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Independent Programmers' No-Win Scenario 552

Posted by timothy
from the barriers-to-entry dept.
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister writes about the no-win scenario facing today's independent programmers: 'In a knowledge economy, programmers rank among our most valuable workers, yet the current legal and regulatory climate makes a career as an independent software developer virtually a dead-end prospect.' Section 1706 of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, the hurdles and costs of obtaining health care for one's own family, a hostile legal climate in search of accountability for any defects in code — these harsh realities make it 'easy to see why software developers would give up on entrepreneurship. For many, the risks simply don't match the potential rewards. Better to keep their heads down, not rock the boat, and hope they can hang onto their jobs until retirement.' Great news for big software vendors, which will be 'ensured an endless supply of programmers desperate for the safe haven of a steady paycheck, predictable taxation, health benefits, and a shield from civil prosecution when their code turns up buggy. But where will the next Microsoft come from? A field that discourages self-reliance sends the message that the status quo is the highest goal.'"
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Independent Programmers' No-Win Scenario

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  • by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:10PM (#31276818)
    its much better to work for some huge soulless corporate pig where everything you create is owned by the pig and all you get is a measly salary and the pig gets richer and fatter while you wonder if you have enough to retire on at 65
  • Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WinterSolstice (223271) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:14PM (#31276892)

    This article is more than 10 years late... is this just because the dude crashed his plane into the IRS building?

    Most programmers/IT people have long gotten around this by having multiple contracts and/or multiple employees. It's not really all that hard, and if your independent company only has one contract and one employee you're basically already working for them.

    This does not in *any way* discourage the next Microsoft. Or the next Google or Facebook, BTW... obviously, since both came up after this law ;)

  • Just SOP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:16PM (#31276930) Journal

    The corporations use bribes to buy politicians. The politicians write the laws the corporations wants. And the laws the corporations want are protective laws which discourage indepdent businesses (programmers or otherwise).

    It doesn't matter whether we're talling about RIAA, Hollywood, Comcast, or Microsoft. It's all the same operating procedure.

    Corporations should have their free speech rights taken away (lobbyists/bribes).
    They have no more rights than a Tree or a rock.
    They are not THINGS not people.

  • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:16PM (#31276946)

    Apart from "News for Nerds", the long ago abandonded mission statement, why limit this to programmers? Most all other occupations face the same challenges and pitfalls.

    You can be grdauated from mechanic's school and either go to work for someone else's garage and enjoy the benefits of that position, or start your own and accept the attendant risks.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:18PM (#31276986)

    its much better to work for some huge soulless corporate pig where everything you create is owned by the pig and all you get is a measly salary and the pig gets richer and fatter while you wonder if you have enough to retire on at 65

    When you have a wife a kid(s) depending on you, when health benefits for you/your wife/kids would cost 5 times as much (if they are available at all, if you have any kind of special needs, or pre-existing conditions, forget it) and half as good, then yeah, it does... The republicans like to burn sacrifices at the alter of "small business" and entrepreneurship, but they are full of it.. There are plenty of folks out there who have idea/dreams, who would go out on their own, but have to make the decision to stay in a job's that don't reveal their full potential, jobs they may even hate because of this..

  • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:22PM (#31277036)

    Build it once, and get paid forever.

    You're more optimistic than I am. I read that and think, 'build it once, and support it forever.'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:22PM (#31277044)

    As an independent tech worker today who runs his own company developing my own software products. I have health insurance, and I'm not worried about this clause of the tax law which *strictly* governs consulting with third parties and has nothing to do with your typical tech startup. Your premise that entrepreneurship is in any way damaged by this clause is utterly and totally *wrong*. There MAY be a small minority of independent contractors who, because they work an *extensive* amount of hours for *one* customer the tax law is saying "Sorry, no, you're an employee not a contractor." But the VAST majority of entrepreneurial-minded independent PROGRAMMERS are NOT impacted by this law, and I wish you folks would stop spreading FUD about it.

    And no, Joe Stack was not some kind of anti-IRS hero... he was a tax cheat who blamed everyone else for his problems.

  • ..only in USA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:25PM (#31277076)

    As an independent programmer in Europe, I'm not worried about any of those issues.

