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Comments

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Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US

jayratch Re:Evil, evil Microsoft... (1142 comments)

Are you accounting for splits? There was a 2 for 1 split in 2003, although, even so, on the numbers you cite, that's only a $5 gain in a decade. I would also ask what dividends were paid, which a savings account would not.

I'm still somewhat at a loss to find a savings account that would net a 13% gain in ten years... that's about a 1.3% APR which isn't unachievable but the market went below that for long chunks. And again, plus dividends. In 2003, they were 8 cents a share post-split. http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2003/Jan03/01-16ds.mspx

I kinda get the feeling that Microsoft had done the majority of their best work by 1999, but considering their product prices since, having sold at least one license for windows and office to almost every work computer in America, I'm shocked they haven't made more.

more than 5 years ago
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Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US

jayratch Re:But corporations don't pay tax (1142 comments)

Let's use your router analogy....

The choice of whether or not to buy the router is up to the company, so their is natural efficiency in the choice (will spending X save or make >X?).... taxes are the opposite of efficiency -- it is money spent with a zero ROI.

Costs imposed by government that have no benefit to the company (zero ROI) are gross efficiencies and efficiencies hurt everyone... they are indeed passed on to the customers.

In fact, you are wrong.

You are wrong because costs imposed by the government in fact have substantial benefit to the company. When the company's shipments are not captured by pirates on the high seas, their taxes financed a navy to make that possible. When they ship their products over toll-free roads, taxes paid for that. Ditto when employees commute on those roads, or on subsidized rail systems. GPS satellite systems. Industrial safety standards. Antitrust provisions preventing their competitors from unfairly squashing them. Libel and slander laws preventing their competitors from falsely advertising against them. Laws in general. The police preventing or investigating the overnight burglary of their facilities. Etc. Etc.

Furthermore, like the router, the company clearly has a choice about the taxes: it can select where to do business. Those "decisions" led to tech companies being concentrated on the West Coast, for example. If the taxes genuinely provide no added value to the company, then the company should move to a place without taxes, since clearly the taxes are of no value. But perhaps, on top of all of the above, companies value the location of doing business itself, perhaps for its proximity to quality labor (financed by tax-supported education systems) or its proximity to a prosperous market (supported by all of the protections of that government.)

I hope that you wrote this from a tax-free country, lest you be oozing hypocrisy.

more than 5 years ago
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Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US

jayratch Re:But corporations don't pay tax (1142 comments)

In reality this doesn't work, the idea that "as the physical workforce is being reduced, re-school the freed up people into idea producers..."

The reasons are sad, but ultimately, my experience working with all manners of the mythical "poor people in America" (they actually do exist) shows them.

First, you can't just expect people to go from "physical workforce" to "idea producers" because you tell them to. Unfortunately, not everyone is creative. Not everyone is intelligent. Similarly, not everyone is strong or has manual dexterity. Some people are very well suited to chopping down trees, digging holes, and assembling circuit boards. Other people are very well suited to inventing things, drafting documents, making things pretty, and directing/managing. Some people are good at both categories, and choose the one that they prefer, in places where they have the choice. But it is not true that MOST people are well suited to idea work. Many, but not most.

Second, you can't assume that Americans naturally make for better "idea producers" than Chinese etc- if you try to set up America as a country of designers and managers, while having other portions of the world simply be the labor force, you (ie, corporate America) are attempting to set up a global caste system. Very dangerous. Yet, even then, there would remain jobs which must be performed physically and locally. Janitor. Pavement repairer. McDonalds cook. Chef. Doctor. If you set up an economy where "most people" are "supposed to be" concept workers, then you are conveying the social message that other work is inferior, and thus, other workers are inferior. Not a good message for a government, of all groups, to promulgate.

Additionally, consider that, even if they are capable of it, many people would despise office-type work. Myself, I am bound to it by ability (err, by lack of physical ability otherwise) but, especially working with the physically disabled, I meet people all the time who would rather starve to death than work in an office- they would rather build things or chop down trees. Many people feel that they haven't worked if their muscles don't feel it at the end of the day, and in fact, my father, being one of those people, actually looked down on people who worked with paper and computers.

more than 5 years ago
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Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US

jayratch Re:Capitalist flight (1142 comments)

The trouble with this line of thinking is, as is often the trouble with unrestrained capitalism, the inherent short-sightedness of the thought process.

If MS feels that the taxes associated with doing business in the US are a hindrance, they have failed to consider that the US government might actually "value" those taxes.

That is to say, if MS becomes a foreign company whose retail products are being imported, expect the US government to set up tariffs on software imports. Expect those tariffs to draw substantially more revenue for the government than the present corporate income tax draws. Consequently, expect the net impact on the MS bottom line to go down, and go down further as the cost advantage they now enjoy over their principal competitor (Apple) evaporates, and as the security-minded DOD switches all of their computers to a US-made operating system such as Snow Leopard or a custom system from Sun, costing them an enormous contract.

