Thursday, 26 April, 2007

If you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?

Wait a moment. Why should a smart person be rich? Or a rich person smart? That is, assuming ‘smart’ means ‘above average in intelligence’ (And exactly what is ‘intelligence’?). Is there any statistics that shows income and intelligence are correlated? Or otherwise related? Does the relation hold across all income ranges? Or does it cease to hold in the stratosphere? How about the gutter?

Till someone enlightens me of this, let me indulge in some numerical hocus-pocus:

Which, of course, means that the scientist who makes the fundamental discovery probably makes the least money; the engineer who turns this into something of practical value makes considerably more; but he’s a beggar compared to the executive. (This wonderful piece of inference proves that I have the makings of a front-rank scientific socialist.)

I suppose the poor scientist can’t become the rich executive even if he wanted to. And vice versa. And that this may have far more to do with personality traits (whatever they mean) than with brains. And that phrases like ‘If you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?’ are as unsubstantiated as they are insulting. But why bother if you can fling them around to make people shut up.


Arya said...

Well, for one there are many engineering professors (who will fall under the category of scientist and engineer) make a lot of money every year. Much of it is through consultation work.
The fortune 500 executive is most likely an engineer, a lawyer or an MBA (I think its 40%, 40 %, 20 %). Most fortune 500 companies make something (as opposed to being financial institutions) and thus are started and run by technical people. Do they fall under the “engineer” banner? Are the makers of Microsoft, google, and youtube engineers? If we are thinking about what the guy actually does for a living – sits in the corner office and directs his minions or thinks about turbo-jets, in all probability, he does a little of both. In today’s tech driven world, the CEO thinks more about what the next quad core processor should be able to do and whether people want a phone that does not have a key pad (iPhone).
The nobel laureate is obviously an exceptional guy, and till date, there has only been one engineer who was awarded a nobel prize (he invented the transistor while working at bell labs). Again, in today’s world, the nobel prize winner already has more funds than he will ever need. Most nobel prizes are given for work done much earlier in the career, since the greatness and impact of the work on science and human life has to be apparent before he/she is considered. What I am trying to say is, nobel prize winners have a) no use for that money anymore b) are usually so well established in their fields that they have huge funds at their disposal anyway.

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