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How To Create More Jobs

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the getting-out-of-the-way dept.

Businesses 368

TechDirt is spotlighting a call by Michael S. Malone, a columnist for ABCNews.com, for letting Silicon Valley create jobs once more. Malone argues that Sarbanes-Oxley and other attempts at accounting reform have done little to prevent fraud, but in fact have managed to kill off an entrepreneurship-venture capital-IPO cycle, centered in Silicon Valley, that has taken 30 years to nourish. Here's TechDirt: "...it's time to roll back SarbOx and other accounting rules that have acted more for theatrical purposes rather than any legitimate reason. Basically, all they've done is create new reporting requirements that do little to nothing to either prevent fraud or clarify a company's actual financial position (its intended purpose). I'm all for radical transparency in financial info, but that's not what has been done. Instead, we've made it burdensome to actually grow a company — and that doesn't help create jobs. It helps kill them."

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Bypass the VCs and Code (4, Informative)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217529)

As I said in a previous comment, the current model of entrepreneurship is broken. VCs have left. In 2009, capital will be really hard to find. But there is a silver lining: capital is no longer necessary to start companies.

Again, fairsoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] among others is allowing people who don't have any money and don't have any VC buddies to start businesses together.

It will work because for software at least, a few smart developers can beat established software giants. Groundbreaking software can now be built quickly and cheaply by reusing a lot of existing code. You can thank the Open Source community's efforts for that.

I have a lot of respect for Mike Malone, the author of the article. He wrote one of my favorite books: "Going Public: Mips and the Entrepeneurial Dream". If you have any ounce of entrepreneurship in you, this book will reveal it. I'm sure it started vocations. But in today's piece, I disagree that Sarbanes-Oxley is the main problem, although it did reduce the number of IPOs.

The best advice I ever received for starting a company? Drop Powerpoint and your VC pitch. Write code instead.

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (5, Insightful)

Slashdotvagina (1434241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217649)

But there is a silver lining: capital is no longer necessary to start companies.

That's very true for software-based businesses. However, imagine someone with a great idea for a new type of processor that wants to compete with Intel. There's a LOT of capital required for manufacturing-based businesses in order to do proper R&D, establish factories, and so on... assuming the concept is so radically different that it can't be outsourced to existing fabrication plants.

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217891)

Advertising that I'm a girl on Slashdot since 2008.

[citation needed]

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218405)

Read the username.

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218203)

Ever heard of natural monopolies? Probably a natural oligopoly is a better description for the processor(automobile, etc) market right now.

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217787)

Agree. I can't wait to see where World of Goo [2dboy.com] goes, a game better than most in 2008 made by a team of... 3.

My wife's the accountant, so I can't comment about Sarbanes-Oxley myself.

Re:Bypass the VCs and Code (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217801)

Given that your home page is http://www.fairsoftware.net/ [fairsoftware.net] do you have an association with the company? If you do, can I trust your comment that "the current model of entrepreneurship is broken", or is that what you believe based on your need to see your new company succeed? No, I'm not alleging any nefarious motives on your part. I'm sure you genuinely believe what you wrote and am asking whether your perception has been genuinely distorted due to a vested interest.

Everything is free in the new economee (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218183)

"capital is no longer necessary to start companies"

That's right. Food is now free. Power and equipment is free. Rent has been abolished. Accountants are free.

Repeat after meee, everything is freee in the new economeee.

As a Democrat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218457)

As a Democrat, I blame The Jew Puppet George Dumbya "Chimpy" Bu&Hilter McHaliburten

and the Jews.

Huh? (5, Funny)

iLLucionist (956046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217571)

Why we need more Jobs? I think one instance is enough.

Re:Huh? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217771)

Didn't you hear? He's dying, and Apple needs him.

Re:Huh? (1)

Thrakamazog (794533) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217889)

Does Netcraft confirm it?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217957)

Yeah! what will the elves in their Cupertino workshop do after he's gone? They need Santa,er,Steve to guide their toy-making in the right direction. Frankly, Rudolph isn't up to the challenge and Tim Allen is unavailable.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218245)

Once the AI Jobs goes away, all the nanomachines in the PMCs (Pro-Mac Consumers) that have been injected by Apple products will stop functioning and the PMCs will regain the ability to think for themselves....the game will change.

There are too many jobs (0)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218359)

There are too many jobs. It's almost as bad as 1999/2000 when anyone that could spell computa could get a job in the industry. As a result quality suffered.

What we need is fewer jobs to make more competition and get rid of the useless.

SOX has created jobs, just sucky ones (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217591)

It created a whole breed of IT "professionals", people who creep out of the woodwork and latch onto the latest buzzword-compliant, (typically) Government-sponsored/mandated thing, and ride it until the next one comes along.

Re:SOX has created jobs, just sucky ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218313)

Heh. That's always been the case with software development and marketing, and government procurement. It's just branching out a little.

I think we need more jobs on Tuesdays too. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217603)

but how will Wednesday feel?

Misses the point! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217607)

SOX is for publicly traded companies, not startups. By the time they are publicly traded, the need for VC is generally in the distant past.

Re:Misses the point! (5, Informative)

folstaff (853243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217821)

Yes and no. If a non-publicly traded company wants to do business with a company that falls under SOX, they may be subject to additional requirements (like an audit of internal controls). SOX is much bigger than most people think and bad for business.

Re:Misses the point! (4, Insightful)

loteck (533317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218497)

Astounding how we, as a country, can have comments like the ones in this thread, and like the ones in TFA, that continue to stand up for deregulation of the financial markets, having less accountability, requiring less transparency, while the entire system is collapsing precisely because of a lack or regulation, accountability, and transparency.

You all are standing in the lobby of a skyscraper that is collapsing, preaching to the screaming people who are frantically running out the doors that 'this is exactly why we should enforce less standards when we build skyscrapers!' Everyone is looking at you like you are the retarded maniac that you probably are.

