June 2, 2013

Computer Programmers and Teamsters

Coach Iron Mike Ditka
Richard Trumka,
head of AFL-CIO
Here's a recent paper by Tooby and Cosmides et al that strikes me as pretty plausible: muscular men tend to favor governmental policies on redistribution that are in their own self-interest.

My late father-in-law was a classical tuba player, maybe 6'1" and 220 pounds, who was regularly chosen by his weedy violinist colleagues to negotiate union contracts for them. Why? Because he looked like (and was) a hard man for Management to buffalo.

As a weedy young intellectual, I was struck by how my father-in-law's union career didn't seem to fit into my standard intellectual categories -- Was he on the Left or the Right? Was he Right or was he Wrong? -- and that he didn't care. He wanted to redistribute wealth from Management to Labor, not because he thought it had the better case in the abstract, but because Labor was his side. The irony that Labor in this case was not precisely the poor (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recently went on strike because their base union contract only paid $144,000 annually) did not concern him.
Upper-Body Strength Regulates Men’s Assertion of Self-Interest Over Economic Redistribution 
Michael Bang Petersen1
Daniel Sznycer2
Aaron Sell2,3
Leda Cosmides2
John Tooby2

E-mail: michael@ps.au.dk

Over human evolutionary history, upper-body strength has been a major component of fighting ability. Evolutionary models of animal conflict predict that actors with greater fighting ability will more actively attempt to acquire or defend resources than less formidable contestants will. Here, we applied these models to political decision making about redistribution of income and wealth among modern humans. In studies conducted in Argentina, Denmark, and the United States, men with greater upper-body strength more strongly endorsed the self-beneficial position: Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution. Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.

I'm not sure that the blanket statement that these days "personal upper-body strength is irrelevant" is true. Guys who lift things for a living largely operate in the "non-tradeable" sector of the economy.

The irrelevance of upper body strength is true in some jobs. For example, computer programmers don't have to lift anything heavier than the lids of their laptops. And, perhaps not coincidentally, programmers are notoriously prone to self-defeating universalist ideologies like libertarianism and open borders. The Gang of Eight openly conspires with the billionaires of Silicon Valley to lower the pay of programmers, and what do programmers do about it?

In contrast, consider one set of guys who lift things for a living: blue collar workers on TV sitcom sets in Burbank. (Here's Homer Simpson meeting his role models on the set of Radioactive Man: "I always wanted to be a Teamster: so lazy and surly.")

They are in the "non-tradable" sector so their jobs can't be easily outsourced to Foxconn in China. Their jobs, however, could be easily insourced and gradually replaced with, say, immigrants, illegal or even skilled foreign set workers via H-1B visas. And yet the entire concept of granting visas to, say, Mexico City's television set workers to lower Hollywood's costs has never, as far as I know, been publicly aired.

One reason is that the guys who lift things on sets in Burbank don't want it to happen. And, unlike computer programmers, they aren't wracked with guilt over it not happening.

If set workers don't like, you know, who the producers had started hiring, things could get, just hypothetically speaking, dropped. I'm just saying. And little accidents on the set could be really upsetting to the neurotic stand-up comedian who is the star of the show. And if he's upset, his timing could go off, and the show's ratings would drop. So, maybe we don't want to mess up this nice little set we have here by trying to chintz on pay for the guys who lift stuff. Understand?

In contrast, Mark Zuckerberg has organized a coalition of billionaires and near-billionaires to  lobby Congress to grant more visas to lower the pay of his programmers. You might think that Facebook's current programmers might have a certain amount of leverage in this situation. For example, Zuckerberg's current employers could, just theoretically speaking, sabotage his campaign to lower their pay by inserting code that would, say, reveal embarrassing personal details about their owner on his Facebook page.

But this would never occur to them. It would be unsporting. What would Ayn Rand say?

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everything is done out of self-interest.

Even in the computer programmer example, although many are in fact quietly against H-1B visas, those that support the visas might see the appearance of being progressive and non-confrontational as being in their self-interest.

Anonymous said...

Are the Scots Irish known for their upper body strength? I guess self-interest and upper body are relative terms.

Kaz said...

What.

You're using a study that purported weaker men favor redistributive policies.

There is absolutely nothing redistributive about Libertarianism.

Also, most Libertarian programmers are of a different class than your standard code monkey. They probably understand that they aren't competing with H1B labor.

All of that aside, I'm skeptical of how much immunity from immigration these physical jobs provide..

Daniel said...

Great post. I have just started taking a welding course. I like my new colleagues. This post gives me even more confidence.

Anonymous said...

Most engineers are socially retarded and could be categorized as moderately handicapped. Had it not been for the technology revolution, most of these guys wouldn't have been able to support themselves in society without the help of family members.

So in a way, this H1B business stuff is natural selection at work. In 20-30 years, most of these nerds will be out of work and will be back to living in the basement of their families where nature intended. They were never meant to be independent people.

Dave Pinsen said...

Sounds plausible, but I wonder how much of it is an epiphenomenon of lifting weights (increased confidence, higher testosterone levels). But it may still be largely genetic in the sense that those with higher genetic potential for upper body strength will be more likely to experience quicker gains which will encourage them to continue training, and gain more strength, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Well perhaps
Blue colar beefmen have been by and large raised in environments where physical dominance intimidation pecking orders and the rest count for much. Its an unspoken code. Army nco stiff.
Geeks otoh generally have an in built aversion to barking and chest puffery.

LemmusLemmus said...

A critique of the paper:

http://andrewgelman.com/2013/05/29/another-one-of-those-psychological-science-papers/

Anonymous said...

You've totally nailed this.

As a weedy young intellectual, I was struck by how my father-in-law's union career didn't seem to fit into my standard intellectual categories -- Was he on the Left or the Right? Was he Right or was he Wrong? -- and that he didn't care. He wanted to redistribute wealth from Management to Labor, not because he thought it had the better case in the abstract, but because Labor was his side.

Hey, that was my Dad. Except he was on his own side as the owner of a business. He favored the right because he owned a business. But he gave money to both parties so that they would look favorably on him (I guess).

And you are right about programmers. Just look at the politics of the average person on slashdot. Very anti-racist, liberal or libertarian. Championing open source is also something that while contributing to society overall, certainly has not done a lot for individual programmers' wages. For a lot of programmers to be paid, the money needs to come from somewhere.

Ali said...

I dunno, as far as I'm aware, engineers working for Facebook have their pick of Silicon Valley jobs and aren't that stressed over H1-B immigrants replacing them.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Are the Scots Irish known for their upper body strength? I guess self-interest and upper body are relative terms."

American ones not so much. The Middle Eastern ones are not too shabby,though they tend to be short.

Many Israeli movers work in NYC and people with Israeli manners make teamsters seem like Hugh Grant in comparision

Anonymous said...

How do you explain the teachers union? Maybe it's the gym teachers? My guess is all powerful unions started when the the union was dominated by one ethnic group.

