levels is misleading. he limited the discussion to 1 in 100 level of income. well, there’s 100 times more doctors and dentists than CEOs. so yeah, of course there are more doctors at the 1 in 100 level.

    let’s up the income level to 7 figure incomes. how many doctors now? suddenly, it’s mostly CEOs and only a few percent doctors.

    up it to 8 figure incomes. now it’s almost all professional athletes, with a percentage of CEOs.

    a garbage article from a garbage writer at a garbage newspaper. pay the useless commodity workers more, lower the pay of the high performers who make society run. the people who flip burgers at mcdonalds for minimum wage aren’t that much worse at flipping burgers than the guy who runs mcdonalds. any random 20 year old moron who flips burgers at a Wyoming mcdonalds could do about the same job as the CEO. only 50% less good, anyway. so pay them the same. herp derp.

    • Agree: Buzz Mohawk
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  29. People don’t get paid according to their ability. They get paid according to results, when they get paid according to any metric at all. Ability and results are not the same thing, and economies do not run on entirely rational ideas like “pay according to ability.” This is why planned economies and central planning do not work and people end up standing in line to buy toilet paper when “smart” people try to (or pretend to) run national economies from the top down according to some ideal.

  30. just realized the flaw in the baseball analogy. the average MLB player is already like 1 in 50,000 level athletic ability for baseball. so they’re already sorted for very rare ability levels. it’s extremely hard to be 2 times as good as that. so yeah, obviously the best players are only about 50% better. basically the average player would be at the wechsler 160 level, so the best players might be at a putative wechsler 200.

    99% of the rest of the jobs in the economy are not sorted for any ability level even remotely as high as that. university professors are at best sorted at the 1 in 10,000 level for instance. and for practical purposes, lower. so the best professor in the best department can easily be 2 times, 3 times, 10 times as good at what he does as the average professor in the same field at State U. because there’s a lot more room for him to be better.

    doctors are even lower than that. maybe 1 in 500 ability level at most? great surgeons are significantly higher, though. James Andrews, the guy who fixes all the athletes, is 100 times better than the average surgeon, conservatively.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  31. theMann says:

    Pay is generally determined on the basis of what you can get in the Free Market. Picking two gigantically unfree markets, MLB and Medicine, and using them to generalize about net earnings, is completely pointless. Looking instead at, for instance, the self-employed, gives a better picture of the value of being better than some one else in the same general work category. There, pretty much by definition, the out sized genius will make will make quiet possibly 1000x more than the average worker.

    At least a few commenters are beginning to understand the entire point of Immigration is to destroy the Labor Market in our country, with the ultimate aim of driving all wages as near to zero as possible.

    BTW Baseball players, and all other Pro Sports individuals, have wages that are ultimately determined by their Sport’s ability to generate Advertising revenue. Revenue which has exploded in the last 50 years, and will likely contract back again, hard, as the TV watching generation dies off.

    • Replies: @Henry's Cat
    , @Anon87
  32. @slumber_j

    Fascinating. I think I’ll have another drink and stay at this party a while longer. Thanks, and condolences to you on the loss of your friend.

    As you and others here imply: a little bit of difference can have a great effect — and situations, luck and happenstance can put a talented person in a unique situation that accentuates the talent, to the pleasure of the rest of us.

  33. @prime noticer

    Right, Trout as a 200 BQ ballplayer versus a bunch of 160 BQ average MLB ballplayers is a good analogy.

  34. @Anonymous

    Some of it is just luck and timing. For example, if you are a real estate developer, you are always in danger of Gambler’s Ruin if the next recession is earlier and harsher than you’d figured. There is a Jay McInerney novel in which a billionaire investor is a manic-depressive whose cycles have happened to anticipate bull and bear markets.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  35. @Steve Sailer

    I’ve known at least two builders who have gone through the cycles. Same story: They build and build (expensive houses) until the recession comes, and then they get stuck holding their latest McMansion or Ponderosa Castle. It’s hilarious, as they always, always blame the banker who stops lending them money.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  36. Anon[839] • Disclaimer says:

    At least this guy is looking at the right sort of data. That’s good news. Now we need 20 other guys, with diverse political views to go through it.

    He’s admitting that IQ, modified in some cases by personality traits, determines the rank order of pay (i.e. The Bell Curve’s Part I was right), but he thinks the spread of pay is too wide. That’s a very difficult, subtle point which depends on the field and particular circumstances.

    A developer who is a tiny bit better than other excellent developers might hit on an idea a little sooner than others and allow a winner take all idea like eBay to hit the market first. An attorney might hit on an multinational scheme that saves Apple 10 figures in taxes, while the slightly less smart lawyer would only save 9 figures.

    At the low end, members of which this guy has probably never met in meatspace and who would seem like aliens to him, you have maybe 50 million Americans who cost more than they are worth in any job, who are unemployable.

  37. @Anon

    Nominal salary over $200k? All right, maybe I’m not up to date, but it still seems surprising.

    I guess the best way to get rich, if you’re very good, is to team up with a few other stars, develop a hot new product, and then sell your little company for big bucks.

    • Replies: @danand
  38. Stogumber says:

    Well, I’am all for a middle class society.
    But this Rothwell, is he the “Principal Economist at Gallup”? And he cannot analyze the problem in terms of supply and demand?
    And even if management’s decision about payment may be cruelly unfair, you can at least leave the enterprise and look for a better one. Why replace this system with a central state management whose decisions will be, on the long run, just as unfair?

  39. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @prime noticer

    how much better is a surgeon than a high school dropout janitor who could never, EVER, EVER do the hundreds of surgeries the surgeon does? 1 million times better? can you even put a number on a binary thing? most people can’t be surgeons no matter what. well, not surgeons who save lives, anyway. anybody can cut you.

    In the training of a surgeon, it takes about six months to teach the basics of “cut and sew”, and very little of what one studies in four yes of med school is that essential. We have all read the stories of how a Pharmacist’s Mate-not even a corpsman-performed a life saving appendectomy on a WWII submarine or how some imposter read a bunch of medical books and practiced sewing on foam, graduated to tabletop surgery on a cat or two, and fraudulently practiced medicine for years and was considered a fine surgeon until his fraud was uncovered. A lot of people could be fairly easily be trained to perform many common surgeries with a reasonable success rate-of the most common operations, only cholecystectomies are especially challenging. What you are paying for with a fully trained board certified surgeon is their judgment-when to and not to operate, which approach to use, etc, which makes the difference between a 85% and 99% chance of survival and absence of gross morbidities.

    My mother was delivered by the same doctor who took out her tonsils, lanced her infected ears, took out her appendix, and reset her broken arm-she never saw any other doctor until after she married my father and had moved five hundred miles away. He was a frequent houseguest at my grandparents’ house, after his retirement, and I remember that he had bought a restored Cord 810 in fire engine red, white interior, which he gave me a ride in when I was eight or so. Today, only in an underserved rural area would any one doctor be allowed to do all those things in a hospital.

    for practical purposes there’s a nearly unlimited supply of even doctors and dentists. there’s about 25 guys in the entire world capable of playing NFL quarterback.

    Depends on what your problem is. There are some surgeries where one surgeon is pretty much as good as another and some where who you go to makes a huge difference in your chances of 1) living and 2) having normal function. If you need an esopagectomy or a Whipple procedure you do whatever you can to go to the best guy in the region.

    Same is true of nonsurgical issues in several fields.

  40. ‘…That’s a large gap, but the salaries of many highly paid professionals — say those in the 85th percentile of their occupational group — are consistently at a far higher level than the median worker in the same field…’

    It wouldn’t apply to baseball, but maybe one explanation is that almost anyone could deliver apparently average performance; to some extent he’d be ‘carried’ by his co-workers. On the other hand, the ability to excel may be much rarer.

    Consider, say, a cell-phone store. Now even with a complete dud as store manager, it may well deliver adequate sales; the other employees, the company’s pricing and advertising, the absence of competition could all combine to produce reasonable results barring Joe Mediocrity actually firing everybody and refusing to open the store. On the other hand, it could require a real performer to lift those results significantly above average.

    Hence the superstar’s pay; maybe he’s worth it, and there aren’t that many superstars.

  41. On the other hand, Japan — which does manage to bump along — has some of the lowest salary differentials around.

    And let’s face it; even if the janitor at the hospital got paid as much as the great brain doctor, I’d still want to be the great brain doctor, not the janitor.

  42. @anon

    Most are just pimping themselves.

  43. I don’t like the writer’s approach, which seems to me to be envy-based leveling. So I disagree with Sailer’s conclusion; i don’t think rothwell’s approach is interesting. But there are some things to consider: (1) Lots of people in business are highly motivated seekers of income. Income is basically how they score their success, and they work very hard to succeed. This distinguishes them from average people, who want money, yes, but also leisure and freedom and family time and hobbies and not too much stress. (2) In certain professions, and I would name first of all medical doctoring, there is an evident restriction of supply. It is scandalous that so many doctors in the U.S. (and in some European countries) come from the Third World. I offer no solution to the overall medical-care problem, but certainly producing more American doctors would be a step in the right direction.

  44. Sam says:
    @prime noticer

    Two years ago in 2017 the record in soccer was around 220m Euro($262m) for Neymar paid by Paris Saint Germaine.

    Granted, this all help inflate the market in general. Before that the big record was Pogba to Man Utd for 105m euro($115m) in 2016 after 3 years of no record breaking since Bale to Real Madrid in 2013 for 110m euro($132m). Next summer or the one after it’s expected that there will be another huge leap with a 300m euro($330m) player when Real Madrid go for PSG’s other transfer record breaking player Mbappe. At least half of the of the current transfer record list is the result of the Qatari oil rich Paris owners so it doesn’t quite reflect normal market behaviour.
    https://www.dw.com/en/the-top-10-most-expensive-football-transfers/g-41958100

    Nonetheless, players aren’t paid for just results on the pitch. Real Madrid have long pioneered that making big transfers for superstars players can be worth it as they have enormous commercial value so that you even negotiate more lucrative TV contracts.

    I remain slightly doubtful about this study in general. As has been pointed out the ability to negotiate plays part of the deal and so does the ability to spot who the real heavy hitters are in a field. For sure, there are “irrational” structural issues at play too.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  45. @theMann

    Pay is generally determined on the basis of what you can get in the Free Market. Picking two gigantically unfree markets, MLB and Medicine, and using them to generalize about net earnings, is completely pointless.

    Free markets exist only in abstraction. There are only degrees of freedom.

    Rothwell’s analysis appears to be primarily supply-side based – lack of training and education, restrictive practices, the ability of higher managment to set their own salaries, etc., but, of course,the demand side of the equation can never be ignored. If Google’s search engine is only 5% better than the competition, it will still come to dominate 95% of the market.

  46. @Fighting Amish

    Sheesh. Your salary is based primarily on what it would cost to replace you.

    Yeah, my last employer thought that, and was surprised how much the three people it took to replace me actually cost.

  47. You should see how Big Pharma manipulates its statistics, to wit the “effectiveness” of statins, particulary for primary preventive treatment.

  48. AndrewR says:

    Is IE in the US “extraordinarily high” compared to “other democracies”? I’m pretty sure the largest “democracy” has a lot more income inequality than the US. They incidentally have a lot of human waste in the streets. Apparently San Francisco would fit in well in India, lol.

    I think “democracy” is just a buzzword used by soy-addled shitlibs to describe all that is Good™.

  49. danand says:
    @International Jew

    “And yet developer salaries (plus RSA options etc) at any one company are pretty tightly bunched (in Silicon Valley right now, they all make between $100-$200k/year).”

    .
    International, To me it seems insane, but I have seen those numbers as just annual bonus figures for developers here now. And that includes a one fellow from India, not yet a US citizen. The well established, large “high tech” companies; those that can longer dangle a potential equity bonanza, are direct compensating handsomely for the “right” employees at the moment. But developer can be a here today, gone tomorrow kind of a deal. Better bet over a lifetime the tried & true MD/surgeon; for those lucky enough to posses both the required mental HP and tenacity.

  50. Anonymous[404] • Disclaimer says:

    There is such a thing as independent league pro baseball, so technically MLB is not a monopsony, just as Microsoft is technically not a monopoly. Just as there is arena football.

    There’s also the LFL-Legends Football League- but no one eligible to play in the NFL is qualified to join. And vice versa.

  51. @Buzz Mohawk

    In farming, it’s a bit of the opposite. As John Phipps put it,” Bankers are worried about getting paid back? They were dumb enough to lend me the money even though they knew prices were going to fall!”

  52. Altai_3 says:

    The same could be said about everything.

    Somewhat on topic. If you look at the top 100m times recorded, almost all the top 10 individuals have been caught doping except Usain Bolt. The difference between him and the next few guys isn’t much, but the winner takes all the glory and with the glory, a tendency for the authorities to look the other way to preserve the reputation of the sport and that of their charismatic star. Has any human done sub 9.90 100m dash reliably without drugs?

    Despite him training with a coach who systematically used PEDs for his athletes and several of his training mates doing them and his doing times that nobody who hasn’t ultimately turned out to be a PED user, he is just assumed to have been clean. If you look again the numbers are heavily Jamaican and the Jamaican sports authorities were infamous for very lax drug testing during the period where they most dominated too.

  53. As someone who has actually worked in industry, I find it absolutely hilarious how little most economists and “management scientists” know about how actual industry works.

    Rothwell wrote:

    Research from management science finds that high-performing managers or professionals are roughly 50 percent more productive than a typical worker in the same role.

    Okaaaay.

    When I started work after my Ph.D. my boss gave me a task of finding out why we are throwing away 5/6 of the most profitable product we were producing as defective . These were integrated circuits (“chips”) that we were selling at $1000 a pop, and, despite the exorbitant price, we could not meet the demand because most were defective. We were pushing the limits of the existing technology at the time (for STEM people, these were 9-bit, video-speed, flash A/D converters back in the early 1980s: our firm was given a technical Emmy a few years later for this and other products that helped make possible the digital revolution in the television studio).

    I worked on the task for about six months, found a bunch of problems that could be fixed, and doubled the yield from about 1 in 6 good parts to 1 in 3 good parts (again, we were pushing the existing technology: getting 90 percent good parts was just not possible at that point in time).

    My six months of work doubled the productivity of every person who was manufacturing that product when they produced that product.

    So, how do you calculate my “productivity” compare to theirs? Just “double” does not do it — remember: I doubled the productivity of a whole bunch of people, not just one.

    The company gave me a nice raise that year. They had, after all, hired me in the belief that I could do this sort of thing.

    The point is that I was merely a lowly engineer. It is easy to imagine that a good CEO could increase the effective productivity of each of his workers by, say, 10 percent (not doubling their productivity, as I did). If he has a thousand workers, that would be an increase of 100 times each of their salaries.

    And that is just guessing at a possible change in productivity. If the janitor were made CEO, it is a good guess that profits would plummet to zero or, more likely, go wildly negative.

    The difference between a merely competent CEO and an incompetent CEO would normally be more than the entire profits of the company. And almost no CEOs are paid that much.

    I’m not suggesting that I have a magic way of valuing the work of people who play a unique role in an organization — CEO, senior engineer, etc.

    I am suggesting that people who do think they have such a magic tool are fools.