*Gasp* an internal control audit, you say!? Why, that doesn't make any sense... that a publically traded company (whose business model relies on their business partners, who are private companies, remaining financially solvent) should require those private companies to attain attestation to the effectiveness of their own internal controls? How dare they. That just sounds, so... so...

Responsible!

Re:Misses the point! (5, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217865)

Your post title, "Misses the point!", is quite appropriate, since that's exactly what you did. Sarbox prevents large private businesses, startups, that aren't publicly traded from making the transition to being publicly traded, because of the incredible expense associated with getting into compliance. In other words, the millions a year it costs is acceptable to already publicly traded companies, but the millions that much be spent precludes non-publicly traded companies from making the transition, significantly raising the barriers to entry.

Perhaps we need fewer publicly traded companies. (4, Interesting)

FatSean (18753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218013)

I mean, all those short-sighted boards focused on the next quarter to pacify greedy shareholders don't seem to be good for innovation or the long term.

Be careful what you wish for. (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218111)

You believe the situation would be better without any public oversight and with large companies being controlled exclusively by select individuals (the people that own the company)? You don't want to see entrenched publicly traded companies challenged by newcomers? You honestly believe that publicly traded companies don't innovate?

Re:Misses the point! (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217931)

People as clueless as Mr. Malone are entitled to their opinion, but should not necessarily be entitled to having that opinion published in a national newspaper. Of course that would disqualify the entire WSJ editorial page.

2008 was indeed a disastrous year for IPOs. Here are the figures for the last several years:

2008: 43 IPOs (not 8)
2007: 272
2006: 221
2005: 214
2004: 217
2003: 70

(source: http://www.ipohome.com/ipohome/Review/2008main.aspx [ipohome.com] and several other places)

Now note: there were 33x as many IPOs in 2007 than 2008. This means that we can't say this was because of SarbOx because we had SarbOx in 2007. It is possible that adjusting to SarbOx was the problem in 2003, the year SarbOx went into effect, but SarbOx can't explain the change from 2008. Still, the writer might not be completely clueless. He knows enough to cherry pick years that were before SarbOx went into effect and which had higher numbers of IPOs than in 2008: 1999 (269), 1996 (272) and 1986 (365). However, it would appear that the years 2004 through 2006 were fairly normal for IPOs, with 2007 being an unusually good year.

So with respect to 2008, I'd venture, without doing any kind of extensive research into this, that something else might happened in the capital markets in 2008. The editors of the WSJ might want to look into it.

Re:Misses the point! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218379)

So with respect to 2008, I'd venture, without doing any kind of extensive research into this, that something else might happened in the capital markets in 2008. The editors of the WSJ might want to look into it.

Don't count on that. The purchase of the Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch was the beginning of the end for reliable business reporting from that newspaper. It's only a matter of time until its reporting is just as insightful and informative as the Fox Business Network.

Single Tax (4, Funny)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217625)

There should be a unified Single tax. This way there would be a lot less paperwork to do. That tax should be a Money transfer Tax, for example 15% when you get paid, buy something, transfer money. etc. It would also promote saving which is quite good at this moment in time.

Re:Single Tax (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217695)

That tax should be a Money transfer Tax, for example 15% when you get paid, buy something, transfer money. etc.

Yessiree, that will keep capital circulating! Nothing inspires a person to move funds into a position to better fund a promising new company or other investment than to take 15% of that money away from you for seeing the opportunity. Yes! Punish investment! That should get some new companies and jobs under way.

Re:Single Tax (5, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217919)

"Yessiree, that will keep capital circulating! Nothing inspires a person to move funds into a position to better fund a promising new company or other investment than to take 15% of that money away from you for seeing the opportunity."

It will keep the capital moving. Moving to the Cayman Islands, to Switzerland, to Monaco etc.

One coin. Two sides. (3, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218441)

When you don't tax capital, it moves too quickly, and causes too much boom and bust. That's why western countries have rules against capital flight, and some european countries have a token tax - a fraction of a percent - for every stock transaction to slow people's overreactions.

Personally, I have a somewhat libertarian ideal - eliminate corporations as they are known, and remove the corporate veil of protection for most companies, except for special charters given to insurance companies and other temporary projects - bridge building, mass transit, internet service, etc. There's no reason to grant a corporation special status unless it is doing something beneficial for the community.

I think it would keep companies small and healthy, and keep large, sensible corporations very well regulated. Just require total transparency, and you'll keep the crooks out. But while the crooks are still ruling the White House [rawstory.com] , the rich are still making the rules.

Re:Single Tax (3, Interesting)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217875)

Yes, saving is exactly what we need right now. Everyone should put their money in the bank, and not spend anything. That way, all your neighbours might go broke slightly before you do.

As for a simple flat tax, you realise what effect that would have on small business, don't you? Buy a product from a company that produces products from scratch, and you'll be paying 15% on that; buy a product from a shop that bought it from a manufacturer, who bought the components from another manufacturer, and there's going to be more tax in the price than anything else.

What are you going to suggest next? Perhaps the world could get out of its current predicament if the governments were to print more money.

Re:Single Tax (3, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218261)

There should be a tax on credit transactions. Credit transactions are based on the assumption that if the joker doesn't pay you, you can take him to court. At this point, the gubmint steps in and gives you your cash. If 2 individuals exchange goods or cash for goods, there is no need for any government intervention, and thus no justification for taxing it.

IP psyched....? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217655)

OH! IP cycle psyched out?

How is this new? (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217659)

Faced with crushing reporting costs if they go public, new companies are instead selling themselves to big, existing corporations. For the last four years it has seemed that every new business plan in Silicon Valley has ended with the statement "And then we sell to Google."

Ummmm, that's been the plan for YEARS. The only thing that changes is the name of the company that you hope will buy you.

I could make the argument that it is "IP" patents that are the real problem.

