The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Most “High Performers” Are Just Better Parasites

Most so-called high performers are just excellent parasites. Amazon pays no tax and many of their employees are on food stamps and welfare. Walmart encourages its workers to go on food stamps, while it guts municipal tax bases. Apple actively avoids taxes and both Apple and Microsoft built their entire business on technology they stole from Xerox. Microsoft, in particular, built their business on monopolistic practices that would have led to the breakup of the company if Bush’s administration hadn’t interfered.

The asshole “high performers” in the financial industry required a many trillion dollar bailout. They should have all gone bankrupt and most of them should have gone to jail. They threw much of the world into an economic crisis which has still not ended. They are high performance ticks (leeches have benefits, they are very close to pure negatives.) The oil industry receives massive subsidies, and so on and so forth.

Studies show that consumption of social media correlates with decreased well-being and unhappiness, and the more you consume the worse it is. The evidence for this is overwhelming. They do it with less employment than prior industries and pay less taxes. This is not the behavior of a symbiote, it is the behavior of a parasite.

The simple FACT is that during the 50s and 60s, when high earners (whom fools seem to think are the same as high performers) were massively taxed the economy did far better.

All other things held equal, it is relative equality (not absolute, do not straw man) that makes for better economies and societies.

(The data on this is not even slightly ambiguous, read “The Spirit Level” to see it nailed in place in tedious but apparently necessary detail.)

If this economy is what the “high performers” produce, I’ll go back to one run by the mediocre people, thanks.

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Further Reading: May 3, 2018


  1. nihil obstet

    There’s research showing that people who were selected for jobs randomly do better than people who were put in the position supposedly for merit. The Athenians were probably right to choose their leaders by lot. And I think it was in the book Power and Prosperity that you recommended that Mancur Olson speculated that Stalin’s purges of factory managers may have helped rather than hurt efficiency by removing people as they settled into self-serving networks. An advantage to choosing leaders by lottery would be that the person would have to relinquish power and return to the society that she had affected.

  2. Hugh

    High performers seems like another iteration of “job creators”, and another excuse for upward transfer of wealth, even though most of that wealth is hereditary, unproductive, or destructive and all of it would not exist without a society’s resources and members. This seems rather like the libertarian fallacy: the idea that if you ignore 99.99% of what you get from society, it’s really only your individual efforts that count.

  3. Willy

    In small well-run companies where the owners can literally watch who profits them most, high performers are often fairly rewarded.

    It’s in large corporations, with ‘the owners’ being far more nebulous entities, that the game changes. Now the boss is usually watching for who profits them politically and personally. I’ve seen the whole process change from fairness to corruption when a small honest company was successively bought out by larger and larger entities.

    But this post seems to be about large corporations gaming the system. For one example, you’d think that if conservatives were more honest, they might’ve made the corporate tax cuts conditional on proving that the savings were being specifically reinvested in developing business which might grow local jobs. But most conservative PTB are not that honest. They knew full well that mergers and stock buybacks is where most of the money would go, as predicted by honest analysts.

    When the “honorable” John Boehner can quietly use his ‘public service’ position as a stepping stone to the far more lucrative peddling of tobacco and dope, what do people like that care what their voters have to deal with? They’re too stupid to know anyways.

  4. johnm33

    This has been a trend since at least the early 80s, I remember an article about how a large employer prefered employees who qualified for various benefits and actually included their assesment of entitlements in the job offer. You need a large HR department to get that sophisticated. [UK]
    Why have a hierarchy of taxation at all, a simple transaction tax would rapidly find the value of each transaction, god forbid, market forces imagine that.

  5. Hugh

    Re Apple, it still would have been insanely profitable if it had kept its production in the US, but Steve Jobs was an anti-labor pirate so jobs went to China. And yes, it incorporated in Ireland so it could dodge US taxes. And the tax cut???? Apple is planning a $100 billion stock buyback so Tim Cook can get richer turning out increasingly mediocre products.

  6. Sam Adams

    Behind every great fortune lies a greater crime. … it’s a lesson that’s been around a long time.

  7. And yet these “high performers” are adored by populists who excoriate the low performers as greedy and constantly screech about the “excess profits” in billions made by the low performers.

    Microsoft (54% profit margin) and even more so Apple (57% profit margin) are adored and hailed as the bright future of American business, while the oil industry with 12% profit margin and health insurance with less than 20% margin are cursed as evil. Even the major grocers, with an average of 4% profit margin, are disliked.

  8. Mike Mc

    MBA effect (Management By @ssholes and many other bitterly humorous variations).

  9. Tom Swirly

    > There’s research showing that people who were selected for jobs randomly do better than people who were put in the position supposedly for merit.

    I’m very, very skeptical about this unless there’s more information. Many jobs simply won’t work at all if you put a random person in them – jobs like “dentist”, “airline pilot” and that sort of thing.

  10. nihil obstet

    Simple, short popularized summaryRandom promotion may be best, research suggests

  11. tony

    “Phelan and Lin aimed to see whether, over the long haul, it pays best to promote people on supposed merit (we try, one way or another, to measure how good you are), or on an “up or out” basis (either you get promoted quickly or you get the boot), or by seniority (live long and by that measure alone you will prosper).”

    The alternatives they presented to random promotion were terrible. Merit is not a measurement of how good you are at another job, seniority is not a measurement of anything but seniority (experience does not on average make people better at things), and “up or out” would prevent you from ever having a highly qualilified people in any job except the top since they need to move up instead of doing what they excel in.

  12. Willy

    Tom Swirly,
    I believe that what he’s talking about is ‘within occupational classifications’, and more specifically, within large organizational structures. Obviously the kid operating your neighborhood lemonade stand will not be nearly as good a dentist as your current one is. But if either lemonade stands or dentistry commonly became part of large corporate organizations, to the exclusion of independent outfits, we would experience a dramatic drop in overall quality. I already theorized that within large corporations (especially the ones in cahoots with big government such as big pharma) the rewards become far more dependent on the politics than it does on productive quality. In such environments integrity becomes a fools game.

    That and I always wanted to respond to somebody named “Tom Swirly”.

  13. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    I’ll try one last time to enter a comment on this thread, which seems to be directly responding to my use of the term “high performers”:

    You say don’t “straw man” your equality concerns, but, ironically, you are “straw man-ing” my use of “high performers” in a very major way.

    You cite bad acting companies, as though they met my “high performer” criteria. But they don’t. I would never apply that term to a corporation, but only to individuals.

    And I only apply it to mean that high performance is producing results of some societal value. Not results that are obviously destructive, which seems to be what you want to focus on. You include in “high performers” a whole lot of folks that I would like to see in jail, because I see them as cheaters and corrupters (or worse).

    After applying these ‘new settings,’ do you still want mediocre actors to run the world lol?

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