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Comment Re:Checked... (Score 0) 503

Unrelated question: how would you respond to a tax cut on businesses and the wealthy if it also came with a remediation of the welfare system, strengthening of the middle-class, and a complete elimination of homelessness and hunger through a powerful social safety net? Assume the math works out (it does).

No healthcare repeal or other bullshit; there are things you don't solve by fixing the tax system up. You can't just give people flat cash and say, "Here, this will pay for your doctor bills!" You need risk adjustment systems (= insurance).

Comment Re:Why not just call it what it really is? (Score 1) 83

Why is it corruption? Lobbying your senators is hard.

Look at me. I've written up a policy for a universal social security that cuts taxes on literally every single individual, cuts business income taxes, and cuts payroll taxes. It stabilizes OASDI (because it replaces part of it, and that proportion becomes larger over time). It stabilizes the middle-class through tough economic times, cutting back the severity and duration of recessions. It remediates a large part of the welfare system and, as a result, eliminates homelessness and hunger in the United States.

I can describe the ins and outs of this policy; I can show how to deploy it; I can show how and why it works; I can defend every piece of it. I've drawn up transition plans, I've described how to manage it using the existing Social Security system, I've pointed out the risks in welfare and immigrant concerns and how to control them. I've described how to use this to improve and then replace HUD housing assistance, and I've described how to use the Social Security credit system to phase-in naturalized Americans so as to avoid any threat of economic parasitism.

All the technical end, I can handle.

Now: How do I present it?

Never mind just getting Congress to hear me speak; what do I say? How do I engage in a Congressional dialogue with power and persuasion? Congress will ask for questions, will raise concerns, and will want follow-up if they do find any interest; how do I collect, analyze, and present the economic data?

Do you think Congress will just listen, nod, decide that everything seems well-and-proper, and go with it? Do you think they'll even look? Maybe, with what I can do on my own, I'll be able to get their attention; tell me what you think.

I need people. I need public attention to the issue. I need pictures, prepared speeches, graphs, charts, and videos to speak to the American People and to Congress. I need to be able to think on my feet--or to hire someone who can. I need to pull together enormous amounts of data and work with it.

To engage the American people, I need graphics designers, programmers, video editors, marketers. To engage Congress, I may need analysts and economists, highly-skilled business negotiators, and maybe even multiple suits at once to send individually to meet with Congressmen repeatedly. I need to collect the concerns of the Congressmen, analyze them, find answers, and send my people back to them to deliver what we've found.

Do you know how much that costs?

Even if you can skip the public campaign, what if you have dozens of complex issues to deal with?

Imagine how much the costs scale.

Most of it isn't kickbacks and back-room deals. Some of it is; that's why we have a few Senators and Governors in prison. A lot of the time, the Congressman and his staff will take to reminding you that it's not their job to do weeks of research at your request; if you want their attention, you bring the data.

Besides that, year-after-year costs will always go up with inflation, just like movie tickets. If it's a few percent, it's just inflation; if it's more, it's more lobbying activity.

Comment Re:No surprise there (Score 1) 245

I tend to agree, but since the legal systems in many countries still operate with the technical savvy of a 10th century monk, many lawyers couldn't change even if they wanted to, because they wouldn't then be compliant with the court-mandated formatting conventions for their documents.

But also, there's not really any denying that the familiar revision control features in software like Word are much easier for non-technical folks to use than the diff tools in a typical programmer's version control system.

It would be nice to think that one day we would need neither court-mandated awful formatting nor clunky UIs in software just to present and share basic information in a clear and reliable way. Surely we must have the technology...

Comment Re:Absolutely baffling (Score 1) 245

OK, that is clearer, thanks.

Sounds like in this case the businesses had already locked themselves in to some extent, presumably in exchange for significant discounts through enterprise licensing rather than buying individual copies, and now Microsoft is exploiting that lock-in to get its fingers deeper into the pie.

Comment Re:Not a sign of MS growth per se (Score 1) 245

Sure, I understand that and it's a perfectly reasonable position if it genuinely does meet your business requirements better than any other available option. Presumably if and when you reached that "paying through the nose" stage, the balance would change and the costs of migrating to an alternative would look less prohibitive.

Unfortunately, while your reason is a good one, it is certainly not the only reason that big businesses lock themselves into these agreements. I've seen purchases made for corporate political reasons that were literally multiple orders of magnitude bigger than they needed be to meet the actual business requirements. Heck, in one case, I could have hired the necessary dev team and built the software involved from scratch for less money than was spent buying something off the shelf under... dubious... circumstances. That team would have delivered results sooner, too.