If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (3, Insightful)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217679)

Then they need to get rid of it because it isn't working, but they are going to need to replace it with something else that does work.
Currently, part of the problem is that the financial world is hidden. Oh just trust us, we know what we are doing. Well after 2 bubble bursts, people are really wary of investing in anything, because there isn't any reliable information and there isn't any repercussion if someone lies about financial dealings.
So I don't think repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is the answer, unless something is put in its place that will help give investors confidence in their investments.
I for one have pulled completely out of the market and I know of others that have also. Now the big question is if and when do we get back in. Right now there is nothing happening in the financial market, that indicates to me that things are going to improve. So why should I put my money into something that is going to crash again in 2 or 5 or 7 years.

Re:If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (3, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217715)

We agree, except that taking the transparency components behind SarBox and making them both more easily audited and standardized would be helpful. Accountability and transparency ought to be key, but instead, SarBox isn't scrutinized by auditors, who are sufficiently comprimised by their engagements that the information is of no merit or use. The data might be there (and expensively, with lots of incongruencies) but there's no one to analyze it and act on it.

Re:If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217779)

I agree that useful financial regulation may be helpful. But I'm baffled as to why you think we need to leave in place something that you agree doesn't work until we get something that does.

If your car had razor blades instead of seat belts, would you leave them in place until you could have seat belts installed or would you take them out as an entirely separate process, possibly while also working to find seat belts?

Re:If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218477)

Depends. If there's a belt made out of razor blades strung together and it can hold me in an accident and if the dashboard and windshield are covered in curare-covered stakes and razor blades, I'd have to think about it pretty hard or really badly need to get somewhere fast.

The problem right now for "car and razor blade manufacturers" is that people are starting to catch on that the cars are deathtraps and that it's far safer to walk or bicycle.

Re:If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217783)

If the example of managed funds is any example, a disturbingly large component of the world's wealth lives nowhere else but the common spreadsheet. Oh there are registries, of course, the ledger is there -- but I've seen a lot of institutional financial reporting that is based entirely on opaque spreadsheet macros. It isn't like the information isn't there, it's just bloody inaccessible due to the medium. The stuff is largely written in VBA with less than perfect QA. At least the stuff is portable, anyway.

Re:If Sarbanes-Oxley isn't working (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218169)

If the example of managed funds is any example, a disturbingly large component of the world's wealth lives nowhere else but the common spreadsheet. Oh there are registries, of course, the ledger is there -- but I've seen a lot of institutional financial reporting that is based entirely on opaque spreadsheet macros. It isn't like the information isn't there, it's just bloody inaccessible due to the medium. The stuff is largely written in VBA with less than perfect QA. At least the stuff is portable, anyway.

Yes I wonder how auditors could get reliable data. In the old days you had centralised mainframe based accounting. Now the code is contolled by in house financial people and the spreadsheets can be made to report anything you want.

There are other things first. (2, Interesting)

cwcpetech (733201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217709)

1: Cancel all H1/L1 programs indefinitely, but with a condition that they return at some point in a more regulated form. 2: Reclassify transplant manufacturers as import manufacturers of that particular nation and tax accordingly. 3: Zero taxes on businesses that would comply with a strengthened "Patriot Business" standard. That is, loopholes would be removed. 4: Domestic preference for education and funding thereof at all levels. 5: Put a moratorium on new fuel taxes or changes that effect an increase of any kind. 6: Revert all of the environmental standards for vehicles to 1980's standards.

Such as "lock patents to people" (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217921)

A refresh of the patent system, in the sense that the ownership of a patent could not be transferred away from the original inventor, might go a long way toward reinvigorating innovation. It's a personal thing, then -- making it worth your while to innovate knowing the patent trolls, law firms, HR policies and accountants can't take away your essential contribution, allowing you to stick your neck out without fear of some industry bullying you out of what's yours. Limit the transfer to licensing, but do not transfer ownership of the instrument itself, nor permit exclusive arrangements that are out of the original patent holder's control. This may or may not be how you do it, but people aren't going to invent if they can't reap the proceeds of their unique contribution to society. This may be excessively Horatio Algier, but dammit I have an idea to build something now and I'm afraid to commit it to paper.

Re:There are other things first. (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217991)

I wouldn't cancel the H1 programs, but I'd tighten standards. Yes, that comes from someone who'd love to move to the US and work there, and someone whose country has the same problem of people coming here to "steal" our jobs.

Face it, like it or not, there are sometimes not enough people available with a certain skill. Over here, we have a crippling shortage of nurses, doctors and skilled pharmacologists. If we didn't get them from abroad, certain services would simply cease to exist and our living standard would plummet. So I'm all for inviting them in.

What we do NOT need, and neither does the US, is more unskilled labour and more people who can do only what people already in the US can do as well, often to the same or even better quality, but they'd cost more. What I'd rather demand is that whoever gets hauled in from overseas has to be paid AT LEAST as much as a local resident would cost (it's not hard to figure out an average, is it?) and you'd suddenly see how companies stop to gobble up all the open H1 spots to get cheap slaves from abroad.

Re:There are other things first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218493)

I think they prefer the term indentured servitude.

(Plus that way, it takes less time educating to make them a specialist!)

Re:There are other things first. (1)

gishzida (591028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218461)

1: Cancel all H1/L1 programs indefinitely, but with a condition that they return at some point in a more regulated form. 2: Reclassify transplant manufacturers as import manufacturers of that particular nation and tax accordingly. 3: Zero taxes on businesses that would comply with a strengthened "Patriot Business" standard. That is, loopholes would be removed. 4: Domestic preference for education and funding thereof at all levels. 5: Put a moratorium on new fuel taxes or changes that effect an increase of any kind. 6: Revert all of the environmental standards for vehicles to 1980's standards.

Item 1... why not just change these programs into "sponsored citizenship programs"? The idea being if you want to work here you become a citizen.

Item 2: Ditto on corporations that "outsource" their labor overseas. Remove "offshore" corporate taxbreaks.

Item 3: So the average Joe has to pay the taxes for all of the their profits? Only if the stockholders pay the taxes instead.

Item 5 & 6 on your list do nothing to help anything at all except line the pockets of foreign governments and very large corporations...That's not a step forward.

