Willingness to be Paid: Who Trains for Tech Jobs?

Here is a new paper from Joy Buchanan, Emergent Ventures winner:

Having a larger high-skill workforce is good for economic productivity, so it is useful to understand how workers self-select into high-paying technology jobs. This study examines how workers on the margin decide whether to pursue tech jobs, including a precise control for the opportunity cost of time. The most important determinant of the reservation wage for college students to do computer programming is whether they enjoy it or not. Another subjective influence, whether subjects like math or not, predicts self-confidence. Most students, including females and minorities, are willing to learn a new computer programming language, for a sufficiently high wage. Neither randomly assigned encouragement nor extra information on the programming task increases willingness to participate or increases confidence.

I often say that economics is too often solely the study of incentives, whereas real world problems end up solved because entrepreneurs opt for a potent mix of selection and incentives.  Selection is often the more important part of that brew.  Get people doing what they like, and you cannot boil a stone into a turnip.  It is also noteworthy from the paper that a lot of people really do not seem to like programming.

Comments

Programming is really extremely dull, and quite difficult. So no wonder it pays well and no wonder so much code is properly bad

Programming distorts the brain. My brain was easily distorted being half autistic asshole. But then, to do it, one has to deal with the Woked in Silicon Valley, not a pleasant idea.

Been programming for decades. Never once in Silicon Valley or for a Silicon Valley company.

I wonder how many people have avoided programming, not realizing that there are oodles of regular programming jobs outside San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and New York City.

Those jobs all suck, are low paid, boring, offer zero chance of a real career path, etc etc.

Although his other comment somewhere below is more elaborate, Lord-Admiral of the Pyrenees deserves the last word. There is a bit of exaggeration here but he is largely correct. Ray Lopez commenting somewhere below is also perceptive.

Truly when someone doesn't understand afterward its up to other viewers that
they will help, so here it happens.

Programming is also poorly understood by today's management. That's why so much of it is buggy, leaky, and poorly resourced. Boeing used $9/hr programmers from India to program their flight display and flight test systems. Considering that every company is now a tech company, the current approach is deeply misguided and will lead to bigger disasters.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers

Programming is dull and it is not very well paid actually.

+1. The average nurse in Silicon Valley makes more than the average programmer there. The jobs those people should have trained for should have been all health care related. Anybody could do those jobs and you don't need to know math either.

I'm seeing similar medians for nurses and software developers in the Bay Area (about $120K). But I doubt there is much overlap between the people who would enjoy nursing vs programming. That said, in either case, despite the six-figure salaries, both programmers and nurses would be better off living in most other metro areas due to the insanely high cost of living in the bay area. A couple of things to be said in favor of programming vs nursing there though -- the top of the salary scale for developers is much higher (and AFAIK nurses never get stock options) and most programmers are probably going to enjoy some ability to work from home (or even more remotely) and avoid the terrible bay area commutes at least some of the time.

I'm married to a retired RN and you could not pay me enough money to work as one. With the right mindset it can be very rewarding emotionally, but it is an extremely physical and outright dangerous job with high rates of stress and burn out. Same reason I never gave a second thought to becoming an MD, but at least they get paid ......

Oh, and not anyone can do the job. If you ever end up in a hospital with a serious illness, you better hope the floor nurse that covers you has some skills.

Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet which can be tough on your body. Developers - the "programmer" designation is not used inside the industry - can get up and move around at will any developers, though they have hard milestones, are in control of their schedule. Nursing is a high demand low control profession, which is a classic scenario for inducing stress.

I made millions, ymmv.

Selection: The players of the game.
Incentives: The rules of the game.

This is 'status quo' thinking. It's possibly wrong. Did you know Hollywood sex siren Hedy Lemarr was a inventor of a form of frequency hopping spread spectrum transmission as used in modern cell phones?

Though the authors don't know it, and probably they don't even mention PATENTS in their paper, their paper is discussing the supply elasticity of innovation, in short, are inventors born (fixed elasticity), or are they made (incentives matter)? A historical study--IMO history is the best teacher--found both: some people invent for the money, some for the 'fun'. In today's society the 'money aspect' has been de-emphasized due to weak patent laws and convention (most companies routinely ask inventors to sign onerous employment contracts giving everything they invent to the company) so the one's that *would have* invented for the money, like me--I was brilliant as a science and engineering major, my designs got favorable comments--end up becoming gatekeepers (doctors, lawyers, business people, bureaucrats), rather than inventors, since these jobs pay better. The 'nerds' end up programming and inventing for fun and society praise.