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:25PM (#31277078)

    But where will the next Microsoft come from?

    Nowhere, hopefully.

    In all seriousness, this is typical of the point of view that only large, publicly-owned companies matter and that consumers are just a resource to be harvested by investors in the stock market. Personally, I care a lot less about where the next near-monopoly comes from than where the next generation of quality software comes from. And since it's generally not coming from the existing large corporations, TFA is at least correct in saying that the disincentives to independent development are a bad thing. But this is primarily a bad thing for consumers; there are always plenty of opportunities for the investors, though any given industry -- such as software -- may not be a hot deal at any given time.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:27PM (#31277108) Homepage Journal

    I read that and think, 'build it once, and support it forever.'

    Raise your prices until it makes you happy or you can hire it out.

  • More news at 11 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:29PM (#31277126)

    Yes, working in a group makes it easier than working by yourself.

    Thats why companies exist, they can be more productive and efficient than a single person if they properly pool resources and talents.

    Accountability in code defects? Lawsuits? Are you fucking kidding me? What universe do you live in where this is happening? Certainly not the one with Microsoft or Toyota in it.

    Hold on to their jobs until retirement? Yes, the industry is no longer a fledgling industry. Yes businesses are getting better at figuring out who is actually useful as a programmer and who just happened to pass some courses at the college they went to. The article confuses the industry coming of age and realizing how useless most of the people who claim to be in it are and people not being able to hold on to a job.

    People get fired because they are less valuable than something/someone else that can replace them or the need for them has simply went away. Yes companies try to cycle through low cost employees as a way to cut costs, but they end up moving so slowly after a short period of time that they disappear quickly and account for a small percentage of the workforce.

    Reality:

    Working independently and competing against people who work in groups is generally hard. Doing it as a programmer is no different than doing it as a plumber, with one exception. The plumber isn't so retarded as to expect it to be any different nor do they have the sense of entitlement to think that it should be different for them.

    Plenty of people DO go it alone. Happens constantly all the time. The company I work for actually works with more self employed people than companies.

    Its not impossible, it just takes effort and is harder than working for a company with shared resources. Yes there are some silly laws aimed at software developers working on their own, but there are also some silly laws aimed at plumbers working alone. God, slashdot would just keel over dead if governments started requiring developers to be licensed and show they are qualified to do so like MANY MANY other professions.

    I have a better question:

    Why is it IT people in general feel that they are somehow different than everyone else in the world? Are they really so ignorant and socially dysfunctional to not realize that they are no different than any other part of society in any way? Is this ignorance or a form a geek elitism, thinking that we geeks can't possibly be expected to suffer under the same working conditions of the rest of the pathetic planet of idiots?

  • by Sleepy (4551) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:30PM (#31277136) Homepage

    It's funny how all the big-business fat cats claim that "socialized healthcare" is bad for SMALL business, when yeah... lack of affordable self insurance is the PRIMARY reason many dreamers never give their nagging small business idea a go...

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:32PM (#31277178)
    I was an independent contractor/developer for over 15 years and it was great. However, the dive in the economy and the items mentioned in the original post have squeezed things so much that large contracting organizations are swallowing up all the work and forcing independent contractors to roll over or hit the road. It doesn't matter what you know or how valuable to their clients. Decisions are made from the top of the organizations and middle management has little or no say about it.
    I've been in software development for over 30 years and have always kept my skillset crisp and current. I've worked as W2 and 1099 over the years and I like 1099 much better (eg. no politics, focus on the task at hand rather than on corporate culture, more say in what and how I do things, etc.). However, unless corporations begin to operate like small companies (where the end product and customer satisfaction matters rather than maximizing share price at any cost), I don't see much hope for the future of independent developers. That is if making a good living matters. Granted, to some $$$ is secondary to enjoying what you do, but those of us with kids to: put through college, help with healthcare, supplement income due to the crappy job market, etc, it matters more than personal satisfaction.
  • Re:Just SOP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mujadaddy (1238164) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:40PM (#31277290)

    Corporations should have their free speech rights taken away (lobbyists/bribes). They have no more rights than a Tree or a rock. They are not THINGS not people. The Bill of Rights is for the People, not trees, rocks, or things.

