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Comment Re:Evil, evil Microsoft... (Score 1) 1142

Are you accounting for splits? There was a 2 for 1 split in 2003, although, even so, on the numbers you cite, that's only a $5 gain in a decade. I would also ask what dividends were paid, which a savings account would not.

I'm still somewhat at a loss to find a savings account that would net a 13% gain in ten years... that's about a 1.3% APR which isn't unachievable but the market went below that for long chunks. And again, plus dividends. In 2003, they were 8 cents a share post-split.

I kinda get the feeling that Microsoft had done the majority of their best work by 1999, but considering their product prices since, having sold at least one license for windows and office to almost every work computer in America, I'm shocked they haven't made more.

Comment Re:But corporations don't pay tax (Score 1) 1142

Let's use your router analogy....

The choice of whether or not to buy the router is up to the company, so their is natural efficiency in the choice (will spending X save or make >X?).... taxes are the opposite of efficiency -- it is money spent with a zero ROI.

Costs imposed by government that have no benefit to the company (zero ROI) are gross efficiencies and efficiencies hurt everyone... they are indeed passed on to the customers.

In fact, you are wrong.

You are wrong because costs imposed by the government in fact have substantial benefit to the company. When the company's shipments are not captured by pirates on the high seas, their taxes financed a navy to make that possible. When they ship their products over toll-free roads, taxes paid for that. Ditto when employees commute on those roads, or on subsidized rail systems. GPS satellite systems. Industrial safety standards. Antitrust provisions preventing their competitors from unfairly squashing them. Libel and slander laws preventing their competitors from falsely advertising against them. Laws in general. The police preventing or investigating the overnight burglary of their facilities. Etc. Etc.

Furthermore, like the router, the company clearly has a choice about the taxes: it can select where to do business. Those "decisions" led to tech companies being concentrated on the West Coast, for example. If the taxes genuinely provide no added value to the company, then the company should move to a place without taxes, since clearly the taxes are of no value. But perhaps, on top of all of the above, companies value the location of doing business itself, perhaps for its proximity to quality labor (financed by tax-supported education systems) or its proximity to a prosperous market (supported by all of the protections of that government.)

I hope that you wrote this from a tax-free country, lest you be oozing hypocrisy.

Comment Re:But corporations don't pay tax (Score 5, Insightful) 1142

In reality this doesn't work, the idea that "as the physical workforce is being reduced, re-school the freed up people into idea producers..."

The reasons are sad, but ultimately, my experience working with all manners of the mythical "poor people in America" (they actually do exist) shows them.

First, you can't just expect people to go from "physical workforce" to "idea producers" because you tell them to. Unfortunately, not everyone is creative. Not everyone is intelligent. Similarly, not everyone is strong or has manual dexterity. Some people are very well suited to chopping down trees, digging holes, and assembling circuit boards. Other people are very well suited to inventing things, drafting documents, making things pretty, and directing/managing. Some people are good at both categories, and choose the one that they prefer, in places where they have the choice. But it is not true that MOST people are well suited to idea work. Many, but not most.

Second, you can't assume that Americans naturally make for better "idea producers" than Chinese etc- if you try to set up America as a country of designers and managers, while having other portions of the world simply be the labor force, you (ie, corporate America) are attempting to set up a global caste system. Very dangerous. Yet, even then, there would remain jobs which must be performed physically and locally. Janitor. Pavement repairer. McDonalds cook. Chef. Doctor. If you set up an economy where "most people" are "supposed to be" concept workers, then you are conveying the social message that other work is inferior, and thus, other workers are inferior. Not a good message for a government, of all groups, to promulgate.

Additionally, consider that, even if they are capable of it, many people would despise office-type work. Myself, I am bound to it by ability (err, by lack of physical ability otherwise) but, especially working with the physically disabled, I meet people all the time who would rather starve to death than work in an office- they would rather build things or chop down trees. Many people feel that they haven't worked if their muscles don't feel it at the end of the day, and in fact, my father, being one of those people, actually looked down on people who worked with paper and computers.