Bonus trivia: one of these days economics will be Woken to achieve the enlightened state that I, Ray Lopez, am already in. And money is largely neutral.

A lot of nerds do well these days. The Forbes 10 are majority techies. Bloomberg who's currently running for President is one of those nerds. Had they a more boring bureaucratic job, they wouldn't be where they are today.

This is a false narrative that obscures things. These people started successful businesses - people start successful businesses in all fields. That is a different skill-set than being a straight-up programmer.
Being a computer nerd does NOT lead to making much money. If you look at programming as a profession and consider alternatives programming looks VERY bad:
- Maybe better than average starting salary BUT
- Slow salary growth afterwards
- Career ends around age 35-40 and the salary does not compensate for this very short career trajectory
- As a programmer one does not learn other skills that help one transition into doing other things (so no actual career path, limited ability for promotions)
- Constantly having to re-learn your profession with no additional compensation

No, the nerds are not doing well.

If you work for FAANG, you can just be a programmer and you will be paid quite well. For others, working for a startup will be a tuition free way to learn business and tech. Those skills will serve you well should you look for bigger opportunities or strike out on your own.

Depends on the startup. Compensation at startups usually includes stock options, which can payoff big time. Of course, most fail and the options become worthless - basically you are swinging for the fences.

Another benefit of working for startups is the human connections you make. The workforce is highly mobile so future opportunities have to be considered, unless you are a POS in which case you will get nothing out of the connections. Don't be a POS.

Lord-Admiral &tc, &tc, &tc...

The 5 issues you list are 100% correct. I can say this after having spent 4 decades doing computer programming and computer systems administration.

One can mitigate the salary compression issue by what used to be called - and perhaps still is - 'job hopping'. But you had better be able to PLAUSIBLY EXPLAIN exactly why you did so during the interview process.

Your last point is, at least to me, both a 'bug' and a 'feature'. I started doing COBOL, then switched to command-level CICS and then the BAL. programming. After that C/C++. Then I began a Linus SysAdmin.

While I had to learned those new skills mostly on my own, with some company paid classes too, I found it very enjoyable and entertaining to pick up new skills. Then, again, I found computer programming to be enjoyable, entertaining and relaxing too.

Now I spend my dotage, while not entertaining my grand-children, messing around with multiple Raspberry Pi's and self-teaching HTML/CSS/JavaScript coding.

And, of course, reading and commenting on blogs.

I make 7 figures as a programmer. So I definitely don’t regret my career choice.

Details? FAANG or fintech?

This is like telling people to start a rock band because Metallica made a lot of money. The vast majority of programmers - and STEM people in general, make shit. It's a horrible career, and people like Tyler Cowen who don't know what they are talking about promote it as good.

Selection bias but my school friends who went into law or medicine and are now in their early 30s are just now getting their careers in gear. Of my friends, of the same age, that went into tech, about 50% are in various stages of planning their retirement or seeking out passion projects due to financial independence. The former group has much more impressive credentials (grades, schools, etc)

The Raspberry Pi and associated industry/community is way cool.

You can move from programming into other areas of tech, like project management, though you gave to be something more than a code Jimmie to do that; you need to be involved in the design as well as programming aspects of tech, and have some social skills. Also you find careers in places adjacent to tech where IT skills will give you a leg up for various niche jobs. I ended up in finance by that route.

@Jonfraz - don't take this personally, as I admire your skill set, but compare your career trajectory to "Retired Old Computer Programmer". He: worked hard, got nothing to show for it except salary, no patents, no big bonuses, arguably solved the Y2K crisis and then was unceremoniously booted out the door in his dotage after job hopping to feed his family. You: worked hard, figured out hard work is a dead end, started "b.s-ing" around the water cooler (aka your "social skills") which lead to 'design' (overrated), management (id) and, the ultimate sell-out, a career in finance. Finance! Imagine that. Finance. Adding liquidity, as if we need more. Gatekeeping. Buy low, sell high, aka being a middleman and taking a small cut every time as Kurt Vonnegut pointed out. A hoary profession akin to the world's oldest trade. Again, what we need is industrial policy (PATENTS) so that people who actually create something get a nice bonus from the state (e.g., patents dedicated to the public,paid by the state for worthy inventions even invented at private firms, yes, it can be done if they rewrite the laws). They pay gang members to stay out of trouble, welfare queens to take menial, unimportant jobs, but they won't pay "Retired Old Computer Programmer" for his breakthrough contributions to society.