Anonymous said...

"Also, most Libertarian programmers are of a different class than your standard code monkey. They probably understand that they aren't competing with H1B labor."

Then their understanding of events on the ground is incomplete, if not incorrect.

Cail Corishev said...

I dunno, this fits with programmers, but then it doesn't with farmers. Farmers are another group that have never been easy to unionize. (I'm talking about traditional farmers who work the land, not today's (or yesterday's) plantation owners.) There have been attempts like the NFO, but most farmers want nothing to do with them.

I'd say it has more to do with personality than physicality: if they wanted to belong to groups and go to meetings, they would have gotten jobs at offices in town instead of staying on the farm. They enjoy spending the day alone out in the field. Programmers are the same way: meetings, and dealing with "people problems" in general, are a distraction from the real work.

I think programmers lean libertarian (I went through the phase myself) for two reasons. One, it looks logical on paper, and programmers are focused on the logic. If we just did X, Y, and Z, it would work. That's why, if you point out the problem with open borders, the programmer just says, "We just need to get rid of welfare," as if that's an option. He's focused on his logical solution and doesn't take illogical reality into account.

The other reason is that programmers tend to be pretty smart, which means that (until recently, anyway) they've never really had to worry about finding work. (Some programmers I know put more effort into dodging work than finding it.) They don't feel the same threat of unemployment that a guy whose only real skill is lifting things does. Perhaps they should, but they don't.

Anonymous said...

There is an episode of Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 that has this premise. It's called The Disaster Show and dramatizes what happens when you piss off the grips.

DYork said...

I'd bet on the little guys with the poison blow darts and the tiny bows and arrows over Conan the Barbarian any day.

Is it upper body strength or team identity?

Teamsters see themselves as a team more so the computer programmers, maybe.

Spectator sports thrive on triggering team identity in fans regardless of their physical strength or fitness.

FeministX said...

You may celebrate their ability to assert their self-interest unabashedly but these lazy and surly union guys are thugs, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

For example, Zuckerberg's current employers could, just theoretically speaking, sabotage his campaign to lower their pay by inserting code that would, say, reveal embarrassing personal details about their owner on his Facebook page.

Code reviews and such processes wont let the employers (employees?) sneak malicious code into production systems. There are good chances that at least one employee doing the code review either has used a H1B or cannot make the connection between the bad code and the hidden intent. The person with the criminal intent could get the pink slip and have a hard time finding another job in the industry. With weak upper body strength, he couldnt compete for "non-tradeable" jobs. This will likely remain a hypothetical condition.

Anonymous said...

>>If set workers don't like, you know, who the producers had started hiring, things could get, just hypothetically speaking, dropped. I'm just saying<<

They might even secretly vote to remove the producers immunity.

Michael Ryan said...

In NYC construction Unions, there is no resisting a court appointed master to integrate your union. If you hours. First it was membership vs population, that went up every year then hours worked per race always back pay with benefits tax free out of union funds though employers do the hiring and firing. the union response was to make sure their jobs were protected and lower skilled lower IQs suited them. of course now they are trying to sell an inferior service at higher rates they see the solution as lower the wages and counter with race politics. those of us with upper body strength [ intellect ] will not be continuing a family tradition and elevators will eat more peaple alive building will collapse but PH condos and bankers offices will be affordable. but yes unions abused the system when they had power but without a democratic machine beholding to labour they have nothing but race

sunbeam said...

I have a couple of things to say.

Your wrote this:

"My late father-in-law was a classical tuba player, maybe 6'1" and 220 pounds, who was regularly chosen by his weedy violinist colleagues to negotiate union contracts for them. Why? Because he looked like (and was) a hard man for Management to buffalo."

Okay, what I am going to say has nothing to do with him, he sounds like he was a man I would have liked.

But big, muscular men? I don't find that intimidating at all. I have come to believe that intelligence, let's just call it IQ is infinitely more powerful and useful.

I see a bodybuilder and I think it is a symptom of some kind of whacked society that makes a fetish of extreme muscularity. Looking at those guys I have to laugh, it is ludicrous and absolutely useless.

Look at old photos of lumberjacks, WPA workers (lots of photos there), farmers, anyone who had to do manual labor for a living.

They were predominantly whipcord lean.

And as far as being a "warrior," a Gurkha is pretty short by western standards, but I would feel much more confident if they were my brothers in arms than the inhabitants of any Gold's Gym.

Being in shape is wonderful, and I think an individual that is has shown something, aside from all the other benefits that accrue to that condition.

But someone who can do thirty chinups, 100 consecutive situps, and run 10 miles doesn't necessarily look like a bodybuilder. Actually they usually don't in my opinon.

So when I see a big guy, I think of him like a bear or a piece of livestock. You just need the right tools to deal with this problem. Pepper spray, taser, gun, etc.

Of course the inhabitants of our society think differently. It is well known that women prefer taller men, and I believe it has been established that taller men have many other advantages in our society.

But to me, they will be meat on the hoof, until they show they have the base intelligence to be treated otherwise.

Now regarding the computer programmers. How smart are these guys really? Writing code is the intellectual equivalent of picking cotton.

Don't get me wrong, there is an intellectual side to Computer Science. Algorithms, theory, etc.

And it can be neat to have an idea, and write code to implement it.

But being veal in Facebooks' Cube Farms? That seems like a modern version of the Salt Mines. Of course it is air conditioned though.

Just saying I've met lots of programmers in my life. There haven't been many that have just wowed me with their intelligence.

I think circumstances just dictated that not many people were suitable for doing this kind of work, it was needed, then they were forced to pay high wages for it.

A Working Class American said...

Sailer wrote:
"One reason is that the guys who lift things on sets in Burbank don't want it to happen. And, unlike computer programmers, they aren't wracked with guilt over it not happening."

======================

my reply:

The primary reason for the philosophical differences in these two sets of people (blue collar union types vs white collar tech types) is culture. Culture is a set of operating instructions residing in the brain. These instructions tell humans what to do, what to do feel, how to feel, and what behavior constitutes "good behavior" and what it means to be a "good person."

How did these two groups of people get different cultural instructions in their brains?


Well, the union blue collar types are generally older than the computer programmers. The union blue collar types went to high school a long time ago, relatively speaking. And back then, the educational curriculum was not as devoted to economic neoliberalism and not as devoted to race-guilting of whites, and to nonwhite and immigrant idolization as the curriculum of today.


In the past 30 years, the educational curriculum has been increasingly molded by centralized institutional control so that certain ideologies have been promoted in the minds of malleable youngsters. These relatively new neoliberal ideologies were previously present primarily in the college curriculum only, but now are also heavily pushed in curriculi in high school and even middle school. These neoliberal ideologies are what most readers here refer to as "political correct multiculturalism."


