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Why do people just want stuff for free?

It's my turn and first time on our customer service rotation (we sell downloadable apps with reg codes). And we seem to get flooded with people wanting our stuff for free... "How can I get it for free?", "I don't have a credit card, please send me a reg code", "I work in a school, can you send me a free version?", "I bought it and got this code [completely bogus code, no record of sale, etc] but it doesn't work, send me a new code"... and on and on.

And it always seems to come from 2nd and 3rd world countries -- don't they teach the concept of goods and services in these places?!  Did someone once email "SEND CODE ME PLEASE NOW" and it worked, and now they've told all their friends??

Is it just us, or is this normal in the downloadable/reg code business? (How depressing...)

Hate People Already
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

People want things for free for probably the same reason you aren't doing that job for free. 

Joe Blandy
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

'cause they're used to getting handouts, and now it's expected.

apw
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

You're seeing the lack of broadband, perhaps? I suspect everyone in the developed world just used Kazaa.

Insert half smiley here.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004


too stupid to figure out usenet binaries newsgroups

My Cousin Vinniwashtharam
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

People do this on our shop every once in awhile too.  One of the payment options is "Check", so they somehow think if they choose that, they'll be able to download the software immediately and tell us the "check is in the mail".  So they fill out the form with bogus data and then try to click around trying to download the software.

I guess the idiots of the world just tend to think the rest of the world is full of idiots also.

Michael H. Pryor
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I live in a 3rd world country. I also sell downloadable software, like you, and did customer support, like you.

In thirld world countries:

- people don't have credit and debit cards (banks simply don't issue credit and debit cards)

- the average wage may be $100-$150 per month, people barely survive, so they can't afford to buy software

- there is massive piracy, so people don't view software as something you buy

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Mihai - I don't mean this as trolling; I'm just curious: do you purchase your software?

Lee
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Also, there are a lot of people who ask us idiotic tech support questions.

Most of the time I have their name, e-mail address and, if they have bought the product, also their country and full address.

I'm sorry to say that 90% of the users asking idiotic questions are from the US. They are people living in the US, with names indicating English heritage, so they are not immigrants.

I can understand the fact that they are not computer-literate. This is ok.

But, most of them live in the US, have an English name (like "John Smith", for instance), yet they have extremely poor grammar, very poor spelling, illogical sentences lacking verbs or made of just verbs, etc.

This - I can't understand.

You tell me that most retarded messages are from third-world countries.

I tell you that 90% of the retarded support messages I get are from the US.

Messages with lots of highly illogical sentences, extremely broken grammar and spelling, from people in the US, with an English name, and with access to a credit card.

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Well I live in a 2nd world country :) but I completely agree with Mihai.
Wages here are quite low and something like $20 is really too much. But that's nothing.
If only someone decides to pay it becomes hard. Credit Cards are quite expensive.
Let me explain it as if the wages were like in USA.
Getting a CC will cost $2000 and you would had to have $5000 in the bank just lying there. So compare this to the often free credit cards you got. Compare this to the fact that even if you get a credit card there is a great chance that it is rejected only because it is issued in a 3rd world country!
So may be the perspectives are a bit different.
Do not judge that harsh and quick.

Bofix
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hey now -- our economy is based upon stupid people with credit cards!

SG
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Lee, when I was a student, I pirated all the software I used.

Now, as a developer, I buy about 70% of the software I use.

But I am able to afford this only because the business I have (together with several associates) is going well.

My aim is to buy 99% of the software I use.

Unfortunately some software is still too expensive for me.

As I am a developer myself, I understand that software is produced by long hours of very hard work. That work must be rewarded - and this is why I buy software.

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Also, I understand the feeling one feels when he sees his software - the product of many hours of hard work - published for free on a crack/warez site.

Our software has been cracked and distributed illegally several times, so I know how it feels.

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004


"Our software has been cracked and distributed illegally several times, so I know how it feels. "


...and probably by those same, illiterate, stupid Americans you mentioned in a previous post.

Whatever
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Most of the "crackers" are from East Europe.

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Isn't this expected behavior.  The customer wants to get a product for as cheap as possible (free), and the seller wants to sell the product for as much as possible.

Whats wrong for asking for a free copy?  Its not pirating if the company gives it to you for free.  The worst the company can do is say no.