    And, I am also suggesting that people who have broad responsibility in a firm and who are competent may often be worth much more than the high salaries they already have.

    Incidentally, when I was working at the firm I mentioned above, I told both upper management and HR that they were way underpaying my two supervisors and that those two guys were in fact worth much more to the firm than I was.

    • Agree: Buzz Mohawk
    • Disagree: Old Prude
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @donvonburg
  54. Old Prude says:

    It aggravates me that we pay some suit 1.25 million, when we could pay him 1.00 million and purchase a nice piece of capital equipment to secure 5 million in new business or at least 1.25 million in reduced cost, from which everybody would benefit. The suit, who is probably a sociopath anywise, doesn’t need that extra money.

    Our business has had 10 GMs in the last 25 years. Don’t tell me they bring any kind of special skill set. Two were pretty sharp. As for the others: I wouldn’t have done any worse, except I have no desire to live the kind of life those guys do. Only a sociopath thinks he/she needs all that money.

    There IS something seriously wrong when you pay someone a million dollars a day while others can’t afford to rent a double wide. What? The greedy sociopath can’t make it on half-a-million each day?

  55. Realist says:

    The sad reality is so many Americans are enamored with sports and athletes and support these exorbitant salaries. If Americans have so much excess money, why not use it for the good of humanity instead of making athletes of inane childrens games rich. Genetic research would be a good thing to support.

  56. Anon[416] • Disclaimer says:

    Are NBA players paid fairly? College football players in California? How do you determine that?

    You have dumb meat that has inborn physical talent, which is worth money when inserted into a business system that somebody else created and promoted. Others manage the system, juggling the batons to keep it solvent. How far back do you trace things? What sort of causation do you consider?

    If you fired every NBA player and repopulated the league with the next in line, would it be worthless? The same as before?

    @PhysicistDave

    You state the problem very well.

    So, how do you calculate my “productivity” compare to theirs? Just “double” does not do it — remember: I doubled the productivity of a whole bunch of people, not just one.

    The company gave me a nice raise that year. They had, after all, hired me in the belief that I could do this sort of thing.

    But how unique were your talents? The company was aware that people like you existed, they sought one out, and you were it. Maybe you were competing against someone equally talented for the job, maybe 20 people. But there are million ways of looking at it. As you say, I think economists, using different assumptions, could come up with evidence that wage inequality is large or is small.

    But in general the researchers agree that more capable people get paid more, less capable people get paid less. How might you deal with that? A social support net for people on the low end, paid for by taxes from the others. Which describes the U.S. and most other modern countries. So do these economists just want to tweak welfare and taxes? Is this another trendy “wealth tax/cancel billionaires” thing?

  57. Aanon says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    People don’t get paid according to their ability. They get paid according to results

    “Job performance” is the term that seems to be used. There are a number of ways to measure it, including supervisor reports, units produced per hours, observed participation in a simulated job, and so on. No method is without its flaws, but at scale they produce useful metrics. As you might expect, a simple IQ test or a proxy like the Labor Department’s General Aptitude Test Battery produces results very similar to the more factory floor measurements.

  58. Paul says:

    On the matter of who becomes very wealthy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Lester Thurow made the point that luck has much to do with it. If that were not the case, those who become very wealthy could be expected to repeatedly replicate their initial success — and that seldom happens.

  59. bjdubbs says:

    Price’s law: 50% of the work is done by the square root of the total number of people who participate in the work.

    The square root of 24 major league baseball players is ~5. So 50% of the production is done by 5 star players.

  60. In some situations 1 person who is 2xaverage, can produce as much as 2 average people, and so should earn 2xaverage pay, but no more. A lot of piece work manufacturing jobs are like this.

    In team sports you are only allowed N players. Hence, the premium for the very best – almost regardless of how little their increment in productivity.

    Now, if instead of having 9 hitters, each MLB team was allowed $X million in weekly payroll – they could chose to have 9 players earning $1 million each, or 90 players earning $100k, or 9million players earning $1 – then the pay premium for the very best evaporates.

    A lot of high paying jobs – CEOs, surgeons etc – are more like sports, than piece work production jobs.

  61. Bruno says:

    One could give people complex tasks to do and measure the variability. It would be huge because if someone is 4 times more efficient on average, the difference accumulate and in one year, you could get factor difference wich are in the thousandth not units.

    For Scholastic score, like LSAT, where the kind of problems is known, everyone trained and with a bachelor you’ve got 35/101 for bottom 10%, 55/101 average, 77/101 top 10%, 90/101 top 1% and 96/101 top 0.1%.

    The same test given to general population has 7/101 bottom 10% and 72/101 top 10%. It’s a factor 10 ! And that’s half day work with discrete questions where you don’t accumulate the work .

  62. danand says:

    “I worked on the task for about six months, found a bunch of problems that could be fixed, and doubled the yield from about 1 in 6 good parts to 1 in 3 good parts.”

    Physicist Dave, could you share a little of what you came up with to increase the yield?

    Hopefully a months of work it didn’t just boil down to getting the 2nd shift operators to wear their gloves (LOL).

  63. Dtbb says:

    The Rays won 100 games this year. They are WARriors. Team sports defy numbers. Batting is not even half the game. Pitching and defense are about 60% of the game.

  64. Twinkie says:

    High productivity people are luxury goods, with the attendant pricing structure.

    • Replies: @res
  65. RAZ says:

    If you look at a guy like Trout or LeBron James their worth is not just based on their play above that of an average player. The interest they bring to their team and game and the ratings and tv rights and advertising dollars that drives accounts for a lot of value. LeBron James was asked a few years ago about the value Seth Curry brought after Curry had just signed a max contract and James said that Curry was underpaid. Taking all into consideration James was right.

  66. john678 says:

    Nah, I don’t believe the average top 1% income earner has a 105 IQ. Rothwell vaguely links to the PIAAC test but not to where in its huge website his data resides.

    The IQ-wage relation in the PIAAC sample was analyzed in this paper. The relation appears to be larger in the US than in other developed countries (see Figure 1), so greater income inequality in the US is probably partly precisely because of the stronger correlation between ability and pay in the US.

    In the US, one standard deviation higher numeracy skills are associated with around 30 percent higher hourly wages, on the average. (The PIAAC assessed numeracy, literacy and problem solving skills, but the three are highly correlated and essentially interchangeable measures of general intelligence.) Higher-IQ people tend to work longer hours, so the effect on annual income is larger.

    The paper does not give a zero-order correlation between IQ and log hourly wages in the US, so I can’t directly estimate the average IQ of those above the 99th percentile in the wage distribution. However, based on the larger model in Table 2, the correlation is probably at least .25. This would suggest that the average IQ of those with hourly wages above the 99th percentile is about sqrt(.25)*2.33*15 ≈ 117, assuming that the log-linearity assumption holds in the right tail. With a more reliable IQ test and data on annual rather than hourly earnings, the mean IQ for the top 1% would probably be above 120.

  67. anon[409] • Disclaimer says:

    Comparing apples and oranges. Not all years of education are equivalent. How can you possibly compare a master’s degree in grievance studies with med school?

  68. Anon[403] • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve long been fascinated by salary data. To the argument above about what Software Engineers in Silicon Valley make: what is the best resource for that salary and total comp data?

    • Replies: @Pericles
  69. @Reginald Maplethorp

    Mike Trout apparently makes over 2 times what Brady does. They’re just playing kids’ games, but what the hell? At least Brady could get his knees broken playing football.

    Jesus Christ, I could go and play a game of MLB without getting killed at least. Might even be able to bunt one.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  70. Arclight says:

    In business it’s easy to find average employees, but someone who is 50% more productive (ie, makes the company 50% more money) on a consistent basis is much more difficult – and if you do, you want them happy and hard for competitors to tempt. Depending on your business, higher performers tend to have a reputation that burnishes the reputation of company they work for, so they indirectly make the more average performers’ jobs easier because people tend to think that if they are part of the same outfit as this star, they must be pretty good too.

    Good companies will pay for talent. Companies that think they have a model where the people matter less than the system often find out the hard way this isn’t necessarily so when a high performer leaves.

    • Agree: Old Prude
    • Replies: @RAZ
  71. wow, actually a really flawed analysis on a number of levels…
    1. as if the game stats of a player are the only metric or issue of importance… see: brown, antonio, and kaepernick, colin for starters to show how *other* than athletic performance can and does have a huge impact…
    2. further, there are other ‘intangibles’ which various owners/managers may very well (and correctly) value more than only game performance… players who are ‘leaders’, clubhouse influencers, mentors to rookies, can fill numerous positions, etc, etc, etc…
    3. and the laughable premise that your higher ranking CEO’s, managers, etc are 50% more ‘productive’ is preposterous on the face of it to ANYONE who has ever worked in a dilbert-sized corporation… managers are generally impediments to productivity, turf-guarding is their real job…
    sorry, but the sad truth is, for most firms who get above a mom-and-pop size, the dilbert comic strip is more documentary than satire…
    4. as a note of personal experience which alludes to yet MORE confounding factors which obviate any idea of a real meritocracy in our economic system; fellow employee doing same job as me and another guy, paid about the same as us, LITERALLY 1/10th as productive as us… and -in fact- less than that, since we both had to take time off from OUR work to school him repeatedly on the same issues…
    EVERYONE knew he was as useless as tits on a bull, (and in fact, NEGATIVE productivity), but yet he remains to this day, a couple years after i left for -partially- that inequitable reason… why ? ultimately, he was a charity case who one of the bosses knew their family, blah blah blah… the guy was fucking USELESS, but there he is, getting a paycheck the same as everyone else for doing 1/10th the work (AND doing that badly)…
    proving for the billionth time, its NOT what you know, its who you know… (if not blow…)
    meritocracy ? ? ? no such thing, ever…

  72. bomag says:
    @Blah blah teleblah

    Yeah, and task him with applying this howler:

    The distribution of skills is far more egalitarian than the distribution of income — and would be more equal still if access to high-quality education and skills training were more widely available.

  73. bomag says:
    @Alan Mercer

    a software developer with 150 IQ should be paid about twice the software developer with 75 IQ. And LeBron is about 10% taller than me, so I’d like 90% of his salary please.

    This, and it highlights that the NYT person doesn’t grok the non-linear-ness of such things: something that is one percent better can often come to dominate a market.

    A corollary to this would be the blatherers who announce that since humans share 99.9 percent DNA, we are all 99.9 percent equal; seeming to not realize that the .1 is what makes all the difference.

    • Replies: @Uncle Dan
  74. El Dato says:
    @Anon

    > The best ones (the 10x and 100x)

    These things don’t exist and are mostly a mix of Mystery Marketing, Cult of the Personality and clueless reporting in the press.

    There are only 7 days in a week and in that time you can only do so much.

    Good people are good to very good, but the supers are fake.

  75. Mike1 says:
    @International Jew

    The good ones are at minimum 10 x more productive. I know a lot of situations where the productivity of one engineer is 100% of the group and everyone else is 0%. Anyone in the field (and not in the 0% group) will know why.

  76. @newrouter

    ctrl f for immigration = 0 for this article.

    Spot on.

    It’s flat out ridiculous–just intellectually vapid, stupid, meaningless–to start blathering about income inequality in the US and not speak of immigration.

    Basically this guy would like a less “winner take all” economy. That’s fine. I agree.

    And yes there are a bunch of technological, structural and political reasons for that.

    But immigration–opening the US to the world’s labor market–is reason #1 that the typical show-up-and-do-median-production-in-my-job worker has fared poorly relative to the top. And, of course, for those with substantially sub-median skills and talents immigration has been an absolute hammer on any sort of economic security and hence life prospects.

    ~~~

    I still wait in vain for *any* conservative or Republican politician–even the random Trump–to start speaking out on the immigration–income inequality connection even though it’s obviously toxic to–bug spray against–the minoritarian left.

    • Agree: Prester John
  77. Mike1 says:
    @Anon

    Where do they make a lot more than that? Raytheon pays PHD’s $50.00 per hour and software engineers in the Bay Area live in previously blue collar neighborhoods.
    You would need to have a very serious supervisory role to “make much more than 200k.”

  78. gwood says:

    When Ross Perot was a salesman for IBM, they had a yearly cap on commissions. One year he hit the cap the second week in January. He quit and started his own company.

  79. Mike1 says:

    It’s not actually difficult Steve. There are a few dozen people in every field that keeps the lights on for everyone else. Everyone else hates them. In sane systems these people get paid a lot more because, although hated, they can move.
    That is why everyone loves socialism/communism unless trained not to. The mediocrities ARE the same level under those systems.
    Once you start losing those people, the lights actually do start going out: see Venezuela, CA etc.

  80. Art Deco says:
    @PhysicistDave

    This fellow Rothwell is the issue of a public policy program, not an economics department or business school. I doubt he’s well schooled in labor economics and it’s a reasonable wager his mental model of organizational behavior is derived from studying public agencies.

    • Replies: @res
    , @PhysicistDave
  81. Anon[974] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t know about others, but my guess is that brain surgeons are a poor example.

    The “76% better” brain surgeons cut open just as many skulls as the others. I have yet to hear of a surgeon operating at three times the speed of others, since operating speed it not a function of the surgeon by himself. A professor may pretend that the resident finishing the sutures does not exist, but that resident is a second surgeon.

    Also, I have yet to hear of a surgeon idling because “customers” avoid him. I think all surgeons, star nor no star, operate 8-10 hours a day.

    Finally, there are no ways to compare surgeons besides how much self-advertise. In fact, many make sure you will never know their real performance numbers. There are some efforts in Britain, but little else on the planet. And cases may be difficult to compare without time-consuming expert analysis. There is no way to know what surgeon is ‘76% better’, but I am sure that, as in any other occupation, there are brain surgeons paid 76% more than the average. Perhaps you meant ‘76% better circumcised’.

  82. Most of the article cited doesn’t seem to be about rewards for ability at all. It’s about certain professional associations exacting rents based on their political power. I mean, the difference in salary between a highly capable doctor and a mediocre one is not the point – it’s the difference between a mediocre doctor and a highly capable civil engineer or high school math teacher.

    Only in certain medium sized, non government protected, competitive industries will differences in capability be nicely correlated with rewards. Otherwise there are too many non linear effects: as another example, classical musicians – the raw difference in ability between a no name, low earning pianist and a pianist earning high 6 figures a year must be quite small and probably un noticeable to all but a few connoisseurs, but digitalization and globalization of markets has vastly differentiated their pay over the last 100 years.

    One unrelated – ethical thing. Remember that J.S.Bach produced what he did without financial ‘incentives’. He earned a decent middle class salary and no more than 100’s of other musicians of his day.

  83. ZapMan says:

    Consider the measures that best predict economic performance. Cognitive ability, years of education, experience and noncognitive traits (like conscientiousness, enthusiasm and emotional stability) … I calculated what each individual’s income would be if she or he were paid according to the attributes listed above

    Imagine what would happen if this were the basis for computing salary in today’s diverse and vibrant work force. The disparate impact would be immense.

  84. Lugash says:
    @newrouter

    ctrl f for immigration = 0 for this article.

    The Sailer Test.