Bonus trivia: speaking of whore, as in the Quicksort algorithm invented by C.A.R. Hoare in 1959, besides no patent (they didn't allow patenting algorithms back then, even now it's disfavored), to my knowledge Tony Hoare got nothing except fame, despite the fact this algorithm allows you to word search huge amounts of data quickly, compared to say the bubble sort, and is used today in nearly every search scheme.

+1 hehehe
I particularly enjoyed "hard word is a dead end" and "the ultimate sell-out, a career in finance."

James Watt thought he got ****** in the *** for all his work, considering the time spent and the battles he fought. Just sayin'.

You mistake something about me and my POV: I am a Christian and of mystical bent. I expect nothing much from this life except to live it and maybe learn something interesting on the way through. There's nothing here of sufficient and eternal value for me to care about "selling out". I try to do good and to be a friend to all, but the things of this world aren't where my heart truly lies.

From the other post:

Pulitzer
February 19, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Unemployment rate for journalism majors: 3.7%
Unemployment rate for computer science majors: 4.7%

Instead of learning to code, people need to learn to write. #LearnToWrite

Consider that all sorts of people have likely been pushed into computer science even though that's not their natural advantage because computer science leads to "good jobs." So now there are computer science majors who really have no real interest in the field and possibly not much skill. It's not difficult to see why they are unemployed.

Now, if you go and push a bunch of people into journalism who aren't interested in writing they will probably end up being poor writers and the unemployment rate for journalism majors would increase.

What is wrong with 5% unemployment? If you take the skills based approach to majors and job success, there is going to be a top 5% and a bottom 5% in acquired skills. Tough to be in the bottom 5%, but maybe you should look for a different job.

And to drive it home, only if you believe in 100% signaling would you believe that computer science major should be 100% employed.

I hired many people into tech, and people with computer science degrees usually weren't my MVPs. Most of the MVPs didn't have any degrees, they were writing code instead of going to school. They were self-taught, self-motivated, and wrote code for fun. These were almost always my best, most highly compensated people.

Choosing a career based on compensation is a bad idea, especially in software development where a developer can expect to spend many hours alone in a chair trying to solve difficult problems. It's a tough job and the developers earn their money.

Time isn't money, time is your life.

Spend it carefully.

Also remember that a computer science degree is not the same as a computer engineering degree.

They are different but these days many people with CE degrees, and even EE degrees end up doing programming. There's not that much electronics work and the thing about programming is you can learn it on your own basically. It's a whole other story but university engineering programs don't prepare students for shit so you need to learn some real skills on your own and that's usually programming.

If you want to do social science, you will probably need to learn programming. You will probably learn it on your own, unless you happen to have a background in CS. I'm not a "developer", but I have had to learn and do scripting to keep up with everyone else.

There are orders of magnitude differences in programming productivity between individuals. Those who are very productive will be very well paid and in demand. Those who are reasonably productive will make a good living. Those who can't produce either won't be employed or will be hired for other skills.

From the NY Fed:
https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/college-labor-market_compare-majors.html

% underemployed (in jobs that do not require their degree):
Comp Sci: 22.5% Journalism: 42.5%
Median Salary (mid-career):
Comp Sci: 95K Journalism: 65K

Become a journalist if that is what drives you. Don't do it because you think it'll be easy to find a journalism job, particularly one that pays well.

This is what I thought might be the case: You might have a degree in journalism, and you might have a job, but being a manager at PetSmart isn't journalism! :-)

"Selection is often the more important part of that brew."

So it's time to rethink today's immigration policies, isn't it? Germany's new laws go into effect next week that will make it easier for any professional to work there.

https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/visa/kinds-of-visa/work/skilled-immigration-act/

Yeah pay is ridiculously low there and I guess it will get lower.

They earn about $75K/yr on average which isn't the top of the range but not ridiculously low either. Germany is solidly middle class.

https://www.averagesalarysurvey.com/germany

Being middle class is considered a sign of failure among the sort of people who like to imagine themselves as the next billionaire.

Wanting to be a billionaire is fine, needing to be is probably psychosis.

But sadly, given the American version of the safety net, pretty much everybody should have millions saved for retirement.