I don't see how this would be a good move for Microsoft, but honestly, it would be exemplary of a larger trend: that short sighted "I only want to good parts" thinking is motivating US corporations to move most of their operations abroad to save money by avoiding US laws- such as, minimum wage and human rights standards, environmental standards, and taxation. For a few months or years, the profits of these companies SKYROCKET as their costs evaporate, but, keeping retail prices constant, they continue to sustain revenues. Until, that is, enough companies follow suit. When the US marketplace collapses due to the decimation of its labor (and thus, spending) base, there will be nobody left to sell products to- and the government begins to bleed out, as expenditures escalate on human services to mitigate unemployment, while revenues tank due to dropping taxes on all fronts.

In this move, Ballmer has stated his values. Specifically, he does not feel adequately patriotic to even want to pay his taxes, and he cares more for his stock value than for the value of the economy his products "serve".

If Microsoft leaves, let them. I will contentedly go on not buying their products, and smugly advise anyone (in the US) who cares about their country to buy an Apple product instead, which is at least designed in (and pays taxes to) America, or for that matter a product from an originally European or Asian company which at least has chosen to support its homeland.

By the way, if they were talking about "Moving to India so that we can save money on labor and taxes while simultaneously bettering the lives of our future employees there", which they are not, I would ironically be less opposed. But this is just about shouting a big "screw you" to the country that bred them.

more than 5 years ago
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Favorite text editor?

jayratch Re:Kind of depends. (1131 comments)

... a real writer's word processor for Linux.

I know this is offtopic, but does such a thing exist for other platforms, if not for Linux? I'm so far stuck using Word and Pages (windows/work vs mac/home) and have yet to find a solution that is more than marginally acceptable, especially for frequent edits.

more than 5 years ago
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Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax

jayratch Re:Great idea - it can replace the Gas Tax! (713 comments)

This isn't such a simple question as that.

If you add in the average rate that Americans pay privately for the things that are included in the European tax dollar, does the comparison hold true? Most corporate employees I know here pay somewhere in the range of 5% to 10% of their income as insurance premiums for health care. The national average is actually about 7%, accounting for copays and the myriad non-covered expenses. When evaluated in that apples-to-apples context, American taxes are only lower for a select percentage at the bottom and top of the economy.

As a driver in New York, I pay about $300+ extra each year in thinly disguised taxes, ie tolls, license and registration fees, and the occasional roadside tax-collection stop, not to mention the "tax" of legally compulsory auto insurance at cartel-controlled prices. Add in property taxes which are rarely determined democratically (democratic budget votes wherein certain administrators extort the voters by threatening important, popular programs with the axe if chosen budget initiatives are not supported; congressionally, this is called "Earmarking")

Anyway, the whole thing is a sham. I wonder, if I lived in a place where taxes were fixed at 40% total, while it would sound high, it might be less than I pay in the US... earning 35k, I pay about 15% federal, 6% OASDI, 2% Medicare, 10% state, 9% sales, ?% fuel, $300+ (1%) licensing, 20% on my phone bill, and 7% health care... that's 50% or more, and I'm a mid to low earner. I forgot the property tax, which I don't directly pay, as a renter, but my landlord pays $4k, or 3% of his family income, per year. Ouch. And Manhattan bees pay an extra city income tax, too, plus more tolls.

If the taxes in Europe actually were somehow higher than here, I can't see how they'd have any economy left.

more than 5 years ago
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Apple Sued For Turning Workers Into Slaves

jayratch Re:No, *THESE* are slaves (1153 comments)

Battle cry of the conservatives, I guess. The weak are weak because they deserve to be.

Have you stopped to wonder what everyone does in this country? Think about it. For every thousand people in the population, how many teachers are there? Doctors? Lawyers? Engineers? Whatever it is you do that required grad school?

13% of Americans live below their respective federal poverty line. Are all of those due to their own fault? And lets say they all are. Lets say every one of them made some kind of mistake at some point, maybe they got knocked up in high school and couldn't go to college, maybe they had a fight with their parents and lost the daddy scholarship, or maybe they just lost in the genetic lottery when the brain configurations were passed out.

First off, I congratulate you on your apparent intelligence and drive, really its good for you, but don't assume that because something is possible for you, it is possible for everyone. I made the same mistake once. The truth is, you and I are simply fortunate. We had the right allocation of resources and education. The right genes. Place and time to succeed. Many didn't, and they suffer for it. There is no need for you to grind their face in the mud over it.

Ugh. I had a lot more to say but I am too tired to do the research and I'd rather not talk out my ass. But take a look at the allocation of jobs. A tremendous segment of our population is forced to work in jobs that you consider non-jobs.

Because otherwise, you wouldn't have fast food, garbage conveniently taken from your curb, the ability to pay for (and therefore acquire) good, which you take off a shelf and not a truck directly, which of course had to be driven and maintained by someone, while another guy pumped its fuel, and others drilled that nasty stuff out of the ground, e t c. None of them have master's degrees. And none of them are convinced that you're the better person than them that you seem to think you are.