  85. Dan Smith says:

    Income inequality would fall drastically if we allowed Liz Warren and her stooges to control salaries in the US. What’s so desirable about income equality anyway? I think the Soviet Union had that. How’d things turn out there?

  86. @Fighting Amish

    And the amount of excess value you create relative to a replacement worker. So basically every worker has a “WAR” that firms are at least implicitly aware of.

  87. Anon87 says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Most CEOs aren’t very book smart or high IQ. But they succeed in the same way moronic politicians do; convincing others they are the best option. Slighly sociopathic sure, but it pays well.

    Not that I’d want my highest IQ engineer as a CEO either.

    Steve, I thought instead of a pyramid analogy you’d use the more Right Stuff ziggurat.

  88. OT – Happy birthday Marines. Semper Fidelis!

  89. Anon87 says:
    @Reginald Maplethorp

    “In all, Belichick has gone 13-6 (.684) in 19 games without Brady at quarterback for the Patriots. To put that in context, no other team in the league besides Belichick’s Patriots has posted a winning percentage higher than .684 since Belichick and Brady joined forces in 2000. Nobody would argue that Belichick doesn’t need his Hall of Fame quarterback, but the Patriots have been extremely good even without Brady at the helm.”

    Tom Brady is not a rare talent.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  90. Anon87 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    With the current youth movement in MLB, the next opportunity for higher ROI will be predicting which 30s-years-old free agents will age well. Total crapshoot for pitchers so buyer beware there (Verlander looked like toast but bounced back bigtime), but hitters might be less risky.

    Minus the most egregious PED abuses, it’s still hard to tell who falls off a cliff though. I thought Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t just a lumbering Three True Outcomes guy, but this year looked concerning. You’d think the safe bet for long careers is for smaller guys like Ichiro or Altuve, but Dustin Pedroia broke down pretty fast. How do you identify the next Jim Thome who can contribute well through his 30s?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  91. @Blah blah teleblah

    I think everyone of these economist types who comes up with stuff like this should be forced to spend a good month in a place like Camden, New Jersey including its well funded schools before saying that just changing the tax code and making some regulatory changes can turn the US into Norway.

    It wouldn’t do any good, but I would like to see them condemned to teaching school there.

    The majority of them are like the kid shoveling horse shit on Christmas because they are sure there is a pony in there somewhere, the others are just selling books to rubes who are willing to believe someone, somewhere knows how to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

    “We” (collectively) can’t handle the truth.

  92. RAZ says:
    @Arclight

    Agree it’s business dependent. Bill Gates said something once how a really good computer scientist/programmer wasn’t worth twice what an average one was worth, he/she might have been worth something like 1oo times the average one. The world has moved towards that in knowledge based industries. You wouldn’t have said that 150 yrs ago about a really good blacksmith compared to an average one.

  93. This person has obviously not read Bill James or he would not make such bone headed errors.

    The mean or median major league baseball player is so far above the average it’s ridiculous. You are looking at the upper end of the bell curve between the 3 sd’s and the 5 sd’s.

    It is supply and demand. There is one Mike Trout. There are 8 or 9 teams that realistically are going to bid for his services.

    Do The Math!

    There is for all practical purposes an infinite well of Ken Phelpses. That they make as much as they do is due to the collective bargaining agreement.

  94. Russ says:

    People don’t get paid according to their ability. They get paid according to results, when they get paid according to any metric at all. Ability and results are not the same thing, and economies do not run on entirely rational ideas like “pay according to ability.” This is why planned economies and central planning do not work and people end up standing in line to buy toilet paper when “smart” people try to (or pretend to) run national economies from the top down according to some ideal.

    Well said and thus worth repeating. In addition, the known metrics often don’t correlate cleanly with results. I read a book on the origins and propagation of the telescope a few years ago, and it asserted that Galileo was an extraordinarily skilled glass grinder/polisher: His prototypes were thus better, so he was earliest to discovery. It’s not as if all the would-be cartographers of the skies started out on the same footing (as the socialists would have us believe).

  95. Lurker says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Ability and results are not the same thing – but there must be a degree of correlation. Or else we wouldn’t even think there was such a thing as ‘ability’ in the first place.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  96. Anonymous[380] • Disclaimer says:

    105 IQ sounds right for a typical member of the 1% ..not the actual earners who made the fortune in the first place. The “dumb” kids of these people are probably ~95. Dumb kids for everyday Americans is maybe ~88.

    Of course spiking the autism rate changes things. Lots of wealthy families were hit in the past two decades but now they are practicing vaccine avoidance etc …look for autism to be a condition that afflicts the non-elite in the future.

  97. Marty says:

    Baseball thread? I was just reading SABR’s interview, many years old, with former Tigers outfielder Jim Northrup. Recalling the ‘72 playoff loss to the A’s, he blamed manager Billy Martin for causing the loss of game 5. The A’s scored the winning run on a single to left, on which Duke Sims, the back-up catcher playing left, made a late throw home. Northrop says Sims should have been catching, since Freehan had a broken thumb, and Willie Horton, the usual starter, should have been in left (in the ‘68 Series Horton threw out Lou Brock at the plate on a single to left). “If we had Duke behind the plate where he belonged and Willie out in left field, I believe we’d have won Game 5, 1-0.” I watched that playoff but never appreciated this wrinkle.

  98. We need a new category of stupid, i.e., “so stupid only an economist could believe it”.

  99. res says:

    Interesting topic and well worth discussing, but not exactly a new idea. From 1996
    The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us

    During the last two decades, the top one percent of U.S. earners captured more than 40 percent of the country’s total earnings growth, one of the largest shifts any society has endured without a revolution or military defeat. Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook argue that behind this shift lies the spread of “winner-take-all markets”—markets in which small differences in performance give rise to enormous differences in reward. Long familiar in sports and entertainment, this payoff pattern has increasingly permeated law, finance, fashion, publishing, and other fields. The result: in addition to the growing gap between rich and poor, we see important professions like teaching and engineering in aching need of more talent. This relentless emphasis on coming out on top—the best-selling book, the blockbuster film, the Super Bowl winner—has molded our discourse in ways that many find deeply troubling.

    There are many good points made in this post/thread. But I think it is worth trying to categorize a few high level differences. There are some overlaps, but I think the exercise is worthwhile.

    Winner take all markets – As in the book above.

    Scalability – For example, can 2 50% as productive people replace 1 100% person. Sports makes a good example for this as Steve discussed.

    Multiplier factors – PhysicistDave made a good point about being able to multiply the productivity of others. If I could develop a magic bat (which could not be copied) that increased the batting average of an entire MLB team by 0.010 how much would that be worth? How about the invention of synthetic fertilizer?

    Communication issues – Because communication within a group is n^2 with the number of people high performers can be more valuable than one would expect. This is an important reason for some tasks being much less scalable than they appear at first glance (e.g. programming).

    Qualitative differences in output – Say if an especially able performer can do things slightly lower performers can’t do at all. Can consider this either within or between occupations. Combining this with supply and demand is important.

    Nonlinearity between output measures and ability measures – IQ was given as an example above. Consider three possible different measures of IQ.
    1. The usual where average is 100 and a SD is 15.
    2. Z scored where average is 0 and a SD is 1.
    3. Rasch score where average might be something like 510 and a SD around 10.
    http://mindsbasis.blogspot.com/2016/03/rasch-measure-of-intelligence-age-2-25.html
    4. Frequency (expressed as 1 in ) where average would be 2 (1 in 2) and 1SD = 6, 2SD = 44, 3SD = 741, 4 SD = 31574 (decidedly superlinear on the high end compared to the other measures, sublinear on the low end)
    Which measure should we use? Those give very different results for relative differences between people. Which best reflects the match with output?
    As another example, consider Steve’s baseball measures.

    Job desirability – Can influence compensation. Working conditions, status, enjoyability, etc.

    Opportunity costs and earnings trajectories – How should these affect compensation? Should one be paid more for that extra 5 years of education holding ability constant? (I think that is a pretty obvious yes, the interesting question is: how much?) Should one be paid less given that gold plated retirement?

    So what have I missed? ; )

    P.S. The NYT article was paywalled for me. What was the relative balance of within and between occupation inequality in its arguments?

    • Agree: ic1000
    • Replies: @ic1000
    , @john678
  100. @Lurker

    Yes, and we often measure ability through results, particularly in sports.

    I agree with you.

    In some fields, however, they are not the same thing at all. A mediocre salesman, for example, can get results in a terrific market that are better than a superior colleague will obtain in a crappy market with the same product. The sales manger and the company will name the inferior representative their “top salesman” while the better man does everything he can in his locale but cannot possibly compete.

    It isn’t fair, but the point of the business is not to be fair but to sell the product and make money. It just doesn’t matter.

    In a way, upon reflection this is somewhat analogous to nature/nurture. The environment can play a role in the results, beyond the abilities of the participants. A smart manager maximizes his profits by putting his best people in the best markets, but that doesn’t always happen.

    • Agree: Lurker
  101. res says:
    @Art Deco

    That helps explain things. Thanks.

    His background is kind of interesting.
    https://www.brookings.edu/experts/jonathan-rothwell/

    He does have an MA in Economics and a current title of “Principal Economist, Gallup”

  102. @slumber_j

    I just read about your friend Bob Freeman. Wow! He was exceptional, and now I realize that his work was part of the cultural landscape, including many images I know well. Now I obsessively fear that my earlier comment leaned too heavily on the role that serendipity plays in such things. My apologies if it did, and thank you for sharing your story.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  103. res says:
    @Twinkie

    That’s an interesting idea. Could you elaborate? I don’t think they are a Veblen good strictly speaking (not exactly the same thing as your “luxury goods” though?): https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/veblen-good.asp

    But there are elements of that. I would think the Veblen good side of the job market is more related to popularity/trendiness/etc. than productivity (with those two having some relation). And probably more prevalent in end user facing positions than back offices?

  104. @Anonymous

    Rent-seeking is the salient point in all this.

    The most important thing right now is to recognize that all the large corporations and quasi-corporate entities today—including the FAANGs and their imitators who alone are wholly responsible for the continued elevation of the stock market indices—do not make profits anymore, they make rents.

    The global economy considered in the rough is not growing and has not been for the last 12 years. With no growth, there cannot be any such thing as broad-based, natural, organic, and unforced profit. There is only the use of force and fraud to grab larger slices of the stagnant pie. Right now the oligarchic class is using every known technique of financial repression to transfer wealth to itself without creating anything of value. Heck, American productivity actually went down last quarter.

    One major and largely unsung cause of this is what goes euphemistically by the name of technology today. The IT revolution has not resulted in much value being added to the world. Looked at in broad strokes, what it has mainly done is transfer wealth and social capital from one class of people to another, i.e. from the traditional working class to techies and FIRE-types.

    The effect of new technology throughout much of the working world has actually been counterproductive. We are not talking about the Industrial Revolution here, which harnessed the power of water and carbon fuels to greatly multiply the amount of work that could be done. Today’s tech innovations do not enhance productivity; they interfere with it by means of a bunch of expensive, time-wasting, and interruptive gadgetry.

    For example, what is the use of outfitting every grocery clerk in the country with a new $2500 Honeywell scanner? It does not make him any more effective in his primary role of keeping the shelves stocked and the customers happy. Instead, he is now told by the management (whose only function these days is to massage numbers) that he must complete his mandatory 500 random inventory scans every day, which occupies a huge amount of time that could be spent doing something more useful.

    The reasons given for such a pointless misuse of a worker’s time are several. The first (and you actually hear this uttered by the management with a straight face) is to “justify the cost of the new technology,” which raises the obvious question of why it was ever purchased in the first place if its only purpose is to affect some mysterious process of self-justification. But this is normally just a prelude to some grand general idea involving the random scan data being fed into a giant inventory management computer program (and the industry does indeed hoover up terabytes of it every year), which will one day result in the grocery clerk being replaced by a combination of automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

    Now, assuming this project actually worked, one would have to wonder what incentive the clerk would have for cooperating with a scheme whose only goal was his eventual obsolescence. But in point of fact it doesn’t work. I’ve heard these same pipedreams from the grocery industry since I started working in it back in 2003, and if anything, progress in that direction has been retrograde. The big box retailers have actually begun dis-implementing some of the tech solutions they first tried out in the mid aughts. Furthermore, any competent management worthy of the name would have seen through the implausibility of the idea in the first place. The adoption of large-scale automation throughout the vast grocery industry would cost tens of billions of dollars; and with an industry that is lucky to pull 2% profit margins, it does not make sense to amortize such a huge bill for unproven technology in order to replace people who are making at most $40,000 per year. The whole thing was silliness from the very beginning.

    But the point of this all was not to assist the grocery industry, but to colonize it by completely altering the nature of the work performed. The directives for the proper disposal of the employees’ time now came ultimately not from the store by which they were ostensibly employed, but from those who manufacture and sell the technology. We all became “tech workers” instead of grocery clerks, and our purpose was to keep the technology busy, to “justify” it. Naturally, the company’s actual performance declines in such an environment, but the contracts have long since been signed with data analytics firms and hardware suppliers.

    Unlike the Industrial Revolution, the tech revolution has been mostly a confidence trick to get companies to purchase things they don’t really need. Some such spending is inevitable; in the strictly economic sense, we don’t “really need” a cathedral or a museum, either. Such spending is totemic and symbolic, not economic. It testifies to whatever non-material values we hold to be paramount. Our society obviously values glitz, entertainment, and illusion above all else, and we sink our totemic spending into Facebook and Netflix.

    These flase gods will prove quite hollow in the near future, to no small effect.

    • Replies: @Marty
    , @obwandiyag
  105. Spangel says:
    @Anonymous

    Like excelling in sports, rent seeking is a skill or talent of its own. I know because I do it. I don’t like doing it, but I do it because it’s the thing I am most capable of. I can’t explain why.

    Now my brother, he’s different. He’s a great software developer. He makes 200K+ when he works for others and then spends several months alone to patent new tools. His products are really quite interesting and useful and he has made a dozen of them for industries from hospitality to finance.

    Me, OTOH, I’ve never had an idea for a new product or company in my life, not even when I try to come up with something. Never had the discipline to do well in school either, so being a dentist or doctor is out for me too. Sadly, all my aptitude does is enable me to talk real fine in corporate meetings. I guess I make management look good, and I get paid a few hundred grand just to hang around and make it look like the company has bright people. I do no real work. I haven’t for years. I don’t think I even have the appearance of doing real work any longer. I can’t imagine how I am contributing anything to the company or society generally. But the charade goes on, and I continue to collect a few hundred grand a year for it.

    Most people who have some skill or talent are able to do something with a real function, but some people (like yours truly) are simply geared towards reaping rewards in an efficient manner. It’s hard for normal competent workers to compete with those whose nature prompts them to game the system, whatever system that might be.

  106. Nonsense. There is no way to quantify ability (and, in most cases, even results). You get what you get by rules of the game which have crystallized when a modern society has come into being.

    There is absolutely no way to “objectively” measure one’s influence.

  107. jim jones says:
    @Laurence Whelk

    We remembered our dead soldiers here in the UK today, baseball seems pretty trivial:

  108. @newrouter

    As my old man used to say “some are more equal than others.”

