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Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 2) 128

by swillden (#49762097) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

That assumes that the business can raise prices without consequence, which is an invalid assumption.

Only if the competition can avoid the taxes. If all of the players in the market get hit with the same taxes, then all of them absolutely can and will raise prices, and there will be no consequences.

Taxes are a percentage of profits, and are not deductible from revenue when calculating profits. So if Amazon raises their prices (and, assuming no change in consumer behavior, their revenue) by 10%, they also increase the amount of taxes they owe by 10%. So now they have to raise their prices again to cover the additional tax, lather rinse repeat.

This is a standard financial calculation, and a trivial one. The tax is 10%, so the increase is 10%, but there's 10% tax on that, so 1%, meaning the increase needs to be 11%, continue ad infinitum (literally). In other words, the new price needs to be 11.1111...% higher than the old one to keep profit margins unchanged. More generally, the increase needs to be the sum of the infinite series with terms r^n. This series is convergent if r < 1, and converges to 1/(1-r). So for a 25% tax, the company needs to increase prices by 1-1/(1-.25) = 33.333...% to keep profit margins unchanged after accounting for the new tax.

Of course, it doesn't quite happen like that. In practice, companies don't instantly raise prices. They do take the hit for a while, where it gets absorbed by the investors, not the customers. Then they allocate a portion of the losses to employees, in the form of reduced raises, or benefits. Then they raise prices. But eventually they get back to a steady state of roughly the same return on assets that they had before the tax hike.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 2) 128

by swillden (#49762053) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Specifically, all corporate taxes paid come from three categories of individuals: consumers, who pay higher prices for items to cover the taxes; employees, who make lower wages to cover the taxes; and shareholders, who earn lower returns (and note that the two former categories are often also shareholders, via their pension plans). Suppliers can also lose, but they're generally corporations as well, with their own employees and investors who actually eat the loss. In the long run, though, the investors don't lose because capital flows away from lower returns and towards higher ones. So companies must find ways to keep their returns up to somewhere near the mean rate of return.

Once you understand that no taxes are paid by corporations, ever, then you should also recognize that corporate taxes are not only ultimately paid by individuals, but the individuals almost never realize they're paying it. How many people know their prices would be lower, wages higher, or pension more secure, if it weren't for corporate taxes? And, therefore, how many voters have any interest in opposing corporate taxation? To politicians and voters, corporate taxes look almost like free money. Ratchet up the corporate taxes and no people get hurt, just those nasty corporations. (Actually, politicians sometimes get even more value out of threatening corporate taxes than enacting them, since it tends to encourage said corporations to buy off, er, donate to their re-election funds.)

I assert that while taxes are necessary, the electorate should see and understand exactly what they're paying, so they can evaluate the value they're receiving for the money they're paying. Hidden taxes are evil, and therefore corporate taxes are evil, and should be abolished, not raised.

Comment: Re:Meanwhile OS/2 and Xenix existed (Score 1) 352

by TheRaven64 (#49761245) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

enough ram to run without swap file thrashing. Price was high as well

These two are related. OS/2 needed 16MB of RAM to be useable back when I had a 386 that couldn't take more than 5MB (1MB soldered onto the board, 4x1MB matched SIMMs). Windows NT had the same problem - NT4 needed 32MB as an absolute minimum when Windows 95 could happily run in 16 and unhappily run in 8 (and allegedly run in 4MB, but I tried that once and it really wasn't a good idea). The advantage that Windows NT had was that it used pretty much the same APIs as Windows 95 (except DirectX, until later), so the kinds of users who were willing to pay the extra costs could still run the same programs as the ones that weren't.

Comment: Re:For me it's Windows NT 3.1 (Score 1) 352

by TheRaven64 (#49761223) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
I never ran 3.0 on a 386 to try that. On Windows 3.1 it wouldn't work, because the OS required either (286) protected mode or (386) enhanced mode. Running 3.0 on a 386, the DOS prompt would use VM86 mode (yes, x86 has had virtualisation support for a long time, but only for 16-bit programs). Windows 3.0 could run in real mode, so would work inside VM86 mode. In real mode, it didn't have access to VM86 mode (no nested virtualisation), so probably couldn't start again.