This PC multiculti ideology tells malleable youngsters that if they are not open and accepting to nonwhites and immigrants, then they are evil; and that whites in general are evil slavemasters and that the only way to atone for the evils of slavery is to be open and accepting to nonwhites and immigrants. This cultural maxim is a part of their brains.

So, because the older union types went to school before these ideologies were pushed heavily in school, they do not have these cultural instructions in their brains. The younger computer programmers were exposed to this cultural indoctrination, however.


Also, most computer programmer types went to college, and most blue collar union types did not. So the union types were not exposed to the neoliberal ideologies pushed on young, malleable minds in college. In addition to the PC multiculti ideology found in college curricula, students are also exposed to economics courses, which are almost entirely elite-centric neoliberal ideologies disguised as science.


So, to summarize, age and educational levels explain the differences in personal philosophies between blue collar union types and computer programmers. These differences in age and educational levels lead to a different set of cultural maxims residing in the brains of the two sets of people. The programmers' cultural instructions tell them they are 'bad people' if they speak out against immigration or against nonwhites. The older, union blue collar types in general do not have these cultural instructions in their brains.

It's not a conspiracy; it's an ecosystem.

Luke Lea said...

My father, a union organizer, former running back, and in his own mind at least an enlightened man "on the side of the angels, once tried to interfere with the goings-on of a large Southern Babtist church here in the South (I forget the circumstances). Anyway he recalled later that that was one group you didn't want to mess with.

Anonymous said...

> For example, Zuckerberg's current employers could, just theoretically speaking, sabotage his campaign to lower their pay by inserting code that would, say, reveal embarrassing personal details about their owner on his Facebook page.

One reason this might not happen is that things can be dropped accidentally and (potentially) anonymously. Obviously, bad code gets written accidentally too, but it will have your name attached to it forever, and if it doesn't look like an accident, you're screwed. People tell stories of sneaking easter eggs into version control without the reviewers noticing, but here, you would not only need to do that, you'd need everything you checked in to hold up perfectly after the fact.

Matt said...

"libertarianism and open borders"

You say stuff like this a lot, and in a lot of cases it's true. But there's a very substantial and growing cadre of HBD libertarians out there who oppose open borders for the very simple reason that it imports voters who're functionally socialist.

And not the pretty Scandanavian kind, the banana republic kind.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that a large part of it is not being seen to need group action and tribal loyalty. It's what, like, the coloured people and - ick! at least the coloured people can't help it - working class whites do.

Middle and upper middle class whites are meant to be so talented that they don't need it. Needing subterfuge to maintain their wages would be a crippling blow to their self esteem. Believing that they deserve decent wages - and acting on it - simply because of group identity would mean acknowledging that they're not economically bullet proof Supermen.

That's what you need to get past, at least in certain cases. Western - and especially American - individualism only works when group identity is either irrelevent or as damn as near.

gwern said...

http://andrewgelman.com/2013/05/29/another-one-of-those-psychological-science-papers/

Anonymous said...

It's kind of hard to get stuff like that past QA, especially given that a lot of the QA folks are from India and would not want their relatives to lose the opportunity to earn the big bux as well.

Anonymous said...

Silicon Valleys goal is to get the global supply of IQ 160 and above STEM folks. The theory is that their pioneering work will ultimately expand the volume of work for the STEM graduates of Podunk State. Now, mind you the latter may not happen. But that would not concern us.

It is simply not the goal of Silicon Valley to reduce programmer compensation. Rather its a by product of our strategy to land the worlds supply if genius....

silicon valley guy said...

OK, strong men are assertive. But maybe also assertive boys are attracted to sports by means of which they become strong.

Speaking of computer programmers, there may be an opportunity for a win-win here.

Facebook and Google are the Harvard and Yale of programming; everyone wants to work there, it's very hard to "get in", and the engineers there are very, very good. When the guys who run those companies think of immigrants, they're thinking of graduates of Ecole Polytechnique, or of Linus Torvaalds, and only the IIT-educated creme-de-la-creme of the Indians.

Zuck isn't looking to import these people because they're cheap, but because they are really, really good. So he and Page and Brin could be satisfied with an "immigration reform" that just raised our average standards -- taking the hassle out of getting those stars over here, while even greatly reducing the overall numbers. Indeed, this would be a win-win for Google and Facebook: they'd get the top talent, while starving their competitors of the lower-grade immigrants.

It's the second- and third-tier companies (like the one I work at) that hire the lesser immigrants. And lesser they are. We hire lots of Indians whose first step is a student visa and a year-long stint at a crappy American school that acts as a visa-and-diploma mill.

But we don't hire them because they're cheap: like most of our competitors, we're in a desperate race to produce new features and get new products out the door. We hire them because, in this area at least, they already constitute the majority of the resumes we get. We look through those resumes, do interviews, and hire pretty much *everybody* who we think can do the work.

At the margin, to be sure, there probably is some "discrimination". For example, I'll recommend against hiring someone if I can't understand his English, or if his resume suggests he can't write (we don't just code all day; we design things and that requires precise communication). That guy's countryman, on the other hand, understands him just fine, and says "hire". In time, this process results in lots of Indians who work well together, but produce a working environment that's less and less attractive to Americans.

Dystopia Max said...

It's generally a lot worse when the anti-union sentiment created by experience with the Teamsters is used as a club against professionals forming trade or craft unions, usually by nominal Republicans.

What you really need is a pronounced stereotype of "marketing and HR are the secret police out to get you, and they will tell any lie and associate you with any criminals to achieve those ends."

chucho said...

Mostly OT, but I happened to catch "Night of the Comet" the other day, a low-budget comedy/sci-fi/horror spoof from 1984. In contrast to your theme of Hollywood's longstanding ignorance of Hispanics, the male lead is played by Mexican-American Robert Beltran. Of course, the plot is that the majority of the human race has been vaporized by a comet.

Traveller said...

"For example, Zuckerberg's current employers could, just theoretically speaking, sabotage his campaign to lower their pay by inserting code that would, say, reveal embarrassing personal details about their owner on his Facebook page."

And it has not even crossed your mind this could be illegal?

"And, perhaps not coincidentally, programmers are notoriously prone to self-defeating universalist ideologies like libertarianism and open borders."

You are confusing programmers with the exterior interface of a company like the HR crap or the usual news licking managers.

I have never known a good programmer who was leftist. Even in the open source community, at first sight the cradle of leftism, 99% is garbage and 99% are just noisy fans. (well I have never known a good PERSON who was leftist, but that would be off topic)

Heavy structures like Facebook or Youtube are very problematic from the point of view of performance and security (some of the exact fields where the programmers' intelligence arises) but they have already the total market so they do not care.

Similar for the childish product Windows 8, latest nail of the Microsoft coffin.

Yeah being a programmer is a bad destiny... you are bottom of the ladder, you are socially inept (because society is stupid) and you are always blamed by everyone about everything.

Anonymous said...

"Code reviews" - ...depend on self policing. The teamsters could do the exact same thing incidentally, but for some strange reason don't.