  109. There’s Trout fishing in Virginia.

    Somewhat OFF TOPIC:

  110. @anon

    Paying people based on their fundamental skills would make the United States as egalitarian as Sweden.

    The reason? The distribution of skills is far more egalitarian than the distribution of income — and would be more equal still if access to high-quality education and skills training were more widely available.

    It all depends how one defines “skills,” doesn’t it?

    For example, if Surgeon A can successfully complete an operation 95% of the time, then according to the author he is “95% as skilled” as Surgeon B, who can do the operation 100% of the time without killing the patient. But I doubt many people are willing to go with the 5% fatality rate for a 5% discount.

    I don’t know why, but the leftist mind-set is always drawn to systems that reward “inputs” instead of “outputs.” If it were up to the NYT, the economy would be run on a “cost-plus” government contracting model.

    In reality, however, a free market will generally pay people according to the estimated “net value” that they add. “Skills,” “qualifications,” and “efforts,” mean nothing if they don’t produce valuable results.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  111. And yet:
    In the military, I feel confident that the same pyramid of talent exists. There are a lot of lieutenants: they get promoted, and there are fewer and fewer captains, majors, and so on. A very big cut (a narrowing of the pyramid) comes at colonel, and each promotion to an extra star is correspondingly narrow. I haven’t interacted with many 3 and 4 star generals, but colonels, generally, genuinely do have something that lieutenant colonels can’t be counted on to have.
    And they don’t make much money. I’d guess the highest ranking general in the military makes perhaps 4x what a lieutenant makes – say, 50k to 200k.
    Similarly in academia: what does a star professor make: 400k? Vs. 45k for a regional school drudge?

    There is a common story in baseball about joe DiMaggio (or one of those guys) taking the subway to the World Series. There is also common stories about CEO’s in the fifties making a lot of money, but not the money that modern CEO’s make (usually expressed as a ratio of ceo/average employee income).

    There is nothing inevitable (or uniquely just) about the current pay structure in our society.

    Joe

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  112. Medvedev says:

    There are more doctors in the top 1 percent of earners (15 percent of the total)

    Why don’t we replace 2 students with 1500 SAT with 3 students with 1000 score and teach them to become doctors. Let’s see how this flies.

  113. ic1000 says:
    @res

    > The NYT article was paywalled for me. What was the relative balance of within and between occupation inequality in its arguments?

    The entire article is 1,103 words, Steve’s fair-use excerpt was 560 words. Some of what he skipped was either pay-by-the-word or obesiance to Current Year wisdom. E.g. paragraphs 17 and 18 out of 20:

    In the early 20th century, researchers have found, African-Americans were among the most inventive people in the world as measured by their likelihood of holding a patent. Racism, of course, blocked access to markets and other opportunities. For instance, black physicians were barred in many states from entering the American Medical Association until 1968, and the American Bar Association refused membership to black lawyers in any state until 1950.

    When it comes to rising inequality, those on the left tend to cast blame on multinational corporations, and they see inherent flaws in markets. Those on the right tend to believe that inequality arises from differences in talent; they are more likely to say that market outcomes are intrinsically fair.

    The article is somewhat nostalgic, recalling Gray Lady Op-Eds of my youth. This author makes numerous incorrect claims, fails cntrl-F “immig*”, and assumes the conclusion, but the ideas he’s kicking around — income inequality and pay differentials — are interesting and important. Rothwell’s writing is exactly 76% better than that of Morgan Jenkins (reviewer of Fat Becky’s tome), I hope his paycheck exactly reflects that.

    Anyway, back to the relative balance of within and between occupation inequality in Rothwell’s arguments. One can’t really tell; I guess his meta-argument is “buy my book.”

    The somewhat quirky core argument:

    Yet new academic research shows that most of the recent increase in income inequality has been driven by the owners of S corporations — which typically have one or two owners — and partnerships. These businesses are usually small regional operations focused on professional services (think law or medicine) or real estate. The most profitable pass-through businesses owned by millionaires are classified in legal services, in finance or as physician offices. These owners far outnumber executives of publicly traded companies among the nation’s top earners.

    In fact, the rise of inequality over the last 40 years has coincided with the decline of income from conventional corporations (so-called C corporations) as a share of national income, from 59% in 1980 to 42%.

    More on point:

    The actual range of worker productivity is much narrower than the range of incomes. Research from management science finds that high-performing managers or professionals are roughly 50% more productive than a typical worker in the same role. That’s a large gap, but the salaries of many highly paid professionals — say those in the 85th percentile of their occupational group — are consistently at a far higher level than the median worker in the same field.

    Rothwell continues:

    Associations representing lawyers, doctors and dentists can create costly obstacles to obtaining a license, research shows, and this blocks paralegals, nurse practitioners and dental hygienists from providing cheaper services.

    Faithful to Current-Year dogma, Rothwell is implying that people are fungible. According to him, typical paralegals / NPs / hygienists are roughly two-thirds as productive as those lawyers / doctors / dentists who stand at the 85th percentile of “their occupational groups”. This difference, and the differences in their pay envelopes, are due only to the anticompetitive restrictions these guilds have been able to impose.

    Rothwell doesn’t indicate if the 85% standing is in the group of “lawyers” or “lawyers and paralegals,” etc. No links or references provided. Buy my book.

    • Replies: @res
    , @Steve Sailer
  114. I don’t care how much pro athletes make or who claims they are overpaid, because the sports are monopolies and the billionaire owners are just crying poor to save a few bucks.

    People who care about how much an athlete makes in his contract or bitch about it are literally doing the owners’ work for them. That’s sad, distracting, and stupid.

  115. john678 says:
    @res

    Nonlinearity between output measures and ability measures – IQ was given as an example above. Consider three possible different measures of IQ.
    1. The usual where average is 100 and a SD is 15.
    2. Z scored where average is 0 and a SD is 1.
    3. Rasch score where average might be something like 510 and a SD around 10.
    […]
    4. Frequency (expressed as 1 in ) where average would be 2 (1 in 2) and 1SD = 6, 2SD = 44, 3SD = 741, 4 SD = 31574 (decidedly superlinear on the high end compared to the other measures, sublinear on the low end)
    Which measure should we use? Those give very different results for relative differences between people. Which best reflects the match with output?

    The first two measures are exactly the same, while the third is in practice also hard to distinguish from the first two. Item response models have certain theoretical advantages, but in practice they make little difference compared to classical test theory, i.e. IQ scales will be very highly correlated with each other regardless of how they were constructed. The fourth one seems arbitrary. Why would you try to transform the IQ measure rather than the outcome measure in the first place? For example, the regression of log income on IQ is usually a reasonable functional form. A normally distributed interval IQ scale is a reasonable assumption especially from a genetic perspective.

    • Replies: @res
  116. Vicster says:

    The answer is compounding.

    . 99 ^ 365 = .025
    1.01^365 =38

    Its a very unintuitive concept for people to get.

  117. @Buzz Mohawk

    It just also goes to show why normative considerations of justice are a terrible way to run the country. Is there any reason why it’s “fair” to pay people differentially according to ability rather than what employers are willing to pay them? Surely the people with lower ability would like to be more skilled if they could chose. Surely the more able people are largely (mostly?) more able because of innate talents that didn’t result from hard work. And even the propensity to work hard itself probably differs quite a bit between people. Why is it fair to reward people who were born with a genetic predisposition to hard work? Let the philosophers argue about this bullshit, the experiment about which way to organize society so that it can achieve things has been done, decisively.

  118. notsaying says:

    Off-Topic on Another Area of Inequality: Who Can Afford to Buy a Home

    I saw this over at Yahoo:

    “Since [the] 2007 period, not much investment has been made in entry-level houses,” said Janice McDill, a spokeswoman for Realtor.com, a real estate listings website. “That’s why a lot of people have become renters.”

    Fisher expects an increase of new homes next year, but it won’t be enough to resolve the inventory problem.

    Builders are running into a lack of available land due to zoning restrictions. That is something that local governments have to be smarter about,” Fisher said. “You harm people who have the least needs because you make houses more expensive.”

    I suspect that in a lot of places in or near cities that builders are just running out of land, period. Due to immigration our population has been going up for decades and there’s a lot fewer empty buildings and neighborhoods in our cities to be bulldozed down or renovated. Now we are seeing gentrification where one group is pushing another out of livable housing, so that the all the people pushed out of their old places need new places to live. I think this talk about zoning is about rezoning a lot more land for multi-unit housing, not single family housing.

    There will be a lot of people who will never be able to afford their own home or condo. So much for the American dream. Rents are going up like crazy in many places. Soon the doubling up of families will become the norm. So much for the American Dream — and we will still have people who want us to take in more newcomers every year than we already do!

    https://www.yahoo.com/money/2019-housing-market-151141576.html

  119. notsaying says:

    I think something needs to be done to rebalance things in our society: less has to go to the top 1%, more to the rest of us.

    We had a very unequal society about 100 years ago and the rich at that time decided it was better to let the rest of the country have more so that they could enjoy their wealth in peace, a very wise decision on their part.

    The American people have been kicked around for a long time. For years their solution to stagnant wages was to use credit and work longer hours. But there’s only so much credit available and only 24 hours in the day. Eventually they will start making demands for change and put politicians into office that will get that change for them. As the demographics of the country change and pro-business, small-government Republicans get pushed out of office, the people will start to get their way at last.

    I certainly don’t think the rich should expect that people will keep on allowing so much wealth to go to them. Why should we?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  120. Anon87 says:
    @theMann

    While TV viewing of sports may eventually taper off (certainly not now, it is one of the few things that demand live TV viewing) you don’t think revenue will continue to explode online though streaming and apps? Companies need to waste their marketing dollars somewhere, so they will just shift it to however sports are delivered.  I thought MLB actually was well ahead of other sports when it came to the digital realm, counter to their “old fashioned” reputation.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  121. I wrote about this long ago for the test prep field. By definition, if you work in test prep, you’ve got really high test scores and a high IQ. So why does pay range from $25/hour to $400/hour? Answer: tolerance for risk, tolerance for handholding, tolerance for selling. It’s not because one is getting better results than another.

    So if you restated “If People Were Paid by Ability, Inequality Would Plummet” to “If people with the necessary qualifications were paid by ability, pay range would plummet”, that’s probably true. On the other hand, the necessary qualifications to be Mike Trout are considerably beyond “be a major league baseball player”, which is already a very select group.

  122. Anonymous[354] • Disclaimer says:

    Steve, have you looked into chokeness among NFL placekickers? The Buffalo Bills have provided interesting data, up to this day

  123. res says:
    @ic1000

    Thanks! The S corp vs. C corp as cause of increasing inequality point is interesting (and new to me). Any idea if he has a causal justification, or is he just observing a correlation? Here is an article I found useful for revisiting some of the differences and history just now:
    Has the S-Corp Run Its Course? The Past Successes and Future Possibilities of the S Corporation
    https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1650&context=jleg

    I wonder if Rothwell includes a look at full income distributions or just cites specific percentile comparisons. The latter allows for significant spin. It would also be interesting to see how the distributions have changed over time.

    The fungible people idea is interesting (if a bit overly popular in the Current Year). I tend to think of it as an example of the 80/20 rule and the question being how valuable is the last 20 percent when you don’t usually need it. The question I can’t stop asking myself though is: if it was economical 20/30/40/50 years ago to see a doctor for primary care (etc.) why is it not economical now?

    P.S. How confident are we about the productivity estimates? Just avoiding major screwups can be a huge net productivity boost.

    • Replies: @ic1000
  124. @Buzz Mohawk

    People don’t get paid according to their ability. They get paid according to results, when they get paid according to any metric at all.

    I think people are paid according to expected future results, with past results taken as the strongest but not only indicator of future results. For example, if an engineer gets five patents one year, but comes back from Christmas break hopelessly addicted to oxycodone, most companies are going to try to get rid of the guy.

    “Expected future results” are not exactly “ability,” but it takes more than past performance to estimate them.

    • Replies: @anon
  125. Paying people based on their fundamental skills would make the United States as egalitarian as Sweden.

    Sweden has the advantage of many of their wealthiest people living in Monaco. Or similar places. The second sentence in Ingvar Kamprad’s Wikipedia bio:

    He lived in Switzerland from 1976 to 2014.

    Peter Baldwin writes in The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike:

    Only 2% of the American billionaires listed by Forbes live outside the United States. Conversely, one-third of Swedish billionaires have gone into exile. Indeed, if we calculate the fraction of Swedish GDP owned by Swedish billionaires living in Sweden, it is comparable to the relatively egalitarian American figure, namely 7%.

    From WSJ 5/25/2006:

    When it comes to paying taxes itself, the Swedish Tax Authority, responsible for collecting some of the highest in the world, would just as soon keep them as low as possible. It’s saving a bundle on the production of slick TV spots that encourage Swedes to file online by producing them in the neighboring free-market, low-tax haven of Estonia.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  126. @notsaying

    We had a very unequal society about 100 years ago and the rich at that time decided it was better to let the rest of the country have more so that they could enjoy their wealth in peace, a very wise decision on their part.

    If you’re talking about the Sixteenth Amendment, note that the states which were first to ratify it later were the ones pushing the Liberty Amendment to repeal it.

    1959 – In February, Wyoming became the first State to pass a Resolution for the Liberty Amendment. The predominantly Democratic House approved it and the Republican Senate concurred without a single dissent.

    1960 – In March, Nevada became the second State to adopt the Liberty Amendment. The Resolution was sponsored in the Senate by 13 of its 17 members (a majority of both parties). The Republican-dominated Senate passed the Resolution unanimously and the Democratic-dominated House it by a vote of 31 to 10.

    1960 – In May, Texas became the third State to approve. The House passed the Resolution by a vote of 80 to 55, and the Senate concurred the next day by voice vote.

    1960 – In June, Louisiana became the fourth State to approve. The House passed the Resolution by voice vote, and the Senate followed with a vote of 28 to 9.

    1962 – In February, Georgia became the fifth State to approve. The House passed by a vote of 88 to 17, and the Senate followed two days later with a vote of 39 to 2.

    1962 – In March, South Carolina became the sixth State to approve. The House passed by a vote of 46 to 17 and the Senate concurred without dissent.

    1982 – Mississippi, Arizona and Indiana became the seventh, eighth, and ninth States to to adopt the Liberty Amendment.

    http://www.libertyamendment.com/origin.html

    Taxing the Yankee to support the good ol’ boy was quite popular down there. Taxing the good ol’ boy to support his “coloured neighbour”, not so much.

    Funny how that works…

    • Replies: @notsaying
    , @OilcanFloyd
  127. @Anon87

    MLB has made money recently selling some of its media software to other media companies.

  128. anon[103] • Disclaimer says:
    @Faraday's Bobcat

    I think people are paid according to expected future results, with past results taken as the strongest but not only indicator of future results.

    I think people are often paid as little as possible, in order to maximize profits. A real shortage of talent leads to higher costs to hire or contract that talent. The so called shortages of engineers and computer scientists are a mystery, because after tax income has not actually risen much at all.

    Not only is the word “immigra…” missing, the Federal term “H1b” is conspicuously absent from the article, and likely from the book. This means it is just academic wanking.

    In the larger picture, a book of this sort is a manifestation of obvious wealth inequality, just as Warren’s wealth tax. We can expect more of this especially in the election year.