That is the box the middle class is in. They make moderate income, but they have higher need.

This creates a bit of a casino mentality.

"But sadly, given the American version of the safety net, pretty much everybody should have millions saved for retirement."

Oh, balderdash. You're terrible at math.

The average American household income is around $63K. The average SS benefit for a married couple is about $28K per year. That leaves a gap of $35K (assuming that you need 100% of your income during retirement).

A 4% withdrawal rate is generally considered the benchmark in order to still have assets to pass on when you die.

$35K/0.04 = $875K

That's how much a couple needs in real dollars to keep their standard of living the same as pre-retirement. If they pay off their house before retirement then they can retire on substantially less than that.

I think $875K rounds to a million, and 3% is a more conservative withdrawal rate (if set at outset, and not readjusted every year for market ups and downs).

So thanks for the confirmation.

Dual income families with 2x60K may double that number as well.

But sadly, given the American version of the safety net, pretty much everybody should have millions saved for retirement.

Come on dude, he proved you wrong. He’s using average stats, a conservative withdrawal rate, and assuming they’re paying a mortgage.

Your claim was everyone needs millions. Million...s. A generous read is that you were off by over 100% for the average.

Throw in “pretty much everybody” and you’re “pretty much” completely wrong.

It's a typical anonymous response, he often moves the goal posts as soon as you point out that he's wrong. He never admits he's wrong.

Currently, success as a programmer has progressively less to do with programming skill per se, and a lot to do with ability to work as part of a scrum team (i.e. being a replaceable undifferentiated cog, sit in an open space office, ability to work long hours at the drop of a hat, ability to switch tasks/priorities at the drop of a hat, manage time, refocus blame etc.)

Bitter?

Who Trains for Tech Jobs? Trains? That's an interesting term for Cowen to use. Was it intentional? Train is defined as (a) (verb) teach a person or animal a particular skill or behavior through repetition and (b) (noun) a succession of vehicles or pack animals traveling in the same direction.

Speaking of tech, Uber is developing a pilotless air taxi. To quote Alanis Morissette, isn't it ironic:

"Critics say it’s ironic that Uber is promoting the benefits of air transport over traffic-jammed streets considering the role that ride-hailing services have played in creating terrestrial congestion. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority says shared rides were responsible for a 50 percent increase in traffic between 2010 and 2016. Mr. Lindsay of NewCities said that escaping to the sky could mean problems on the ground are ignored. He pointed to São Paulo, Brazil, where hundreds of helicopters ferry those who can afford it over highway gridlock. “That’s not about public transportation, that’s about the very wealthy exiting from the sky from the traffic problems on the ground,” Mr. Lindsay said." https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/19/technology/aviation-planes-drones.html

Today, an economist learns how a real world business works.

It's not that easy for someone to become a coder. As pointed out, most will find the work unappealing so the possible labor pool shrinks right at the outset. Then not all who gain proficiency will want to make a career of it.

Lambda School, which has been touted all over Twitter and also this site, uses an income sharing agreement with students to teach them how to code has recently been found to have much lower placement rates than previously stated (50% vs 86%). Needless to say, being a willing participant isn't enough to make it over the employer's bar.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/lambda-schools-job-placement-rate-is-lower-than-claimed.html

Sadly, we missed contemplating that tweet live:

- I personally became interested in the school after seeing a (now deleted) tweet by one of Lambda’s executives, Trevor McKendrick, in which he claimed that “if you don’t think Lambda is at least a $100B company you don’t understand the American economy.”

The scarcity of people "Willing to be Paid" is not restricted to computer programming. The bureaucracy tried to promote people within the organization but there were almost no volunteers. Salary differentials were minimal (a promotion could send one into a higher tax category) and most people was comfortable where they were.

"The most important determinant of the reservation wage for college students to do computer programming is whether they enjoy it or not."

Perhaps some will try to take a big hammer and beat this into a meritocracy or signaling argument.

But it ain't. It is supply and demand. There are things people want to do, and there are things are public and private enterprises need them to do.

There can be adjustment at both ends of course. We can nudge people towards careers they find tolerable, for a good wage. And government and industry can try to create slots for more kinds of people. In many cases these can be win-win.

Signaling is much less relevant for trade skill degrees. Still very unsure you understand what signaling is and the underlying argument. You’re in danger of strawman territory again.

Other than that, +1

Definitely a supply constraint on the type of people who are both capable of and enjoy programming.

