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Andy Grove: "US may lose tech superiority"  Why? 

Andy Grove said yesterday on Charlie Rose's show that he fears America will lose her technical superiority within two decades.  He seemed to suggest that this may be so because, since we're on top, we're not hungry enough to put in the hard work, nor make the sacrifices that are necessary to attain technical excellence.

It sounds plausible to me that America will lose technical dominance, but, for the sake of discussion, let me throw out another theory as to the cause of this trend downward.  I firmly believe (and I may be wrong) that America is saddled with a largely untalented management class of elites who are systematically destroying the technical class by removing the incentive for Americans to obtain a technical education.

It's no secret that during the bubble years, management abhorred having to pay the unwashed technical masses very nearly what they themselves were making.  It is also no secret that the past three years have been a exercise in cutting technical salaries to the quick.  Sure, supply and demand should have driven salaries down to an extent, but it's my contention that what we've seen goes far beyond market forces.  It's my contention that, at present in America, there is no practical reason to devote oneself to technology.  What is the reward for four to twelve years of rigorous study in one of these fields?  The reward is that some manager will leverage some synergy and slash your salary or eliminate your job entirely.

Let's face it, it just doesn't take a lot of brain power to be a manager.  It takes a thick skin and a willingness to play politics.  I've worked at many public companies, big and small, and I've never, ever seen a management meritocracy.  The management teams have been political, and in *all* cases, talented managers have been left behind in favour of untalented kiss-ups.  (BTW, there was an interesting article about that in yesterday's WSJ.) 

Also note that management is not subject to normal free-market pressure because these good old boys set their own salaries!  The editor of The Outrage said it nicely:

"The salary of CEOs [...] is not determined directly by the free market, or at least not by a free and efficient market. In other words, the services of management are not put out to auction. The salaries are determined by the three directors of the company who sit on the compensation committee, and are approved by the company's full board of directors."

America is not fat, dumb and happy.  America is being "managed" into the oblivion of mediocrity.

anon
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Never mind that Chinese and Indian programmers will work for 1/5 of the cost of US programmers.

runtime
Thursday, July 10, 2003

anon - your argument about fat and lazy management has nothing to do with the US losing technological superiority.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 10, 2003

.. and where (what planet) do you see able managers?
bad management is an intergalactic malaise.

Michael Moser
Thursday, July 10, 2003

It's because in two decades our nation's programmers will be the products of today's educational system.

Andrew Burton
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I agree with anon.

Technological superiority in the US requires that the best and the brightest in the US contribute to technological research and development.

India and China provide technological development services for 1/10 to 1/2 the cost. So managers are exporting these positions overseas. That means that the research and development is being done here less and less. If the development is not being done here, then we won't have the edge since we won't have the people. This is all just self evident.

Sure, you can make a business case to eat your seed corn. You do realize though, if you are a smart manager, that eating your seed corn will have consequences in the future -- that you will lose your ability to grow corn. Managers don't realize this. It's because they are fat and lazy and stupid. All they see is the pile of seed corn -- that's the cost savings from exporting research and development jobs overseas.

No arguments that you save money! You certainly do! The fat and lazy managers just have to realize they should enjoy the spoils while you can -- because their overseas competitors are using their own money to build an technological army that in a few years will come and eat the offspring of the fat and lazy manager. The fit will survive and the weak will have their land raided, their daughters captured as concubines, and their sons decapitated and thrown to the dogs.

The fit will not be America for America has sold the edge which is her advantage, her powerhouse, her strength, her legacy, for a few trinkets and a full belly.

Tony Chang
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Even if you're right about managers, the fact that in China and India software developers are paid much less than in the US doesn't mean the US will lose technical superiority.  The US's technical superiority (if you believe it exists, some Europeans may debate this) is not based on business software developers.  It is based on our massive research and manufacturing infrastructure.  Neither of which is going away anytime soon.

Mike McNertney
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Mike,

What you missed there is that that research and development requires that the best and the brightest chose engineering/science as a career.