    Where's my '-1 Ignorant of the last 130 years of American History and Law?' I, of course, completely agree that it's ridiculous that we're in this situation, but the groundwork was laid long ago.

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:44PM (#31277350) Journal

    Yup. I had a successful small business that I sold a few years ago. I'd love to start a new business - I hate the current pointless grind I'm in - but I am, for all practical purposes, uninsurable.

    My crime is that I am over 50, with numerous "pre-existing conditions" (read: I filed claims) and I have a wife and two small kids.

    No insurance company will sell me health insurance for anything like reasonable rates. The last insurance policy I had cost about $15K/year and covered nearly nothing.

    So instead of being part of the solution - the compnay I had employed 8 people - I am part of the problem, seeking a job that has good benefits and low demands.

    Tell me again how not having universal health care is good for small business?

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:47PM (#31277384) Journal

    When you have a wife a kid(s) depending on you, when health benefits for you/your wife/kids would cost 5 times as much (if they are available at all, if you have any kind of special needs, or pre-existing conditions, forget it) and half as good, then yeah, it does

    We don't treat health insurance like insurance. Insurance is for EMERGENCY and RARE EXPENSIVE claims.

    I know of one doctor, who no longer takes insurance because taking insurance cost him too much. He now can offer a regular checkup for very inexpensive cost, and he makes more money in the process. He doesn't have to hire two full time clerks to battle against the insurance companies, saving him tons of money. He doesn't have to get paid less for some people than for others. He charges ONE price for everyone and is able to provide better care and service.

    Insurance companies are nothing but middle men skimming BILLIONS (or trillions) out of heath care each year. Those BILLIONS (or trillions) would be better spent on HEALTH CARE than insurance (paper pushing), however nobody is willing to even address THAT issue.

  • Currently, health care is extremely expensive for small businesses compared to large businesses, going by price-per-head. Universal health care would be great if it were accompanied by a public option (If I understand you correctly, "universal health care" == "everyone is required to buy insurance" and "public option" == "you can buy insurance from the government and/or at subsidized rates". The trouble is the former is tyrannical without the latter, and the latter would create enormous deficit without the former since 20-somethings wouldn't buy insurance and thus the only people with insurance would be the sick, at which point insurance becomes merely a proxy for medical bills, and if you subsidize that, you lose money.).

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @03:59PM (#31277550) Homepage

    If it worked like that it would be awesome. But it doesn't.

    Say you are an independent programmer with EIN in hand. You walk up to Acme Industrials and present your resume and EIN. They contract you because, dammit, you're really good. A few months go by. You're very good, and love the independence of contracting. So good, in fact, that Acme renews your contract. Life is good.

    Tax season rolls around. The government says, "Hey Acme, your awesome programmer contractor is really an employee. You owe us 30% of his salary in withholding tax. You owe use unemployment taxes. You owe us social security taxes. You owe use these other fees. And you're late on paying for the past three years also. Pay or lube up."

    Acme gets rid of the awesome contract programmer who is so damn good that he doesn't need an agency to find him work. Well, at least he didn't before.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:00PM (#31277562)

    Panama, the Bahamas, Canada. Citizenship can be had elsewhere. If I was starting a company tomorrow, I'd incorporate offshore, hire offshore and only make my software available via download or as a web app. The USA/IRS might try and tax me for domestic downloads. Good luck with that guys.

    If the USA wants to make it difficult for independent software developers or other independent entrepreneurs to do business in the United States, I'm sure that those independents will be happy to oblige them - by taking their money, talents and ambition elsewhere.

  • by yumyum (168683) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:01PM (#31277576)

    Like to go to theme parks? Set up another LLC and create a website dedicated to reviewing them, talking about which ones have what etc. Now you get to write off trips to Six Flags and Cedar point as legitimate business research.

    That only works to a point right? According to the IRS you have to show some income at some point, not just a ton of expenses.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:12PM (#31277688)

    I would rather vote for an actual socialist before a so called libertarian. As far as I can tell that party is made up of nutbags and racist nutbags and homophobic racist nutbags.