More HB1 visas please.

In this particular case I'm not sure visas are needed unless there are really strong security concerns about the code to the point that one doesn't think existing security technology is sufficient to provide the protection or the remote contributor cannot be monitored and is untrustworthy.

However, in the latter case, the HB1 visa and working on site doesn't really solve that problem.

The issue is not who can learn programming but how that knowledge will be used. Most desktop productivity applications are mature and there is little to be gained in refining those. The concentration today is on mobile apps and new ways of using those (Uber/Lyft being perhaps the most prominent examples and transmission of voting results, the worst).

In the end, there will always be a need for plumbers, HVAC, and home repair workers. Salaries are good and employment opportunities are plentiful.

I'm hoping for a new version of Office to come out soon, with more confusing bells and whistles mixed in among the few basic features I use. I can't wait to learn this software again; it's only been five or six times.

Ha ha, that is hilarious! Yes, I can also hardly wait. If I have to learn to navigate Microsoft Excel one more time, I may resort to excessive drinking.

+1, thread winner

To be clear, I disbelieve that the free market creates all possible good and useful jobs.

Fishing warden is a good job.

In the jurisdictions with which I have personal experience, fishing wardens are also game wardens, which means you get to enforce regulations on people who have guns and don't always agree that those regulations should apply to them. No thanks.

I was thinking the same thing. Suddenly walking out of the bush in the middle of nowhere and asking armed men for their hunting tags is not my idea of a profession with a long career.

The revolt at Google: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/18/magazine/google-revolt.html

It is crazy inside of Google. The activists are running the house. It is high time Google start to bring some sanity to the internal operations.

Google is not a technology company. They have a search and advertising monopoly based on 1996 technology. Google can afford to hire swarthy tranny activists who can't invent or write code. Little startups have no such luxury. Google is just collecting rents.

Different levels of preference for a particular type of job explains 100% of the difference in the rate with which you find men and women in various professions from computer programming and engineering to nursing and teaching. On a spectrum from people-centered to device-centered, men opt for device-centered and women for people-centered jobs with the difference in their respective distributions equal to a full standard deviation, which is an enormous difference. There are countless programs to get more women into STEM fields, and have been for decades; there is little to show that these are effective. I had lunch with some senior engineering professors who suggested that the only solution was to set up strict 50% (or more) quotas, and that this would be good for both women and the profession. I think that's just crazy, as well as fairly Stalinist.

Economically, the intellectual product of device-centered jobs is scalable (you can re-use a device design millions of times), while the intellectual product is not (a patient diagnosis, teaching a classroom full of individuals). That leads to differences in pay which are portrayed as sexist, but are in fact a reflection of the relative economic worth of the different kinds of intellectual product.

I left a job where I designed chemical plants for a job where I teach chemical engineers, because that's what I wanted to do with my life. I get paid half as much to teach as I did to design, which can seem unfair, but is easy to understand when you look at the economic value I can deliver to those employers.

I'm not a victim. Neither is a schoolteacher who makes less than an engineer. It's all about the choices we make. Should government enforce re-distributive taxes and benefits? Yes. Should we be trying to force women into jobs that men enjoy more and visa versa? No.

Impose 50-50 quotas in every job, including coal mining, but then make the quotas tradable. That way, females earn more and men earn less [all without deadweight loss] which is what this is all about anyway. :-)

I wrote my first programs between my junior/senior years of high school in 1965. FORTRAN, baby!
It hurt my brain. I really did enjoy making the IBM 1620 computer do my bidding.
Went on in life to write lots of code. Took a 20-year detour into sales and marketing.
Am now 97.2% retired.
I would not change anything about my 50-year work life.

Programming is boring, tedious and frustrating at times. I get why most don't enjoy it. It is not really hard to be competent at it; but very hard to be really good at it.

So are we saying incentives really don't matter as much as generally claimed or that pecuniary incentives don't matter as much as claimed? I find it hard to understand selection without the presence of some type of incentives.

Some thoughts on programming from a UK point of view.

The rapid expansion of the field makes it remarkably diverse. I personally have worked with every skill level from elite mathematicians to those whose sole skill seems to be the ability to sell themselves (some of these go on to prosper in management or customer contact jobs).

A good programmer in an established UK small business can work on past official requirement age until health problems intervene (I suspect the economic impact of the diseases of civilisation of career length is under-appreciated).