The gas tax has not changed for a long time... but a $2.50 a gallon tax for drivers of SUV and Trucks used for non-business purposes (vehicles required to perform work exempted but not those used to get to work) might spur some folks to try and find a cheaper more efficient means of transportation.

As for rolling back the standards... I guess you've never lived in L.A.

Paperwork (3, Interesting)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217731)

I own a small business and have been considering hiring someone part time. Unfortunately I have no idea what paperwork needs to be filled out. What do I need to know as far as taxes, etc? If I could simply say, "I'll give you X dollars for N hours of work." It would be much simpler AND there would be one less out of work programmer.

Re:Paperwork (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218499)

I would go here [sba.gov] . Many of the links go to the irs website but there should be an SBA office near you where you can get more information.

Sick and tired of people ragging on mark-to-market (1, Interesting)

Software (179033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217733)

FTFA:

FASB's "mark-to-market" accounting rules helped drive AIG and Bear Stearns into bankruptcy, even though they were cash-positive.

should be:

FASB's "mark-to-market" accounting rules forced AIG and Bear Stearns to admit that their liabilities had exceeded their assets, instead of allowing the companies to invent a price for the assets until were finally sold.

FASB's acc

Re:Sick and tired of people ragging on mark-to-mar (1)

Software (179033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217775)

Oops, wrong button. The second quote should be:

FASB's "mark-to-market" accounting rules forced AIG and Bear Stearns to admit that their liabilities had exceeded their assets, instead of allowing the companies to invent a price for the assets until the assets were finally sold.

For too darn long, companies could just make up prices for assets they wanted to value. Forcing the assets to be valued at what they're actually worth (i.e., what somebody will pay for them) is just common sense.

Re:Sick and tired of people ragging on mark-to-mar (4, Informative)

w3woody (44457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218009)

The problem is how does one value an asset that one is holding and that one has not sold yet, since the real value of an asset is what I could get for it on the open market.

Mark to market simply says that I need to value that asset at the current going rate for similar assets on the open market.

Now here is where the banks got screwed, and the fun part about this example is that it is currently going on today. Say I bought a 10-year treasury bill for $70 five years ago which will mature in 10 years at a face value of $100, earning around 4% annual interest. What is that asset worth?

Well, you could say that the asset's value is growing at 4% compounded interest, so the bond is worth $85 today.

WRONG!!!

Mark to market says that the asset is worth what I could get for it if I sold it today on the open market. Well, in the open market there is such a rush for cash liquidity that people have been dumping their bond holdings (including treasury bonds). And as we all learned in Economics 101, high supply, low demand translates to depressed prices.

Which means that if I tried to sell that $100 treasury on the bond market, I may only get $50 for it.

So, according to mark-to-market accounting, my $100 treasury bought five years ago for $70, whose face value if I simply computed it's value by compound interest would be $85 is actually only worth $50. And it means if I have the regulatory requirement to have a certain asset to liability ratio, my treasury bonds, which are completely and totally secure--the U.S. Government so far has not defaulted on a single treasury--is insufficiently "secure" for accounting purposes.

It's the primary reason why some people want to do away with mark-to-market rules: because many mortgage backed securities were trading at perhaps 10 cents to 20 cents on the dollar, even when the most pessimistic default rates in the mortgage market would cause the underlying assets (the houses themselves) which comprise the mortgage backed security to be worth maybe 85 cents or 90 cents to the dollar. This 9x deflation in the face value of the instrument was what killed AIG: they had no choice but to value the asset lower than the underlying homes would have been worth in the event 50% of the land mass of the United States was destroyed in a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

Re:Sick and tired of people ragging on mark-to-mar (1)

Ammin (1012579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218135)

So . . . you have safe government bond that would return something in the neighborhood of 12% interest over five years if purchased for $50. I'll take as many of those $100 treasury bills that mature in 2014 for $50 as you can offer. In other words, this is totally ridiculous. And given the amount of my money that AIG has already gone through, I'd have to say those assets are probably overvalued at 20 cents on the dollar.

Re:Sick and tired of people ragging on mark-to-mar (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218377)

That's exactly what happened a few weeks ago: a number of assets were being valued at a fraction of their face value and they're being dumped on the open market at fire-sale prices. It is precisely for this reason that the Treasury was looking at allowing banks to swap long-term bills for short-term treasury paper, in order to bolster the value of the treasury assets held by the banks.

Sadly many of these things seem only available to institutional buyers--otherwise, I'd go out there and start scooping up these cheap bonds myself!!!

In the telecom's it seems to help at least (3, Informative)

Nathgar (995959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217737)

I work in disconnects for businesses for a major telco, and we have a lot of auditing requirements due to SOx. I'd hate to think of what records would look like without these requirements. Sure people can still cheat, but it's also a CYA for the company that is doing the reporting.

There is still slamming now and then, but there are far fewer disconnects in error, where the telco is at fault. Usually it is the business customer not knowing which location they actually wanted to disconnect on their side, or not reading what they wanted to disconnect.

It would be nice to not have the reports. But you know if a business is not required to do it then there will be no tracking of any type done, which is where major abuses take place.

I don't mind doing the reports in addition my normal workload because I'd been able to go over others work that I am auditing and get it back on track if there is a mistake in it.

Re:In the telecom's it seems to help at least (1)

alcourt (198386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218289)

There's another area I've seen SOX help a great deal, computer security. Prior to SOX, there was a strong tendency in management to say "all security risk is outweighed by the potential gain." In other words, there was an unrealistic expectation of security vulnerabilities never being exploited, or if they were, being outweighed by the advantage of not spending the time to improve security.

Now, with the SOX computer requirements, management is forced to monitor computer security as one of many elements of operations. As a result, there is more attention to how servers are configured, and from what I've heard, server reliability ends up improving. People are forced to review the servers, and when something needs fixing, there is a little bit of the "while you're fixing X to comply with audits, fix these other bugs by fixing X in this particular way."

