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Comment: Re:Shareholders know less than nothing (Score 1) 147

by Sarten-X (#46789813) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

Yahoo's directors MUST (not "should") do whatever maximizes profit for shareholders. This isn't an opinion, nor what's socially correct, but those are the rules

Which rules, exactly?

I've been hearing this silly "maximize profit" nonsense for decades, and I've never actually found any law requiring profit to be the main impetus. As lgw noted above, the real rules say that it's the corporation's charter that really matters.

Comment: Re:Shareholders know less than nothing (Score 3, Insightful) 147

by Sarten-X (#46787709) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

There is literally nothing to be gained by splitting the company up except fictional paper valuations.

This is why the question posed by TFS is silly:

A fun question is, as fiduciaries for shareholders, should Yahoo's directors split into three separate companies to maximize value?

As Yahoo's directors, its directors should do whatever aligns with the company's goals. If that goal is "make numbers look happy", then sure, they can do that. If their goal is to (re)build a single strong business, they should keep it together. The common notion that financial "shareholder value" is all-important, or somehow a required priority, is ridiculous.

Comment: Re:Automating taxes (Score 1) 415

by Sarten-X (#46780457) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Wait, first you say that the deductions are to make taxes 'fair'. But then you turn around and claim that the deductions are for 'improving society as a whole'? Well, which is it?

The purpose of government, funded by taxes, is to improve society. The purpose of deductions is to allow individuals to have some control over which causes they support (including ones they're directly involved with, such as higher education). The perception of fairness comes from having that control, rather than being penalized for supporting a cause the government doesn't like.

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario, wherein the government has heeded religious zealots' demands to stop funding abortion clinics and stem cell research. An individual, having control over his monetary support, can choose to privately donate to those causes through appropriate non-profit charities, and take a portion of that donated money out of what he'll give to government. Indirectly, that also acts as a monetary penalty for causes that have government, but not popular, support.

When you deduct your education bill from your taxes, how do you think that loss of taxes is made up?

What should happen, and occasionally does, is that any decrease in government revenue forces a budget cut and a review of spending policies. Programs without popular support take the loss. Today, that would likely mean the NSA and various standing military programs, though I'd expect lobbying would protect those.

As for education specifically, the loss (a few hundred dollars) from my taxes is overshadowed by the government-funded grant money (a few thousand dollars) that I did not need. From the government's point of view, higher education is a benefit to society. I chose to support that benefit directly, rather than letting the government decide which other benefits are more important.

For a more direct example, consider that there is an option on your 1040 to donate $3 to a federal matching fund for presidential campaigns. As I do not choose to support the already-too-expensive campaign circus, I do not contribute to that fund. The "loss" is not replaced.

If they want to be assholes about not giving out money, so be it.

Meanwhile, they benefit from all of the charities' work supported by the government and private donations. It is indeed their choice to provide the minimum of funding, but to do so means they also lose control over where their money goes.

If the only reason you are making charitable contributions is to reduce your tax bill, then how charitable are you REALLY being? Again, I think you just like paying less taxes than the guy next to you.

Honestly, who doesn't want to pay less tax? You should note, though, that only a portion of donations is removed from taxes. Deductions are removed from taxable income, so if your tax bracket is 25%, then your final tax amount will only drop by 25% of what you donated. It is not possible to actually profit from donating (unless you change tax brackets, but that leads into a longer and more mathematical discussion than I care for today). Rather, the primary benefit from deductions is that direct control over where money goes.

I don't agree with ANY of the deductions given to people for their expenses (child care, health care, mortgage interest, etc.)

The society benefits from having parents available in the workforce. It benefits from having a healthy population. It benefits from everyone having a place to live... That said, there are some deductions with dubious direct or indirect benefit. You'll have to take those up with your representative.

I want them all gone so that the tax code is simplified

A silly endeavor, in my opinion. A simple tax code is effectively the government saying "we don't care what you do with your money, but this chunk is ours to do with as we please".

Tax code, as it stands today, really isn't even too bad. I've worked for financial planners, and I've seen some pretty complicated returns. They're mostly just 15 copies of the same form, filled in the same manner with information on different investments. The most difficult part of these returns is actually finding the requested information. Every investment's paperwork is laid out differently. One partnership I saw even gave their required data in essay form. That's what I think should be simplified: Each standard form that the taxpayer sends to the IRS should also have a standard information sheet for the taxpayer to receive. Rather than receiving a 1099 with information, they'll receive the 1099, with information.

stop using it for ... trying to push people to do a certain thing (buying solar, electric cars, etc).