  129. ic1000 says:
    @res

    Thanks for the Branham PDF. He writes… better than some who get exposure and free advertising for their books in Papers of Record.

    > S corp vs. C corp, causal or correlative?

    I took it to mean that he’s using C versus S as a proxy for “large corporation with many hourly/salaried employees” versus “small corporate structure favored by high-income professionals who bill for costly services and are self-employed or in business with ‘a few’ partners.” But he doesn’t say.

    > I wonder if Rothwell includes a look at full income distributions or just cites specific percentile comparisons… It would also be interesting to see how the distributions have changed over time.

    Can’t tell from the Op-Ed, but you need to look at dollars to make any sense of this. It’s an important question, my impression is that increased inequality is part and parcel of our New Gilded Age.

    Per some prior commenters, I don’t think findings in the entertainment industries are generalizable to the economy as a whole. Since the issue there isn’t so much “talent” as “dollar draw.” MLB owners (etc.) are probably pretty good on estimating “worth.” PhysicistDave’s anecdote about manufacturing productivity is useful for thinking of the top 5% (?) of talent in most sectors. Can or does the average factory employee, office worker, bookkeeper, etc. make an impact on that scale? Seems very rare.

    As a handyman homeowner, I see that in many cases, the ‘floor’ is more important than the ‘ceiling.’ For routine work by auto mechanics, HVAC repairmen, plumbers, electricians, painters — I need “competent” and “local” much more than “best of breed.” “Best” mostly means faster, more efficient, and a greater ability to tackle a wider range of jobs.

    This is not how I would feel as a patient undergoing cutting-edge surgery.

    Judging from the Op-Ed, Rothwell likes generalizing and doesn’t seem to look at things this way. Maybe the book is better.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
    • Replies: @res
    , @PhysicistDave
  130. @Joeyjoejoe

    There are a lot of documented stories about all-time baseball legends in the 1950s like Musial and Williams getting their pay cut for only hitting .330-30-110 instead of last year’s .350-35-125.

  131. Forbes says:

    Some may argue that top earners, whatever their occupation, are simply super skilled. But empirical evidence shows that skills cannot explain their pay.

    Very true. Top earners are generally paid based on the revenue they produce, for which they are responsible. Above some ability or competence threshold, “skill” is immaterial as wholly subjective–and therefore, empirical (“objective”) evidence is entirely silent on the matter.

    Top earners will also receive a scarcity premium that is a component of the so-called income inequality. Fundamental example of supply and demand allocating scarcity. You might think someone holding himself out as an economist would understand such basic concepts–but you’d be wrong.

    Cognitive ability, years of education, experience and noncognitive traits (like conscientiousness, enthusiasm and emotional stability) are all strong predictors of income and health status.

    This is the problem of normative Gaussian statistics–using statistical mean and standard deviation to address outlier (1%) incomes, assuming correlation. Rothwell wants to pound highly skewed income data into a Gaussian distribution. As a fairness argument. (Who told him life is fair?)

    Consider that the top 1 percent of earners in the United States score one-third of a standard deviation (or 5 IQ points) above the average adult … Not bad, but not that unusual, either: Roughly 45 percent of adults score that high.

    When his model doesn’t (and can’t) predict real world effects, he assumes reality can be changed–not that his model doesn’t work. In other contexts, this is called garbage-in, garbage-out.

    • Replies: @res
  132. @Anon87

    Thome was a shortstop in college ball, so he had more years to move to less demanding defensive positions.

    I had assumed that since Cody Bellinger was playing 1B in 2017 at age 22 that he’d be washed up by his early 30s, but now he’s playing centerfield, and well, so he may well play into his late 30s.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  133. @Reg Cæsar

    Tax Avoidance is DIFFERENT when Europeans do it.

  134. @Anon87

    Over half of Bill Belichick’s games without Tom Brady since Brady came along were in 2008 when Matt Cassel went, what, 11-5. But that was the year right after Peak Patriots / Peak Brady when the Pats went 16-0 in 2007 and Brady threw 23 TDs to Randy Moss. So, that was a very good team Cassel quarterbacked for.

  135. Forbes says:
    @Blah blah teleblah

    can turn the US into Norway.

    Well, he said Sweden. Does that mean he wants a 90%+ ethnically homogeneous, white country…

  136. Forbes says:
    @ben tillman

    Sometimes the NYT is clueless.

    FIFY.

  137. res says:
    @john678

    The first two measures are exactly the same, while the third is in practice also hard to distinguish from the first two.

    Not exactly. The first three all differ in how a calculation of ratios for different people would turn out, but represent similar interval measurements. First some background on measurement scales: https://www.statisticssolutions.com/data-levels-of-measurement/

    3. (the Rasch scale) is interesting because it is a ratio scale (i.e. has a true zero and ratios are meaningful). Otherwise it is similar to 1. with a different mean and SD.

    1. and 2. are both interval scales (probably what you mean by equivalent?).

    4. Is very different. It is only ordinal, but I think it is useful as a thought experiment. For example, consider how much difference in value there might be between IQ 145 or 1 in 741 and IQ 160 or 1 in 31574.

    The issue I was trying to draw out with my examples is looking at ratios can be misleading. Consider the following sequences of intelligence measures for people with SD 0-4 by measurement scheme.
    1. 100, 115, 130, 145, 160
    2. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4
    3. 510, 520, 530, 540, 550
    4. 2, 6, 44, 741, 31574

    So if we just look at the ratios of any two people at different levels we can see the ratios are very different depending on the measure.

    My point being that if we are going to say things like:

    Most low-wage workers are underpaid relative to their measured intelligence and personality traits, and many of the highest-paid professionals — including doctors, lawyers and financial managers — are overpaid according to the same metrics. …

    We need to be careful about how we measure things and make comparisons.

    P.S. This has taken a pedantic turn. Hopefully at least one person finds it interesting.

    • Replies: @john678
  138. @Russ

    Actually, Reggie Jackson was a great sabermetric player.

  139. slumber_j says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Yeah, he was a pretty amazing guy. Thanks for both of your comments.

  140. Pericles says:
    @International Jew

    Here’s an interesting article on SV compensation by an engineer: https://danluu.com/startup-tradeoffs/

    If, three or four years ago, you’d told me that there’s a career track where it’s totally normal to make $250k/yr after a few years, doing work that was fundamentally pretty similar to the work I was doing then, I’m not sure I would have believed it. No one I knew made that kind of money, except maybe the CEO of the company I was working at. Well him, and folks who went into medicine or finance.

    Summary: Work at a tech giant, not a startup.

  141. res says:
    @ic1000

    As a handyman homeowner, I see that in many cases, the ‘floor’ is more important than the ‘ceiling.’ For routine work by auto mechanics, HVAC repairmen, plumbers, electricians, painters — I need “competent” and “local” much more than “best of breed.” “Best” mostly means faster, more efficient, and a greater ability to tackle a wider range of jobs.

    This is not how I would feel as a patient undergoing cutting-edge surgery.

    That is a great way to look at it. The second case gets more interesting when you start talking about annual physicals for someone who is basically healthy. Or regular care for someone with a chronic condition (e.g. diabetes).

    One issue I have with the idea of “best” is how it often translates into virtuosity rather than effectiveness. I think this is particularly an issue with doctors. I would much rather have someone very practical minded (while still keeping up with current techniques which have proved their value) than someone who focuses on new “bleeding edge” tech. But if you NEED that “bleeding edge” tech then you probably want the virtuoso who has experience with it.

    Can’t tell from the Op-Ed, but you need to look at dollars to make any sense of this. It’s an important question, my impression is that increased inequality is part and parcel of our New Gilded Age.

    Agreed. The question is where do we go from here?

    First, any idea if the recent downturn is real? The timing seems odd to me.

    Looking at that history we see three major sharp declines in inequality (by these metrics) corresponding to two World Wars and the Great Depression. We also see a long steady decline from about 1950-1974.

    P.S. This paper is the source of that graphic: https://www.nber.org/papers/w22945
    Much more interesting data there.

  142. res says:
    @Forbes

    This is the problem of normative Gaussian statistics–using statistical mean and standard deviation to address outlier (1%) incomes, assuming correlation. Rothwell wants to pound highly skewed income data into a Gaussian distribution.

    Good point. I wonder if his conclusions would look any different using the logarithm of income.

  143. From the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/10/labour-activists-call-on-jeremy-corbyn-to-push-radical-stance-on-migration

    … campaign spokesperson, Sabrina Huck, said Labour should be “the party of all workers regardless of where they were born”.

  144. RJJCDA says:

    Ah, but it is the small and incremental advantages of one over another. For instance: in fighter planes, if one is just a little slower and/or less agile in turning, etc., one is dead. And not by a difference equating to 76%, but a fraction of that number.

  145. Uncle Dan says:

    Rothwell’s error is to assume linearity. There is no basis for this assumption. He also assumes we know all the metrics that predict super-success. Obviously not, since two individuals with identical scores on a battery of tests will not have equal incomes. The reality is that people are not paid for ability, however defined, but so the payer is confident he won’t lose out to a higher bid. Trout may hit only 76% better than the average Major League player, or even only 0.1% better, but if that’s what you need to win the World Series, you’ll pay what you must to keep him. No linear relationship. Rothwell’s real problem is the nonlinearity of life. It’s not fair! It’s not fair! (But that’s the way it is.)

  146. anon[179] • Disclaimer says:

    What we clearly need in the US is a large, powerful governmental bureau in charge of determining the proper compensation for each and every possible job of work. Naturally Jonathon Rothwell would be in charge of it, with lifetime tenure. Because central planning on that scale always works. But only when wielded by a philosopher.

    Yes. That clearly is what we need. Oh, and all media jobs & academic positions would be exempted from bureau control, of course.

    • LOL: PhysicistDave
  147. @Art Deco

    Art Deco wrote to me:

    This fellow Rothwell is the issue of a public policy program, not an economics department or business school. I doubt he’s well schooled in labor economics and it’s a reasonable wager his mental model of organizational behavior is derived from studying public agencies.

    Yeah, you’re probably right.

    But I do think there is a broader problem here: there is way too much faith being put into simplistic mathematical models instead of looking at reality. I’m all in favor of math, but the best way to use math is to employ the math to help you understand what is happening and then look at the limits of the math and what it is ignoring. Any good engineer does that.

    There really is something to the marginal-value analysis of economics: it really does help you understand how the economy as a whole works. It is a decent model.

    But, the idea that you can reasonably measure the productivity of a job when there is only one person in the firm filling that position and when the job does not involve actual measurable physical output… well, that shows a lack of understanding of the limits of math.

    So, I’ll hazard a guess as to Rothwell’s productivity: I think Rothwell is incompetent — his productivity is negative.

    • Agree: ic1000, res
  148. Uncle Dan says:
    @bomag

    Hell, humans and chimpanzees share 99% of their DNA.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  149. @ic1000

    ic1000 wrote:

    PhysicistDave’s anecdote about manufacturing productivity is useful for thinking of the top 5% (?) of talent in most sectors. Can or does the average factory employee, office worker, bookkeeper, etc. make an impact on that scale? Seems very rare.

    Yeah, it just depends: details matter.

    I know a plumber (husband of a former co-worker of my wife) who, whenever we called him in, fixed our problem (and it stayed fixed). He was even polite when I tried to fix the problem myself but failed!

    I don’t really care if he is in the top one percent or merely the top 25 percent: he gets the job done.

    On the other hand, if the firm I’d worked for had tried to replace one of my two supervisors with me… well, I’m as smart as they were, but their knowledge and experience on the specific work our firm was doing vastly outstripped my own. And that mattered: I would have done a poor job taking on their responsibilities. And, yet, I really believe I was one of the better engineers in the firm.

    So it just varies. For many jobs, the difference between competent and really good hardly matters. For other jobs, the difference between really good and brilliantly good is really the key issue. There is no mathematical way to deal with this a priori: you just have to know what is going on.

    Which is why the sets of successful businessmen and successful economists are almost disjoint.

  150. Trout has a waaWL% of .546 and a 162WL% of .542. These are roughly the numbers of Mays and Mantle in the same 8 season time period (they are very slightly under each, iirc).

    Basically, if you added Trout to a team filled with 24 guys who were some sort of platonic ideal of average, the team should win 87, 88, 89 games. Since going to the 4 wild card team format, the average wild card team wins around 91 games a season (with 2 wild cards, the average was 93.) So a Trout+perfectly average Joes should be competitive for at least the wild card, and if they could luckily steal a game here and there, find themselves actually in the wild card.

    That’s what you get with a Trout/Mantle/Mays type, a guy who brings you right up to the door of the playoffs.

    Plug ’20 to ’27 Ruth in for Trout types, and Ruth+average Joes should be a 91, 92 win team. And that’s the difference between the elite of the elite of the elite and the pinnacle.

  151. This mook’s m.o. is, like that of so many who get tenure-track professorships, book deals, and (through the same well-connected, high-powered agents who got them the book deals) NYT op-eds published:

    ‘If we lie about A (in this case, I.Q.), B (in this case, skills), C (black inventiveness), D (the value of Head Start and other pre-K boondoggles), E (the role of affirmative action), F (the role of immigration, legal and illegal alike), G through Z, and gain eternal, totalitarian power, we can re-organize society into the perfect civilization.’

    That perfect world would be one in which white men with IQs of 130 or higher work as ditch-diggers or not at all, and black men with IQs of 70 get to design bridges, be supervisors of white ditchdiggers with 130+ IQs, and/or kill the super-intelligent white men.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  152. @Sam

    How much of that money does the player get?

    • Replies: @Sam
  153. @indocon

    Of course she did. It just took a few days to get to votes counted correctly.

    It took a few weeks for Al Franken to win Minnesota after all.

    To paraphrase Michelle Malkin on illegals, “The vote counting is not over until the Democrat wins”.

  154. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Charlesz Martel

    I was referring to Allison Bell here, who got a 780 on the GMAT.

    https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/instructors/#

  155. Anon87 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Exactly. The Belichick system doesn’t ask much of Brady, and to his credit Brady delivers. But no one should assume Brady is the only QB who could do this.

    The best question for me is why doesn’t everyone rip off Belichick by now? Sheer stubborness? MLB is now about eeking out any advantage possible….the shift, the “opener”, etc. Is the NFL just not as easy to be data-driven given the lack of well established stats versus baseball?

  156. @Steve Sailer

    I bow to no one in my admiration for Tom Brady. He is a smart hard working QB.

    BUT…I think you could replace him with any of the top 8 QBs in the NFL and the Patriots would do just as well.

    It’s Belichek, and I think he will prove that after TB retires.

    I hope TB goes gracefully but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  157. Talking about dominance though, Pedro Martinez’s 2000 season was something to behold. He had an ERA+ of 291, the second best in history (if we are counting the National League’s Troy Trojan’s Tim Keefe 1880 season of 293. But not only is that 19th century baseball, it was 12 starts in total and a 100+ innings during an 83 game season. Keefe’s 1883 with the New York Metropolitians of the American Assocation is a riot for sheer among of pitching: 619 innings, 68 starts and an ERA plus somewhere around 145. Ho hum.) For a comparison, Sandy Koufax’s is best ERA+ came in his last season, in 1966, at a pedestrian 190. Ho-hum.