Check out the student body of the CS, CE and EE departments at the top 20 ranked engineering schools and tell me what you find. Lots of American students studying?

Tony Chang
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I think the thing that will kill the tech industry in the US is a group of people known as lawyers.  There is no longer much incentive to create new things when you can patent existing things and sue companies who can't afford to defend themselves.  It will get to the point where the only companies willing to create new products will be large companies with large patent portfolios and pocketbooks.  Unfortunately, most real innovation comes from small companies.

As far as worrying about the reward for rigorous study, I wish anyone who had such concerns would leave the industry.  We would be better off without them.

Anonymous
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Fascinating how many facets there are to making predictions, and how any crackpot theory can lead to the same conclusion.

We haven't defined what we mean by "technical superiority" here - is it in manufacturing, i.e. the robots that make cars and airplanes, or is it in software, i.e. will the next MicroSoft come out of China?

Certainly a lot of the manufacturing is already overseas - how many corporations own factories in China? As is a lot of programming now going to India.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 10, 2003

What exactly will "technical superiority" do for us anyway?  I'd rather be rich and lazy than technically superior any day of the week.

Foolish Jordan
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Anybody do any fishing?

You put the worm on the hook and dangle it in front of the  fish.

The fish sees it and thinks "Wow a free lunch just dropped right in front of me! This will be so much easier for me than doing the hard work of looking for food!"

Fat and happy.

For a time.

You guys that don't look asian are going to have a hard time of it since you'll be the first against the wall when my cousins show up here and take over. We're baiting the hook and you're falling for it -- hook line and sinker. We like it that way because we like to eat fish for dinner and we are very hungry.

If you want your genome to survive, your best bet will be to raise beautiful, docile daughters who are good cooks and homemakers. They will be the choice picks for the officers. The ugly ones will be sold.

Tony Chang
Thursday, July 10, 2003

who are asians? i thought asian cultures are largely incompatible (china and india are Verrry different, it's not like europe where they have a common cultural identity)

wasn't china mostly too much preocupied with itself? Not likely to 'take over the world'.

Michael Moser
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Now, that's some very disturbing post, Tony.

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I sense some xenophobia in here.

The world isn't a zero-sum game: If India, or China, or any other country, modernizes then good for them! India has approaching (surpassing?) a BILLION people, so the premise that there are some very intelligent developers among them hardly surprizes me (and I find it stunningly racist when pointy heads talk in a giddy voice about how intellectual work [though strangely they never think about thier own...] can be done in these countries, as if they discovered that no, these people aren't a breed of subhumans).

Here are the facts that I see (though I could be wrong):

-Most organizations won't even let developers telecommute, much less live half a world away. The overwhelming number of developers work on "business secret" type inhouse applications that are critical for the business. VERY few organizations have a strict development process where they create a detailed spec from which a precise product can be created : Even in the strictest organization with layers of analysts and tech writers, there is a still a rapid cyclical "aglie" process. Outsourcing generally depends upon something which truly has never existed in software development.

-99% of the talk about outsourcing overseas is just talk to earn wage concessions. Yes you can come running in here with your hands in the air crying about the doom coming for all of us, but all of the numbers that are supposed to represent some massive outflow are, in the grand scheme, a tiny trickle.

-India and China, as a sample, represent massive new markets. Think about how you can get THEIR money.

-Market effects occur overseas as well. When everyone is vying for a limited CS group, wages grow. Already I've heard that, with all costs, an Indian software engineer is 60% of the cost of a US engineer. Big deal. You can find that value in Canada.

All this whole hoopla should teach you is that you should build unicode in your apps to take advantage of a growing market.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, July 10, 2003

The entire issue of which country is being regarded as the "Tech Superiority" is irrelivent when viewed from an economical and global point of view.

"Technology" is just one small aspect (in time and space) along the path to the total global shift towards a Wealth Based model of society and human existance.