SFG said...

"Most engineers are socially retarded and could be categorized as moderately handicapped. Had it not been for the technology revolution, most of these guys wouldn't have been able to support themselves in society without the help of family members."

Before the technology revolution, they'd be subjected to enough physical labor growing up to be stronger than they are now. Probably they'd just be farm hands with a knack for fixing stuff.

Cail Corishev said...

Silicon Valleys goal is to get the global supply of IQ 160 and above STEM folks.

Wrong. There are already plenty of guest-worker visas for the tiny number of 160+ people that can be found around the world, leaving aside the fact that they could work where they are. They're also capable of doing work important enough that their wages don't matter, and there aren't enough of them for a cut in their wages to affect the bottom line much.

This immigration expansion is about the much larger supply of (and demand for) 110-IQ guys to do the low-end coding, rote troubleshooting, and tech support type of work. When you're hiring thousands of them, knocking $10/hour off all their paychecks is a big deal.

Anonymous said...

You don't understand macho nerds like computer programmers or engineers. They don't care about out-sourcing, or H-1B's, or whatever, because they ALL think they're going to be the boss doing the Out-sourcing, or they're going to be the lone man who's just TOO DAMN SMART to replace.

And when fired or replaced, they consider it a personal failing on their part. They are "useful idiots" to guys like Gates and Zuckerberg.

pat said...

As I open your blog up this morning looking for opportunities to comment I see many openings.

I used to organize for the Teamsters. I was 6'1" and 220 when I was 15 - before I got big. I was a computer programmer after I had been a truck driver and warehouseman. And of course I had many H1-b Visa employees.

So many hooks. What to say?

I think you are right about upper body strength but many programmers I supervised were big strong guys too. Especially the Russians. Every man on the floor seemed to be 6'4".

Once when I fired a young black programmer he challenged me to a fist fight. We didn't come to blows but he had built a 'back door' into our systems. That was something I had always feared and it was much scarier than just dropping props on a set. I turned him into the FBI twice but they could never make anything stick.

Programmers are not milquetoast wimps. They are just about the worst behaved and least compliant kind of employees in any major business. I once worked on a loading dock where we had to lift 500 lb. reels. Those guys were all strong. I also worked as a sort of prison guard where the civil service job exam required lifting a 50 lb. dumbbell overhead with each hand ten times. That requires real upper body strength. But those guys were all pussycats compared to the average ill behaved, out of control, chip on his shoulder programmer.

Throughout American business management fears its programmers. They don't know what they're doing and they don't trust them. For a while that was my job as a consultant - beat them down and make them obedient. Later I used to speak at computer conferences about the difficulties of managing programmers.

I think your H1-b Visa stance is inconsistent with your opposition to the immigration of stone age Mexican peasants. H1-b Visas are a form of 'brain drain' on the former Soviet Union. We are sucking off some of their brightest young men. It's bad for our own programmers I suppose, but it's good for the businesses, good for the Russian programmers, and good for America.

Ten years from now the Mexicans who come here to clean my toilet will be unemployed, living on welfare along with their kids in public housing and all will be on Obamacare. But the programmer we stole from Kiev or Leningrad will be making plenty of money and paying plenty of taxes.

That's very much the lesser of these two evils.

Albertosaurus

David said...

OT -

Chechnya too scary for US Congresscritters.

They are afraid to go Chechnya, so they want to bring Chechnya here. Makes perfect sense.

Armchair Alpha said...

The venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have published their latest internet trends report http://www.kpcb.com/insights/2013-internet-trends

Slide 87 table shows 56% of Top 25 Tech companies founded by 1st & 2nd Generation Americans yada yada, all that aside, notice where the majority came from (or ultimately came from). For those conspicuous by their mediocre absence, some are expected (Mexico) while others maybe not quite as expected (India).

A cursory glance at another report from the original source of these stats show similar picture for the Fortune 500 - its those turtlar Europeans all the way down.

http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/img/new-american-fortune-500-june-2011.pdf

Harry Baldwin said...

Paul Teutul Sr, the gorilla-armed paterfamilias of "American Chopper," observed that when you're sitting across the table negotiating a business contract, the fact that the other guy realizes you could beat the living crap out of him gives you a valuable psychological edge.

ironrailsironweights said...

Quite a lot of movie and TV production work has left Los Angeles. Not so much overseas, but to Canada and now especially to states that are offering all sorts of tax incentives.

Peter

Harry Baldwin said...

sunbeam said...But big, muscular men? I don't find that intimidating at all.

That's interesting. Guys for whom intimidating others is a matter of survival, e.g. prisoners, find big muscles very useful. But you don't. Maybe you haven't been in that kind of environment.

Baloo said...

Oh, no, Kaz — open-borders libertarianism is absolutely redistributive, in that it calls for redistribution of birthright itself, and the transfer of the wealth of posterity to all of non-posterity. Fortunately, there's a large minority of libertarians who reject this nonsense. Many in the UK:
http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2013/05/anti-open-borders-libertarianism.html

Anonymous said...

H1Bs have already tried to sabotage:

http://www.thetechherald.com/articles/Fannie-Mae-indictment-proves-the-value-of-proper-HR-and-IT-policy

Dr Van Nostrand said...

What would Ayn Rand say?"

Probably the same thing as her fellow Scots Irishmen Heinrich Heine had said-
Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance.

Anonymous said...

Goes without saying that stronger unions mean more resistance to immigration. The power of organized labor kept immigration laws stricter in past eras. Not to mention that less diversity means more socialism and leftism.

Ultimately you and your cohorts will have to choose between free market economic policies, more immigration, and a more prosperous economy on one hand, or socialist economics, less growth, less immigration, and a more homogenous population, on the other. Can't have both. That's the other side of Friedman's canard.

Anonymous said...

"Are the Scots Irish known for their upper body strength? I guess self-interest and upper body are relative terms."

American ones not so much. The Middle Eastern ones are not too shabby,though they tend to be short.


Upper body strength is not as useful as it looks without good core and lower body strength and nice physical proportions.

That balance is where European men excel.

Anonymous said...

It is simply not the goal of Silicon Valley to reduce programmer compensation. Rather its a by product of our strategy to land the worlds supply if genius....

Surely you can find sufficient talent among a self-selected nation of 300 million, a population which already has an above average IQ.

Mr. Anon said...

"Matt said...

You say stuff like this a lot, and in a lot of cases it's true. But there's a very substantial and growing cadre of HBD libertarians out there who oppose open borders for the very simple reason that it imports voters who're functionally socialist."

Yeah, and they will be as consequential in effect as the old kind of libertarian - which is to say - not at all. Libertarians couldn't organize a Mensa chapter, let alone a political party that could win and hold office.

And anyway, libertarianism is an idealogy, and libertarian politics would be a politics of ideas. I've had quite enough of those. I prefer reaction - the politics of interests. One that recognizes who is who, and who is whom.

