[Clug-work] C/C++ and Perl developers needed

Bernd Jendrissek bernd.jendrissek at rocketseed.com
Mon Sep 8 09:55:31 SAST 2008

Doug Falconer wrote:
> Developing software in C/C++ is difficult. It is a task to be
> undertaken by talented, experienced developers. Given that the supply
> of talented, experienced workers is likely to be limited, I don't
> think those workers should need to settle for "a reasonably nice flat
> in a reasonably nice area" on their combined salary.
If there is hardly any work for those talented, experienced workers to 
do in C or C++, I think it's perfectly reasonable (if counterfactual) 
for them to earn less than a just-out-of-college kid doing HTML.  Price 
is just a signal that a market sends to its participants about what 
resource allocation is most efficient.  Far more efficient might be for 
those talented, experienced workers to be leading or managing less 
talented, less experienced developers.
> Also, the majority of couples *do* raise children. Raising children is
> a demanding and extremely valuable activity and I think it should be
> possible for one of the parents to do so full-time if s/he wishes.
Why all the "should statements"?
> So I think it should be possible somebody doing a difficult, valuable
> job like development in C/C++ to earn enough to support herself, her
> partner and their children.
> Of course we could dispute the whole basis of salary determination in
> a capitalist society. But if we accept that workers should be
> financially rewarded for doing demanding work, then surely C/C++
> developers should live comfortably?
I don't accept that premise.  I prefer this one: workers should be 
financially rewarded for doing *valuable* work.

Writing an X11 driver for an EGA card would be extra demanding, but 
/it's the wrong work/.  Nobody uses those darn things anymore, so 
writing such a driver adds precious little value to the economy.  In 
fact it might be destroying more value than it creates... think of the 
carbon footprint of all those write / compile / test cycles.  
Consequently, I think a "fair" reward for such work could plausibly be 
lower than even that for "programming" in HTML.

It all depends on market forces: is there a willing buyer and a willing 
seller of developer skill?  If so, deal, otherwise, no deal.  There's no 
moral content in the terms on which free agents in a competitive market 
may choose (!) to contract.
> To a large extent, salaries are determined by what workers will
> accept. Having worked in London for 5 years, I suggest that developers
> in Cape Town often work for far less than they are worth.
What is a developer "worth"?  There's no a priori reason why any 
subpopulation must earn the same irrespective of circumstances.  Cape 
Town and London are different markets, so it's hardly surprising that 
the two have found different equilibrium points.

Maybe living in Cape Town is worth more than living in London?

Also consider: you pay "less than it's worth" every time you buy a car, 
a house or a bottle of milk.  Otherwise there's no point buying it!  The 
difference is called the "consumer surplus" and is the reason why 
competitive markets are usually more equitable than monopolies are.

Personally I think R25k/month for a C++ developer is reasonable.  You 
can do better, and you can do worse.  And IMHO it's more than enough to 
live comfortably (on one's own anyway)!

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