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"Having a programmer who can spit out code ten times as fast as his compatriots doesn't result in a ten-fold improvement of returns."

Or maybe it does. A programmer using a better algo might save CPU cycles, storage needed, time to complete, or may even do something which would be plainly impossible for an average programmer. So, in the real world, a programmer who is better by 10% actually yields far more than 10 fold improvement of returns. There is significant economic benefit, but they should be clever enough to point it out.

Salary is unfortunately not (jut) about how good you are, and not even how much money you really make for the company, but how much your managers THINK they need to pay you (minimally) to keep you, while still making it all profitable. So it's much more complicated than just making good code or being efficient, it's just not that linear... like with any other job, it's also about your personality, connections, who's your manager and does he appreciate your work properly, what company you work for, what field of work, etc.

And in general, supply/demand curves are also not necessarily linear. A 10% reduction in the supply of oil could result in a tripling of the price. A 10% reduction in the supply of "awesome programmers" might cause a large increase in their salary, or a small one.

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