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Comment Re:U.S. profits too??? (Score 1) 122

The solution is not higher taxes, it's closing these gaps that companies exploit.

Doesn't this just end up boiling down to higher effective taxes?

You total up your revenue or profits and divide by what you actually paid in taxes and that's your effective tax rate? I don't think at the scale and complexity of a corporation the size of Apple the notion of a nominal tax rate makes much sense.

So if you close loopholes to increase the absolute amount of tax paid, you're raising the effective tax rate even if the nominal one stays the same. In fact I'd be surprised that its not a rhetorical argument used in lobbying and negotiation -- don't raise our tax rate, close loophole X and we'll pay a higher effective rate (meanwhile, their tax wonks have figured out how to use loophole Y instead).

My general sense is that the larger problem isn't paying or not paying taxes, its the cash hoarding these semi-monopoly companies do. A lot of the money just ends up in short-term treasuries or other semi-liquid investment vehicles and doesn't circulate in the economy. In some ways, taxes can be seen as the economic investment of last resort -- a way to bring hoarded capital into the market.

A better policy would seem to be incentives to spend and not hoard capital so it gets put into motion in the economy.

Comment Re:Cake or death (Score 1) 771

My assumption is that a repeated, long-term pattern of harassing behavior wouldn't be tolerated unless the guy really was the goose that laid the golden egg.

On the other hand, what kind of claim does she have, really? Monetary damages are probably limited to 2x her salary because of how short her tenure was. Let's say that's $300k and it costs Uber another $50k to hire and train her replacement.

I don't know what this guy's job is, but replacing *him* may be something that has a direct cost of $100k (recruiting, signing bonus, etc) and indirect costs due to workflow disruption while he's being replaced. It's not impossible those could add up to another $200k or more -- business disruption is expensive.

Comment Re:Perfect is the enemy of good (Score 3, Insightful) 94

I think the engineering improvement curve for stuff like this is really steep. What's practically impossible today, is practical but outrageously expensive in 9 months and commodity priced in 18 months.

IMHO, all of the VR stuff is so bleeding edge that it's going to make the smartphone cycle look slow and methodical in 5 years. Meanwhile, do you rush out products that are expensive, quickly obsolete and don't grab many buyers in the name of "getting to market first"? Or do you iterate it internally and among select developers until your actual concept is practical and at prices that will gain a high volume of sales?

I don't think they're out of line here, the technology in this stuff is advancing faster than they can integrate it into a coherent product and get it to manufacturing.

Comment Re:Cake or death (Score 1) 771

Uber is a rapidly growing company capable of making many employees extremely wealthy.

The rational choice for Uber may be to be forgiving of a high performing employee with a demonstrated track record when his accuser is a new and unproven hire who has made no contributions.

It may even be that management's cost-benefit analysis is that it's even worth paying off a few people if they get to retain highly productive employees whose short-run value exceeds their long-term liability.

This seems like a case where there's special math involved due to Uber's growth status. At an established, nominal growth company, you're less concerned with high performers and their shorter-term harassment costs exceed their long-term value and they can probably be more easily replaced.

Comment Keyless drive, too (Score 1) 100

I bought a used 2007 model with keyless drive in 2009. The car's menu system showed three keys assigned to the car, and it only came with two actual keyfobs.

The bigger problem with apps seems to be that you can fire up the app anywhere and do stuff with the car. An "extra" keyfob or a poor keyway design is only really a risk if you have physical access to the car.

Although I'd grant you that a weak keyway design with a limited number of unique keys is probably a real big car theft risk due to the fact that thieves can basically shop any large parking area and match a car.

Comment Re:Managed SAP R/3 since 1993... (Score 1) 119

So do you think any ERP systems can work (defined as providing a positive return on investment)?

My guess is the success of ERP systems is probably somewhat inversely proportional to the complexity of the system. The less complex the system, the easier it and the existing business processes can be combined, the easier it will be for management to understand and use the tools and metrics and so on, and the lower the general costs are and the more likely that the technical requirements will be met without cutting corners that compromise functionality.

And there's probably a bunch of complex site-specific factors around the skill of management, their ability to comprehend and use metrics, and so on.