Academic reports e.g. in CACM suggest that most training courses do not graduate more than 50% of trainees as competent programmers.

A fair number of programmers enjoy exercising their skills - unfortunately one sign of this is over-ambitious complication: an attempted Taj Mahal where a bicycle shed would have done the job, and would be easier to maintain, but less fun to build.

One thing I rarely see mentioned with discussions of programming as a career is that, at least in my experience, programming often is not a very social job. I work remotely and sometimes go weeks without speaking with coworkers. Most communication and collaboration can be done over email and Github issues. I love it. My productivity and sanity would take a serious hit if I had to go back to the distractions and disruptions of sitting in an open-plan office. I spend less time in the day working than when I had to go into an office, but get more done, and I'm able to spend more time focused on the people that I'm more interested in. For me, the benefits of working remotely far outweigh the loss of more social interaction with coworkers, but I can certainly understand that this more isolated style of work isn't appealing for lots of people. 

Yes, coding and programming is incredibly mind-numbing for many people (myself included). You don't want to be poor, but you also don't want to be in Office Space. It takes careful steps to avoid both pitfalls... walk the straight and narrow path.

There are different types of coding. Much is very basic and not highly valued. There's a world of difference between someone writing HTML and someone writing Verilog or ML. And there's a world of difference between someone architecting a new health care portal and someone architecting a new platform for self-driving cars.

Schools of all kinds are performing a bait-and-switch: "All coding (and all STEM) is valuable, learn it here!". It's not. The value of the job comes from how deep of a foundation you need to understand the problem. And fortunately (or unfortunately), getting good means spending decades on esoteric stuff. If you love being alone for 8-10 hours a day working on hard problems mostly by yourself then engineering is for you and you'll make lots of money. If you don't, then you'll quickly figure it out. But while you are figuring it out, you will hate the tedium. And it's more tedium than you can imagine. For many, that's the fun of it.

Thinking that you can take a kid that is 19 and has never coded and turn them into an elite developer will work as often as taking a 19 year old that has never held a basketball and getting him into the NBA. The future elite developers decide programming scratches an itch in the 5th grade. By the time they get to college, they've been writing code for 5+ years, and many are already selling apps, contracting, or are deep into contributing to opensource.

And there's a world of difference between someone architecting a new health care portal and someone architecting a new platform for self-driving cars.

Yep - the new health care portal will probably actually make it to production and be useful and provide value whereas the new self-driving car platform will forever remain 'almost' ready for prime time. (Sorry -- couldn't resist).

On thing often missed is how programming in the '70s, '80s and '90s became much like the ICE in the '20s, '30s, and '40s. The former readily available to suburban kids who were problem solvers, the latter farm kids. Just as even today, someone might get a latter start on being a mechanic, similarly one can in programming, based on looking for a skill to earn money, but they start out behind those who tinkered as teenagers.

The real change, with all careers and skills, is that what is represented by the schools, trade, community or university, isn't the work for most in the real world. Most engineers don't design new technology but rather do their bit in a larger project. Nurses find more paperwork than clinical work. Programmers find long tedious lines of code that may not be inspired to some big problem but rather just tweaking that which has already been solved.

A lot of any career satisfaction depends on where you end up on the spectrum of routine to invention and which you favor.

I've been a professional teacher of programmers for more than 20 years now. Teaching folks who are already working as programmers, teaching folks who want to be programmers, and teaching folks who have an IT degree but still don't know how to program.

1. Programming has a lot in common with solving a rubik's cube. It's a puzzle, and really only folks who like puzzles and the associated frustration are going to be up for it. Most people don't enjoy worrying a rubik's cube for hours in a row. And programming is mostly like that.
2. Programming at all is mostly tinkering, worrying a rubik's cube type stuff. Programming well is like understanding the mathematical group theory that lives behind the rubik's cube. Most of the people who do #1 don't have any interest, inclination, nor skill for #2.
3. Programming education is mostly teaching people how to take a dissasembled rubik's cube and put it together ... having next to nothing to do with the job of programmers ... the puzzling out a scrambled one.
4. Nearly no one in management has a decent awareness of what makes a good programmer, what makes a programmer a good fit for particular work, or what the value proposition is for having better programmers. All sorts of horrid incentive mismatches exist here
5. while 90% of the work in programming is rubik's cubing, most programmers get stuck spending 30-80% of their time dealing with powerpoint presentations and meetings where there are no rubik's cubes present, just endless talking.

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