I’ve been paying attention to the politics of income inequality and then seeing the announcement of facebook’s acquisition of a young company called whatsapp for many billions. whatsapp has a half-billion “customers” from which they derive no real revenue, it is sufficient that they have that number of customers.
It reinforces my observation that the income inequality is mostly due to our celebrity culture: your worth is based on your “brand” how popular you are recognized whether as as a software app, a sports figure, a movie or television personality, or even corporate CEOs and board members. Their compensation is based on the fraction of the global population that recognizes their names for whatever reason. The inherent inequality of this way of compensating people is that there are only so many “brands” regular people can keep interested in.
A lot of career advice now seems to include the concept of “branding” building a unique, distinctive brand around your name (complete with logo or at least a good photo) and then marketing that brand through what is called networking a term that meant something very different just a few years ago. Today networking means getting recognition outside of your field; the “hey, I recognize you” response is far more valuable than “hey, I heard someone recommend you”.
There are a lot of people who do good work and suffer through sub one-percent merit increases year after year but who do not have time or energy to become celebrities. Even if they tried that vast majority will never achieve it.
The focus on the economic transaction of compensating for labor tries to attack the problem with minimum wages, maximum wages, and taxes. Compensation is a symptom of some deeper cause.
Very few people can have 450 million fans.