I'd guess if you were to graph it with "usefulness" on the Y axis and "complexity" on the X, it would look like some curve that rises quickly with features but plateaus and then drops off as complexity increases.

Comment Re:Managed SAP R/3 since 1993... (Score 3, Insightful) 119

I think the real problem with ERP systems is that they're so extensive they're almost like fully modeled business plans, but they kind of suffer from the "no one is average" problem where if something is designed to meet an average, it actually fits nobody.

So you end up with this complex system that doesn't actually fit your existing business process, requiring either gobs of customization to match your process and specific business, or change your business processes to match the intricacies of the software.

My guess is that once they realize this, they do both, customize and change business processes and end up doing damage to the business, at best increased expenses and short-term business disruption, or at worst, shrink the business and be saddled with expensive software that can't be shed.

Comment Re:Globalization vs. Protectionism (Score 1) 202

C. Globalism has largely brought an increase in the standard of living to millions and millions of people. You're talking about "stagnating salaries" only among the working class in the US. Across the world, standards of living generally increase with global trade.

It seems to me we're getting to the point where capital can move faster than workers can adapt to it, yet there's not enough gross prosperity for governments soften these effects, either.

Which seems to be leading to more or less a situation like now, where people are pretty much saying they don't care about raising someone else's living standards if theirs have to fall.

In a way, it kind of reminds me of the "limousine liberal" phenomenon -- wealthy people who advocate policies like tax increases or social changes that don't affect them. The changes themselves are for good causes, but they're asking someone else to pay for them. The loudest advocates for globalism are people who benefit from it or who aren't affected by it.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 72

My first thought is that people at that level are used to nickel and diming employees or shafting them outright already, this is just an extremely efficient way to do 300 of them at once.

My next, more charitable thought, is that maybe whoever approved it is probably personally desperate, too, and figures that it's him or someone else, might as well do whatever it takes to wring as much out of the sinking ship as possible. No sense falling on your sword for what will get done by others anyway.

Comment Re:Motivation (Score 1) 47

I'd say "civilization", but really that question should have been asked about 10,000 years ago when people stopped roaming around and killing things for food and instead decided that the surpluses of sedentary agriculture were more valuable.

Once we got food surpluses, we had people with nothing to do, casting about for a purpose in life.

It all kind of reminds me of one of my favorite quotes -- "Civilization is the hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it creates."

Or you can just take an existentialist position and say there is no point. To do is to be.

Comment Re:Son of a b... he's got a world domination plan (Score 4, Informative) 225

The digging machines might be useful on Mars.

It almost becomes "Red Mars" if you can put robotic tunneling machines on the planet and create large tunnel galleries ahead of time.

Once people get there, the exterior holes can be plugged with a few airlocks and then pressurized with a breathable atmosphere. Tunneled structures will give you protections from the atmosphere, meteorites and radiation.

Comment Re:Surprising (Score 1) 240

If Iowa wants to sell you food or if you want to eat?

I also don't think "Iowa" as in the State Government makes a lot of decisions as to whether its commodities move by rail or road, I think the private sector makes that decision as to which makes the most economic sense.

I'd also wonder how many of these bridges in trouble are on main transit/shipping routes and how many are highway overpasses or creek/river bridges on small highways. Farmer Jones may rely on them to get to fields or get agricultural consumables delivered.

Comment Re:Motivation (Score 1) 47

I mean obviously, our larger social structure has a false quality to it, but really any civilization beyond subsistence agriculture does because of the structural aspects required to make it work. A lot of this just boils down to the demands associated with economics and economic specialization.

But at a certain point, though, the "rules of the game" have to kind of work to maintain the structure and order of the system. If it doesn't follow the rules, the system will break down.

Comment Re:Motivation (Score 1) 47

And in many cases, they are shattering the long-term motivation by reneging on the essential bargain people believed they had.

Work hard, go to college, get a good job, and enjoy material prosperity and happiness.

Years ago we began sabotaging the material prosperity angle, we're killing off the good jobs which also kills off the going to college. You're left with working hard for no possible gain.

We're segueing back into a slave labor economy where mere survivalism is the sole remaining motivation and that won't work well for anyone.

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