    But Pedro didn’t just break 200 in one season, he did it in five; which I’m pretty sure is the most ever, including the dead ball era. Mathewson and Walter Johnson each did it four times a piece. Cy Young just once, but again with all those innings logged. Same could be said for Old Hoss Radbourne and Mordecai Three Finger Brown.

    The only other pitchers with multiple <200 seasons I can think of are Zack Greinke (once with the Royals and once with the Dodgers) Greg Maddux (one wasthe strike shortened 1994 season) and Roger Clemens, who did it three times but two of those years occurred after we are aware he started taking steroids.

    The amount of post-deadball era guys who've done it once or not at all is a who's who list- Gibson did it in '68 but not Seaver. Palmer didn't, Ryan didn't, Marachel didn't, Spahn didn't, Randy Johnson didn't, Lefty Grove didn't…contemporaries like DeGrom and Snell have but Schzer and Verlander and Sale haven't. Kershaw did over his injury shortened 2016, where he made about 2/3 the amount of his normal starts in a season. Otherwise, he hit the 190s a few times. Then you get into random "best years of their pitching lives" types like Gooden and Kevin Brown who never reached those marks again- though the rest of Brown's numbers were consistently very good.

    By career ERA+ the top seven are:

    1. Rivera 205
    2. Kershaw 157
    3. Martinez 154
    4. Devlin 150
    5. DeGrom/Grove 148
    7. Walter Johnson/Hoyt Wilhem 147

    There isn't really a whole lot separating the top of the top on this list, and it's a bit skewed when adding relievers- for example, John Franco sits at 19th overall at 138, tied with Cy Young. John Franco was a nice above average reliever, but in the same breath as Cy Young who must have pitched thousands of more innings? I don't think so. The same goes for Rivera, however impressive it is to be 105% better than the rest of the field over two decades, even in smaller sample sizes.

  158. @Anon87

    My impression was that football was a “You can observe a lot just by watching” sport. The coaches watch enormous amount of game film, and they are pretty good at coming up with the statistically correct decision without using too many statistics. (Sometimes they just go with tradition, though, like punting and 2 point conversions.)

  159. Russ says:

    Some of those plays are outstanding; some are good to very good; some show a good recovery after a klutzy start or interlude. Trout will have a much better top 10 after 15-20 years, unless he becomes another Barry Bonds (who began as a good all-around player but degenerated into a profound defensive liability in the end). His fielding numbers appear to be above average, though no Gold Gloves yet.

    Methinks Trout’s agent could reasonably assert that Trout is forfeiting money with the Angels so long as the Pujols albatross hangs heavily around that team’s neck. Said albatross is obviously preventing the team from addressing its many needs, and preventing playoff success, and therefore Trout deserves additional compensation for willingly toiling in such a subpar environment. Of course, the time for all that was before they signed Trout’s last contract, so he’ll just have to get by on his $35M/year (overpaid; underpaid; whatever).

    • Replies: @Russ
  160. @ic1000

    There could be a number of professions that consist in large part of listening to customers that could be made more of a pyramid. For example, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex is a psychiatrist. Having a 180 IQ psychiatrist listen to you talk about your problems for 12.5 minutes is a good thing, but maybe it would be more efficient for a Scott-type to have a staff of 110 IQ nurses who listen to you talk for 50 minutes, then summarize for Scott for 4 minutes, then have Scott spend 2 minutes with the patients.

  161. @Hypnotoad666

    What fraction of the top 1% are basically salesmen?

    Most salesmen are compensated in line with what they bring in.

    • Replies: @Hypnotoad666
  162. Russ says:
    @Russ

    Comment #166 was in response to the video of Trout’s best plays in #133. That I’m having to make this comment in response to #133/#166 establishes me as a negative-WAR iSteve commenter. Carry on.

  163. @Steve Sailer

    What fraction of the top 1% are basically salesmen?

    Probably a lot of the 1% guys are “closers” like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry GlenRoss. Also, a lot of the dentists and doctors in the top 1% may be running clinics where other people do all the work and the Dr. with his name on the door is mostly a high-priced marketer.

  164. People make a big deal about shakespeare but you could just get a committee of a couple hundred mediocre writers to produce things as good as Hamlet.

    • LOL: ic1000
  165. M_Young says:

    The names on both top ten lists seem disproportionately white compared to what I see in the news highlights — the only baseball I really watch. (the non-pitcher list includes at least two white Canadians!). ‘Caste system’ in baseball too (though favoring Domincans vs. American blacks)?

    I thought Yerlich might be Jewish — like Hank Greenberg. Turns out he’s half Serbian (ex-Yugoslavia probably produces more world class athletes across all sports per capita than anywheres else).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  166. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Nicholas Stix

    In 2019, even ditch diggers need to be over 70 IQ, because most ditch diggers are guys who usually run Ditch Witch or Vermeer machines and occasionally have to get off their ass and dig manually, because you can’t hire shovel only diggers cheap enough to compete with a machine. And no one wants a 70 IQ person running a trencher or excavator. As the cost of tearing up power, gas, and fiber lines underground continues to escalate the bar is going higher and higher.

    At any IQ under about 90, there are just not any jobs left besides seasonal agricultural work. At 90 IQ there are always the old standbys of hot mop roofing and landscaping, except there aren’t because once crews get dominated by Guatelombians or high indio specific tribal Mexicans no one else is getting those jobs.

    We would be better off paying people of 85 IQ or lower to not have children. Exactly how much would be cost effective is a matter we should discuss, but I suspect the number is higher than most would at first imagine. Sterilizing violent felons involuntarily would also make sense, but the courts will pull some penumbra out of their ass to hold it unconstitutional, of course.

    • Replies: @ic1000
  167. @Anon87

    I don’t think any of those things are particularly new to baseball. What has changed is the other structures surrounding the game- the change of medias and the hegemony of how the sport is reported; the homogenization of front offices and the decline of organized labor; the introduction of new technologies. A lot of the traditions or so-called traditions were tied to institutional structures which are being replaced, and this has opened up the perception that everything about the sport can approached with a new novelty, whether that’s actually true or not. What is currently lacking is someone(s) who can generalize and reconcile the trends; but that will eventually happen, and some future hobbyist will contextualize which bits were actually new and what was merely reinventing the wheel (like “openers’ and shifts and club tear downs or approaching the plate with the same upper cut mindset as Ted Williams).

    • Replies: @Anon87
  168. @M_Young

    Yelich is also part Japanese.

    • Replies: @M_Young
  169. @Jim Don Bob

    “It’s Belichek, and I think he will prove that after TB retires.”

    Ain’t gonna happen. When Brady goes, Belichek goes.

    And no, I don’t believe for one minute that Brady is replaceable. He’s the greatest player in football history. Other players had dynasty teams as talented as the Pats, but none of them won as many championships as Brady.

    To be fair to Belichek, for his part he did a better job than anyone else of replacing players who were aging, or who left for free agency dough. Thus, those two names will go into the books together as inseparable. I guess that makes Belichek the greatest coach-GM ever.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  170. @Nicholas Stix

    Tom Brady might be the top American athlete of two decades, having won 3 Super Bowls in 2000-2009 and 3 in 2010-2019. I can’t think of anybody else who could be in contention for two separate decades.

  171. M_Young says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Indeed, a quarter Japanese, which probably accounts for his ‘Jewish’ looks. (Not to lend credence to the ‘Chazars’ thing but…) Don’t know where he got the curly hair from though.

  172. @PhysicistDave

    Surely in the design of integrated circuits there are known tradeoffs where one makes decisions that will impact this. Was the fundamental issue one of design-the density of the part, required features affecting the process needed, etc-or was it a process type issue where some new feature or especially stringent requirement made some procedure especially critical?

    We don’t need the exact specifics, but I’m sure this is now a commodity type part or a different and less expensive approach used, so I’m sure you can give us a basic overview.

    • Replies: @ic1000
  173. ic1000 says:
    @Anonymous

    > In 2019, even ditch diggers need to be over 70 IQ, because most ditch diggers are guys who usually run Ditch Witch or Vermeer machines and occasionally have to get off their ass and dig manually, because you can’t hire shovel only diggers cheap enough to compete with a machine.

    Mess with iSteve Content Generators at your peril. Or, start a drinking game: On what date in 2021 will the NYT trumpet, “Ditches rotting in the fields!”? An extra shot for Cntrl-F “immigr*”.

  174. ic1000 says:
    @donvonburg

    Re: improving IC yields. About 15 years ago, a good friend faced a similar problem for the first assignment of her first post-PhD job at a chip-making fab. In that instance, troubleshooting fingered trace impurities in the distilled water supply as the main culprit. Deming-style, both poor yield and variable yield were issues, so multiple changes and new QA/QC procedures had to be implemented.

  175. I just saw a headline that stated that the top 1% owns more wealth than the entire middle class. I often hear this claim, and I don’t doubt it anymore. Clearly something is wrong if that is the case. The rest of society isn’t anywhere near that rigidly defined. We are probably at the point where the average middle or upper middle class child has more in common with a child whose parents are on welfare than he would with the children of the 1%.

    I don’t think many people care if a few baseball players or celebs make fortunes. Most people respect talent, and expect it to be rewarded. But it’s silly to pretend that every 1 percenter deserves his money, is supremely talented, or made him money fair and square. It’s obvious that corruption and forced inequality are big parts of the system, and it’s the one percentage who have a huge hand in driving both.

  176. john678 says:
    @res

    The IQ scale (mean=100, sd=15) is just the z-score scale with a different mean and sd (i.e. transformed via Y = a + bX). I don’t see what else the z-score could refer to in this context.

    I don’t think even the most ardent Rasch enthuasiast would claim that Rasch models constitute ratio scales. The claim is that Rasch models are interval scales (but of course various mathematical purists deny even that). IQ scales constructed in a more classical manner are basically ordinal and can only be claimed to have the equal interval property based on certain more or less plausible assumptions.

    However, whether you use the classical method and just normalize the raw scores, or if you fit the raw scores to a Rasch model to get an interval scale, in any case you will end up with a very similar IQ scale. In Xitao Fan’s classic 1998 study, for example, the correlations between achievement tests scaled according to either classical theory or the Rasch 1P model were between .978 and .997 in different samples (including samples restricted to high or low ability individuals). Rasch and classical scores are interchangeable for most practical purposes and can be turned into each other via a simple transformation.

    • Replies: @res
  177. Pericles says:
    @Anon

    Glassdoor? Maybe the salary collusion lawsuits against Apple, Google, etc? (I wonder how that era combines with the big salaries that currently seem to be the case.)

    Regarding tactics, I do recall reading a couple of years ago on Y combinator or some similar site about one not-very-senior developer who was looking for a new job. At first it was difficult to even get interviews, much less offers. Then he somehow got an offer from Google and all of a sudden a bidding war broke out. In the end, he got about $250k if memory serves, without seeming all that technically impressive. Clever guy no doubt, yet it seems most recruiters don’t really have any idea about what they are hiring. (This is my overall experience with recruiters in Sweden too.)

  178. Pericles says:
    @onetwothree

    Just don’t take a pitch to the head. I’m a bit surprised at how often MLB players get injured, actually. Apart from the bruising, they get their hands or fingers broken by evil pitches, or concussions, or even some injuries while base running. Even the spectators get the occasional impalements on broken bats or foul balls to the face.

    The most spectactular non-injury I’ve seen was Johnny Cueto taking a come back to the forehead and then continuing playing.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/giants-johnny-cueto-hit-in-head-by-line-drive-c167516040

    (It turned into a double.)

  179. Pericles says:
    @Uncle Dan

    Hell, humans and chimpanzees share 99% of their DNA.

    And that’s why we at TechGiant are taking the step of phasing out our Indian contractors in favor of Chimpanzees, at a very favorable salary ratio.

    • Agree: Alan Mercer
  180. Paying people based on their fundamental skills would make the United States as egalitarian as Sweden.

    Yeah, let’s be like Sweden. That’s the ticket.

  181. @Steve Sailer

    Why exactly would someone playing 1B be washed up sooner than someone playing the OF? If anything, 1B tends to be the least demanding position on a player’s body (less range of ground to cover, especially compared to CF). Traditionally, once an OFer slows down, he tends to move to 1B. Aside from DH, 1B is usually where the best bats are placed so as to prolong their careers from wear and tear. Before he became a permanent DH, David Ortiz was at 1B. But David was mediocre at best at that position.

    • Replies: @Anon87
  182. @Steve Sailer

    Over half of Bill Belichick’s games without Tom Brady since Brady came along were in 2008 when Matt Cassel went, what, 11-5. But that was the year right after Peak Patriots / Peak Brady when the Pats went 16-0 in 2007 and Brady threw 23 TDs to Randy Moss. So, that was a very good team Cassel quarterbacked for.

    That year with Cassell was undoubtedly Belichick’s greatest coaching job in his entire career, even though the Pats did not make the playoffs. It certainly demonstrated the Lobster Boat Captain’s off the charts coaching skill.

    An interesting thought experiment — imagine the Patriots over the last 10 years having, say, Drew Brees or Aaron Rogers at quarterback — or even, for that matter, Tony Romo.

    Tony Romo would be a first ballot hall of famer if he had played for Bill. As it is, he will have to buy a ticket.

  183. @Steve Sailer

    Uh, no, they’re still going by their hunches, namely, don’t pay as much as possible to any single player. If sabermetrics, WAR, analytics new stats, etc. help make their case to not pay as much as possible, then they’re happy to go with it. But the result is the same: It’s a form of collusion, pure and simple.

    In 2019, a GM uses fancy terms such as WAR, sabermetrics, to determine not to pay a player any more than necessary.

    In 1919, a GM was much more direct: Not going to pay a player anything just because…we don’t have to. Period.

    In his book Juiced, Jose Canseco made the point that many, many MLB clubs are perfectly willing to continue to endure losing seasons to save money/profits for themselves. They don’t spend money on free agents, hardly develop their farm system, and are willing to take the field with mediocre players year after year. That was written in 2005, and Sabermetrics was well the law of the baseball world.

    This is the HOF M Connie Mack form of running a ball team. Rather than spend gigantic sums on players, they are perfectly willing to trade them away for very little, or in the modern sense, let them walk away to other clubs while they endure years and years of losing seasons. All in an effort to save money.

    1919 AL’s CHI won the Pennant. Eddie Chicotte had won 29 games by around mid. August. He had been promised a 5k bonus if he won 30 games. He was benched the last month of the season, ostensibly to rest for the WS. The end result was the same. He didn’t get his bonus, and Chicotte was one of the ringleaders of throwing the ’19 WS to organized gambling.

    So then, at the next collective bargaining agreement the MLBPA will have to get the non-free agency a clause for first 6 yrs of player’s career tossed out. It could make some sense to have new MLBers sign a “rookie contract” similar to NBAers, where after 3-4 yrs, they can get more money. The average career for an MLB player is around 5 years. So conveniently, this no free agency thing for first six years tends to cover most of the careers of most MLBers.

    Which in fact is strikingly similar to the Reserve Clause. Bound to a single team for the duration of one’s career.

