They came out around the same time, but their popularity as a web development language was separated by quite a few years. PHP was everywhere a few years before JSP and Servlets started powering bank websites all over the place.
The example you give is a decent one, because there's an easy comparison point: C#. VB.net and C#, aside for unsafe block, inline event handlers, XML literals, VB6 compability assemblies and a few other minor things, are exactly the same. They compile to the exact same bytecode, byte for byte, if you write the same thing in both.
Yet VB.net devs are paid less, VB.net code is almost universally worse, VB.net companies are generally garbage, even though the 2 language are almost exactly the same, because of all the factors you already pointed out.
Right, so it only really save the step of retreiving your W-2 in the US (where you just type your personal info, it pulls data from your job and does all the math for you....then you add investment info and whatsnot).
So it saves you one step, and the easiest one. No arguing that its better...but it doesn't add much (the main issue in the US is the tax code is too complex and downright retarded...the tools to handle it actually work fine)
The web interfaces that several tax tools have been moving to kind of solve the problem of the operating system. I never used Tax Act, but I don't think I could ever get myself to download a tool to do my taxes.
Of course the US tax code is like, what, the second most complicated in the world or something? (I think Germany has it worse?), which is a problem in itself.
That said, what you describe definately seems like it would work quite well for people who just work for an employer, as you mentioned.
But here at least, the amount of people who are either self employed, do free lance on the side, or have some kind of investments, is a pretty damn large portion (on top of my head I actually don't know a single person who does not fall in one of those categories...of course its because of where I live and is not representative), so, at the very least, it wouldn't help me much
Filing taxes is annoying enough, and even the "premium" options are just not that expensive for anyone in our field with a job (if you're not in that category, its a different story, obviously), that it just doesn't matter.
I do have a condo I just bought, I'm married, and I do have stocks, but using the appropriate TurboTax option, I basically just punch in some information, and it retrieves my W-2s and tax papers. Punching in the real estate data takes 5 minutes. So all in all, about 45 minutes for both people and forget about it.
Only annoyance was that the e-filling for stocks wasn't available for like, a month after I tried to file, so I had to wait a bit to submit the whole thing, but considering the amount the IRS wants from me, I wasn't in any particular hurry.
In MA, precedent(s) was (were?) set for enforcing them for, as you mentioned, key employees. If you're the CTO of a company making, let say, algorithms to design perfect donuts, and you quick to go work for Dunkin Donut's secret research facility in Boston, they would enforce it there. If you're just the tech lead for one of their random development team, in theory the judge will take your side.
Especially since MA, with the Boston/Cambridge area, is also quickly becoming another tech hub... so having similar rules to one of the states with the biggest tech hubs is probably not that bad.
At (low ball) 120k-160k for a mediocre unix dev in the big tech centers... you can deal with a lot of shit from Microsoft before hitting that price tag.
Because aside for landline/cable providers (no competition and "revolts" haven't done a thing), and health care (revolt is a daily thing...), things in the US are overall so much cheaper than anywhere else, its a bit hard to complain.
Regardless, you're correct that it goes two ways. The easiest way to see it is in other countries. US beliefs, as well as stereotypes (including negative ones), are being pushed around via the internet. Certain ultra liberal countries have started having abortion debates, when no one had ever questioned it before.
A particularly bad one: I've heard someone call a black person a "slave" as a slur...in a country where pretty much anyone of color is a rich investor immigrant or professional and no history. So not only its racist as hell, but it also doesn't even fit.
The internet is just putting everyone in a melding pot and the lowest common denominator comes out. Since people rarely check facts and have no ability for critical thinking, whatever is loudest and most visible will be the belief of the majority after a while.
People in general are gullible and believe whatever they hear. Being skeptical, double checking facts, looking at references...those are things people don't even think about anymore (well, they never did, its not new).
Schools need to push more on THAT. Teaching people to prove what they say, that its not because everyone says something that its true, and to learn how to separate facts from made up stuff. The rest will follow.
The argument about local workers being displaced aside...its a slap in the face for foreign workers who can't get an H1B and are actually the original target audience for those visas.
I have friends who Canada with credentials up the wazoo, who have been working on TN1 visas for a bit, and want something more permanent. Those are 150-300k/year jobs (lead software engineers and architects) that aren't easy to fill outside of California.
And they have to hit the lottery like anyone else, and more likely than not they won't get their H1B...and so they have to stick with TN or looking for an american to marry =P
Not any more. Providing Windows server 2012 was also part of the announcement. SQL server I'm sure you can install yourself.
Maybe Im blind, but i only see 2008 in the announcement, not 2012.
Write a resume that includes a CS degree at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Cal Tech, whatever...then fill your employment history with Starbucks barista, scratching monkey's backs, picking your nose and for good measure, add a sabbatical as part of your job history too.
You're still gonna get half decent offers if you can pass the phone screen.