[ExI] retrainability of plebeians

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 28 13:32:01 UTC 2009

--- On Tue, 4/28/09, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/28/09, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> > ### Obviously, if there is low demand for complex
> work, it will not be
> >  highly rewarded. So the premise on which you
> build the argument is
> >  incorrect, in almost the most basic way
> imaginable, by directly
> >  contradicting the law of supply and demand.
> No, that's not how the world works.
> The level of reward does not equal the 'value' of the
> work.
> (Now you need to get into a complex discussion about how to
> 'value' the work).
> Compare the rewards of different jobs and you will quickly
> notice
> strange anomalies.
> High rewards are in the entertainment industry and anything
> to do with
> celebrity. Pop stars, sports stars, hairdressers, chefs,
> interior
> designers, etc.
> The other big rewards are for the crooks in the financial
> industry,
> whose reward is as much as they can get away with, without
> actually
> being charged with fraud.
> So, if your argument is based on the theoretical law of
> supply and
> demand it fails in the real world that the rest of us live
> in.
> (Or, the corollary, that if it is correct, then the law of
> supply and
> demand produces a very poor quality of world).

No.  The law of supply and demand is not a law people merely adhere to casually -- because they're too stupid to see real value -- or a law that they adhere to because of ideological predilections.  It merely states what's inescapable.  The reason some people in the entertainment industry are paid a lot is because they are, for whatever reason, highly demanded or (inclusive "or") in short supply as compared with others -- say, farmers, mathematics professors, trauma surgeons, and caretakers.

What you've stumbled onto, too, is the what diamonds and water paradox:


I'd also point out, too, that with regard to entertainers who make a lot of money, the judgment that they make too much (or too little) is subjective and merely signals the judge's particular subjective values.  Yeah, you and I probably think that a highly paid sports star is not of any value to us.  But the thing she or he is obviously of value to others -- that is, they value her or his entertainment more than other options, hence they're willing to trade other values (e.g., money) for it.  (And all that would happen if you or I or Rafal or a group of people were to decide who gets paid what is merely to substitute our value judgments for those of the people who actually pay lots, say, to see their favorite team play.)*



*  Of course, this is ignoring the myriad government interferences in the market, such as, in the case of sports, subsidizing sports stadia (which in the US are mostly publicly funded under the lie that they somehow generate more economic growth; this may at best generate growth in one area, but only at the expense of shrinking it in another, often more than offsetting any gains**) and training (think of public schools in the US with football teams).

**  Were this not so, then it'd have almost definitely been the case that private investors would've snapped at the chance to fund such projects -- to recoup huge profits.  Instead, they tend to shirk off such funding to get a free lunch at the taxpayer's expense.


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