In some countries, the price of things are negotiable.  Would it be surprising then, that people from these countries would attempt to negotiate a better deal on a software product.

josReader
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Two things....

1. Why do folk want free stuff
The one thing that humans try to do is to maximise utility. More often than not, getting any sort of utility will cost you $$. Given a limited supply of $$, the one way to increase utility is to increase the amount that one gets for every $$. If one reduces the cost of each utility unit to $0, then by definition, one has found nirvana ... infinite utility for a cost of $$0.

2. Third world
Its not all about people not wanting or being too poor to pay. Sometime they want to pay, they can pay, but their money is in the wrong currency. A freely convertable currency is something people in the 1st world take for granted.

Even in fairly developed places like South Africa, most of the credit cards issued (and there aren't too many of them) can only be used in SA, and cannot pay for foreign transactions.

Imagine being told that you were only entitled to $100 in forex per year. When that runs out, you can't buy anything from abroad anymore. You might want or be able to afford more, but tough. And no, you can't transfer your entitlement. If you are enterprising and export, we might let you keep a small portion (25% not unusual) of it in forex. The rest of it you have to sell to the government at a rate that we determine!!

I would postulate that if companies in the US started accepting gruby notes (us$$) in unmarked envelopes, sales to most parts of Africa would increase.  The money is there (sometimes). You just can't get it out legitimately.

Tapiwa
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Bofix and Mihai -- I know they don't have credit cards and/or can't afford it, that's not the issue.... The issue is where do they get the balls to ask for it for free? Why do they even think we would give it to them?? I mean, nobody goes to a car dealer and says "I can't afford that car, can I have it for free?"

But I think somebody said it above, they must be used to free handouts. Well, it's time to join the rest of the civilized world, people!! If you can't afford it, work hard, study hard, start a business and make enough money so you can!

Though I agree a lot of Americans are morons, too. Last week I had a bizarre series of emails over several days which were in all-caps, each a single paragraph that was just strings of completely abstract, disjointed thoughts separated by ellipses (10 or 15 at a time).  Finally he called in, and it turns out he was a completely lucid, normal, pleasant person who could communicate clearly. 

This is why I got into programming! So I wouldn't have to deal with the customer!!!

Hate People Already
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Sorry for my rant! Those are all good points above.

Hate People Already
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

That's hilarious.  It reminds me of that skit on the new SNL with the mango guy jabbering on incoherently.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Some time ago I ran across a site that offered a pretty neat screen shot app, from a company in Austria. It didn't cost much, but was more than I would pay. While surfing the site I noticed that there was some kind of barrier to purchasing the product online that may have turned off some potential buyers. I can't recall it now, but the barrier was clearly unintentional, and so I fired off a short e-mail to the company bringing it to their attention. On a whim I added that since I was such a nice guy to bring it to their attention, maybe they'd consider sending me a free copy!

Later that day they did just that.

I suppose fielding multiple requests for a free product can get old an frustrating. But, frankly, negotiation is quite common in all societies. The worst thing that can happen is you're told "no".

Bear in mind that "No" is just a request for more information.

George Illes
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"This is why I got into programming! So I wouldn't have to deal with the customer!!!"

So you have no people skills?

James B.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

George,

What you did was negotiate.  Your time and thought for thier product.

These people, on the other hand, demand free stuff without anything in return.

apw
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

>Though I agree a lot of Americans are morons.

I am eager to learn about the country without morons.
Clearly you don't live there.

son of parnas
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

When somebody asks us for a free license, sometimes we give it to him, especially if he or she helped us in some way - for example, by telling us which part of our web site needs improving, by reporting bugs, etc.

If you get bug reports from someone using a trial version, my advice is to give him a free license. In about 30% of the cases you will get more bug reports or useful comments from the same person.


About selling software in 2nd world and 3rd world countries: this can be done, if you:

1. lower the price a lot

2. Have good copy protection.

It is best to localize the software to that country's language, because people in such countries pirate a lot, and if the version you give them is in English, you may find such a version of a pirate download site.

3. find a way to get the money from the customers

Of these 3 points, point 3 is the toughest. You (from the US) have no way to collect payments from them.

And if you have such a way (for example Western Union is usually available), there is a lot of hassle. For example, for WU (Western Union) you have to go to WU in person to collect the cash. Or maybe the WU in the US does it differently.