The more important issue is the distribution of Wealth derived from the technology industry.
http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/faculty/hodgson/Courses/so11/stratification/income&wealth.htm

The dominant share-holders, Board of Directors, CEOs, and V.P (the Non-Tech Business People with the Power and Money) don't really care that much about "U.S. tech superiority"... What they really mean is "US may lose Wealth Superiority".

Unibomber
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I recall something I saw once on 60 Minutes, I think. It was about how India is hopelessly bureaucratic. You have to get business permits for every little thing. If a minister or local teapot dictator does not like you or needs more money, you get nothing. All the paperwork must be sent away for weeks to get stamps, etc.
Has this changed? Are these feared Indian IT organizations home grown or built by outsiders taking advantage of the low labor cost.
I cannot imagine that China is much friendlier to the small business person. In China, much of the work goes through Taiwan or Hong Kong. Why, because foreign investors have built the factories to use the cheap labor.
It most of the Indian and Chinese companies are doing work for foreign companies; they must be managed at some level by the people contracting the work. The US management will infect them from the top down.
I can start an LLC in my basement or garage. If the product is good, my company will grow. Ask Joel if it is possible to start your own company in the good old USA. That is what keeps giving the US a technical advantage.

Dougwithau
Thursday, July 10, 2003

>I recall something I saw once on 60 Minutes, I think. It was about how India is hopelessly bureaucratic.

I was "Commanding Heights" on PBS. IT grew too fast for the bureaucratic shackles to be placed on. Now they are rich and powerful, and they help protect their interests.

We have our own worries.  Internet Tax anyone???

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Andy may be right.  Of course, he thought he was about AMD too.  That being said, I find Dennis Forbes' comments interesting.

I agree that there appears to be a conflict with off shore sourcing and telecommuting but it is real.  I listened as a manager tried to explain how it is "different."  That it is an "organization" overseas.  The fact is that managers think it is different and that is enough.

As for wage concessions, there is nothing to concede.  Unless you have a specialized skill you are an "employee" or "contractor".  Paid what the market and you will bear.  I don't need concessions, the market has them built in.  (supply and demand)  Overseas high supply, low cost.  Local, higher cost, supply doesn't matter.  That the cost savings is an illusion does not matter either.  It is making VPs, Presidents and that is enough.

Finally, your comment on Canada is appropriate.  NAFTA has given the Canadians leverage.  They are 60% of the cost, none of the language barriers, and they undertand Americans.  This week I saw a company close down a tech center, box it up and move it to Canada.  They had laid everyone off last month.  Then hired a group of Canadians to do the job.  Without even asking for concessions.

BigRoy
Thursday, July 10, 2003

>> "The entire issue of which country is being regarded as the 'Tech Superiority' is irrelevant when viewed from an economical and global point of view."

That's a really, really clever and interesting theory.  So when Europeans discovered the New World and utilized weapons technology to decimate the indigenous peoples and colonize it for themselves, I guess this was "irrelevant when viewed from an economical and global point of view".  Oh, and for that matter, when Europe used its technology during the imperial age to colonize the entire world, that was irrelevant.

Oh, and when the US developed the nuke and the allies won the Big One, well, that was "irrelevant when viewed from an economical and global point of view".

Oh yeah, and given that the greatest concentrations of wealth are still in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan - all highly technologically advanced states - well, this is just, you know, "irrelevant when viewed from an economical and global point of view".

That's a great and clever and smart and good theory.

anon
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Why the US will lose technical superiority:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/rebeccahagelin/rh20030709.shtml

If the gov't is taking half your money and giving it to those who won't work, the incentive to make money drops.