Anonymous said...

"So in a way, this H1B business stuff is natural selection at work. In 20-30 years, most of these nerds will be out of work and will be back to living in the basement of their families where nature intended. They were never meant to be independent people."

That's.. like.. so... deep! MAN! But you use so many words... what are you some kind of F%$?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Most engineers are socially retarded and could be categorized as moderately handicapped. Had it not been for the technology revolution, most of these guys wouldn't have been able to support themselves in society without the help of family members."

Your assertion is patently ludicrous bullshit. Do you even know any engineers? I mean real engineers - civil, electrical, chemical, mechanical engineers - people who deal with real physical systems - not "software engineers", who are not really engineers, but rather computer programmers.

Dan Kurt said...

re: On Programmers

My son when in early college was taking a programming course (required) during summer quarter. He was in mechanical engineering. The course was in the language C as that was the standard computer language at the University. He found that he really liked doing the course and got to know the professor. At the end of the course he had a meeting with the professor and told him he was thinking of changing majors from mechanical engineering to computer engineering. (Computer Science was the major for those incapable of making the grade in computer engineering.) The professor asked him how was he doing in mechanical engineering, math and physics. My son said great and told him his grades. The professor said stay in mechanical engineering as most if not all of the top programmers could not do the math and physics you are capable of doing. My son listened and he eventually did a masters and doctorate in mechanical engineering and learned/mastered much coding on the side. His masters research involved his deconstructing a previous Ph.D. student's dissertation on vibration where the conclusion was that the system was non linear and virtually impossible to control. My son analyzed more than 5 thousand lines of C code mixed with MatLab code to show the errors and then started afresh and wrote his own program to show that the system was actually linear and could be controlled. He said that only his knowledge of math and physics permitted him to do the work as his programming skills were only a way to understand what was programmed and then express himself.

Dan Kurt

Hunsdon said...

Sunbeam said: But to me, they will be meat on the hoof, until they show they have the base intelligence to be treated otherwise.

Hunsdon said: You're not really down with the whole citizenism thing, are you?

gubbler, champion of all things checheny(except criminality, corruption, and bride-stealing) said...

The Gubbler Strategy.

If most white conservatives rely solely on the GOP for their interests, Jews play with both the Democratic party and Republican party to further their agenda. If white conservatives were smarter, they would play both parties too. Use the GOP to support rich and middle class whites and use the Democratic Party to support poor and working class whites. Don’t just place all the eggs in the basket of one party.

NO ENEMY TO THE WHITE should be the slogan.

Anonymous said...

(Computer Science was the major for those incapable of making the grade in computer engineering.)

They're different subjects. Computer Engineering includes electrical engineering topics while omitting certain computer science topics. It has nothing to do with how hard it is. It depends on the course load. A Computer Science degree can be harder than a Computer Engineering degree (and vice versa) depending on course load.

The professor said stay in mechanical engineering as most if not all of the top programmers could not do the math and physics you are capable of doing.

That's because most programmers don't need comprehensive math knowledge for their jobs.

The hardest math mech e's do are differential equations and linear algebra. Top programmers can pick that up in a day or two if they have to.

Dave Pinsen said...

Sunbeam,

"But big, muscular men? I don't find that intimidating at all. I have come to believe that intelligence, let's just call it IQ is infinitely more powerful and useful.

I see a bodybuilder and I think it is a symptom of some kind of whacked society that makes a fetish of extreme muscularity. Looking at those guys I have to laugh, it is ludicrous and absolutely useless."


Not everyone who lifts is a bodybuilder - some lift for strength - and as Mark Rippetoe says, stronger people ate harder to kill, and more useful generally. And if you peruse his site (Starting Strength), you'll find lots of smart commenters who lift.

"And as far as being a "warrior," a Gurkha is pretty short by western standards, but I would feel much more confident if they were my brothers in arms than the inhabitants of any Gold's Gym."

And I'd rather have Chechens who shoot laser beams out of their eyes as my personal guard detail. But I don't have any and you don't have any Gutkhas.

Anonymous said...

Poverty has grown everywhere in the U.S. in recent years, but mostly in the suburbs. During the 2000s, it grew twice as fast in suburban areas as in cities, with more than 16 million poor people now living in the nation’s suburbs — more than in urban or rural areas.

Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, says this shift in poverty can be seen in Montgomery County, Md., right outside the nation’s capital.

“Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country,” she says, noting the streets lined with luxury apartments, big homes and crowded restaurants. “But it also has a rapidly growing poor population.”

Kneebone, co-author with Alan Berube of a new book from Brookings, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, says poverty in Montgomery County has grown by two-thirds since the recent recession. That means 30,000 more residents living below the federal poverty line — about $23,000 for a family of four.

That doesn’t buy much in a suburban area with a high cost of living. By some estimates, a family of four in Montgomery County needs more than $80,000 a year to meet basic needs.
A lot of the ilegals are maids, gardeners and day laborers in the wealthy counties, rich people need to stop hiring them.

Dave Pinsen said...

"For those conspicuous by their mediocre absence, some are expected (Mexico) while others maybe not quite as expected (India)."

This list includes Mexican tech entrepreneurs.

Anonymous said...

Well, years ago there was a movie made about an angry aerospace worker that killed minorities. Anyway, around 1990 you thought of a conservative as an aerospace engineer. Reagan got his victories in places like California, or Washington or back east in New York from the aersopace engineer who now is moved to the South like Huntsville Al or Texas or Arizona. I bet a lot of Tea Party folks are made of retired or current aerospace engineers.

Anonymous said...

Your unfamiliarity with Silicon Valley is showing.

When programmers are disgruntled, they absolutely do sabotage the company. They do it by abusing their extraordinary perks, sandbagging, arguing with management, etc. The laziness levels can become truly astounding.

There's also a lot of unspoken racial/ethnic tension between East Asians (Chinese), Indians, and Whites. Each group of programmers works in a different way (barring thoroughly Americanized second or third generation immigrants, which behave more like Whites). For some 'mysterious reason' you'll often have the white programmers absolutely hating the Chinese guys on staff, and having contempt for remote workers in India.

So whereas they may be publicly anti-racist / pro-immigrant, in the workplace, most programmers that I've ever worked with are virulent (whatever-their-race-is) supremacists in terms of their actual behavior. The work and socialization styles of people from different cultures is far, far more different than management texts that treat all humans as a homogenous lump would have you believe.

Also, programming work can be transported over fiber optic cables. And you are nutty if you think most programmers in Silicon Vally are libertarians: they're left-liberals for the most part, and that's revealed by campaign donation records at most major tech companies. Actual serious libertarians within the Silicon Valley workforce are outnumbered by way more than 10:1.

sunbeam said...

Harry Baldwin said:

"That's interesting. Guys for whom intimidating others is a matter of survival, e.g. prisoners, find big muscles very useful. But you don't. Maybe you haven't been in that kind of environment."

