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Howard Stern & Getting Paid (5000 times more than average worker)

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Howard Stern's certainly #1 with $1 Billion
Howard Stern's certainly #1 with $1 Billion

We live in a society where jobs like Howard Stern’, that are the most fun, guarantee them all the social glory, etc., don’t just get to work on glamour and giggles street, but get paid more than, well, everyone.... But let’s say more than miners who work in the dark and miserable conditions risking their lives. Miners actually provide us with light via electricity from the coal they haul up out of the ground, but basically never get any social recognition.

This is our society and culture: a guy who sits in a penthouse office shooting his mouth off, while sipping and munching on whatever $500 a day food and drink budget, gets paid 5000 times more than everyone who puts in a hard days work to actually make our communities work, whether you’re carpenters, plumbers, delivery people, etc.

What is it about our systems of remuneration that makes this possible? Obviously Howard Stern has a product that is liked by enough sellers of consumer crap (advertisers), that he can leverage a $1 billion contract to sit there in some penthouse broadcasting suite and yak. As Al Capone said: [Capitalism is the best system, it’s about what you can take]. Howard Stern can take his market share to another media company which also sells billions of dollars worth of shit for other rich guys to us consumers. So, Sirius will pay off Stern’ threat, his extortion.

I remember back in the day, when lefties would go after Michael Jordan' income (who I loved to watch). I’d get free tickets to go see the Grizzlies here in Vancouver because no one would go to the games, but when the Bulls would come to town, forget about it, sold out. People liked his product that much; if anything MJ was underpaid according to the value of what he produced. That is, based on the metric of merit, Michael Jordan was underpaid compared to the multi-billion dollar company Nike became, largely, on his fame and inspiring ability. All these lefties who believe in merit - and you know they do because the lions’ share of lefties are in academia and ‘students who get better grades should get the scholarships’ - were actually inconsistent in deriding MJ's pay.

I’m not inconsistent however. I reject merit as a basis of pay, because it all too often rewards for the genetic lottery, the networking lottery, the parent lottery, etc.  Let’s go back to miners. Let’s say that you have a miner who is born with an incredibly stocky build in his genetics. He’s 5’6” and 165lbs. Short enough that he can move through the tunnels quickly, and powerful enough that he can dig hard and identify a seam’s direction really fast. He can stroll down a tunnel at twice the speed with half the exertion of energy as the guy who’s 6’1” and has to huddle over for every step down the tunnel. The 6’1” guy, just to get to work has to work harder than the 5’6” miner (and let’s say we’re in the mountains of Bolivia, so it’s the only real job, the 6’1” guy doesn’t go to some other job that’s better suited for him). But the 5’6” miner, under the current regime of merit or productivity is going to make way more money than the tall guy on the piece rate despite the fact that his taller colleague works even hard than him. Eventually, the 6’1” miner, looking over at how much more the stocky miner makes, how much better his life and family are, etc., but knowing he works harder than the dwarf, throws his hands up, goes to work less often, or tries to find some scheme to get ahead-by outside of the rules. What has happened is that society has lost; in rewarding the greatest output of value, it has rewarded the fastest runners of the race, instead of brought up the overall average of production. If society instead rewards people based on how hard they work relative to their basic ability and circumstance, then total productivity actually rises, because it’s now about how hard you work, not how much you can leverage your genetic lottery, the tools you may have privileged access to, the people you know, your rich parents you were born to, etc. It’s about how hard you work.

Chomsky’ protégé – Michael Albert – calls this Remuneration based on Effort and Sacrifice (RES).

Some of you will still cling to meritocracy and rewarding individual productivity. You’re saying, ya, but in most economies, the 6’1” guy will go to a job like bush pruning where he doesn’t need the ladder half the time and so is more efficient in that role than a short person. OK, sure. That doesn’t get to the heart of it, and still leaves the other issues like access to tools.