In one example repeated over and over, an application had non-compliant authentication systems. Bringing the authentication into compliance allowed the system to be integrated with the corporate authentication method, reducing helpdesk costs and improving the user experience (fewer passwords to manage).

Auditing has seen a real increase. SOX is far from the only cause, especially in the example you give. Other audits and rules may also be responsible for some of the increased auditing requirements.

Disclaimer: I work in the group that responds to computer security audits, gathering technical information for the auditors, as well as working on implementation of security policies.

Deregulation is the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217757)

Yes, let's get rid of all those pesky regulations that just get in the way of business. Deregulation has done so well over the last 8 years that it makes sense to get rid of the last few impediments to a Perfect World of prosperity for all.

Re:Deregulation is the answer! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217805)

Damn straight. Those Soviet guys got it right the first time, didn't they? Absolute total control over business... by unaccountable appointed bureaucrats.

Seriously. Were you dropped on your head as a teenager?

Re:Deregulation is the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218159)

idiot

Re:Deregulation is the answer! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218047)

It has been argued, actually, that all the additional regulations over the last few years have made fraud *easier*. The regulators are so busy dealing with the additional regulations and paperwork that they don't have time to investigate other stuff.

Meanwhile, fraudsters just lie to the regulators like they do to everybody else. If somebody is already breaking the law, they're generally not going to have any problem breaking the new law too. You know... That whole "If you outlaw guns" thing...

Re:Deregulation is the answer! (1)

alcourt (198386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218315)

What SOX and related audit laws do is provide a method to show if the fraudsters are lying or not, and to give regulators real power over them if they catch them before they cause significant harm to others.

Yes, there has been some transition period while people get used to the SOX requirements and how to handle them in addition to the normal requirements. I've seen increased attention lately, as well as better checks and balances to help detect if someone is trying to deceive the external auditors, or act in collusion with a corrupt auditor.

cancel the h1bs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217799)

Too many qualified Americans rejected so that H1Bs can replace them (for the same money). Makes no sense whatsoever. Cancel the H1Bs.

Re:cancel the h1bs (mod parent back up) (1)

cwcpetech (733201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217959)

Too many qualified Americans rejected so that H1Bs can replace them (for the same money). Makes no sense whatsoever. Cancel the H1Bs.

Same with the L1's and other areas. Have an indefinite moratorium on the practice on the condition that it can only return in a more regulated, transparent, citizen-friendly format.

How true, and it's a shame that they modbomb you in such a way.

Re:cancel the h1bs (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218101)

In the industries that have large number of H1Bs, the bulk of the unemployed aren't actually "qualified". This is especially true in the IT and software industries. People got jobs during the late '90s because companies were hurting for help. A lot of those people sucked, and are now out of work and bitter that there are H1Bs with "their job". The fact of the matter is that most of those people weren't qualified for the job in the first place. There is still a short supply of people who are actually qualified for IT and software jobs. Hell, the group I work for has been trying to hire a DBA for 6 months. Every time we think we've found one (after interviewing a bunch of unqualified people) they get a better offer from somebody else.

H1Bs aren't the problem. It's people like you having a sense of entitlement that are the problem. Unemployment is only 6%. Go earn yourself a job instead of sitting around bitching about how somebody else has one that's rightfully yours.

(People who *are* qualified, but work in an industry that's out of business also have a problem... But there aren't H1Bs taking their job. Their job is just gone.)

The whole SOX compliance thing was silly. (4, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217817)

SOX was passed so that politicians could look like they were "doing something" after the whole Enron debacle. Okay, fine; politicians have to look like they're "doing something"--but unfortunately for us, "doing something" involves passing new laws, and every law that passes is a minor freedom that is revoked.

The real irony of Enron was not that it was a failure of having the right regulations in place, but a failure of enforcement: the guys running Enron went to jail for breaking pre-SOX laws.

That's the thing that irritates me the most: politicians always have to look like they're doing something, when in fact, the right thing for them to do is nothing, except, perhaps, hold a hearing to find out why enforcement failed. And sadly, enforcement fails more often than not because we don't spend enough money on enforcement because we're busy trying to figure out how to enforce the new legal requirements.

The whole legal framework is bug laden and a perfect example of the Lava Flow Anti-pattern. [wikipedia.org] What we need is for politicians to go through and rewrite the law to simplify it, rather than to add more and more layers of nonsense.

As a footnote, every time someone says that some section of our economy is insufficiently regulated, I laugh out loud: nearly every aspect of the financial system (such as financial derivatives) exist as a side effect of the current regulatory framework. It's not that we don't have enough regulations--it's because the existing framework is buggy.

Re:The whole SOX compliance thing was silly. (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218073)

That's exactly the problem SOX has today, too. I was in the middle of a SOX audit at some large company over here that should remain unnamed to protect the guilty.

Aside of some rather ... fantastic requirements (like, administrators being not allowed to be able to read data but are responsible for its backup), we were doing checklists. Do this, check. Do that, check. Why? Don't ask. Just do it. Yes, it's pointless, yes, we know that (this is not a coworker talking, this is from the auditor), but it's in the book, so do it. We documented features that didn't exist anymore, we documented workflows that are neither relevant to the software nor ever used (or, if used, could be interpreted in any way wrong), and we were delayed by over two months in a project (costing about a manyear of work, for fluff).

The data we produced this way does in no way document the software, neither technically nor as an instruction manual. It does not show what the software does. It does not inform anyone about how values are calculated or why certain flags are being set. It does not give an auditor any relevant information that could enable him to identify something that could be used to "steal" money or hide a leak. It is utterly and completely worthless, but it does adhere to the SOX requirements.

And that's what's wrong about it. Companies don't want SOX to work. The people in the company that deal with SOX view it as a nuisance and something they want out of the way because it cuts into their actual work. Auditing companies only want to check off the requirements because it's the fastest way to get their money for auditing the company.

In short, NOBODY involved actually wants SOX to work.

Re:The whole SOX compliance thing was silly. (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218099)

When I run for president, doing nothing will be my platform. I'll just sit back and let the free market and society figure everything out. I figure if I get involved, I'll just screw things up.

