theodp writes: John D. Cook takes a stab at explaining why programmers are not paid in proportion to their productivity. The basic problem, Cook explains, is that extreme programmer productivity may not be obvious. A salesman who sells 10x as much as his peers will be noticed, and compensated accordingly. And if a bricklayer were 10x more productive than his peers this would be obvious too (it doesn't happen). But the best programmers do not write 10x as many lines of code; nor do they work 10x longer hours. Programmers are most effective when they avoid writing code. An über-programmer, Cook explains, is likely to be someone stares quietly into space and then says "Hmm. I think I've seen something like this before."