Paypal also doesn't accept accounts from these countries.

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Instead of:

version of a pirate download site

I meant:

version on a pirate download site

Mihai
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Parnas -- I'm American as well, and I say a lot of Americans are morons based on my whole two weeks' experience answering support emails (and 20 years' experience driving on roads).

Though I guess most non-morons just figure things out themselves, and tend not to contact support. So you full-time customer support reps, I feel for you!

Hate People Already
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"Though I agree a lot of Americans are morons."

Stupidity has no borders.

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ask a linux user

Mike
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I worked in an American school for a while.  This isn't an industry that pays a heck of a lot.  I can only imagine how little spending money people working in schools in third-world countries have.

spammer
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

>> Hey now -- our economy is based upon stupid people with credit cards!

Haha! How true!

*Credit* cards, mind you, not cash. :):)

OP -- why are they asking? Maybe they figure, "a thousand people buy this thing, can't they give just one free copy to *me*?"

Unfortunately such thinking plagues every moron, hence the appearance of uniform moronity.

Is that a word?

Alex.ro
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

And... of course I buy all my software. It costs a solid $1.50 a piece.

Alex.ro
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The lack of a credit card is more common than you think. I have a reasonable salary (it was even reasonable by British standards until the dollar went into freefall) but and a solid job but it was only about three years ago that I was allowed a credit card anywhere, and only a year ago that i would not have had to deposit a couple of thousand dollars to get it.

And as I don't really want one (I'd only use it for buying books and software online anyway) I haven't bothered. And if I had bothered, it is quite likely it would not have been much use. For example if I ordered books from Amazon I would want them shipped to my address in Sri Lanka, but as the credit card would be issued in Saudi the transaction would probably be blocked.

As to why they ask, the answer is simple. Unlike asking for a free car or a free lunch, your granting them the software for free actually costs no more than your refusing it. So, why not give it a try?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"And... of course I buy all my software. It costs a solid $1.50 a piece."

Ah, but in lei, that's tens of thousands.

Kyralessa
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

> "This is why I got into programming! So I wouldn't have to deal with the customer!!!"
> So you have no people skills?

If you have real people skills, you're able to avoid jobs where you have to deal with complaining or dumb people.

Hey
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

> Hey now -- our economy is based upon stupid people with credit cards!

No. It's based on greedy arseholes who exploit trusting people who take out credit cards.

Low income people often end up losing even more of their tiny income by paying high interest rates on balances they can't pay off, and then on paying penalties for going overlimit and missing monthly payments.

Hey
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Kyralessa  ;) ;)

Alex.ro
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"Low income people often end up losing even more of their tiny income by paying high interest rates on balances they can't pay off, and then on paying penalties for going overlimit and missing monthly payments."

Yes, that is indeed the plan. It's not my plan - I just thought of it first.

Charles Darwin
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

> As to why they ask, the answer is simple. Unlike asking for a free car or a free lunch, your granting them the software for free actually costs no more than your refusing it. So, why not give it a try?

That of course assumes your time is worthless.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Let me add: your time, bandwidth, and captial used to create the product and distribute it are valueless.  Like the movies, production costs are high. Distribution costs are low.  More people assume value in hard assets.  When you buy a book you are not buying paper, you are buying content. 

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hi Mihai,

You mention that you buy about 70% of the software you use. Does this include the software you use for development or are you talking about the software you use at home, like games?

Like you, I develop software. I also pay for all my software and have no pirated software.

I wonder if it is a competitive advantage to not buy the expensive software. If I start downloading development tools from Kazaa instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for licenses, I am sure that I would be able to provide much lower bids on contracts and thus be more competitive against some of the overseas competitors. Any little bit of lowered costs would help, correct? What is your advice? Do you recommend I stop paying for 30% of my development tools?

Also, is the 30% you don't pay for the more expensive tools? How many $ do you spend per year in buying tools vs how many dollars of tools do you use but not pay for.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Dennis, yes, if you stop paying for software, you will be more competitive. But that is the wrong thing to do.


You accuse me that I pirate about 30% of the software.

Please don't tell me that the US and Western Europe have a 0% (zero) percent of piracy.

I have worked in Germany as a developer, and I know it isn't so. They buy most of their software but they, too, pirate some software.


Also - it's not my fault that I was born in a shitty country where the average wage is about $150 per month.