My slogan will be, "Status quo is the way to go."

Re:The whole SOX compliance thing was silly. (0, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218401)

politicians always have to look like they're doing something, when in fact, the right thing for them to do is nothing

Please stop posting your right-wing crap here. Take it to AM radio where it belongs, away from where anyone can hear it.

Unintended consecuences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217825)

It can be said of most government regulation that they hurt entrepreneurship. Sarbox is the most worst of them all but there are many such things. Than we wonder why business is leaving the state and going oversea. This is no what the intention is but there is this thing call unintended consecuences. That is practically a physical law of nature on the same level as Nuton's third laws. Whenever government makes regulations, irregardless of what is the purpose, than there are unintended consecuences.

I have one sure way (2, Funny)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217827)

One sure way that would work is to mandate that all products sold in the USA have a particular percentage of American Content; and this does not refer to simple "value added" per se.

What I am talking about is the gross importation of finished, ready-to-use goods like automobiles and other big ticket items. If this mandate were in place, there would be thousands of jobs created across this great land.

There was talk that Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is more than 67% "foreign!" This is unacceptable. There was a report that if the liner were just 70% American made, this would create 27,000 jobs.

Can we even count the jobs that have gone to Mexico and Canada? GM's Silverado and Suburban are all made in Mexico. Those jobs would be right here.

Re:I have one sure way (1)

cwcpetech (733201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217979)

Just be sure to reward them with a zero percent tax for going that route.

Re:I have one sure way (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217999)

Once local workers are willing to compete with workers in the rest of the world, then you'll start seeing more products made locally. As long as they keep demanding compensation disproportionate to their value, they'll be passed over.

(For the record, I live in metro Detroit.)

Re:I have one sure way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218089)

Once local workers are willing to compete with workers in the rest of the world

I agree, once society gets used to living with 3 families to a hut, brothers and sisters sharing beds and so on, we'll be ready to compete with third-world countries.

Re:I have one sure way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218083)

GM's Silverado and Suburban are all made in Mexico. Those jobs would be right here.

Not for long. At least you don't have to pay the welfare for those laid off. Well, unless they hop the border. Ha ha.

Re:I have one sure way (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218175)

Ok, define "American Content" in a way that can't be twisted and turned by companies. How about an US company manufactoring the product abroad. It's a US company, so it's "American Content". Or how about an "American Company" constructed near the border to Mexico, employing Mexicans for slave labour wages (or anyone who'd work for a few cents an hour)? Or only employing people who can't really complain about bad working conditions because it's either this job or none (ex-cons come to mind)?

And how would you define that percentage? If you let some poor people in some backwater area of the US stamp some brand name on shoes that were made in China, the handful of people people who slave away there would already constitute a sizable percentage of the cost to make.

Since you would have to give companies some kind of "incentive" (let's call it a tax cut or even bribe, your pick), companies might even welcome your suggestion since it means more money for them.

If anything, the "Made in the U.S.A." tag would have to mean that the item was entirely made in the US. From raw materials to the finished product. And a marketing campaign would have to accompany it, telling people that if you're patriotic, true blooded Americans, you buy American and watch out for this tag. Add steep fines (and I mean steep, comapny-crippling, not the "part of the calculation" type fees we have today) for fraudulent use.

Then we can start talking.

Re:I have one sure way (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218339)

Ok, define "American Content" in a way that can't be twisted and turned by companies...

"American Content" has to be vague to some extent. That is, it must be open to interpretation. This way, wiggle room is created. But the gist must be placed on the value of the product.

If a pair of trousers or pants as they are known in the USA costs, say US$89.99, then we can demand that 50% of that cost must have been contributed by activities in the USA.

The business of sewing these pants in foreign lands for "peanuts" and selling them for up to 300% in profits will cease. That way, every American benefits. I know because folks the apparel industry are my clients.

One particular shirt for example, even while on sale for US$19.99, is still sold at a profit. The same shirt could have been sold at US$149.99 just seven months prior.

Re:I have one sure way (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218275)

I suspect rules like that (which lead to tariffs and import duties) are against the WTO rules.

We signed onto this plan so we are pretty much stuck with it now. It mandates global free trade amoungst member countries. So you can't select preferences like this - it is called "protectionism" and isn't allowed.

Bush tried this with steel imports already and got smacked down. Bet Obama tries again, soon. He will likely suffer the same fate.

The whole financial system is corrupt (1)

nido (102070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217835)

SOX is a bit player in a giant swindle. The jobs problem has nothing to do with the lack of venture capital. The problem is the economy is up to its eyeballs in debt, and there's no money to pay the interest due.

This is due to the debt-based nature of our financial system. See Money and the Crisis of Civilization [realitysandwich.com] and I Want the Earth plus 5% [relfe.com] .

If the congress wanted to create jobs, it would issue interest-free money (such as Abraham Lincoln's United States Notes [themoneymasters.com] ) and spend it directly into circulation on worthwhile projects. The most worthwhile project today is renewable energy technology. Wind farms are probably the best candidate, with hydrocarbon synthesizers [dotyenergy.com] to use all the power generated.

R&D on cold fusion and other paradigm-busting energy technology should get some money too - a Japanese researcher held a demonstration of his Cold Fusion [slashdot.org] setup in May.

Fixing the banking system is a good first step for restoring rosperity.

SOX created lots of Director jobs (1)

hemp (36945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217839)

By limiting the number of boards you could participate on, there are now more job available to serve on the Board of Directors.

Re:SOX created lots of Director jobs (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218211)

The only thing that changed is that some top level managers now have a lot more spare time since they don't have to rush from meeting to meeting anymore and stuff their faces with appetizers.

You don't think limiting their income would give them any incentive to take their job more serious, do you?

Axe red tape and management (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217843)

Simple as that. The boat sinks when you try to make it float with too much brass on board, and you don't win wars with more officers than soldiers. Likewise, you don't run a business sensibly when most of your workforce is concerned with administration and organisation instead of production. There are productive companies here (Siemens, I'm looking your way) that are already called "banks with a real estate branch, and a production department so they don't have to adhere to banking standards".