...Because it'd be silly to encourage things that benefit society. That would be far too civilized.

Comment: Re:Terrible summary of an interesting paper (Score 1) 794

by Sarten-X (#46776587) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Oligarchy (from Greek (oligarkhía); from (olígos), meaning "few", and (arkho), meaning "to rule or to command")[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

-An actual definition of oligarchy, highlighting that wealth is one of many criteria used to select a "small number" of people, rather than the tens of thousands of groups and individuals that the study found held the majority of power in the US.

What you're thinking of is a plutocracy, where power comes directly from wealth. The study does show some plutocratic characteristics in US policy, but the correlation is looser than a textbook example.

Comment: Re:Terrible summary of an interesting paper (Score 2) 794

by Sarten-X (#46765853) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy


That is indeed the main difference between a capitalist oligarchy and a plutocracy. Anyone who can get enough money would gain power in a plutocracy, but may not in an oligarchy. There may be some overlap between the systems, if the elite rulers of an oligarchy are selected primarily based on wealth, rather than family, ethnicity, history, or any other primary criterion. However, the paper notes that there is relatively little difference in power between elite individuals and special-interest groups (which are themselves typically well-funded).

Comment: Terrible summary of an interesting paper (Score 5, Informative) 794

by Sarten-X (#46764611) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

The original paper is an interesting approach to studying power balances.

The summary is puerile flamebait.

The actual conclusion of the paper is simply that the power in government is not concentrated in massive grassroots organizations or in direct electoral representation, but rather it is concentrated in the small-but-vocal interest groups and economically influential individuals. In other words, causes, no matter how big, don't really get power until they can pay enough to be taken seriously. That might mean lobbying, marketing, or awareness campaigns, but it still takes money to look like your cause has merit.

Comment: Re:This role exists in any non-software business. (Score 2) 223

by Sarten-X (#46763921) Attached to: How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

From TFS: has no place in bigger, more established companies.

I've worked at a Fortune 100 company, who was looking to add a DevOps team, because our development and our deployment teams weren't working together as smoothly as we'd have liked. The development teams didn't know anything about the hardware their (very hardware-specific) software ran on, and the hardware teams didn't know what parts of the software needed testing on new hardware.

Of course, it's ridiculous to ask the hardware guys to be present at all of the software meetings, and vice versa. DevOps fills a role bridging the gap. Outside of IT and platform-agnostic software development, the "ops" part can be a customer-facing role. In the shelter of software development, any incompatibilities can be blamed on hardware, rather than the real underlying cause of "poor testing across platforms"

Comment: Re:Automating taxes (Score 1) 415

by Sarten-X (#46761195) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Why should I subsidize your decision to go to grad school?

Because going to grad school means more innovation and industry, improving society as a whole. That's why you pay taxes to fund grant programs that helped my colleagues. I paid for it out of my own pocket, so you didn't subsidize it at all. Rather, the government recognizes that my expense was ultimately for society's benefit.

If the government wanted more 'fair' taxes, they could simply adjust tax rates higher or lower based solely on income.

...but that wouldn't seem fair. Those who use their income to help others then still have to pay taxes as though they were bringing in large profits. Those who are selfish and do nothing to improve society end up keeping the most money, ultimately leaving the government to support all of the society's charity needs.

Comment: Re:Get rid of income Tax (Score 2) 415

by Sarten-X (#46760689) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Please remove this falsehood from your economic system. If you take productive money and piss it away on boondoggle projects instead of useful purposes then it's a complete loss for the economy.

What about the economy of the contractors working on those projects of which you don't approve?

The entire premise of capitalism is that money that gets invested into useful purposes (production equipment, invention, entropy-reducing services) multiplies the value of that money over time.

And here I thought the premise of capitalism was private ownership of goods and interests.

All spending is not created equal (so far from it)! Hanging fiber optics on poles and getting drunk are not equally beneficial!

Absolutely correct. The fiber being hung on the pole only benefits the telecom company, whereas getting drunk contributes toward a global supply chain supporting farmers, brewers, and bartenders. That's what you meant, right?

Everybody pays.

Yes, everybody, including the government, contractors, single mothers, and you.

The broken-window fallacy is that government spending is somehow more effective than regular spending. You seem to understand that well enough, but it seems you've missed that the inverse is also true: Government spending is no less effective than "regular" spending. All spending is a transfer of wealth, and the only difference is where it's transferred to. When you're spending money, you get to decide. When the government's spending, the legislators decide.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.