Yup.

Once upon a time in another country, five foot nothing Vietanamese had no problem controlling big strapping GI's.

You don't even need to be a hard ass about it anymore. All kinds of things you could do if you were allowed to.

Let your mind just consider possibilities: implanted chips, redundant tracking, pushbutton incapacitation or termination, redundant chips, cameras everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

Prisoners totally isolated. Controlled movement (they pretty much do this now).

It's not like electronics isn't cheap now, and we have the storage. Total control. Total lockdown.

Or you can do it the old fashioned way with an extra from Cool Hand Luke.

Up to you.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The hardest math mech e's do are differential equations and linear algebra. Top programmers can pick that up in a day or two if they have to."

That is nonsense. One does not "pick up" differential equations in "a day or two". A few months, sure, if one has a background in calculus.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 3:00 PM said: Well, years ago there was a movie made about an angry aerospace worker that killed minorities.

Hunsdon said: Wait---I'm the bad guy? How did that happen?

A Working Class American said...

someone wrote:
"The hardest math mech e's do are differential equations and linear algebra. Top programmers can pick that up in a day or two if they have to. "

I took both those courses to get my BS in comp sci.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Well, years ago there was a movie made about an angry aerospace worker that killed minorities. Anyway, around 1990 you thought of a conservative as an aerospace engineer."

The movie was "Falling Down", and the aerospace engineer in question did not kill any minorities. In fact he didn't kill anyone, unless you count a golfer he confronted who died of a heart-attack. Moreover, he was shown to be conventionally liberal (in the way that most conservatives nowadays are) when it came to race-relations.

Anonymous said...

That is nonsense. One does not "pick up" differential equations in "a day or two". A few months, sure, if one has a background in calculus.

No, it doesn't take "a few months" for top programmers with a background in calculus to learn differential equations. They can pick it up in a day or two.

Dan Kurt said...

re: " Anonymous said...
(Computer Science was the major for those incapable of making the grade in computer engineering.)

They're different subjects. Computer Engineering includes electrical engineering topics while omitting certain computer science topics. It has nothing to do with how hard it is."

Perhaps it depends where one goes to school. My son told me that those who couldn't make it in computer engineering and did't flunk out finished in computer science. This was in a top 20 in the world University according to the Shanghai survey.

A neighbor's son within the past decade was a high school valedictorian (parents are father a psychiatrist at a university and mother a daughter of a university professor and a pathologist) and started college in computer engineering but got his degree in computer science.

Third point. A son of a good friend of my wife was the top graduate at the local high school who started his college career at a State University in computer engineering. Half way through his first semester the boy's father, a pulmonary disease specialist, asked to meet with me. He visited me and was totally distraught about his son having trouble with calculus one, real trouble such as flunking his midterm. The boy had taken calculus at the HS and got an A. The father asked me what he should do. I told him to switch his son to a different school and major as a science/engineering course only gets harder. The boy finished the semester and then transferred to a Jesuit run University in California. The boy got a degree in accounting and now works on Wall Street.

re: "The hardest math mech e's do are differential equations and linear algebra. Top programmers can pick that up in a day or two if they have to."

Quite the jokester. Ha Ha.

Dan Kurt

pat said...

I'm sure Dan Kurt's kid is smart but it's foolish to imagine that all the smart guys are in Mechanical Engineering and the dummies are everywhere else. This is just professional arrogance.

I was the head of software development at San Francisco Web start-up. My opposite number on the hardware side had a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford. He couldn't code anything in any language. He was terrified of software.

How do you like that anecdote?

It means nothing of course. Intelligence is called 'g' for good reason. Smart engineers could have been physical scientists. Plenty of physical scientists have slid over into computer science slots for simple market reasons.

I just checked Monster. I put in 'Mechanical Engineer' for San Francisco and got 39 hits. I put in 'Software Engineer' and got 367.

Maybe that professor gave your kid some bad advice.

Albertosaurus

sunbeam said...

Hunsdon said:

"Sunbeam said: But to me, they will be meat on the hoof, until they show they have the base intelligence to be treated otherwise.

Hunsdon said: You're not really down with the whole citizenism thing, are you?"

I'm not sure. I'm not even sure what it means.

That isn't a casual statement. Maybe it is mistaken.

But reading the HBD stuff...

It is hard to escape the conclusion that more intelligent == a better person.

It's fairly ridiculous. I'm sitting here typing, trying to think of some positive social thing correlated with being less intelligent.

I'm drawing an utter blank.

I'm not Asian, Jewish, or any other ethnicity know for high intelligence. This doesn't particularly bother me, it's just a fact to be analyzed and dealt with.

But from my personal experience, and what I think I see coming on the horizon, I think the bulk of the population is going to wind up being... utterly useless for want of another description.

No hope, no chance of being productive at any activity. What remains to be done is going to take brainpower that is just beyond their capacity to have.

I think we are headed for a country where the majority of the population is supported by the "government" basically, because there is nothing productive left for them to do.

Anonymous said...

"But the programmer we stole from Kiev or Leningrad will be making plenty of money and paying plenty of taxes."

Albertosaurus, I hear what you mean and it could work out well, but what I think is more likely is that once those Russians get to senior level a significant percentage of them are going back to Russia, starting their own companies, and living like kings. Often their companies will be doing things like undercutting US firms or running rings around them in the local market.

Heck I've known some Russians that did both at the same time. Why not keep a job in Russia at the same time you work in silicon valley, in particular if you're a little checheny? Trust and loyalty under these circumstances can get a little murky.

I've seen it happen quite a bit. You'll notice there are a lot less Russians around today and more Indians. Lately I've seen some Indians go back as well. These days if the Indians live in San Jose they usually have to factor in living with a lot of those Mexicans you mention. There are some exceptionally turf-centric young Mexicans, I might add, who must have missed the kumbya memo.

Somehow this also seems like prostitution logic. We can always get someone to come here and take care of us! There's no downside! We don't have to do anything! There's always another John standing in line! We can work this deal forever!

Let's! said...

Every corn-fed American football hamlet conditions its future programmers to expect to lose confrontations from the time they're in grade school.

In most countries the class divide between even low-status professionals like programmers and laborer types is pretty wide. Not so in America.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to examine the actual power held and exercised by the US civil service unions such as the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees, and the National Association of Government Employees.


I recall hearing some Federal civil service employees saying their union was the most powerful union in the world... brag or fact?

Hunsdon said...

Sunbeam said: I'm not sure. I'm not even sure what it means.

That isn't a casual statement. Maybe it is mistaken.

Hunsdon replied: Thanks for engaging. To quote that great American, Stan Lee, "With great power comes great responsibility." To my eyes, that is the essence of citizenism. That is, the smart, capable, productive citizens among us have a duty to look out, to some degree, for the interests of the not as smart, not as capable, not as productive among us.

In other words, noblesse oblige.

