Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lumberjack Theory

One time my friend Danny and I got into an argument about brains versus brawn. The argument was sparked when I mentioned to him that a client of mine who was an engineer told me he felt that superstar basketball players are overpaid for an ultimately useless skill of putting a ball into a hoop whereas engineers, who are crucial to the progress of mankind, are under-paid and under-appreciated. I of course disagreed. He ended up writing a blog about it. This is my response blog...

 I was revenge typing like a mother fucker!

In Danny’s blog he says that I had said that basketball players are under-paid. That is of course not true, I do not feel that this is the case and have never stated such. I do however believe that basketball players are paid what they have earned and do not feel there should be any kind of legal cap to the amount of income they are allowed to earn (the only realistic way you can change the current state of affairs).

Our economy is a free economy not a command economy where you are free to earn as much as you produce and are capable of negotiating for. There are no ceilings, or at least there ought not be. Basketball players generate a huge amount of money for their team owners, television stations that air their games, and products that they endorse - so why shouldn’t they get a cut?
According to Danny, basketball players don’t actually make any products and so it is impossible for them to generate money. This shows a serious misunderstanding of very basic economic principle. It’s all about supply and demand. If an engineer were to go to his boss (engineers usually have bosses because they are not entrepreneurs or people who allocate resources, they are the resource itself sort of intellectual laborers if you will) and say, “I want to get paid 15 million a year,” his boss would laugh in his face, fire his butt and then hire another engineer.

But if a superstar athlete says, “I want 15 mil or no deal.” he is taken seriously because he generates enough money to justify that big a paycheck. It’s not because team owners are generous when it comes to cutting checks. It’s that they see it as an investment which will pay off more that they are paying out.
One of the arguments my client made was that if you take a look around just about any room you will see countless things that were either invented, designed, or at least researched by engineers. So since engineers are to thank for the existence of so many products they should be amongst the highest paid people in the world. Well that is false. First of all the term “engineers” is a very broad category under which many subcategories fall.

If only ONE engineer was responsible for all the products made by engineers than heck yeah that guy oughta be paid millions upon millions of dollars. However there are many, many engineers and many different TYPES of engineers as well. One man cannot take credit for work done by those years before him and in different fields under the same general profession nor should he take their combined pay. An economy is not just based on product mass but irreplacability.
If Kobe Bryant were to quit playing basketball he would be extremely hard to replace, more so than would be an engineer at a corporation. I know that many of you who would agree with my friend say that it is the principle of the thing. After all while basketball players may bring joy and inspiration to peoples’ lives, engineers bring about many more practical and functional products that increase the standard of living.
And that’s where I bring in Lumberjack Theory to prove you wrong by your own definition. So yeah if you look around a room you will see many things that some kind of engineer was either responsible or partly responsible for. But look at that room again. How many things are made of WOOD?? A vast amount of useful practical objects are made out of wood. Heck even the walls themselves are most often made of wood. Wood which is there thanks to lumberjacks.

Since you believe that the volume of practical products a profession is responsible for should be the scale used to measure a profession’s pay then by your own definition lumberjacks should be even higher paid than engineers! And not only is wood used in so many products but lumberjacks are not subdivided as are engineers and they are even closer to the actual creation of the end product than are even the most hands-on engineers who work with premade parts.
So why aren’t lumberjacks paid multi millions every year? Because that would be STUPID. A lumberjack is easier to replace than an NBA basketball player or even a step higher: the entrepreneurs who make engineering corps, basketball teams, and lumber yards. These are the highest paid people and they deserve to be.

Now you might respond by saying that lumberjacks shouldn’t get paid millions because while their job is physically hard, anyone in good enough shape can do it. Well anyone with reasonably enough smarts can take and pass engineering classes in college. Yeah it’s hard but so is lumberjacking. Want a real challenge? Try becoming one of the best superstar basketball player that’s even harder. And that’s why they get paid more which is FINE. Quit worrying about what people who are not you get paid.

*Don't forget to check out my book!  

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