In Germany, for example, a guy can work as an untrained worker in a car factory, and still afford software.

In my country, a guy can learn a hell of a lot, be in the top 1% at university, get a master's degree, then work like hell for a company, and get a salary of maybe $300 a month, and still not afford software.

People in my country work for 10 years or so in order to afford a car which is bad and breaks all the time.

Tell me in which way this is my fault.


Also, do you think that you are morally superior because you were born in a country such as the US or Germany, in which one can be a bum and just have high school, and then go to work in a factory, and still have access to credit cards, a decent car, and afford software?

In which way are you morally superior?


Also I'd like to tell you this:

It is not my fault that, at the end of WW II, Soviet troops invaded my country and most of the countries surrounding it and forced us to be a communist country.

Communism destroyed the economy. But at that time, most of the people of my country did NOT want communism, and fought against it.


Most of the Eastern Europe countries did not want communism. It came to us on Russian tanks and was forced upon us by the countless hordes of Soviet soldiers.

Mihai
Thursday, April 08, 2004

"Tell me in which way this is my fault."

Well, why don't you overthrow your government?

Look if your country is such a hellhole, why don't you work to make it a better place instead of looking out for #1 and going for the job that pays the most money and just furthers the powers that be, the man that is oppressing you?

Here in the US, we were considered a bunch of hicks and uncivilized barbarians for years while europe had their barons and kings and gentry and all those folks looking for the easy life. I think many of your posts have upheld this view europeans have of slamming and looking down on americans every chance they get. So we werk hard for 200 years and it finally paid off. Now everyone is complaining because the barbarians from the lowers classes turned out to be smarter than the kings and barons.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, April 08, 2004

"It is not my fault that, at the end of WW II, Soviet troops invaded my country and most of the countries surrounding it and forced us to be a communist country."

Well it's your grandparents fault then.

The state of New Hampshire has a state motto "Live Free or Die". Patrick Henry said "Give me Liberty or give me death." If your grandparents were willing to fight for their freedom they could have had it. but they were not and so you got communism. The US did not ginve you communism, the US has fought communism, despotism and tyrany worldwide when no one else gives a crap. And when we do, people scream and complain, braying to once again suckle at the teat of their tyrants.

Stop whining and being a baby. Be a man. Overthrow your government. But you won't because your country is full of whiney children who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions or fight for anything they believe in. Instead "It is all america's fault! It is not my fault! I am not to blame!" Well, let me tell you, there's your problem right there. People not wanting to take responsibility. People wanting he easy life. for goodness sakes, you even say that you require a complete spec to be written or it is not your fault if  the software is no good! Sheesh! What a luxury! Here's a cure for you, any clueless freshman can write a program that has already been specified in minute detail. Here's another clue, there are very few problems in life that come so neatly prespecified and they are usually not werth doing since they have already been done by someone else.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, April 08, 2004

"Now everyone is complaining because the barbarians from the lowers classes turned out to be smarter than the kings and barons."

Yes. But, actually, the "barbarians" are indian, chinese, romanian, etc, developers. And it's us (the "westerners", so to speak) who's doing the complaining.

"The state of New Hampshire has a state motto "Live Free or Die". Patrick Henry said "Give me Liberty or give me death." If your grandparents were willing to fight for their freedom they could have had it."

Life is so simple when you look at it from the outside, isn't it?

"the US has fought communism, despotism and tyrany worldwide when no one else gives a crap."

No. Actually, the US (and other Western nations - I have no reason to single out the US in this) have fought "communism, despotism and tyrany" whenever it suited their interests. Whenever it didn't suit their interests, they joined everybody else in the "not giving a crap" activity. Actually, when it suited their interests, they even helped overthrow elected governments in order to establish a tryranny they could control.

Paulo Caetano
Thursday, April 08, 2004

But ARE fighting, Dennis dear, we are fighting.

You see, every time I get a contract (because I am three times cheaper) that you would've otherwise had, every time I sell my products which competes with your products at half the price, every time I am NOT paying for the software I use (because you have no way of catching me) - it's my way of fighting.

Oh, and it's funny you consider the third world "hell hole" - that is exactly how I think about the US. I lived there for 5 years, and I left because I wanted to. I made lots of money during the boom years and now I am investing them in software products developed at 1/10th of yours costs.