Even for musclebound meatheads, mooks, and suchlike.

The strong should defend the weak. The smart should look out for the dim. The moral should try to guide those with weak morality.

I know, I know. I sound like Rondey King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Smart guys tricking not so smart guys into balloon not mortgages is just as wrong as strong guys beating up weak guys and taking their lunch money.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "Pat said:
"
I just checked Monster. I put in 'Mechanical Engineer' for San Francisco and got 39 hits. I put in 'Software Engineer' and got 367.

Maybe that professor gave your kid some bad advice.

Albertosaurus"

Vielleicht. I don't think my kid thinks so as my son is a rocket scientist. Yes it does happen.

Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Upper body strength is not as useful as it looks without good core and lower body strength and nice physical proportions.

This.

Doing wrestling and BJJ I've never regretted having heavier legs and core than arms. In my experience a takedown or takedown defense never relies solely on arm strength to succeed, although some techniques will be more useful for stronger armed men. OTOH strong legs and core are very useful for both takedowns and takedown defense.

If you have strong legs and core, you have an advantage in maintaining balance, moving the opponent around, and you will also punch harder, assuming you punch with good technique (i.e. not an arm punch). I can't think of an example of a top MMA athlete with a huge arm, wasp waist, bodybuilder style physique. There are examples though of athletes having success with massive legs (Cro Cop) and massive core (Fedor).

Anonymous said...

There's something a little sad about this post. At one time in the US the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), in particular the IEEE Computer Society, was pretty close to being an organization that would represent the interests of professional American programmers.

Sometime perhaps in the early 1980s there was a minor war over the future directions of the IEEE, reflected in things like elections. Should the IEEE be a professional organization representing the interests of US electrical and computer engineers (including programmers) or a world-wide organization helping build the brave new world?

In the end the large companies and the brave new world convincingly won. The companies installed "their guys". The IEEE became a vehicle for the big companies to facilitate offshoring, H1-Bs, etc.. Today the IEEE remains a vehicle for the large companies, at least in this respect. The IEEE has played a significant role in acting as a conduit for bringing cheap programmers to the US. (The IEEE is also now a reasonably large publishing house; there's good money to be made owning lots of copyrights!)

Dan Kurt said...

re: " Harry Baldwin said...
sunbeam said...But big, muscular men? I don't find that intimidating at all.

That's interesting. Guys for whom intimidating others is a matter of survival, e.g. prisoners, find big muscles very useful. But you don't. Maybe you haven't been in that kind of environment."

No I haven't been a zek but I have encountered some real frightening specimens during my life. One was an american citizen "Mexican" gang banger, probably thanks to the last amnesty, who was being flown (in chains) back to the Mid West. He caused no trouble but the man was hideous, with among other tattoos had two tattooed tears on the outside of his cheek representing two individuals he had killed, in appearance, bulked up, and swaggered menacingly in spite of the chains.

But the point of my post is one can safely view such dangerous humans through fiction. To do so read Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter.

Dan Kurt

DirtyTricks said...

@Albertosaurus

Mexicans are on welfare now. Have you heard Marco Rubio's pro-immigration bill on the radio (Rush Limbaugh's show specifically)? He says immigrants won't be eligible for federal welfare benefits. Millions of them are on STATE benefits now and they will be eligible for state benefits in the future.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

""That is nonsense. One does not "pick up" differential equations in "a day or two". A few months, sure, if one has a background in calculus.""

No, it doesn't take "a few months" for top programmers with a background in calculus to learn differential equations. They can pick it up in a day or two."

First of all - you subtly changed the terms of the discussion: you originally said Diff-EQ and linear algebra, now your just saying Diff-EQ. Second of all - and as a more general comment on your baseless assertion: Horseshit. You know not of which you speak. Copying the Runge-Kutta algorithm from "Numerical Recipes" is not "picking up differential equations". It is following a recipe. Actually learning math takes some time, even for those who are very smart. It requires working problems - lots of them - at the very least, and probably also doing a few proofs for a deeper understanding.

Whiskey said...

Those burly Teamsters are hosed too. Production will simply move to Canada, New Zealand, and Europe. Far cheaper, subsidies, and guess who won't be invited?

HAR said...

As an admirer of the Teamster style, you should welcome the Chechens.

Hunsdon said...

Dan Kurt said to read Dirty White Boys.

Hunsdon said: Best Stephen Hunter book, out of some pretty good Hunter books.

Anonymous said...

The hardest math mech e's do are differential equations and linear algebra. Top programmers can pick that up in a day or two if they have to.

Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. I'm curious as to your opinion on Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.

ben tillman said...

First of all - you subtly changed the terms of the discussion: you originally said Diff-EQ and linear algebra, now your just saying Diff-EQ.

You changed the terms. He said Diff-EQ and linear algebra; you replied with a comment about Diff-EQ only.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Dan Kurt's kid is smart but it's foolish to imagine that all the smart guys are in Mechanical Engineering and the dummies are everywhere else. This is just professional arrogance.

The difference is that you can be a computer programmer without any formal education in programming or even graduating college. Whereas to be a mechanical engineering you basically need at least some formal education in mech-e hence in college level math and physics.

Dave Pinsen said...

"Doing wrestling and BJJ I've never regretted having heavier legs and core than arms"

See that Starting Strength link I posted above. The squat is considered the most important exercise.

"Those burly Teamsters are hosed too. Production will simply move to Canada, New Zealand, and Europe. Far cheaper, subsidies, and guess who won't be invited?"

Cheaper isn't everything. There is an infrastructure of movie and TV talent in Hollywood that's unmatched anywhere. It makes it easier to film stuff there than anywhere else. Also, most of the biggest stars live in Hollywood and like it there. They don't want to move to Canada or New Zealand.

Reg C├Žsar said...

My upper-body strength, like everything else physical about me, isn't too far from the mean. But I guarantee I'd be a tougher negotiator than any of those brutes in Hollywood.

Why? Because their goal is to wring out the best contract from the studios. Eventually, they'll buckle and agree to something, just to get back to work.

My goal would be to destroy the studio(s), and, indeed, all of Hollywood, for the mental and moral health of the realm. Demand everything, concede nothing, and call any and all tactics by the other side "unfair".

Where do I send for my WGA card?

Anonymous said...

> Championing open source is also something that while contributing to society overall, certainly has not done a lot for individual programmers' wages.

As a developer and econ graduate student I just say BS.
Abridged version would go like this: IT budget = wages + license fees + other.
Less license, more wages.

And when IBM or Oracle or Vmware etc open source something, its not individual programmers being lefty-loosey.

Cail Corishev said...

First of all - you subtly changed the terms of the discussion: you originally said Diff-EQ and linear algebra, now your just saying Diff-EQ.

Before we all learn differential equations, perhaps we could spend a couple days mastering contractions.

For advanced study, we could spend a week or two on less/fewer and amount/number.

Hunsdon said...

