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I would argue that for a Distinguished Engineer to have as much impact as a run-of-the-mill VP, they have to be the best at the world at what they do.

I agree, that's why it's lip service when they say that you can progress just as easily on the tech track because they "have the levels available".

I agree completely. And as someone who has had senior engineering roles and senior engineering management roles at different times, I'd argue that the reason management is paid more is simple supply and demand. For a very large majority of people, managing people is basically a more difficult, stressful, and shittier job. Not that there aren't a small(er) group of people who really love management, but management salaries have to be higher because, if they were the same as corresponding IC levels, it would be very difficult to coax people into management.

Huh, I'd argue more folks are interested in management then are being engineers.

I’d argue that it’s impossibke to compare a Distinguished Engineer to a VP because the job functions are vastly different. Using a vague measurement like “impact” doesn’t overcome this.

I agree i’ve never heard an understandable explanation as to why a company with 1 or 2 principal engineer level employees can have hundreds of VPs.

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