This follows in the footsteps of the previous poster who commented on "India won't challenge us because of their bureaucracy" - be careful. All it takes is one charismatic, enlightened leader to put India's house in order (i.e. get the local potentates in line and streamline everything) and IMHO the US and India could switch places before you know what's happened.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Philo, for "bureaucracy" you need to read "bribes". Also, a single leader, be he even the Mahatma Ghandi, wouldn't do it: India is literally more "provincial" than the US, and doesn't have even the little centralisation you see in the USA.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Philo,

The idea that most of the poor are simply too lazy to work is a myth that just lets the rest of us who enjoy the benefits of existing within, not outside, the economic power structure of the country pretend that it is solely due to our own merit.

Jeff Kotula
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Ah, some good conversation here.

Dennis Forbes made some good points.

I think "Wealth Superiority" is where the real struggle lays at. In a global marketplace, not only are we redefining who is doing the work, but who is doing the buying. You can't bankrupt middle class America and simultaneously sell them new Fords. India and China may become more wealthy, but they're a long way off from being as wealthy as America, and the exchange rate will kill you.

So even if you threaten to take their jobs away with global free trade agreements - and most of free trade is actually intra corporation, like Ford will make parts in Mexico and ship them up to the US to be assemled - who's going to buy all these products now?

BTW, I worked with a company that had Indian developers in the US, and Indian developers in India. The ones in the US were making rediculously little money - I practically made more per hour than they made per day. I have no idea what their housing was like, and I practically don't know how they fed themselves on a day to day basis.

Anyway, the workers in India we communicated with rarely. We assigned tasks to them that didn't require us to communicate with them regularly. Besides, most of the programming staff from India was made to stay until 9 or 10:00 at night anyway, so by then calling India became easier as their day was just beginning - India's around 10.5 or 11.5 hours or something off from us. Worse than India was Singapore, who was exactly 12 hours off from us.

Most of the organizations that are going to be outsourcing work to India and China are global organizations anyway, and have already figured out how to deal with these things.

As far as getting over the cultural issues, that's easy. Fire the CTO and hire an Indian CTO, and then bring in Indian middle managers. I saw it happen, but only just now understood the reason. I thought it was the CTO bringing in the Indian work, but now I realize it's the other way around.

This way you only have to deal with one or two people whose culture is different from yours - and these people have been in the US long enough to get along with Americans anyway.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 10, 2003

The US is the epicenter of entreprenurial culture. It is actually the only country I can think of that it is better to be an entreprenuer than an employee (if you are at least average). The tax system encourages this and the business system encourages this. Other countries are mainly great task doers that do not create anything unless the US goes there and starts something or these countries are dependent on a commodity and run by corrupt oligarchs. The US may lose technical mediocrity but not superiority.

Tom Vu
Thursday, July 10, 2003

>"Already I've heard that, with all costs, an Indian software engineer is 60% of the cost of a US engineer. Big deal. You can find that value in Canada."

Most US companies don't have the management skill and software development practices to enjoy that net savings of 40% even if the Indian programmers worked for $1/day.  But the executives who promote outsourcing constantly tout the fact that Indian programmer salaries are only 10-20% of US salaries, as if that is the only cost involved.  Outsourcing will grow as long as they can spin the numbers to create the perception that they are saving the company money. It is easy to hide the likelihood that a project would have taken half the time or half the people and been more maintainable if it were done in-house instead, because the companies don't have good statistics to determine how long their own in-house work should take. Intangible costs like the increased security risks are even easier to hide from the bottom line.

Offshore outsourcing is hot now because of the bandwagon effect, not because it truly is a huge cost saving opportunity.  If genuine cost savings were the real motive, why was offshoring so much less common 5 years ago when American developers were hard to find and even harder to keep and Indian developers earned less than half of what they do now?  No, they preferred to throw megabucks at any fool who knew anything related to the Internet, because that's what everybody else was doing at the time.

If offshore outsourcing only occurred where the projects and clients are such that there are true and genuine opportunities for cost savings, it would be growing much slower than it is now and would not be much of a threat to US programmers or the US economy.  Telecommuting hasn't taken off like it should because there hasn't been a bandwagon for it, even though it could save zillions in office real estate costs and salaries (many people would accept a slightly less salary to work for a company that lets them telecommute).