Dammit, I think I just blew all my Karma. -1 Asshole.

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

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jayratch jayratch writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jayratch writes "CNN is reporting that a Canadian consumer purchased a couch from a local store only for her 7 year old to discover the English Language's most offensive word printed on the label. Who is liable when a tool used by a supplier results in an inappropriate display? Is this a case of careless words doing harm, or merely an overreaction?"

Journals

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jayratch jayratch writes  |  more than 11 years ago As I anticipate my plan to see the new Matrix movie on my Big Day Off, i ponder the philosphy of the Matrix and of my own life. It gets interesting.

When I first heard about the Matrix I was at a family party, on the "devout" side of the family. The discussion I came in on was how the movie is filled with Christian symbolism, and the platonic notion of the universe as a mere dream. Christianity lines up to this nicely- our lives are a temporary illusion, we must be enlightened ("saved") in order to validate and enjoy our experience in the real world ("heaven"). Neo is Jesus Christ, come to save us all from our ignorance. I bought this, and bought the DVD to match. Four years later, I look back on how my life and my mind have changed.

There is no doubt in my mind or the minds of those who know me that I have become more worldly, more humanistic, and if I daresay, more of a realist. Sadly some would call this a loss of faith; I admit that my faith is in doubt, but not altogether lost. But the interesting question, to get back to the movie, is of purpose. Those who would, will feel I am somehow less for this, and I can understand their nobility. But why fight something that is for all demonstrable ways good? the Matrix takes care of you. It gives you something to do. It keeps you alive and experientially prosperous. The only thing it does it deprive your "true" freedom- but the illusion of freedom it grants is arguably stronger than the freedom most of us have now.

The ultimate issue this raises is one of epistemology. What is truth, and what is its value? The quest of Neo and Morpheus is to have reality for its own sake, because the fact that it is "real" makes it better. The fact that we are "slaves" is a problem in itself, nevermind that we are happier as slaves than most people ever get to be in the "real" world. I suppose I don't know this for sure, not yet having seen Zion. In the world of the Matrix, though, the Machines have distinctly earned their place at the top. Mankind has officially destroyed the Earth, scorching the skies to extinguish all machine life but in effect (surely) exterminating most plant and animal life. The machines on the other hand have done their part to preserve life, keeping us alive and reproducing us, perhaps even waiting the millennia for the planet to rebuild itself. We actually know very little about them- they may have preserved genetic samples of all life, for instance; the backstory tells us that their First colony had quite the economy.

So as far as I can tell, the only thing measurably bad about the Matrix is that it subjugates mankind. What, I wonder, would Neo say to the option of mankind merely knowing and choosing? What if the "real world" were presented as an option, but like Cypher, everyone chose to stay in the dream? Would the proliferation of truth be sufficient? I wonder.

But for now it is enough for me to note that my perspective on the matter has distinctly changed. I say indeed, if the Matrix is better, perhaps I aught to stay in it. But I'm not quite over the edge yet.. I'd still take the red pill.

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jayratch jayratch writes  |  more than 11 years ago Ok, I give. I was wrong.
The secret to success is something far simpler than I'd imagined. The key is being well able to lie.
Yes, I've been playing the wrong game. I thought that somehow chess was the game to learn, but that will only teach you how to deal with simple problems on simple systems. Simple systems are where the rules can be layed out in a fairly two-dimensional chart, and consist of machines with far less than a trillion synapses each. Instead I should be playing poker.
Tonight I played the long awaited game of Chess with Mark. Less satisfying than even phone sex could be. You see, I won, or at least on face value. I really can't figure out who won, which means he did. Yes, I checkmated him with my queen. But I used no major strategy, and he used no major defenses. I simply fumbled along until an opportunity opened, and placed my queen where it needed to be for checkmate. It was a victory so painfully obvious I almost avoided it- it looked and smelled like a trap. I took the bait, checkmate. The beauty of it? How he played it (not on the board) left me completely uncertain between three choices: I legitimately beat him, he simply didn't try, or he sincerely gave me the game. So here is Mark's essential skill: he's the best damned liar I've ever encountered. His grasp seems to be that truth is whatever he decides it is, even if it blatantly is not so. The result? He fucks people a lot, and he leaves them wondering constantly- first "Does he really think he can pull that off?" then "Can he actually pull that off?" wrapped up by "I'm not sure whether he actually pulled it off or not, but a lot of people seem to think he did."
I said I will never get in a game of poker with this man, but I take it back. I would welcome the opportunity; and lose repeatedly, but the goal is education. I may do so with chess, but I fear his love of betting may make it a costly education.

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jayratch jayratch writes  |  about 12 years ago Slashdot journal? Can this be? The interface I need?
I hope so. I need a better system for my journal- I may just throw it over here.

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