And, while you are scrambling looking for a job, my company is growing. Normally, I shouldn't care about you, shrug and say "it's just business". But in this case, I am glad.

And you know why? Because I held you (americans and the western world) DIRECTLY responsible for what me, my parents and my country have been through. 50 years of communism and all because YOU choose to sell us off to Russia. You, our traditional allies, who didn't care.

And, when the ordeal finally ended for us, you are afraid that your warm little world is invaded by cheap labor. Your companies are using us as "new markets" crushing any local company trying to create something of value. And you have the nerve to ask us to pay hundreds for your products, when people are making $150 per MONTH.

Now it's my turn. I am fighting back. What can you do about it?

Mr. Outsourcerer
Thursday, April 08, 2004

"If you can't afford it, work hard, study hard, start a business and make enough money so you can!"

I remember when I believed that.  Blissful days of ignorance.  I've tried working hard, I've tried studying hard and it has helped to maintain the fortunes of others.

I'm trying 'start a business' next, but I'm starting to suspect that the only things that really work are 'have rich parents' and 'get lucky.'

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Mihai,

>> Dennis, yes, if you stop paying for software, you will be more competitive. But that is the wrong thing to do.

<snip>

>> You accuse me that I pirate about 30% of the software.

<snip>

>> In which way are you morally superior?

<snip>

1. Re: your second statement, it was hardly an accusation. You admitted it!
2. I am assuming the third statement is a trick question? Surely you agree that pirating is wrong (well, you imply it in your first statement). Assuming we define moral as 'conforming to standards of what is right or just in behaviour', its not that hard to make the case that you are morally inferior (according to the above dictionary definition of 'moral') to someone who keeps the law and never pirates software.
3. Your country's state of affairs is obviously not as good as the west. But does that justify piracy? And if it does, why only pirate 30% of your software? Why not 100% of it?

Anon
Thursday, April 08, 2004

I like Americans. Hell, I married one. But asking one for a history lesson is a big mistake. As Dennis ably demonstrates.

Anonymous lurker
Thursday, April 08, 2004

I remember hearing a great quote once that went something like:

"Too many people are born at 3rd base and then spend the rest of their life thinking they'd hit a home run"

Not know the rules of baseball, my version is inaccurate and probably doesn't make any sense.  I'd love to find it again.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 08, 2004

I didn't say the third world was a hellhole! I said "if it is such a hellhole, then..." Big difference - it's the other guy who describes his country as a hellhole with tons of problems. i assume h knows more about it than me but perhaps I would find it charming and quaint?

Anyway, my points about blaming others sure got proven quick!

Some of these folks remind me of drug addicts living on the street -- it's ok to steal because the wold done them wrong. But they never see that they are the cuse of their own undoing. Nope. It's the CIA's fault they are addicted to smack. And no body with the drug addict's point of view and sense of personal responsibility is capable of developing quality products.

The problem is not some grand conspiracy as they imagine, nor i is it hard luck that got them where they are. It is the attitude of the people. And no body can change that but themselves.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Mihai    - The software is too expensive for me to buy
              because of Stalin's government 50 years ago
              driving our economy into the ground from
              which we never recovered

Dennis  - Overthrow your government now then! 

Dennis, this is the stupidest most illogical thing I have
ever heard. You must be secretely in favour of piracy
because you are making Mihai's excuse look good.

Are you really advocating that Mihai commence in
terrorism now, in the hope that his actions some
how travel back in time? When high school kids pirate
video games which are priced too high for them to
buy, do you tell them to overthrow the government?

Oh, and the Eastern Europeans learned not to listen
to the West when the Hungarians were encouraged
to rise up against the Russians in the 50s. They
fought valiantly but got no aid whatsoever from their
"freedom loving" "friends" and were brutally
slaughtered. So they learned not to listen to that
crap again. And note that they were fighting with
AK 47s against a nuclear power with tanks and
planes. Let's just say this seems a much greater
disparity to me than a fight between a bunch of Brits
with muskets, and a bunch of colonists with muskets.

Ali
Thursday, April 08, 2004

> Surely you agree that pirating is wrong (well,
> you imply it in your first statement).

Yes, I agree that pirating is wrong.


> Assuming we define moral as 'conforming to
> standards of what is right or just in behaviour',
> its not that hard to make the case that you
> are morally inferior (according to the above
> dictionary definition of 'moral') to someone
> who keeps the law and never pirates software.

