Fido L Dido - I have to disagree with the idea that you can't have those in the middle earning more than those "higher up".
I started life as a techie as well, and have now moved into management. I now run a department with revenue running into the £16m space and staff spread across multiple countries. However there are people working for me who are paid more than I am - I don't see this as wrong in any way, indeed I was the one who put them on those salaries.
The salary you give is, as you say, based on the value someone brings to the organisation, along with the ease with which they can be replaced, and that is the key point.
Now I consider myself a good manager, we have grown well, I have kept the team on track and kept focus, I have made those multi-million pound decisions. However if I look through my teams, there are a number of other who could also have done that, and indeed are part of my "hit by a bus" succession plans. There are also people who have skills that are not easily found and no easily developed, therefore they are paid more.
For me, the question of salary isn't about "rank" or status, it's about skills, commitment, and the ease with which those skills can be replaced. Management, for me, is an easier skill to replace (even at a high level) than a true hairy arsed techie who can plan whole datacentre architectures and migrations or can handle mission critical infrastructure where there are million pound SLA penalties on the line.
Just my opinion of course.