Comment Re:No surprise there (Score 1) 245

It's a general principle, not specific to Microsoft. In any case, it's clear that Microsoft is quite willing to update its software in ways that its customers don't want and try to force them to adopt the changes, and life's too short to put up with that sort of abuse.

Comment Re:Amazon Prime (Score 1) 99

Prime Video has more titles and lets you keep (and even download) what you buy. For people who rewatch mostly the same stuff, Prime Video is cheaper than Netflix + Prime. If you're getting the 2-day shipping from Amazon Prime anyway and not constantly watching new things, or just an intermittent viewer, it's not worth a Netflix sub.

I bought all of Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, RWBY, and Sherlock over like 6 years. I spent as much as I would on 2 years of Netflix. I also don't watch TV constantly.

Comment Re:Normal (Score 1) 99

Uh, no, it's not illegal in several states; the Federal Trade Commission has an entire publication on shit like that describing it as extremely illegal.

It's still legal to compare to the MSRP. This isn't "happening all over again"; it's a constant, and keeps popping up in fringe publications as quasi-tabloids here and there try to pawn off their supposed major discovery that musical instruments, cars, and major appliances are sold with "fake discounts" off an MSRP that nobody actually charges.

Comment Re:maybe some states will pass laws like can't pum (Score 1) 190

United States is in there because some collapsed local economies have vacated population; United States population is increasing.

Despite ever increasing population in the US, some American municipalities (city limits) have shrunk due to white flight and urban decay.

Japan is in there, due to a recent inflection. 128.1 million in 2010, 127 million in 2016. It's more horizontal than downward.

Russia went from 148.7 million in 1992 (collapse of the USSR) to a decline bottoming at 142.7 in 2008. It's up to 144.3 million now, slowly climbing. A comparison to their unemployment rates is interesting: as Russia's population fell initially, unemployment ramped up; the inflection point where population begun to climb again came at 2007, and population continued to climb even though unemployment spiked again in 2009 and then immediately begun to fall again (it's lower in 2010 and 2011, and has recovered by 2012).

It looks like the sudden difficulty in finding employment after the 1992 collapse of the USSR is directly time-correlated to the sharp collapse in Russian population. That's a trend in the poverty- and conflict-stricken Eastern European Bloc:

Much of Eastern Europe has lost population due to migration to Western Europe. In Eastern Europe and Russia, natality fell abruptly after the end of the Soviet Union, and death rates generally rose.

Ukraine also experienced an unemployment spike in 2009, right after recovery; they have only recovered to 2005 levels, and are still in decline. Between 2003 and 2009, they lost 1.7 million population; between 2009 and 2016, only 1 million. That decline is slowing, but Ukraine is a war-torn country with a poverty-stricken economy. Ukraine's GDP fell 50% between 2013 and 2015; so did its GDP-per-capita. It is currently 20% below 2009 levels of economic production and productivity.

Gerogia and Armenia have declining population. Georgia's unemployment rate is 12.5%; Armenia's unemployment rate remains at 18%. Armenia and others in the region experienced a drop in GDP-per-capita and the beginning of population decline in 1990; the decline slowed around 1996, although it didn't reverse to follow the great growth of GDP and GDP-per-capita. Armenia's low point was 2.876 million in 2011,and is 2.925 million now. Georgia flattened its decline in 2014, but has not begun progressing. Peoples in this country struggle for jobs.

Compare that to Azerbaijan's growing population. Their unemployment rate was 6.3% in 2007, and fell continuously to 4.9% in 2014. It's 5.1% now.

So, nations with high unemployment, falling GDP-per-capita, or both have falling populations; many of these nations began their decline after crippling economic collapse. Nations with stable unemployment and growing GDP-per-capita have stable and growing populations. United States population isn't in decline; Japan's has leveled, but hasn't started a visible trend of negative growth yet.

The data seems to confirm Malthusian growth, unless you want to go day-by-day and claim that population doesn't fluctuate up and down in absolute lockstep with the daily GDP--because of course it doesn't. The fact is a nation's population will expand if the nation grows in wealth--not the same day, but over time, growing toward that goal. Likewise, its population growth will slow when it reaches carry capacity, and shrink if the economy falters over a long enough time scale.

That means, yes, if you manage to make a nation of such wealth that there are more jobs than people, just wait a few years: you'll have more people than jobs again soon. It's not even just fertility rate; folks will flee the crippled Eastern Bloc to come to America for all those jobs, and American corporations will cite the -5% unemployment rate as an obvious indicator that, no, in fact, there aren't Americans to work these jobs.