Like the bandwagons that sent the Nasdaq to 5000 and had some stocks increasing by 1000% in a few months only to become penny stocks within the next year, the offshore bandwagon could cost the US economy millions of jobs in various sectors if executives continue to follow the herd.

T. Norman
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Lower cost has nothing to do with technical superiority. Everyone seems to have the wrong idea in this discussion. If we loose our superiority it will be because of a declining education system here in America, and vastly improving ones in other parts of the world. That goes for secondary education, as well as post secondary education. IIT is a perfect example of what's to come.

The key for the United States is to make large investments into improving schools, and importing the best talent into this country. The stuff people learn in math and science in an undergraduate education should be taught in High School.

John Rosenberg
Thursday, July 10, 2003

John Rosenberg:
Your arguement to increase the value of education is moronic. The US has always been of a lesser intellect than the rest of the world (mostly internationally ignorant). Creating the hype and selling it to the world is what the US is good at and will continue to succeed at. IIT may very well be owned by devry just taking gullible people's money.

Tom Vu
Thursday, July 10, 2003

John - insulting everyone, and then putting forth an argument that's already been stated isn't a good way to win an argument.

I suspect that the US's superiority has more to do with it's vast natural resources, and it's lack of compunction at exploiting anyone and everyone.

We're a relatively new nation, and have vast land at our disposal - our growth was bound to be explosive. We have all the farmland and natural resources (except a few, like oil) that we could need to grow and sell to ourselves and export to the rest of the world. Unlike other countries, we don't have to worry much about war on our own soil, and even if we did, we have states larger than most nations in Europe.

The political system also, as someone mentioned earlier, encourages people to create vast empires that are pretty much free of morals and consequence, able to hire children in one part of the world to create products to sell to themselves and others. Anyone who knows about America's history knows that it was built on the backs of slaves and poor laborers. You only have to go as far back as the Civil War & Charles Dickens to see that.

I don't see what education has to do with either of these. The average american *can* be dumb and do their job - working in Wal Mart or pressing metal in a factory isn't exactly skilled labor. Innovation is going to happen where it happens, and I suspect that innovators around the world will be attracted to the US because of the way our laws protect both innovation and somewhat monopolistic practices, not to mention our quality of life.

The Internet is still expensive in much of the world, television isn't as plentiful, nor is air conditioning and even running water.

I suspect that the rest of the world will as a matter of course experience an increadible growth spurt as they catch up to our standard of living. The poor, or at least those who control them, will become wealthy as money pours in to areas where labor is cheap.

Whether or not this will lead to an American downfall, I can't really predict.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Wow, what a way to take things out of context.

John Rosenberg
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Thank you.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Tom, you're actually right. Everyone knows the smartest people come from Israel.

John Rosenberg
Friday, July 11, 2003

Apparently I didn't follow my own advice, and I insulted John. I apologize, it's a perfectly legitimate argument. No hard feeelings?

www.marktaw.com
Friday, July 11, 2003

Complaining about the quality of management and then stating you don't have to be very smart to be a manager reeks a little of special pleading and ignorance.

In fact in management you have to be pretty smart.  To be effective you have to understand what those you manage do, and you have to understand what those that require whatever it is your people create need.  Translating back and forth between those groups is not unsophisticated.

Apart from that there are all the budgetary and political issues to take care of; the welfare and potential of the people you're responsible for;health and safety issues;discipline and motivation.

Are there enough managers that can do that?  No there aren't and that is mostly down to recruitment policies and attitudes which reared their head again in the 90's that if you couldn't do the job technically, management was where you went.

Its a myth that the US has technical superiority either now or at any time.  What is available in the US is capital for converting maybe ideas into possible products and to leave that capital there for longer before calling the return back in.

Technology knows no borders now, it isn't a property or resource that an individual country can lay claim to or withhold from their neighbours in order to gain an advantage.

Grow up.