Get back to production. Produce something that the economy needs instead of administrating your own demise.

And to do that, I do agree with the original poster. Get rid of worthless "auditing standards" that didn't produce anything but new jobs for more beancounters. The SOX doesn't do anything. It is another standard to fulfill to the barest minimum whenever some auditing goon arrives, who in turn doesn't care jack whether the company's bosses embezzle money but who just wants to check whether the requirements are met. Tell you something: The requirements are pointless. There are already more than enough ways to circumvent them and go ahead with the old fashion ripping off of investors that always existed. Either start really auditing (but then, some companies would get into serious troubles...) or do away with it. What we have now is a band aid that does at best cover up the bleed, but only 'til it's soaked. Then we slap on another band aid and hope nobody notices that the wound does not close and needs surgery. Yes, that's expensive and it could kill the patient, but either is better than having a thousand people bleed for blood donations time and again.

Ok, away with bad analogies. I'm sick of seeing my taxes being poured into companies that should by all means crash and burn. If you want to save them, save them. Pick them up, fire everyone from management (NOT the workers, please, they're the one that MAKE money, management is what BURNS it!) and replace them with people who can do their job. I really don't understand why one would give people who have clearly shown they are incompetent and unable to handle the responsibility even MORE money to sink MORE money. Fire those fuckers, replace them with people who know their job, and you can have my tax money!

Re:Axe red tape and management (1)

alcourt (198386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218363)

Part of what SOX did is to significantly increase the penalties for auditors certifying something that they shouldn't. In other words, it no longer will take an Enron to get a major auditing group in fairly serious trouble.

SOX is interesting partly because compliance isn't required at time of audit. What is required is an implementable plan to come into compliance. Then, you have to show you are making real progress on it, or be able to document previously unforseen issues that delayed compliance with that control. This makes a certain amount of business sense. If a major application that is SOX impacted cannot comply with SOX, you can't really shut down the business until you can implement a replacement. It would defeat much of the purpose of SOX. You can however, hold the management's feet to the fire until they do fix the issues.

Just clone him (2)

cmeans (81143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217869)

Seems like an obvious solution.

How to create more Jobs (1)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217877)

Just let Steve and his wife get on with it.

If only... (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217887)

If only more companies followed the Ferengi rules of acquisition.

Rule of acquisition #35. War is good for business.

We are currently at war. If more businesses catered to the war effort there would be more jobs... Doesn't matter if it is in Silicon Valley or not.

Re:If only... (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217963)

"Rule of acquisition #35. War is good for business."

That's rule #34

Rule #35: Peace is good for business.

Source:http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Rules_of_Acquisition

I remember that Jadzia also mixed those two up.(forgot which episode though)

Now where's my official geek-card.

Re:If only... (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218011)

That's the 34th rule. Rule #35 is "peace is good for business".

radical transparency! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217961)

could clients of banks somehow be able to make it so different levels of transparency were implemented electronically?

Fp 7aco (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217987)

about half of the was what got me To the politically Serves to reinforce you are a screaming the problems Discussion I'm FreeBSD continues Don't feel that The latest Netcraft The most vi3rant it was fun. If I'm rapid, And the striking Your own towel in exemplified by move any equipment we need to address to survive at all my resignation crisco or lube. shitheads. *BSD SLING you can good manners OpenBSD leader Theo Market. Therefore ~280MB MPEG off of distribution make it will be among there are some duty to be a big declined in market by BSDI who sell what provides the LOST ITS EARLIER rules to follow = 36400 FreeBSD an arduous

Create more Jobs?? NOOOO!!! (0, Redundant)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218003)

Look, I love Apple products as much as the next guy, but one Steve Jobs is more than enough for anyone.

Take in each other's laundry (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218021)

Everyone knows that taking in each other's laundry is the key to economic activity. We need a Federal law making it a crime to do your own laundry and a trillion dollars appropriated for the SBA to sudsidize laundry startups and soon we'll all have jobs.

What? You don't like folding laundry? Not to worry. The laundry industry will have to be properly regulated, of course: now that the free market has been discredited you'll be able to get one of the hundreds of thousands of Federal jobs inspecting and auditing licensed laundries. There will also be plenty of work policing the black market in home washers and supplies. Excess water consumption and/or too much greywater in your sewage will be grounds for a warrant. Plenty of work for all. Fill up the prisons, too. Boom time!

Government destroying jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218059)

The hell you say.

Unemployment solution, courtesy of IT lobbyists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218067)

Problem: Americans are out of work.
Solution: More H1B visas!

Case closed.

Re:Unemployment solution, courtesy of IT lobbyists (1)

woodrad (1091201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218133)

Problem: The American economy doesn't have any jobs to offer Solution: God forsaken foreigners come in and steal the only jobs that are left. Case closed. The amount of jobs expand and contract over time, it's not some zero-sum pie. Lots of firms needed lots of labor over the last 10-ish years. You'll notice that despite all the immigration, unemployment was (and is) quite low.

Broken window fallacy (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218095)

How exactly is creating jobs a good thing ?

If India & Pakistan use the 'Murderface' optio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218117)

..this will create a LOT of *legitimate* jobs. Just think of all those 'coders' [more like Javascripters] who will be taking up arms.

Who *isn't* annoyed at all the 'senior developers' from Mumbai asking CHILDISH questions on LinkedIn and other places?

Who *isn't* annoyed at cleaning up basic student programmer mistakes as done by 'senior' programmers in Mumbai? Or their idea of so-called 'quality'?

Seriously. While Chinese, Filipinos and Eastern Bloc programmers/testers really bust their tails, is anyone going to miss the Indians or the Pakis? Or their 'cram schools'? Or their lackadaisical idea of schedule?

Demand is pretty much fixed. Wiping out cheap/shoddy/inferior labor supply is the way to 'fix' this problem.

War is a good way to do that. It's about time the Indians actually 'man up' and git'r done.

