Re: Economic (ignorance) Nativism and me

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 22:36:20 MST

On Sun, 25 Mar 2001, Emlyn wrote:

> If there were no shortage, your salaries/rates would be lower than they are.
> Then, where would the incentive be to get people from overseas?

I'm not clear Emlyn whether you are agreeing with me or the idea
that there is an IT worker shortage in the U.S. ... But anyway ...

Sometimes I'm amazed at what IT workers are paid, but its been that
way since I started out in the business 25 years ago. Part of this
is because good IT people really do make others more productive.
My first job was in developing applications that computed leveraged
leasing funding analysis that it would have taken a dozens of human
'calculators' to do by hand. In these cases it doesn't matter what
you pay IT workers so long as its less than you would have to pay
to have it done some other way. There is also the aspect that
programming is so "cold and dry" that sufficient people do not
enter the field to create an oversupply of IT workers.

Its interesting to consider whether or not the high IT incomes
for so many years are driving the IT profession into the condition
the medical profession is in (where there are an excess of M.D.s).

With M.D.s, the education costs and insurance costs are so high
that even with an excess of professionals, their rates do not
decline significantly. What happens instead is that they branch
out into non-essential fields (e.g. cosmetic surgery).

One might wonder if the Y2K fear-mongoring or the VIRUS scares
(such as I was recently the victim of) are examples of that
in the IT profession.

> btw, what makes you think that this growth in demand for geeks is a line of
> crap? Maybe it's true.

Its interesting to think about it in economic terms. I've never
seen a treatment of it in the classical 'freshman' economics
courses I've taken. There it is always 'supply' and 'demand'.
But with the IT profession it may be entirely a 'substitution'
economy (1 computer replaces lots of bookkeepers) or an 'enabling'
economy (3 IT professionals and a minicomputer can do something
that you would never think about doing before because it would
require a staff of dozens.)

Interestingly enough the substitution and enabling paradigms
are likely to increase as the singularity runneth-over-us.


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