In Cuba for example, U.S. companies would try and bring in automated sugar cane cutting technology in the 1940s and ‘50s. For most Cubans, the only work was 3-5 months of work which was for sugar cane cutting season, the rest of the year was ‘tiempo muerte’ (dead season). That amount of work allowed them to finance bare survival, with most rural Cubans scraping by with starvation and mud huts with one room if they were lucky. Even though sugar cane cutting was seen as “slave’s work” Cuban workers would refuse to pick up the automating technology, because it was going to put them out of work… as automated assembly line robots have done to auto industry workers, and helped assured the remaining workers  of much lower wages.

As soon as central command planning came in, and Cubans were guaranteed homes,  education and health care however, widespread automation of the cane harvest was brought in within 6 years. By the 1970s a few thousands machines, many of which had been invented by sugar field workers themselves, were effectively processing the vast majority of Cuba’s crop every year. Society was made more efficient as a whole, once everyone’s basic economic security was guaranteed. Cuba didn’t even institute remuneration based on effort and sacrifice, so Cuba lost a lot of the incentive of ‘work harder, get paid a little more’. The Federal Reserve has even funded studies on incentive, which show quite conclusively even across different economies (sudies done both in India and the U.S.), that once people's needs are looked after and they don't worry about money anymore, their productivity and creativity hit the higheste level. In fact, trying to pay them rewards for coming up with the best idea or widget, reduces the level of output.

Chomsky’ protégé has another principle that works in conjunction with RES, which is Balanced Rotation of Roles (aka Balanced Job Complexes). So unlike in totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union and arguably Cuba, workers in the Cane fields get to do some of the conceptual work and industry planning, instead of bureaucratic central planners getting all the say and information. Capitalist firm are essentially the same as central command planning in that they are run by an executive (coordinator) class. Let’s say you introduced one worker one vote into a market firm, but the owner, marketing guy and accountant are the only ones with the macro information; they cornered and mystified the information of what’s involved in their jobs, so they didn’t have to work on the factory floor in front of the furnace or on a dangerous, loud machine. Ten workers (including marketing, bean counter, and owner) come to the meeting, but only those 3 ‘workers’ have enough information to put forward coherent policy. If the other 7 workers care about the firm’s ability to keep them employed, they’ll basically abdicate their vote and go along with the agenda set by the 3 who corner all the information, instead of make decisions flying blind (because they could end up flying the company right into a brick wall).

Back to remuneration: Balanced Rotation of Roles (BRR) makes it so that everyone can see what’s involved in the other jobs so that everyone gets an idea of how hard each task is and what it needs from the other roles which feed into that task. BRR also evens out the time a workers spends in the shitty menial work with the rewarding, conceptual and social networking work.

So, Howard Stern maybe does some of the sound engineering at his job, instead of showing up for his 3 hour show to shoot his mouth off then going and doing a line of blow on some models’ genitals.

Ya, BUT!, you say, we’d lose Howard Stern. I guarantee you we’d still get Howard Sterns doing that very enjoyable job. They’d do it for $25,000 a year it’s so enjoyable and socially rewarding. Sh*t, they make another $20,000 a year just in complimentary club entrance, free drinks,  invites to the best parties, getting paid to go to festivals for 1 hour of stand-up, etc.

I’d rather see the $1 billion going to Howard Stern seal the financing on the tunnel from New Jersey so that millions of workers can get to jobs %8 faster, making the economy about 110 million hours more productive a year, just in travel time. Howard Stern can now helicopter to his broadcasting tower from the Hamptons if he wants to, because he and Sirius have horded the financing and can buy whatever means of transport. But the rest of us have to cross the waters on the lowly ground. It isn’t about merit, productivity, hard work, it’s about what you can take.

While the rest of us are sitting with our hardships to get through college, get to work, afford good food so we can stay healthy enough to keep working  at the life sucking job which gives us health care coverage, etc., etc., these f*)kers are rounding 3rd and have made a deal with the catcher and the umpire so they know they won’t get tagged out.

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