Seriously. A

Why would anyone want to CREATE jobs? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218187)

Progress would be the elimination of jobs. Then we sit back in leisure as our robot slaves toil for our benefit.

PWC & Madoff (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218239)

Price Waterhouse Cooper - one of the biggest SOX auditors - are also the brilliant investigators who audited Madoff [reuters.com] .

If you can't find billions of dollars worth of fraud - the largest Ponzi scheme in history - I must question the purpose of audits.

Yeah, that's a big part....another is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218325)

...to lower the "taxes on the rich!"

The Left bitches about them getting tax breaks, but have you ever been employed by a person on welfare? No! It's the rich that invest, making jobs (when they're not taxed to death...)

It's no wrong to make money. George Soros does it all the time. And much of his stays off-shore. It's not widely known, but he's one of the biggest hedge-fund people of all time: "the greedy wall street".

But when a person makes more than his peers, it's 99.5% of the time, because of hard work. And when they invest it, they risk it, and almost always employ people.

Keeping ridiculous laws like this at bay are a big step...keeping it cheap to start a business in America is just as important.

The myth that government can create jobs. (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218395)

Sarbanes-Oxley, generally hurts the economy because it places more restrictions and requires more bureaucrats and company employees to comply with.. but does little to actually prevent fraud.

There is a great myth out there that it's government that creates jobs or politicians that save jobs. The truth is, that where as it is possible for the government to provide someone with a paycheck, that is not a good thing for the economy because in order for them to get that paycheck they had to take the money away from the productive parts of the economy. Government doesn't have anything it did not take from someone else.

Government has a lot of power to do harm, but little real power to help the economy. For an example of this you can look at all the past stimulus and economic recovery packages passed in an attempt to prevent this current recession we are in. They fail at it not because they aren't trying or are trying the wrong things.. but because the economy is just too vast and complex for anyone let alone those economic wizards in Washington to control. Real economic forces are created by millions of real thinking people with real desires to do what they believe is in their own best interest, one would find it easier to map the human genome or remember all the stars in the galaxy than you would to be able to correctly predict market forces.

A government created job only makes economic sense if it is something people would have already paid for, and then if that is true.. then there is probbly no need to have them do it at all because private enterprise always does things more efficiently than government. The best thing government can do is get out of the way.

There are even cases where government prevents certain action by law to "save jobs". The following story from "The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible" of illustrates this:

--------
Jonathan walked for several hours without a glimpse of any sign of life. Suddenly, something moved in the thicket and a small animal with a yellow-striped tail flashed down a barely visible track. "A cat," thought Jonathan. "Maybe it will lead to me to other life." He dived through the thick foliage.

Just as he lost sight of the beach and was deep in the jungle, he heard a sharp scream. He stopped, cocked his head, and tried to locate the source of the sound. Directly ahead, he heard another shrill cry for help. Pushing up an incline and through a mass of branches and vines, he clawed his way forward and stumbled onto a wider path.

As he rounded a sharp bend in the trail, Jonathan ran full tilt into the side of a burly man. "Out of my way, runt!" bellowed the man, brushing him aside like a gnat. Dazed, Jonathan looked up and saw two men dragging a young woman, kicking and yelling, down the trail. By the time he caught his breath, the trio had disappeared. Certain that he couldn't free the woman alone, Jonathan ran back down the trail looking for help.

A clearing opened and he saw a group of people gathered around a big tree--beating it with sticks. Jonathan ran up and grabbed the arm of a man who watched the others work. "Please sir, help!" gasped Jonathan. "Two men have captured a woman and she needs help!"

"Don't be alarmed," the supervisor said gruffly. "She's under arrest. Forget her and move along, we've got work to do."

"Arrest?" said Jonathan, still huffing. "She didn't look like, uh, like a criminal." Jonathan wondered, if she was guilty, why did she cry so desperately for help? "Pardon me, sir, but what was her crime?"

"Huh?" snorted the man with irritation. "Well, if you must know, she threatened the jobs of everyone working here."

"She threatened people's jobs? How'd she do that?" asked Jonathan.

Glaring down at his ignorant questioner, the supervisor motioned for Jonathan to come over to a tree where workers busily pounded away at the trunk. Proudly, he said, "We are tree workers. We knock down trees for wood by beating them with these sticks. Sometimes a hundred people, working round-the-clock, can knock down a good-sized tree in less than a month." The man pursed his lips and carefully brushed a speck of dirt from the sleeve of his handsomely cut coat.

"That Drawbaugh woman came to work this morning with a sharp piece of metal attached to the end of her stick. She cut down a tree in less than an hour--all by herself! Think of it! Such an outrageous threat to our traditional employment had to be stopped."

Jonathan's eyes widened, aghast to hear that this woman was punished for her creativity. Back home, everyone used axes and saws for cutting trees. That's how he got the wood for his own boat. "But her invention," exclaimed Jonathan, "allows people of all sizes and strengths to cut down trees. Won't that make it faster and cheaper to get wood and make things?"

"What do you mean?" the man said angrily. "How could anyone encourage an idea like that? This noble work can't be done by any weakling who comes along with some new idea."

"But sir," said Jonathan, trying not to offend, "these good tree workers have talented hands and brains. They could use the time saved from knocking down trees to do other things. They could make tables, cabinets, boats, or even houses!"

"Listen, you," the man said with a menacing look, "the purpose of work is to have full and secure employment--not new products." The tone of his voice turned ugly. "You sound like some kind of troublemaker. Anyone who supports that infernal woman is trouble. Where are you from?"

"I don't even know Miss Drawbaugh and I don't mean any trouble, sir. I'm sure you're right. Well, I must be going." With that, Jonathan turned back the way he came, hurrying down the path. His first encounter with the people of the island left him feeling very nervous.
--------

we need to get with the new programme... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26218455)

...collectively, we need to realise that unemployment is a benefit of a technologically advanced society.

(props to, um, robert anton wilson maybe? or someone like him)

One Word...... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26218485)

Genocide....

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