Comment Re:Capitalist flight (Score 4, Insightful) 1142

The trouble with this line of thinking is, as is often the trouble with unrestrained capitalism, the inherent short-sightedness of the thought process.

If MS feels that the taxes associated with doing business in the US are a hindrance, they have failed to consider that the US government might actually "value" those taxes.

That is to say, if MS becomes a foreign company whose retail products are being imported, expect the US government to set up tariffs on software imports. Expect those tariffs to draw substantially more revenue for the government than the present corporate income tax draws. Consequently, expect the net impact on the MS bottom line to go down, and go down further as the cost advantage they now enjoy over their principal competitor (Apple) evaporates, and as the security-minded DOD switches all of their computers to a US-made operating system such as Snow Leopard or a custom system from Sun, costing them an enormous contract.

I don't see how this would be a good move for Microsoft, but honestly, it would be exemplary of a larger trend: that short sighted "I only want to good parts" thinking is motivating US corporations to move most of their operations abroad to save money by avoiding US laws- such as, minimum wage and human rights standards, environmental standards, and taxation. For a few months or years, the profits of these companies SKYROCKET as their costs evaporate, but, keeping retail prices constant, they continue to sustain revenues. Until, that is, enough companies follow suit. When the US marketplace collapses due to the decimation of its labor (and thus, spending) base, there will be nobody left to sell products to- and the government begins to bleed out, as expenditures escalate on human services to mitigate unemployment, while revenues tank due to dropping taxes on all fronts.

In this move, Ballmer has stated his values. Specifically, he does not feel adequately patriotic to even want to pay his taxes, and he cares more for his stock value than for the value of the economy his products "serve".

If Microsoft leaves, let them. I will contentedly go on not buying their products, and smugly advise anyone (in the US) who cares about their country to buy an Apple product instead, which is at least designed in (and pays taxes to) America, or for that matter a product from an originally European or Asian company which at least has chosen to support its homeland.

By the way, if they were talking about "Moving to India so that we can save money on labor and taxes while simultaneously bettering the lives of our future employees there", which they are not, I would ironically be less opposed. But this is just about shouting a big "screw you" to the country that bred them.

Comment Re:Kind of depends. (Score 1) 1131

... a real writer's word processor for Linux.

I know this is offtopic, but does such a thing exist for other platforms, if not for Linux? I'm so far stuck using Word and Pages (windows/work vs mac/home) and have yet to find a solution that is more than marginally acceptable, especially for frequent edits.

Comment Re:Great idea - it can replace the Gas Tax! (Score 2, Interesting) 713

This isn't such a simple question as that.

If you add in the average rate that Americans pay privately for the things that are included in the European tax dollar, does the comparison hold true? Most corporate employees I know here pay somewhere in the range of 5% to 10% of their income as insurance premiums for health care. The national average is actually about 7%, accounting for copays and the myriad non-covered expenses. When evaluated in that apples-to-apples context, American taxes are only lower for a select percentage at the bottom and top of the economy.

As a driver in New York, I pay about $300+ extra each year in thinly disguised taxes, ie tolls, license and registration fees, and the occasional roadside tax-collection stop, not to mention the "tax" of legally compulsory auto insurance at cartel-controlled prices. Add in property taxes which are rarely determined democratically (democratic budget votes wherein certain administrators extort the voters by threatening important, popular programs with the axe if chosen budget initiatives are not supported; congressionally, this is called "Earmarking")

Anyway, the whole thing is a sham. I wonder, if I lived in a place where taxes were fixed at 40% total, while it would sound high, it might be less than I pay in the US... earning 35k, I pay about 15% federal, 6% OASDI, 2% Medicare, 10% state, 9% sales, ?% fuel, $300+ (1%) licensing, 20% on my phone bill, and 7% health care... that's 50% or more, and I'm a mid to low earner. I forgot the property tax, which I don't directly pay, as a renter, but my landlord pays $4k, or 3% of his family income, per year. Ouch. And Manhattan bees pay an extra city income tax, too, plus more tolls.

If the taxes in Europe actually were somehow higher than here, I can't see how they'd have any economy left.

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