Yes, this is true, I am morally inferior because I pirate some software.


However, please consider an alternate point of view:

- Johny B. Bum is born in the US. He slacks off in school. Then he goes to high school, where he has fun and plays football instead of learning. Then he gets a job as an untrained worker.

Yet, because in US the wages are high, he can afford a decent car, and can easily afford to buy all the software he uses.

- Johny B. Engineer is born in Eastern Europe. He learns hard in school, high school, and university, and then gets his master's degree. Then he works very hard for a company, striving hard to build a future for himself.

Because in Eastern Europe the wages are very low, this guy can hardly afford a car. He works 5-6 years, and then he can buy a bad 2nd hand car - one that breaks and has to be repaired every 2 months.

The guy can't afford software, so he pirates. He can't even afford a modern computer.


Now, is the 2nd guy (who worked a lot harder than the first guy) morally inferior to the first guy?

If you take the literal definition of morality, yes.

But if you interpret morality in a broader sense, then it's the first guy who is inferior.


> And if it does, why only pirate 30% of your
> software? Why not 100% of it?

When I was a student and didn't have any income and barely afforded a computer, I pirated 100% of the software.

Now the percentage is down to 30% for me.

My aim is to have 0% piracy.

But I can't achieve that overnight. Software is very expensive for me.


Also, to the people on the board telling me to overthrow my country's government: we already did that. :)

A revolution happened in my country in 1989. The people had overthrown the government.

It was a bloody revolution, too - by conservative estimates, there were over 1100 dead, and 3500 wounded.

Now my country has a decent democratic government. I can't say it's an excellent government, but it is certainly a decent, democratic, pro-business government.

In the last 2-3 years things have been going really well in my country. The economy is improving, most of the companies are now in private hands, etc.

Mihai
Thursday, April 08, 2004

No, Dennis, not a grand conspiracy.  Simple mechanisms all the way.  All related to Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand':  The poverty cycle, the tragedy of the commons, etc, etc.

I am not saying that it is right to pirate software.  I am saying have the grace to recognise your own good luck.

If 20% or the population consume 80% of the resources, then surely it is impossible for the other 80% to live at the same level of the 20%?

If they do work hard to improve their lot, they can only do so by reducing the riches of the lucky few: this is what outsourcing is all about. 

Of course, those who do have all the wealth don't want to be worse off, and they have the resources needed to protect their interests.

Two brothers receive land in their father's will.  Through the land of the oldest runs a river that makes the land fertile and rich.  He works hard on the land and is blessed with a rich harvest.  He invests heavily in equipment so that he can enjoy even more.

The youngers land is bone dry.  No matter how hard he works the land simply cannot give what it does not have.

When he complains about his brother lot, his brother tells him to stop being so lazy.  He does not bother to consider the problem from his siblings point of view, but instead tells him to stop whinging and blaming others.  'Work hard like me, ' he preaches.

The younger brother works not only hard but also smart.  He discovers that by building a simple dam he can redirect the river into his own land.  He buys the land around the appropriate area and does the necessary.

After the next harvest his brother is destitute.  He cannot pay the morgage on his land because the river has dried up.  When he goes to his now prosperous brother for help he is told to heed his own advice.  He also warns him not to trespass on his land up river.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Dear Mihai,
                  If the bunch of proto-fascists that ran your country in the 1930s  and 1940s hadn't invited Hitler to come and help them exterminate Jews, socialists and gypsies the Russians wouldn't have had to lose more than twenty million lives to liberate you from the Nazi yoke.

Dear Dennis,
                  Your country was founded by a bunch of freeloaders who wanted to have all the benefits of British government for free and weren't even prepared to pay a small additional duty on a cup of tea. It wasn't as if the load of whiners had any medical incapacity that prevented them drinking water  anyway. And of course they were aided and abetted by a load of land-grabbing parasites such as Washington who were annoyed because Good King George was a decent gent who didn't want the Yanks to go off and murder hundreds of thousands of American Indians to steal their land.

Can we have more threads like this? Sure beats rabbiting on about pointer arithmetic.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 08, 2004

"Too many people are born at 3rd base and then spend the rest of their life thinking they'd hit a home run"

I always heard it, "He was born on second base, and thought he'd hit a double." 