Simon Lucy
Friday, July 11, 2003

> Technology knows no borders now, it isn't a property or resource that an individual country can lay claim to or withhold from their neighbours in order to gain an advantage. <

Despite the ad hominem attacks, there are a lot of interesting ideas being thrown around.

A country can have a technological advantage. This shows itself during wartime - better codes & code breakers, better weaponry, etc. The Atomic Bomb, air superiority, and even tanks and guns are obvious examples of nations having technological superiority, and i don't think anyone here would argue that whoever had these had the advantage.

If we can make parallels between commerce and warfare, this still holds true. Removing obvious trade barriers - i.e. import tax that artificially increases the cost of foreign produced products - the person who can make the highest quality product cheapest and market it the best, basically wins.

We saw a shift in automobile manufacturing from US to Japan a while back, and I'm positive a lot of the Japanese advantage was in technology. The US had been building cars for a long time and still used old methods, partly entrenched becuase of the power of the unions, and partly because of management's short-sightedness.

So we're not talking about a nation monopolizing techonology and preventing other nations from having it. We're talking about a nation using technology in a way that's better than other nations. If the US is lazy, they may suffer from a Clayton Christensen (q.v.) style dilemma where foreign companies nibble away at our product lines, scraping away the bottom stuff we're happy to get rid of until we eventually find ourselves stuck doing a few things badly.

The classic example of this is US Steel and Bethlehem Steel. US Steel was the giant monopoly that nobody could topple, and Bethelem steel innovated ways to produce custom extrusions for less money than US Steel - US Steel was glad to be rid of that expensive to make, low profit margin stuff... And Bethelehem kept nibbling away until one day they became the dominant steel/iron manufacturers in the nation. (I may have screwed up the names of these companies - reversed them or otherwise).

While I suspect the US's laws & foreign policy will protect US corporations & interests from this to some extent, as nations like China & India become economic powerhouses by sheer force of population, this may become less and less of a factor.

* Clayton Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0875845851

www.marktaw.com
Friday, July 11, 2003

One of the points about cars is that the US manufacturers only made cars for the US (and the Gulf). US subsidiaries in Europe were wholly independent.

The result was that the Japenese, and independent European manufacturers, could make cars for the whole world, but the big three were concerned only with the home market.

They couldn't even be bothered with getting their cars in Japan to have the steering on the right side. Then they complained about protectionism.

US cars are intended for countries with wide flat roads, where petrol is cheap, and speeds are restricted. As a result they couldn't sell in the competitors' markets. When they do produce a model people want, like the Grand Chrerokee Jeep, then plenty of people buy it.

As for steel, I was involved in training the staff of a new steel mill in Saudi. Various staff were sent to the US, Mexico, India and there was training from the UK. Opinions were definite that the one professional organization of the four was the Mexican one, particularly in the question of empowerment of workers, training and new skill learning.

Stephen Jones
Friday, July 11, 2003

A friend of mine made an interesting statement about the qualification of managers: Who's more suitable for a management position: An MBA with all A levels, or an MBA with all C levels? The C level one, because he has proven he can sustain constant pressure and prospect of failure.

On a different note, regarding future prosperity in India and China: one needs to take into consideration that there won't be 500 million middle-class workers/software developers having been outsourced from the rest of the world in neither country, perhaps not even 50 million. But those with the "outsourced" jobs will have to support the hundreds of millions of unemployed in both countries. Even today, China is said to have some 100 million homeless day-workers traveling across the country. They are driven by the outlook for "wealth for everyone, everyone can make it", similar to the American Dream. Let's see if China can handle their disappointment coming in the next decades.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, July 11, 2003

One thing will save us:

Innovation comes from small companies and individuals.


There is still an incentive for the next Bill Gates to come up with the "next big thing".

And Bill (as I understand it) didn't get his technical skills from school.  He did it relatively independently.