  184. Old Prude says:

    What a bunch of shills for the super rich. Sure guys: Harry Reid earned his dough. Bill Gates and Bezos need another mansion.

    • Replies: @OilcanFloyd
  185. @Old Prude

    What a bunch of shills for the super rich. Sure guys: Harry Reid earned his dough. Bill Gates and Bezos need another mansion.

    It’s funny to hear Bill Gates complain about Elizabeth Warren’s tax proposals, when he is as much of a social engineer as anyone. I once saw an interview where he claimed that his children didn’t need his fortune, and he would leave almost all of it to charity. I seriously doubt that any of his children will ever have to make their own way in the world, or that he will forgo a thing to make the life of a less advantaged person better. Why would he, when those are the burdens of the 98%?

    He also apparently lied about his Epstein contacts.

  186. Income inequality in the United States would fall drastically if people were compensated based only on their ability.

    Most low-wage workers are underpaid relative to their measured intelligence and personality traits,

    (1) That is because they are paid to do a low-wage job, not to give their employer bragging rights over its employees’ intelligence and personality traits;
    (2) Those low-paid workers who genuinely do well on these metrics will probably move on to better-paid work at the earliest possible opportunity.

    and many of the highest-paid professionals — including doctors, lawyers and financial managers — are overpaid according to the same metrics. …

    Doctors are paid for spending six years in medical school, for passing their examinations, and for their years of experience as junior doctors in hospitals. By this career path they develop an ability as medical practitioners. Their ability on any other metric is far less important.

    Go ahead. Pay people in proportion to some unspecialized definition of “ability” that does not require a person to go to High School or even to work. The result will indeed be less “inequality”, but the world created by such a foolish scheme will be a much less pleasant place for everyone to live, including the low-paid.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  187. notsaying says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    I wasn’t thinking of the 16th Amendment at all but certainly it allowed for an expansion of the federal budget and government that would not have been possible had most federal funding continued to come from tariffs. I have never heard of the Liberty Amendment at all. It is interesting to think that there were state legislatures even up unto the 1980s willing to vote against the federal income tax. Thanks for the history lesson.

    I was thinking of the New Deal and other things like the increasing numbers of people who belonged in unions and how wages went up so much after WWII ended. The rich were happy and did great when they got a much less smaller part of the US pie and when they had to pay much higher taxes (granted they got a lot of deductions so they didn’t pay anywhere near the full sticker price) from 1950-1980.

    Part of Making America Great Again would be a return to something like the more equitable situation that existed then.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  188. @Reg Cæsar

    Taxing the Yankee to support the good ol’ boy was quite popular down there. Taxing the good ol’ boy to support his “coloured neighbour”, not so much.

    Funny how that works…

    I came across the Liberty Amendment doing some research in college, but I didn’t read about it in depth. I asked my professor about it since it was tangential to what I was researching, but I don’t recall what he said. I think I still have copies of some acts proposed by the Georgia legislature at the time. I’d forgotten about it.

    In the context of Southern Populism of the 1940 to 1960s, the view of many whites was that they didn’t want to pay taxes to support anyone. There was resentment towards the North as exploiters, blacks as agents of the North, and the old southern elites as exploiters the majority of whites. There was truth to all of the views.

    Between the 1940s and 60s many white southerners we’re working outside the tenant, seasonal, factory systems for the first time themselves, and viewed populism as the tide that would finally give them control of their states. The old aristocrats of the South were not universally loved. I’d even say that whites in the South generally tolerate the current status quo because the old elites were also hostile, and the economy is better, as bad as the current system is. People tend to forget that most whites in the South were quite poor and exploited, themselves, until quite recently.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  189. @notsaying

    The rich were happy and did great when they got a much less smaller part of the US pie and when they had to pay much higher taxes (granted they got a lot of deductions so they didn’t pay anywhere near the full sticker price) from 1950-1980.

    That’s basically Sweden and Japan. With a military-industrial complex. (Though Sweden has one of those too– with an active peacetime draft, like we had.)

    But, as with today’s Sweden and Japan, giant corporations ruled the economy. Konglomerat. 財閥. 재벌. There were fewer rich to go around in those days.

    (BTW, that hoary old “what’s good for GM is good for America” is one of those quotations twisted to mean the opposite of what was intended.)

  190. @OilcanFloyd

    In the context of Southern Populism of the 1940 to 1960s

    Southern populists loved FDR. Northeastern populists hated him. Midwestern populists, largely isolationist German farmers, did a 180° in 1938.

    Feeding your pigs your corn on your land is “interstate commerce”? Ach du lieber!

    • Replies: @OilcanFloyd
  191. @Reg Cæsar

    Southern populists loved FDR.

    The ones I know didn’t. Maybe in Appalachia or areas where the TVA spread the pork around, but most old people I knew called FDR a communist. I guess it didn’t help that he had Alger Hiss running around the low country agitating for land redistribution. Teddy Roosevelt wad loved for some reason. Maybe because of his authoritarian streak, or his handling of Booker T. Washington. I’m not sure.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  192. Marty says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    What an interesting post. Just recently I’ve been steamed because, at least a dozen times this year alone, I’ve gone into a Safeway and found them sold out of my favorite bread, Winter Wheat, while the shelves sag with piles of a generic wheat bread that never seems to sell. It reminds me of a Berkeley magazine shop I used to frequent early ‘00s where there were always 3 times as many copies of Harper’s as any other title. I asked the Arab owner why he ordered so many copies and he said, “it’s my biggest seller, next to Playboy,” but I never believed him.

  193. @OilcanFloyd

    Maybe in Appalachia or areas where the TVA spread the pork around, but most old people I knew called FDR a communist.

    Appalachia was his weakest part of the South but, unlike earlier Democrats, he still carried it. Winston County, Alabama and a couple of Blue Ridge counties in N.C. were all be lost.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_County,_Alabama#Government_and_politics

    In 1932, the governors of Georgia and Oklahoma called FDR a Bolshevist. The voters agreed– and gave him a landslide.

    • Replies: @OilcanFloyd
    , @OilcanFloyd
  194. Anon87 says:
    @Mister.Baseball

    I tend to agree. Like most things today that are considered “innovative”, they are just tepidly reheated ideas. I think Steve has previously pointed out how ride sharing and boarders are not new. The shift or uppercut swings are not new. Just more widely adopted.

    Having said that, I can’t recall another time in MLB history teams trotted out a series of relievers to pitch 9 innings. That one was a radical idea that I never thought I’d see.

  195. Anon87 says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    I think “players body” is the key phrase. OF typically are in better shape, so the physical decline can be put off longer. Fatsos or statues at 1B don’t have much room for error before getting pushed aside.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  196. @Anon87

    I can recall a friend in the 1970s who found a loophole in the rules of the Stratomatic baseball card and dice game: he could use Bruce Sutter, the best relief pitchers, as a starting pitcher. That got us thinking about using relievers throughout a game — there had previously been some discussion of the Dodgers perhap starting their Cy Young reliever Mike Marshall in the 6th game of the 1974 World Series, but the Dodgers lost in 5. But most of the thinking at the time was about seeing how far the heroic Marshall could go as a starter, rather than planning on using a cast of thousands.

    That’s a line from “Ball Four” when sore-armed Steve Barber is sent out as a starter: “Pitching today for the Seattle Pilots … Steve Barber and a cast of thousands!”

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Anon87
  197. @Anon87

    Mike Trout will likely move from center to right field in a few years, then to first base in his late 30s, then DH in his early 40s. If he’d started as a first baseman, he’d have nowhere to move except to Dh.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  198. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @James N. Kennett

    Doctors in the US go to med school for four, not six, years, but they are required to have a full four year bachelors’ degree before applying to med school (or be within a semester of graduating perhaps), which was instituted as and remains a way of throttling their numbers and keeping their salaries up.

    If I have severe diarrhea and need effective antidiarrheal medicine, I have to go to a doctor or the ER and beg for a scrip for opiate based antidiarrheal meds that are over the counter in most countries. if I need skin tags snipped or cryofrozen off or a worrisome wart or blotch cut out of my skin, I have to go to a Dermatologist for a procedure that hardly warrants a medical school education: in a military or institutional setting a corpsman or similar might do it.

    Many people take “pre-med” college paths, where the degree is perhaps chemistry or biology, and if they are not admitted to medical school have just wasted a good chunk of those four years. Aside from jobs in offices where “you need a degree but any will do”, usually insurance or sales or some crap like that, such a degree isn’t good for a lot in the job market relative to the effort expended. You could apply to dentistry or optometry or podiatry programs, or law school, sure, but other than that, you might as well have taken Poli Sci and fucked off for four years instead of all that grinding and lab work. You can’t even teach high school biology or chemistry in my state with an undergrad degree in subject-they want an Education degree, the holder of which will usually have far less subject matter knowledge. (Indeed, as former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri Charles Wheeler-no conservative-remarked to me, in Kansas he couldn’t teach high school, despite being a MD and a JD in an era where that was vanishingly rare.)

    The system is jacked up. Do not defend it.

  199. Sam says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    The transfer fee is supposed to be between the clubs only although some players have a clause in their contract stipulating they will get a percentage of a future transfer.
    Otherwise, they get a sign on fee which is part of the contract negotiations between the buying club and the player. On top of this there is negotiations of the player’s image rights with the player giving up some or all of them.

    https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170829-how-does-a-football-transfer-work

    The reason for the crazy transfers in soccer is simply that it’s a pure bidding war because European soccer is capitalistic. So rich owners like the Russian oligarch Abramovich or oilmen from the gulf state can suddenly buy a club and spend big money. The old soccer aristocracy in Europe has then pushed financial fairplay laws meant to keep the nouveau rich clubs from being able to splash the cash like this. So far the oilmen(Paris’ Qatar owner and Man City’s Abu Dhabi owner) have managed to get around these laws through corruption that has been punished. So it’s not clear yet if these laws work:
    https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/manchester-city-accused-of-using-shadow-firms-to-flout-rules-a-1255796.html

  200. @Reg Cæsar

    In 1932, the governors of Georgia and Oklahoma called FDR a Bolshevist. The voters agreed– and gave him a landslide.

    I’ve never had the impression that FDR’s victories in the South were due to a love of him or his policies. Mostly, I think it was due to Democratic loyalty. At that time Republicans were still linked to Lincoln and Reconstruction.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  201. @Reg Cæsar

    In 1932, the governors of Georgia and Oklahoma called FDR a Bolshevist. The voters agreed– and gave him a landslide.

    I’ve never had the impression that FDR’s victories in the South were due to a love of him or his policies. Mostly, I think it was due to Democratic loyalty. At that time Republicans were still linked to Lincoln and Reconstruction.

  202. anon[316] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The Yankees used twenty (20) pitchers in one of this year’s playoff games, and lost anyway.

    • Replies: @Mister.Baseball
  203. @Steve Sailer

    Let’s not so quickly dismiss the fact that it does take some defensive skill to play 1B. Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, among others were defensive standouts at the position. Turning the double play, fielding ground balls down the line, and holding runners close does take skill, even though the position does get taken for granted. You tend to notice a 1B who is below par by various metrics: fewer double plays turned/successfully completed, fewer runners prevented from stealing 2B, more ground balls that go for H’s into RF, etc.

    Trout can save even more wear and tear on his body by simply moving to 1B around age 29, a position he could then play for at least 12-13 yrs. That way the only hard running would be done while rounding the bases. Why should DH be the be and end all for a player? He’s not just a hitter, he is supposed to be an all round player.

    Example: For whatever reason, Jason Giambi refused to switch to DH at NY GM Brian Cashman’s request and continued to play 1B, even though he clearly preferred hitting to fielding.

    • Replies: @Mister.Baseball
    , @Anon87
  204. res says:
    @john678

    The IQ scale (mean=100, sd=15) is just the z-score scale with a different mean and sd (i.e. transformed via Y = a + bX). I don’t see what else the z-score could refer to in this context.

    I’m not sure what you are referring to with that last sentence. I agree the first two (and arguably three as discussed later) scores are just linear transforms of each other. My point is (and I thought I was clear about this in my previous comment, if not the original) the different transforms will result in different ratios (a common, if naive and wrong, way to compare) between people. Hence we should be wary of statements like “x% more.”

    I don’t think even the most ardent Rasch enthuasiast would claim that Rasch models constitute ratio scales.

    I hadn’t realized that before and it makes more sense. They use the terminology “ratio scale”, but apparently mean something different from the common usage. See https://www.rasch.org/rmt/rmt94b.htm
    (and BTW, I find their statement “Consequently, the distinctions between these scale types have no mathematical importance.” baffling. Being able to define a meaningful origin for a ratio scale is critical. Compare temperature.)
    Now I don’t understand how they derive their mean point and have to look for references again. Can you recommend any good Rasch score references? Or pointers to the purists who deny Rasch scores represent an interval scale?

    IQ scales constructed in a more classical manner are basically ordinal and can only be claimed to have the equal interval property based on certain more or less plausible assumptions.

    I think of them as interval scales in that each unit interval represents 1 SD. But that is not necessarily the same is being an interval scale for intelligence itself. Which is an important point. Can you recommend any references discussing the plausible assumptions and their validity?

    Rasch and classical scores are interchangeable for most practical purposes and can be turned into each other via a simple transformation.

    Do you have this transform? I don’t recall finding one when I looked. If the transform is linear that makes a good case for the classical scores being interval scales. At least to the degree the Rasch score is.

    P.S. I see this thread has your first comments on the Unz Review. Thanks for the informative comments. Do you read James Thompson’s blog here?

  205. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Example: For whatever reason, Jason Giambi refused to switch to DH at NY GM Brian Cashman’s request and continued to play 1B, even though he clearly preferred hitting to fielding.

    I recall the numbers demonstrating that Giambi hit a lot better when fielding than as a DH. It comes down to some sort of psychological/prepatory factor where Giambi was clearly less comfortable in the batter’s box as a DH than when he also fielded, and couldn’t adjust.

    While true that it cost the Yankees defensively, I think it’s debatable how much Giambi alone hurt the team in that regard. Giambi as a greater hitter than a lesser one probably covered his defensive shortcomings and would not have hurt the Yankees so much if the rest of those mid-00s teams had other stand out players on defense besides a few years of in-his-prime, steroid-infused Alex Rodriguez. They did not. And further exacerbating the problem was that under Joe Torre, the field management wasn’t all that attentive about defense and defensive positioning either- sort of like Torre as a player.

    The minute they stopped winning championships is when Bernie Williams got old overnight and Jeter and Posada aged to a point where they went from closer to passable at defense-premium positions to plain terrible. Jeter was of course famously, historically bad at shortstop but the tragedy to it is that with better coaching and positioning, he could have just been mildly bad. When Cashman brought in Girardi and sat Jeter down and told him to work on his defense, he showed a marked improvement, and they ended up winning again in 2009. But by that point, Jeter was already entering the last stretch of his career and the two better defensive years of 2008 and 2009 merely suggest what could’ve been had Cashman changed things up in 2003.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  206. @anon

    No they didn’t. There weren’t 20 pitchers on the roster for the Astros series, and they certainly didn’t throw position players out there against them. Instead, they made twenty pitching changes [it seemed like more] over the course of the series with the Astros and lost.