Grumpy Old-Timer
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Dear Stephen,

In my country, the jews were PROTECTED from the nazis! My country protected them as much as they could.

I asked old relatives, and know the truth about this.

Mihai
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Grumpy Old-Timer,

That was it.  Thanks.

Any idea who said it?

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards said something similar of a certain resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

"He was born on third base, and thought he'd hit a triple."

Kilroy
Thursday, April 08, 2004

It's resolved then... we'll lower our software prices to these 2nd world countries' wage levels, when they agree to RAISE their prices they charge our outsourcers. (You can't have the best of both worlds, guys).

I agree with Stephen Jones we should get the topic back to the American Revolution.  Mr Jones -- you might want to recall it was the British government that seized the land from the Indians and committed those atrocities prior to 1776. The American government did not exist until then.

And maybe have your King or Queen or whoever it is that runs your country read to you the little "Declaration Of Independence" letter we sent well over 200 years ago, in which we detail the many grievances and idiocies your King George perpetrated on his own people.  The "tax on a cup of tea" was just the last straw.

(And too bad you never learned from your mistakes -- you once owned half the world, didn't you? Now what do you have?)

*ducking*

Hate People Already
Thursday, April 08, 2004

The sentiments of the Founding Fatherers are echoed truly on the Statue of Liberty. It was not wriitten until way after their time, but reflect truly their spirit.

As long as the US of A was a _free_ country, as in truly and sincerely believing in "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,.....", it was alright. The whole of the US of A was hell bent on proving to the "OE" -ians, that they were at least their equals, if not a head and shoulder above them. A sort of a class struggle across the Atalantic. Every single honest and hard-working working-class man, woman and child across Europe, both "old" and "new", was an "American". Identification with others was not a hindrance, au contraire, diversity was a plus point. Different value systems, different priorites in life, different ideas for society, were all welcome.

Enter a "bad" period in "OE"-ian history, and the whole deck of cards falls. "OE" is crushed. The US of A truly holds the upper hand and now extends its "freedom" to the whole world, to counter another "class" conflict with the Reds.

Enter a "bad" period for the Reds, the US of A is now *the* only hand. No need for an adjective. And so now the Statue of Liberty does not need the above inscription any more, as there is no opponent to struggle against.

The next logical thing, nay the very thing the founding fathers of the US of A envisaged, was to ensure that you continue to "...lift my lamp beside the golden door!", the preceeding sentences having lost their validity.

And now comes the history lesson and I pray that at least the US of A will not indulge in repeating history. I know the price my nation has paid for it.

Every nation, repeat, every nation, other than US of A and Canada, has gone through this phase. There is documented record of this covering over a collective total of 10,000 years of recorded history. This cycle of achieving power and influence on so large a scale, only to lose it in one final act of hubris, is so very consistent with history.

My point is, do not make the mistake, the Pharoahs, the Caliphs, the Maharajas, the Emporers and the Mullahs, made/make. That of putting others in your shoes. You will also vanish. It will be a pity to see humanity's greatest collective experiment in self-preservation and self-development and collective well-being, snuffed out by just not visiting the nearest library.

Understand the "difference" is a valid concept. You may not like giving or recieving for free. I do. Both give and receive. That is because monetary compenstaion is only one measure of the transactions value. There are others. Pride being one that comes straight to my mind. You have right to your standards. Keep it. Do not impose it on others.

Regards

Kaushik Janardhanan

KayJay
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Well maybe we'll lose it all some day, but we're also going to take out the savages that fly planes into buildings and desecrate human corpses while we're at it...

Hate People Already
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Fo' shizzle,  H.P.A. Sometimes ya just gotta break yo' foot off in somebody's a**.

Erehwon
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Ah! Somehow the name Dennis Leary comes to my mind!

KayJay
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Mihai,

You have my sympathy. Ceausescu was a demon and you did the right thing to exterminate him. Personally i would have preferred hanging for him as the firing squad is supposed to be reserved for gentlemen.

OK, then, you did the revolution and things are better. You are right that the soviets raped you repeatedly but don't forget there were plenty of collaborators and politicians that did as they pleased even when it meant destroying their own countrymen. Ceausescu was not Russian after all.

You've got nice resources there, it's a good area with plenty of potential.