Eventually, as your population grows, you hit carry capacity. Doubling the volume of production doesn't necessarily double the amount of labor involved; it can take more than twice the human labor hours to make twice as much stuff. Food is the obvious example: you run out of good farm land, you have to farm on the land that yields less and uses more irrigation and fertilizer, and that's more fertilizer production (labor), more power pumping the water (labor), more time spent fertilizing and irrigating (labor), and the same amount of time spent harvesting to get lower yield--which in turn means getting the same yield requires increasing all of these factors (labor). People have to pay for those labor wages when they buy the product, so prices of such things go up relative to incomes, and folks become poorer. The population can keep growing because things are abundant, but the standard-of-living will fall--and jobs will become more-scarce. Standard of living eventually becomes contemporarily-intolerable to some.

So far I've seen no evidence against this. Do note that the Malthusian model suggests populations simply expand exponentially, and more-complex versions have made other interesting but easily-refuted suggestions. The base Malthusian growth concept that population expands relative to abundance has always proved valid; it's not particularly-interesting to anyone except policymakers, so it's never been generalized that way. I'm kind of abusing the term in that aspect.

Finally, most economists like to explore GDP and income-per-capita, but not things like unemployment and general economic stability; I like to ask questions like: "do people feel secure in the belief that their current standard-of-living will persist?" This has frequently lead me to identify correlated economic indicators nobody cares about, mostly because the correlations are too weak (unemployment is correlated to population growth in shorter term than it is to decline, but largely shows that your economy is faltering and indicates that other factors are probably also present which influence population in a given direction). I often suggest I more need an understanding of causality more than a crystal ball to predict every movement of the future.

Comment Re:Absolutely baffling (Score 1) 245

Looks like that comment ruffled some feathers. I think it's a fair question: in what way was any business forced to buy an enterprise licence and then to switch to Office 365? I've never heard of this in any big business I've worked at/with. It could be that Microsoft has recently changed policy and somehow forced this shift as the GP implied. Or it could be that the GP has misunderstood the situation or is exaggerating significantly for effect. It's not unreasonable to ask which is the case.

Comment Re:Not a sign of MS growth per se (Score 1) 245

Software "ownership" is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

That's the fear, but I'm not sure it's actually working out that way. It took what -- 2-3 years, maybe? -- from the Adobe CC switch for multiple credible competing products to be available for some of the big CS/CC applications. They aren't the same 800lb gorilla products, but rather like Google Docs compared to MS Office, they do enough for many users, and in some respects they might even be better.

Enterprise IT is often awful in terms of cost-effectiveness, because everything is worked out at a high level based on brand perception and support contracts and dare I say the odd dinner at the golf club. If they're foolish enough to pay through the nose and lock themselves into deals with specific software brands, so be it.

Smaller businesses tend to be much more price-conscious and much more nimble about their IT policies, and I see little evidence that they are keen to move to rental pricing as the default way of doing things. Where they do, it seems to be more the kind of online SaaS offerings that are attractive for whatever reason, not so much the software they used to buy but are now being asked to rent instead.

Comment Re:No surprise there (Score 2) 245

If you work in the business world you inevitably have to deal with MS Word documents and MS Excel spreadsheets and MS Powerpoint sludge.

This is a lot less true than it used to be. None of the day-to-day data that I deal with has been in any of those formats for a long time.

The sad thing is, it still only needs one or two exceptions -- say, exporting a spreadsheet to send to your accountant or a contract for review and markup by your lawyers -- to make it worth the cost of buying MS rather than risking data loss in translation. Fortunately, for us it's only things like legal/finance work where any avoidable risk is highly undesirable because of the potential costs of even small errors, which also means it's only MS Office where this applies. Keeping around the odd pre-365 copy we already bought is sufficient here.

Although it is an annual rent which is going to turn off a lot of people I now consider it a regular business related sense such as dry cleaning or a commute-capable car or for that matter taxes on income. If you want to be a grown up there are things you have to pay for.

From a business point of view, what it costs is just a business expense and is either worth it or it isn't.

The bigger reason we won't rent software for anything truly essential to our business operations is that it can be changed, made more expensive, or even entirely turned off, at any time, according to nothing but the whims of the software developer. Given the track record of the software industry collectively and of some of these big name developers in particular for shipping updates that their customers don't actually want, interrupting functionality due to downtime, or even discontinuing entire product lines that are no longer strategically convenient, that's far too much risk for business to take with anything that actually matters, IMHO.

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