    Obscured by all of it is that as a strategy, it worked. The Astros, who had a team wRC+ comparable to the ’27 Yankees, hit much worse than this year’s Yankees in that series. The loss came down to three inopportune home runs from Springer/Correa in Game 2 and Altuve in Game 6, in addition to the Yankees inability to respond and the sloppy play of Game 4, a game they outright gave away.

    • Replies: @anon
  207. @Anon87

    Having said that, I can’t recall another time in MLB history teams trotted out a series of relievers to pitch 9 innings. That one was a radical idea that I never thought I’d see.

    I was very young but I vaguely recall Buck Showalter doing it a few times while managing the Yankees. Even if my memory is hazy on how Showalter occasionally used his bullpen, the novelty today isn’t really in the use but in the broader cultivation and maintenance of hard-throwing and disciplined arms of some use at the major league level. Bullpenning itself is just an outgrowth of the same mindset which institutionalized fifth starters as a thing instead of relying on spot-starters used on a whim. (The success of Tommy John surgery and the idea of arms which could be theoretically fixed must’ve played a role in this.)

    It is not much of a leap to reason that instead of having one guy consistently spot start your four best pitchers (and with mixed results considering how relatively bad most fifth starters are), it may be better to think about spotting innings themselves, that the extra work isn’t going to tax your bullpen arms; and if one has a good bullpen, the results should be better than throwing a fifth starter type into the fire once a week.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  208. @Mister.Baseball

    Teams used to only care 9 or 10 pitchers instead of 12-13 today. I think they did more platooning back then. Another weird recent development is guys playing both second base and first base, like Max Muncy of the Dodgers. Those used to be totally opposite defensive positions. The huge increase in strikeouts and flyballs though means second base isn’t as crucial as it used to be. I guess, maybe something else is happening as well.

    • Replies: @Mister.Baseball
  209. @OilcanFloyd

    I’ve never had the impression that FDR’s victories in the South were due to a love of him or his policies. Mostly, I think it was due to Democratic loyalty. At that time Republicans were still linked to Lincoln and Reconstruction.

    Wilson ran about ten percentage points better than the average Democrat, and FDR twenty. I think what made the difference those years was the hillbillies’ desperation.

    FDR’s aim for a third term was unprecedented, and naturally congressmen were a little slow to get on board. But the first one who did? Sen. Bilbo of Mississippi. Mississippi had gone 97% for him in 1936, South Carolina 98.6%. That’s a record.

    • Replies: @OilcanFloyd
  210. @Steve Sailer

    Teams used to only care 9 or 10 pitchers instead of 12-13 today.

    Unless you were the ’66 Dodgers who pretty much relied on the four starters and the Vulture.

    I searched through a random sample of teams from the last 5 decades and looked at the number of pitchers teams used in a given season, games started, complete games, games finished, and innings pitched. My overall impression is that most of the time ten men staffs used be four starters, two guys who could spot start when needed, a third spot for a proper reliever and two emergency-only arms, usually occupied by a crowd of guys who were washed up or very close to it. Today those emergency arms, if they have anything at all left, would either be stashed away at Triple A or in a doctor’s office getting whatever surgery necessary to repair what broke.

    As for Muncy and the right side of the infield, I looked up that he graded positively for defense this year but I figure the Dodgers have been spending the last two years strategically hiding him so they could have his bat in the line up.

    Maybe it’s reverting back to the deadball era where 2nd base was an offensive position? It’s not just that there are more flyballs but when the ball is put in play, there are less extra-base hit chances which start out by getting by the 2nd basemen. Teams don’t care much about singles and there is nothing they can do about home runs after it leaves the pitcher’s hand but, they care very much about doubles and triples . With shifts pretty much sapping left handed hitters of extra base hits through the infield, you don’t even need an extraordinary second basemen anymore; so why not populate that side of the field with two capable (and interchangeable) defensive players who can hit instead of one no bat/good glove type paired next to a bat first guy?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  211. anon[112] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mister.Baseball

    Instead, they made twenty pitching changes [it seemed like more]

    Thanks for the correction.

  212. @Mister.Baseball

    How much do these pitchers who get moved up and down constantly from Triple AAA get paid? Are they making like $100k in the Triple A and then $550k prorated when they are flown up to the big league, so they make what $200k per year?

    It’s an interesting career question because it seems like there are more jobs for pitchers now than in the past, but can you save anything if you, say, peak at age 26-28 as a AAA pitcher with intermittent big league spells?

    • Replies: @Mister.Baseball
  213. @Reg Cæsar

    Maybe many people loved Roosevelt when they voted for him, and hated him later? I don’t know. Maybe there was nothing else on offer, which is the same boat we’ve been in forever. How many Republican voters in the South really love Reagan, either Bush, Trump, or the neocons?

  214. @Mister.Baseball

    A bit historical revisionism at work: The crack about ARod’s PED useage while ignoring Giambi’s, who was publicly named in the Federal investigation BALCO report. Come on. Fully agreed that ARod was a better infielder than Jeter (whether at SS or 3B), but what he didn’t take into account was that NY was always going to be Jeter’s team, he was protected, and the long term strain and pressure eventually wore ARod down.

    The original point was that 1B does take skill to play, and amazing talent to play exceptionally well. Let’s also not forget that NY was more than competitive during the 2000’s. Making the postseason every single year of that decade but one. Various factors contributed to their losing in the playoffs, but defense wasn’t the primary stand alone factor for it.

    A bit more added context. Derek Jeter, fourth on the all time Hits list when he retired, is set to become a first ballot HOFer next year. Meaning, that as an overall player, he’s good enough to be included among the all time greatest ever to have played MLB.

  215. @Steve Sailer

    I imagine the service time is more beneficial for these types of pitchers, in the long run. One day on 25 man roster qualifies the person for full, lifetime medical and 43 service days for the $34,000 pension to kick it. Retiring at 26 with medical coverage, a pension,( and with some planning) no debts/some money squirreled away is not a bad position to be in. Of course, a portion of guys who end up at the back of 40 man rosters as go-to shuttle guys are baseball lifer types and a lot more experienced or carry some sort of prospect sheen or reclamation opportunity. Those guys can set themselves up to make around 200+ for a period of years, if everything breaks right.

    The majority of them, the fringe prospect types who go back and forth a few times for three years and then disappear forever are making 30 to 150-ish a year, depending on how long they get called up. One can rack up around an extra 100 grand with a September call up alone, but starting next year there will only be two spots for that. Without getting too deep into the weeds on this, the standard minor league service contract minimum for a first year triple-a player is roughly 7,000 and it maxes out in the third year around 17,000. The average triple-a player is making about 14,000. Guys on the 40 man roster with split contracts aren’t making the minor league minimum but they don’t have a whole lot of bargaining power either. Usually, prices will fall between 20 and 60 for the minor league side, the current mean being around 44 thousand.

  216. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    A bit historical revisionism at work: The crack about ARod’s PED useage while ignoring Giambi’s, who was publicly named in the Federal investigation BALCO report. Come on.

    You’re reading a lot more into that than anything I intended.

    Fully agreed that ARod was a better infielder than Jeter (whether at SS or 3B), but what he didn’t take into account was that NY was always going to be Jeter’s team, he was protected, and the long term strain and pressure eventually wore ARod down.

    1. The Yankees were right to move Rodriguez off of short when they did. He possessed the stronger arm and quicker reaction times to play the position, and was a net positive at it up until his first hip surgery. And in hindsight, the Yankees were correct that he was going to age out of shortstop quicker than any of the pundits imagined at the time, with his legs being the first thing to go. They got more value out of him with the formation they went with.

    That it was “Jeter’s team” and all that media driven gobbedlygook is just din to me, though it did seem to really get to Rodriguez. And the Yankees fans went into a frenzy over it I still don’t understanding. I remember catching a game at the Stadium in ’05 during Rodriguez’s 1st MVP year and this guy with his two sons spent the whole nine innings alternating between cursing Rodriguez out for no reason and informing him that he left his bra and panties over at his place. His poorly thought out insult was as embarrassing as it was annoying. At that time it seemed you couldn’t go talk baseball with anyone in Yankee territory without them saying the stupidest things about Rodriguez. [By the way, the best insult I’ve ever heard from a Yankee fan? This guy yells at a Red Sox player that he’s peaked early and that arbitration panels don’t value his skill set- that got his attention and a guffaw or two.]

    2. Alex Rodriguez is a deeply insecure man with father issues who grew up in poverty. He has spent his whole adult life making sure he never finds himself in that position again. Rodriguez wasn’t worn down so much as he ran out of options, his biggest motivator being that his brand will be most valuable connected to the Yankee brand from here to Kingdom Come. So he had to make nice and take the tack that he learned from his mistakes and he’s a new man and so on. I don’t care very much for the guy, and in some ways he ruined baseball for me ’cause of his involvement with steroids. But overriding that is both a sense of pity and context. He’s not to blame for steroids and he found himself in a position at 16 where scouts were telling him how he good he was but they were worried that he’d never fill out. Sports was his way out of poverty and so he took the reins and went for it. A lot of people, however ultimately wrong that is, would do the same. And there are things I like about Rodriguez, such as when he talks baseball- he not only clearly loves it but he knows a whole lot about it; or the amount of financial advice he has given to young players. He has tangibly helped people make better decisions in that regard. I’m not gonna say he’s a nice guy or anything but in a sports world filled with immature jerks, he’s not particularly egregious. That he is so insecure is something he probably can’t help (or couldn’t help by the time he debuted in the majors.)

  217. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The original point was that 1B does take skill to play, and amazing talent to play exceptionally well.

    I’m a guy who thinks Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall of Fame. 1b defense is underrated but he necessary skills to play it well aren’t particularly hard, which is why teams are finding it easier to transfer good fielders from elsewhere over to 1b than to find the next Keith Hernandez.

    Let’s also not forget that NY was more than competitive during the 2000’s. Making the postseason every single year of that decade but one. Various factors contributed to their losing in the playoffs, but defense wasn’t the primary stand alone factor for it.

    I disagree, though pitching was a close second. The thing is the pitching came off ever worse because of the poor defense. For example in 2007, Mussina had an unsightly 5.15 ERA but his FIP was 4.01, well in line for what he was as an aging starter. From 2002 to 2008, the Yankees were the worst team in defensive runs above average in all of baseball. The Pirates were the 2nd worst at-250.6; the yankees were -477.9. In DRS they were last at -331; the next lowest? The Reds at -183. In UZR, -458.7, the next lowest being the Diamondbacks at -212.3.

    The Yankees bats, the “Murderers’ Row Plus Cano” idea, were so unbelievably good that they bludgeoned their way into the playoffs but those teams were going nowhere with that defense and Torre’s lack of concern about it. Which brings me to Jeter:

    A bit more added context. Derek Jeter, fourth on the all time Hits list when he retired, is set to become a first ballot HOFer next year. Meaning, that as an overall player, he’s good enough to be included among the all time greatest ever to have played MLB.

    I think Jeter was such a media darling that he is underrated for how good of a hitter he was. He should’ve been the AL MVP in 1999 and 2006, and probably 1998 as well. And that’s part of the shame that they didn’t fix his defense earlier- better defense and he’s in the discussion of top 5 shortstops of all time, without the eye rolls.

  218. @Mister.Baseball

    Keith Hernandez would have been an all time great defensive 3rd baseman if he were righthanded. Being lefthanded, he was the greatest defensive first baseman of his age.

    In 1984, some friends and I heckled Hernandez into grounding into a crucial double play from directly behind home plate in the players’ friends seats at Wrigley. The young lady sitting next to us had told us that Keith always provided her with a ticket when he was in Chicago. She left about the fifth inning, which freed us up to use her name in some rather personal comments in a critical situation with Hernandez at bat and runners on first and third in the seventh inning.

  219. @Mister.Baseball

    The 23andMe CEO, one of Wojcicki sisters, dated Alex Rodriguez after her divorce from Sergey Brin of Google. Her mom and sister, the Youtube exec, complained that Rodriguez watched baseball on TV 11 hours per day so he wasn’t worthy of being a Wojcicki boyfriend.

    Okay, Alex Rodriguez loves baseball. He hit 696 homers and in retirement he’s made himself into a fine baseball commentator by watching baseball 11 hours per day.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  220. @Mister.Baseball

    “You’re reading a lot more into that than anything I intended.”

    No, I’m stating facts regarding the PED situation and MLB. For that matter, who’s to say that Jeter didn’t take some form of PEDS? (HGH, for instance). That’s what PEDS has done to MLB. No one individual can ever be fully trusted, by those who’s maturity level is above age 9 and are blessed with a modicum of common sense.

    “That it was “Jeter’s team” and all that media driven gobbedlygook is just din to me, though it did seem to really get to Rodriguez.”

    Translation: I was correct in my statement. ARod believed it to be true, and thus for him, it was true.

    “2….”

    This point is purely speculative and not relevant to anything.

  221. @Steve Sailer

    Also the fact that ARod was, technically speaking, not a billionaire and was “only” making about 30 million per yr. at the time. Also, ARod was supposed to get salary increases at the back end of his contract for incentives such as: passing Ruth’s career 714 HR, and Aaron’s 755 HR. I suppose its merely a coincidence that he was released or decided to retire before he was able to surpass these HR totals and receive his additional money. But, perhaps NY knew what it was doing by getting him suspended for a year and other such things, thus guaranteeing that he would have fewer AB’s while still relatively healthy and could hit more HR’s and thus receive his salary increases.

  222. @Mister.Baseball

    Re: Jeters should’ve could’ve won MVP. The fact is, he did not. A case can be made for any of the MVP candidates during those years, not just Jeter. Standard Monday Morning QBing. The relevant point, is that finishing 5th on the all time H list means that he will be a first ballot HOFer in Cooperstown next year.

  223. Anon87 says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Agreed that you can have solid contributers on defense at 1B. It’s the immobile guys who can barely scoop a bad throw that approach retirement much quicker.

    Only selfish Jeter can get away with hurting his team on defense that long without getting moved. Helped to lengthen his career though, so good for him.

  224. Anon87 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    You were friends with Brian Kenny??

    I’m not saying it’s bad, but the Strat players who read Bill James have brought us the current ultra-analytic approach to baseball. I honestly prefer some of the variety and strategy it brings to the game, versus the glorification of “look at me” behavior.

    Thanks to others for pointing out examples of previous instances of closers as openers. I assumed it was unheard of, with the true closer being relatively new.

  225. @Intelligent Dasein

    I am reminded of the health care “industry.” I know a geriatric nurse who quit because they were forcing her to become a typist. The scenario: instead of filling out a paper chart hanging at the foot of the bed in 5 minutes, nurses spend hours and hours at “kiosks” out in the hall typing and typing away while grandma drowns in her own bodily effluents (when they’re not web-surfing or talking to their illegitimate children on their cell-phones).

    A list you might find diverting. Guess what it is of:
    Amazon
    Netflix
    Google
    Twitter
    Snapchat
    Tumblr
    Skype
    Vonage
    Facebook
    Tesla
    Uber (Dumping)
    Lyft
    https://www.ianwelsh.net/the-lyft-and-uber-endgame-oligopoly-prices-impoverished-workers/
    Spotify/Shazam/Pandora
    Airlines

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