But, remember, innovation is not about creating some NEW tecnology (that' INVENTION). Innovation is about taking what's there now and making something just a little better.  E.g., rewriting Unix as Dos, or as Linux.

Innovation is where the wealth is.

And, hey, no need to knock wealth. If wealth is gathered legitimately, through a free exchange ("here's $100 for your program") then it's a very good measure of how much benefit you've brought to society. more wealth=more benefit (If it's a free exchange).

Look at the riches guy in the world.  He also got is money (for the most part) through free exchange. He didn't twist anyone's arm to buy Windows 3.1.  It was technically inferior to Apples' O/S but it was dos-compatible.

Entrepreneur
Friday, July 11, 2003

>"He also got is money (for the most part) through free exchange. He didn't twist anyone's arm to buy Windows 3.1."

He got to be the richest by twisting computer manufacturers' arms to ensure that they ONLY sold computers with Windows 3.1, denying most consumers the free choice to purchase PCs with other operating systems.

T. Norman
Friday, July 11, 2003

The USA is not superior, its just that the rest of the world has an "Inferiority Complex"

Insane in the membrane
Friday, July 11, 2003

... or maybe the USA has a superiority syndrome?!?!

EastIndian
Sunday, July 13, 2003

I think that's more likely.

I was backpacking around the US and most of the people I ran into were foreign... The people from the US I ran into were just travelling to one place and then going back home.

I'm gonna go to Europe next year, so I can test out whether or not this holds true on the other side of the pond - do people from Europe mostly travel Europe on short trips while Americans mostly backpack around?

I think we have this belief - especially in New York - that we have everything here, so why go anywhere else? I'm sure it's the same for technology... Every time we think another product is superior (such as cars) it's because the Germans or Japanese are fanatical and really sort of off their rocker dedicated to work - they're closer to machines than humans, and that's how we psychologically justify that someone else can make a product superior to ours - "We could if we wanted to, but we're not crazy enough to do it. Besides we invented the thing, they've just been watching and learning from us, it's only because the adopted our culture after WWII that they have the drive to do this anyway. And in a few years, we'll come out with something even better anyway."

But I could easily be wrong.

www.marktaw.com
Sunday, July 13, 2003

Philo: in regards to [ http://www.townhall.com/columnists/rebeccahagelin/rh20030709.shtml ]:

"[I pay state sales, registration and gas taxes] ...and the state's going to be all-magnanimous and extend to me the *privilege* of driving on its roads?"

Well, golly gee whiz.  Roads don't build themselves.  The gas tax is among one of the most fair taxes around -- the more you drive, the more tax you pay.

Ms. Hagelin is doing no more than bellyaching about paying for services she uses every day.  I have no patience with freeloaders.

"If the gov't is taking half your money and giving it to those who won't work, the incentive to make money drops."

I got my first paycheck on Friday.  31.1% of that went to paying for various federal taxes (including the parts that my employer pays for Social Security and Medicare).  Welfare cost 19.2 billion and federal unemployment about 4 billion in 2003 -- out of a 2128 billion dollar budget.  So between the two, they eat up about 1.1% of the federal budget, or about 0.3% of my paycheck.

So, no, the government is not giving taking half my money and giving it to those who won't work.

Alyosha`
Sunday, July 13, 2003

Here in the UK we have a similar problem. The gov wants 50% of school leavers to have a degree, and be 'professionals'. Manufacturing shipping out to China years ago, call centres and software dev are currently going to India, and anything else that can be outsourced is going to Eastern Europe.

I'm currently a workflow/web developer, and will this fall start my xtraining to become a qualified electrician in my spare time, whilst work have me xtrain to a new prog language, which will last 5~8 years max.

Why? - Ever seen a MBA manager outsource the re-wiring of his house to a firm in downtown Bombay? Nah I thought not! In London self employed multi skilled tradesmen earn as much as degree qualified project managers, and they are turning work down, something I've never heard a contractor programmer be able to boast about since 1999.

Raddy Echt
Monday, July 14, 2003

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