Comment: Re:OS/2 better then windows at running windows app (Score 1) 352

by TheRaven64 (#49760671) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
And Windows 3.1 lost real mode support. You could run Windows 3.0 on an 8086 with an EGA screen and 640KB of RAM (I did - the machine originally shipped with GEM). I think 3.1 still have 286 protected mode support, but didn't work very well unless you ran it in 386 enhanced mode. It was a bit sad that the version of Windows that required an MMU didn't use it to implement memory protection...

Comment: Re:*shrug* (Score 1) 352

by TheRaven64 (#49760611) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

Sort of. The desire not to cannibalise sales was a key factor in the design of the PC, but these were also features that IBM didn't think would be missed.

IBM knew what multitasking was for: it was to allow multiple users to use the same computer with administrator-controled priorities. Protected memory was for the same things. Why would you need these on a computer that was intended for a single user to use? A single user can obviously only run one program at a time (they only have one set of eyes and hands) and you can save a lot in hardware (and software) if you remove the ability to do more. And, of course, then no one will start buying the cheap PCs and hooking them up to a load of terminals rather than buying a minicomputer or mainframe.

Comment: Re: *shrug* (Score 1) 352

by TheRaven64 (#49760579) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
My father's company got their first Windows 3.0 install because they bought a diagram tool (Meta Design, I think), that came with a free copy. The company that made it had decided that bundling a copy of Windows 3.0 was cheaper than writing (or licensing) a graphical toolkit for DOS and an associated set of printer drivers. I don't know if they were the only company to do this, but after a year or so they stopped bundling Windows and just expected their customers to either have a copy already or go and buy one.

Comment: Re:This isn't a question (Score 1) 428

by AdamHaun (#49760153) Attached to: Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

In the broadest scope I've never understood why there has to be laws concerning marriage. It's a private contract. There shouldn't be a question of can two people of the same sex get married - the question should be why we need to regulate this at all. If some regulation is found to be useful, what should it be? I'm not happy about "The State" getting that far into my business.

It's not the state getting into your "business", it's your business getting into the state. Marriage predates nation-states by millennia. And as a practical matter, I'm glad I didn't have to get a lawyer and sign a 500-page contract in order to get married, and I'm glad that other people don't need their own lawyer to go over such a contract in order to recognize my marriage.

Comment: Re:Java vs. C# amuses me (Score 1) 407

by shutdown -p now (#49757271) Attached to: The Reason For Java's Staying Power: It's Easy To Read

Java anon classes aren't quite the same because of the lack of "var" or similar - so you can implement interface members or override base class members, but you cannot introduce new members that can then be referenced outside of that object.

OTOH, C# anon classes don't support base types...

Comment: Re:Pot, meet kettle (Score 1) 224

by swillden (#49756299) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

Global warming is a sloooooooooooooooooow process

Not necessarily. Greenland ice core records show that in the past the planet has seen temperature shifts of up to 7 C in as little as 30 years. 7 C is huge. It's like transporting Moscow to Rome. Of course, we have no idea what caused such rapid changes in the past. It wasn't CO2 levels, or particulates.

Comment: Re:Math (Score 1) 224

by swillden (#49756245) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

i would not be surprised if humans died off within a couple centuries after that.

I would. If one or more isolated populations managed to survive more than a couple of generations after the event, I think it's highly likely that they'd continue to survive indefinitely. The worst of the changes would be past, and they'd clearly have learned how to survive in the new environment, else they'd have died sooner.

Human intelligence makes us highly adaptable, as evidenced by the extraordinary diversity of environments in which we live, and lived even before the advent of modern technology. Humans who lack the necessary knowledge of how to survive in a particular environment are at severe risk of death any place on the planet, but if they manage to survive for even a year or two, odds are that they'll have learned enough to be able to extend that time almost indefinitely.

Comment: Re:It's not that great (Score 1) 407

by shutdown -p now (#49754567) Attached to: The Reason For Java's Staying Power: It's Easy To Read

I'm not necessarily saying that begin..end is better, just that it's an obvious alternative. Personally, I don't mind {}, though I think that it's really redundant, and the proper way is to treat everything as an expression, in which case semicolon becomes a sequence operator (i.e. "a;b" means "evaluate a, then throw the result away and evaluate b" - like comma in C), and you just use parens to group things where needed.

Any given program, when running, is obsolete.

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