Don't forget that it took several hundred years and many many sacrifices to build up the Us economy to be so successful. Only 70 years ago, my grandparents lived in a one room shack with no electricity or running water at a time when your own countrymen lived in very nice castles, buildings and cottages. What I am saying is that it will take a lot of hard work to rebuild a country, but that it is possible and if you want it to work you have to put up with sacrifices, prepared for the payoff to come to your decendents. Blaming others is not the answer and is extremely counterproductive. Also, the people to blame are the dictators and collaborators.

Success is not easy. And it does not come from a degree either.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Dear Kayjay,
                      The Statue of Liberty, like American Independence, was a present from the French.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Known and acknowledged.

The point I was trying to make was that in spirit and perhaps even in letter,  Emma Lazarus's words are actually what the Statue stands for today, not President Cleveland's Franco-American "entente tres cordiale" (do pardon my French!). And Ms. Lazarus' poem has far more in common with the Founding Fathers than Mr. Cleveland, other than the office of the President of the US of A.

French influence has been prevalent in the activities and policies of the US of A. Taken off my bookmarked collection,  random online pointers include, "The Stewardship Doctrine" [1] and  "The U.S. Constitution: America's most important export", an essay by Mr. Blaustein. [2]. There are many more.

And yet, I find it amusing to see a total lack of desire or even a logical connection between History & Geography and Current Affairs, among modern day Americans, especially the policy makers . Two subjects, on which the French have always ensured continued emphasis across the centuries.

We, as sentient entities, occupy time and space. Ergo, History & Geography. QED. Ignoring or not learning from the two,  tantamounts to denying existence.

A casual glance of the various histories of the various civilsations/nations, would bring to light almost identical situations, the US of A is facing. Even if they are restricted to that past 500 years. Islam & India. Enforced "Civilisation" by the British. The Middle East & the Ottoman Empire. Russia and its Asian influences, Sub-Saharan Africa & Europe, etc. Every one of them was a socio-economic phenomenon under a veneer of "the right kind of life".  And every one suffered, and more important, the "future" was not worth the price.

Or perhaps, there is after all a God, who chooses his people, and therefore, by definition,  outisde Time and Space.

********************
[1] http://www.conlaw.org/

[2] http://164.109.48.86/journals/itdhr/0304/ijde/blaustein.htm

KayJay
Friday, April 09, 2004

From the first post of Dennis I've started thinking about
his grandparents and how they probably had worse living
conditions than almost anyone today in any part of Eastern
Europe, and then he said it himself.

Anything that we consider as civilisation today was really
non existent only hundred years ago. As in Brave New
World by Huxley, model T can be looked as start of
modern world.

Hot running water, electricity, roads and cars, ambulance,
credit cards & retirement plans where unknown only few
generations ago. In USA and in France, as well as in
Cambodia or Iraq or anywhere else.

I've seen somewhere that Lenin was financed by German
secret service because he promised to end the war on
eastern front. The question is not did Russians like
communism more than the rest of us, but without USSR
would we have Internet today?

Did anyone found the movie The Gangs of New York one
stunning revelation?

Life is strange, life stinks and life is a miracle.

From some book: Francis Drake was a pirate to Spaniards, but when he returned to England, Queen Elizabeth knighted
him... It is little wonder that the pleas of the Spanish
ambassador for the return of the loot went unheeded.

Adam Smith: A smuggler is a person who "would have been,
in every respect, an excellent citizen had not the laws of his
country made that a crime which nature never meant to be
so." This is from Wealth of Nations, very popular read
among American smugglers at the time when it was published in 1776.

VPC
Friday, April 09, 2004

"Well maybe we'll lose it all some day, but we're also going to take out the savages that fly planes into buildings and desecrate human corpses while we're at it... "

How about people who drop experimental bombs on cities without warning?

http://www.andrew.h.lohmann.btinternet.co.uk/effects.htm

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Monday, April 12, 2004

let's get this straight. hard work didn't make the US what it is today, two world wars did.  The isolationist plocies the us indulged in until pearl harbour mean that while europe was being torn to peices, the us just hung back, profiting all the while.  Desipite the belife that america won the WW2,  britain had already stood a pounding that would have brocken most nations.  As did russia, where there were more casualties than any other country.  If you want to talk about "the land of the Free"  spare a though for those who made it great, the poms, and the reds.

giskard
Sunday, April 18, 2004

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