For a while, I was a regular reader of Scott Alexander’s blog, Slate Star Codex. Recently, I’ve been consuming other media. But today I was redirected back there because someone JL’s Slack channel mentioned Cost Disease. I remembered that Scott had written a series of posts on that subject.
Baumol’s cost disease (or the Baumol effect) is the rise of salaries in jobs that have experienced no or low increase of labor productivity, in response to rising salaries in other jobs that have experienced higher (low or no) labor productivity growth. This pattern seemingly goes against the theory in classical economics in which real wage growth is closely tied to labor productivity changes. The phenomenon was described by William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen in the 1960s.
So in a post titled Considerations On Cost Disease | Slate Star Codex) Scott writes 6500 words on cost disease. Not just 6500 words. It’s 6500 words with illustrations and links to supporting pages. A post likes that feels like a many, many weeks work to me, but he turns them out every few days, it seems. And he has a day job. His work is impressive both for quantity and for quality.
And he keeps producing it, something I’ve had trouble doing consistently.
To see how he was doing more recently I went to his blog and looked at his latest post. 8000 words. Fastidiously sourced.
In 2015 I wrote an admiring post People I want to be when I grow up: Scott Alexander) I’d be happy to grow up to be a second-rate Scott Alexander. That would put me far above the average cut of productive bloggers. But comparing myself to Scott is the wrong idea. He may be way younger than I am, but he’s been at it way longer than I have been. There’s something to be said for Practice, practice, practice.