HAR said: As an admirer of the Teamster style, you should welcome the Chechens.

Hunsdon replied: Having our own thugs, why do we need to import more?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous ben tillman said...

""First of all - you subtly changed the terms of the discussion: you originally said Diff-EQ and linear algebra, now your just saying Diff-EQ.""

You changed the terms. He said Diff-EQ and linear algebra; you replied with a comment about Diff-EQ only."

What are you saying? That it would be harder to learn only Diff-EQ in a couple of days than it would be to learn Diff-EQ AND linear algebra in just a couple of days. I made it easier for him. His assertion is still bogus. Albert Einstein didn't "pick up" differential equations in a couple of days. The mythical "top programmer" that this guy was talking about wouldn't either.

pat said...

An anonymous said:
The difference is that you can be a computer programmer without any formal education in programming or even graduating college. Whereas to be a mechanical engineering you basically need at least some formal education in mech-e hence in college level math and physics.

This is true, but only because of time not because of inherent difficulty. New disciplines never have formal requirements. Those things accumulate over time. That's why a early engineer like Leonardo Da Vinci (or more appropriately Filipo Brunelleschi) had no engineering credentials. And that is why smart guys seek out the leading edges where credentialism hasn't yet taken hold.

Programming is very different from positions in industry like marketing or accounting. The best guy is a marketing is maybe half again as good as the worst and all have value. But the best programmer in a unit will be worth more than all the others put together.

This is also true also for mechanical engineering. Consider John Browning.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

""> Championing open source is also something that while contributing to society overall, certainly has not done a lot for individual programmers' wages."

As a developer and econ graduate student I just say BS.

...

And when IBM or Oracle or Vmware etc open source something, its not individual programmers being lefty-loosey."



I'm with you on this. Although there were some true far-left characters in the original FSF free software world, it's arguable that they actually retarded widespread acceptance of open source. Also, software was originally open source (it had to be in the early days). It is the "perpetual license" model that is unusual and that largely succeeded because IBM was forced by the Justice Dept to unbundle software and sell it separately; before that much of the software companies like IBM bundled had been written by customers in the manner we would now call open source.

Programmers haven't been fighting back by forming unions. They've been fighting back by joining open source projects, projects that often write programs that end up replacing commercial products, often from those very companies everyone loves to hate. You'll notice open source been very successful. The lock many big companies had on key software has been broken and the world is not going to be going back.

Working in open source is not for everyone (it's harder to monetize), but experts can make a career of it and you'll notice it's working out really well. Sort of the "rock star" model rather than the "local big band". If you succeed in an open source team, no company can "cut off your oxygen" or replace you with cheap labour. And as you point out, even companies themselves don't want to go back to the old "walled-gardens" where the pace of forward progress was glacial. Not being stupid, they're now often competing to distribute open source and to foster more of it. And if you're someone who likes to work with software but doesn't want to be a "software engineer", it's great.

It would be an interesting study to see how much of the rapid acceptance of open source was due to companies (and governments) adopting anti-programmer policies that resulted in programmers programming outside the traditional organizational structure of companies (where they soon realized that not only did things work, things often worked better than in a company and scaled better to larger projects).

Anonymous said...

"Programmers are not milquetoast wimps. They are just about the worst behaved and least compliant kind of employees in any major business. ...

Throughout American business management fears its programmers. They don't know what they're doing and they don't trust them. For a while that was my job as a consultant - beat them down and make them obedient."


That must have done wonders for productivity. But it sounds like an accurate description of much of the bad old days. Maybe still is that way in some of those H1-B sweatshops. (See how it all comes together?)

You'll notice one absolute inviolate hallmark of modern open source projects is that the projects are managed completely bottom-up by the programmers. There are no traditional managers. There usually are no non-developers at all. The project is managed from the code out. Non-programming managers or business managers simply don't exist as far as an open source project is concerned.

Because there are no open source project leaders who are not also developers, project leaders don't manage though people, they lead though code or other artifacts. There are no managers around who don't understand what they are talking about. Often, because there is no money on the table, leaders must lead through real leadership. All this can change things completely. Makes it more art than slaves under the lash.

E. Rekshun said...

Police & fire departments are full of macho-type men and their unions are very strong. They beat up city management at the negotiating table every three years. But, there's no incentive for local government management & elected officials to fight hard; and only headaches, and likely unemployment, if they do.

Anonymous said...

From a class interest perspective, I've also wondered why male liberal arts graduates (especially the lower middle class ones) are so supportive of gender equality.

These days just about every liberal arts job (eg working in musuems, archives, PR or publishing) goes to upper middle class women.

But these guys seem happy to be bar tenders, taxi drivers and humiliated house housbands

FredR said...

This profile of the head of the NYC teacher's union seems to fit with this model http://politicker.com/2013/06/class-warfare-teachers-union-boss-michael-mulgrew-claims-he-can-crown-the-next-mayor/

"At six feet tall and 230 pounds, Mr. Mulgrew, a tough-talking Staten Islander with the swagger of a teenage instigator, has little in common with the billionaire mayor. He was raised by a single mother juggling three jobs and four kids. He says he got into trouble frequently. “I wasn’t the easiest teenager, to say the least,” he recalled.

He worked construction after graduating high school but took classes at nights and on weekends and began working in schools as a substitute teacher during the off-season. Because of his size, he was assigned to deal with emotionally disturbed children, in a basement classroom where his day could involve ducking thrown chairs.

He later taught computers and English literature, using filmmaking to engage with his students. He was hesitant to run for chapter leader, but he was arm-twisted into running for the job and quickly made his way up the union ranks, impressing higher-ups with his bluster and bravado."

E. Rekshun said...

@anon: "I bet a lot of Tea Party folks are made of retired or current aerospace engineers."

The Kennedy Space Center is in Brevard County, FL. The last space shuttle lifted off about two years ago, as obama has shut down the space shuttle program. That put 10,000 aerospace workers out of work in Brevard County over the past couple of years. Many of them had to relocate out or state, that's if they could find a job. Many others couldn't find a job and were forced to "retire" from the workforce.

E. Rekshun said...

"Computer Science was the major for those incapable of making the grade in computer engineering"

At the University of FL, both of these majors were respected as equally rigorous. The coursework was very similar; though CS had a focus on software and CE had a focus on hardware.

MIS was considered the fall-back option for students that couldn't hack CS or CE.

E. Rekshun said...

And, CE was 99% male Indian & male Chinese students; maybe one Turk or other central European. CS was nearly the same, but maybe one Chinese female. MIS was nearly all American students, with about 20% female.

This same mix was at both the undergrad and grad levels.

Mr. Anon said...

"E. Rekshun said...

The Kennedy Space Center is in Brevard County, FL. The last space shuttle lifted off about two years ago, as obama has shut down the space shuttle program."

It was the Bush administration that decided to shut down the shuttle, back around 2003 or 2004. The Obama administration merely continued that policy.