Rush’s show just ended as I write this, and the last caller he took before the end of this hour was from a woman in Newport Beach, California. She posited an interesting theory for Rush, one that I don’t think he grokked in the way that she desired. The woman’s theory is that Americans in general just haven’t graduated from high school, because the way we idolize professional athletes and celebutards, and bash and trash entrepreneurs and CEOs, even as supposedly mature adults, closely mirrors the fact that the jocks and cheerleaders are popular in high school, while the geeks and nerds get wedgies.
Rush responded to her theory by explaining why he thought that the best athletes and actors got paid a lot of money, but I think he missed the point — I don’t think she was making a moral judgment about Brett Favre making far more money than the founder of a tech startup, but I think she was merely making an observation of modern-day American neoteny. I think what she was trying to say is that Brett Favre being way richer than the tech startup isn’t the disease, but merely the symptom of the disease of neoteny.
However, I think I can further the conversation just a little bit. While Rush was right in inferring that the reason NFL starting QBs get paid a lot of money is because there are only 32 such jobs at any one time, I don’t think that jocks and nerds are each other’s enemy. Far from picking on the nerds, the jocks should thank the nerds every chance they get. If it wasn’t for the nerds of recent human history constantly inventing, innovating and perfecting, then people like Brett Favre wouldn’t have millions of dollars even for a decidedly non-nerdy occupation. Let’s face it, while Favre and someone like Alex Rodriguez are probably smarter than the average person, they’re not especially remarkable people outside of modern-day professional athletics. As late as 150 years ago, Favre would have owned a general store in some town in southern Mississippi, and Rodriguez would have made an exceptionally good tobacco picker in the Dominican Republic.
Because people like Edison, Einstein, Ford, Maxwell, Hertz, Marconi and so many others had the foresight to come up with new inventions and innovations, this meant that eventually, the average person could become far more productive, and contribute to a far higher national and world economic product, all the while working far fewer hours in a day, week, month and year. Therefore, they had all this free time and money burning holes in their pockets, and some of that eventually went to developing professional athletics. Therefore, the general store owners and tobacco farm stoop laborers of a sesquicentury ago, whose talents and throwing a spherical pigskin or hitting a round ball with a stick would have been useless at the time, are now very much in demand.
UPDATE 9 PM: Rush’s transcript