    You're confusing the libertarians with the Republicans, especially their "Tea Party" wing under Sarah Palin. Libertarians are people who favor smaller government, an end to the War on Drugs, an end to unnecessary foreign wars and military bases overseas, etc.

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:14PM (#31277728) Journal

    Most of the rest of the civilzed world has universal health care, and none of the dire things you say have happened..... Maybe we (americans) can lay aside our arrogance for a moment and learn something from another country.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:15PM (#31277750)

    In a knowledge economy, programmers rank among our most valuable workers

    Got a complex or what? Given the audience I'm probably gonna burn some Karma here but, There are a dozens of professions I would put before programmers, maybe even hundreds, as the most important professions in civilization, regardless of development level (Nomadic, Agrarian, Industrial, Information). Lets start with Doctors. I'd value my health far higher than a program to balance my checkbook. Next Nurses, as I value my health to have doctors, Nurses are a critical component to make that happen much more than a web browser. Next, Civil Engineers, as I value having a roof over my head (rather than living in cave), clean potable water in my pipes, sewage lines and treatment plants, roads to move myself and goods on and bridges to cross bodies of water and ravines much more than a value software for digital pictures. Next Mechanical Engineers, I'd value cars, planes, boats and machinery to make things, machines to move goods and people, machines to build things and simply to provide an industrial economy much more than a software of any kind. Next, pretty much the rest of the traditional engineering professions. Next Any military career, as I value the defenders that prevent others from taking my life, loved ones or lively hood much higher than software to play games.

    I could go on, but I'd put software programmers near the bottom of the list as the most important professions in civilization. Anyone putting software developers near the top of most important professions frankly has a mental disease involving some sort of superiority complex. Personally I'd rank software developers right up there with Telephone Sanitizers, Hair dressers, salesmen, middle managers and Executives on the most important to civilization.

  • by gangien (151940) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:29PM (#31277958) Homepage

    How does this crap get modded up? libertarians are racists and homophobes? i'm not really sure how to respond to that, other than to say, the ideal of libertarianism is pretty much against any sort of collectivist thought, so we're by definition about as un racist/homophobic as you can get.

    And nutbags? what's so nutty about any of the libertarian positions? if you think about them for half a minute, and don't just knee jerk react to the views, i don't think you'd find they're nutty.

  • Re:Deploy offshore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tophermeyer (1573841) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:30PM (#31277968)

    Yes, but the stereotype is that the care that Canadian citizens receive comes slower and is of poorer quality than we expect in the US. In reality, I'm sure that most of that comes from Canadian Doctors recommending comparatively more conservative treatment methods, which keeps costs down, which ensures that healthcare is affordable enough for the state to provide.

    One reason American healthcare is so expensive is because it is possible for providers to pursue extravagant and unnecessary procedures in order to draw profit from insurers, like commuting in an 18 seater SUV when a small compact car will do (Oblig. car analogy). This drives up insurance costs, which makes it harder to afford.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:33PM (#31278010)

    He's partly right. The Democrats ARE ruining our country, and Obama IS leading us down a path of destruction.

    The problem is that the Republicans (in Congress) are ALSO ruining the country, and if a Republican were in the White House, s/he would ALSO be leading us down a path of destruction.

  • by RobDude (1123541) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:35PM (#31278034) Homepage

    Find a small to mid-sized company and just lie on your resume about your degrees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:36PM (#31278048)

    Oh stop being fatalistic. Canada is more or less just as difficult as the US. Good luck finding well educated programmers in Panama and the Bahamas. Yes, I'm sure there are a few, but doubtfully as many as you would find in any major metropolitan area in the USA. Anyone who has lived on a tropical island knows that most of the smart people on the island leave to go to the mainland and the party people from the mainland come to live on the island. In Panama, you will probably have to set up some sort of agreement with the criminal gang that owns the turf your business is on too.

    The USA is actually a great place to have a business. We always complain here on Slashdot that the government is working for the corporations and not the people, right?

  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:36PM (#31278050)
    Reasonable political dissent doesn't get much attention in the media. When most people read "libertarian", they think of someone who wants to dismantle the government entirely and improve things by becoming a bunch of warring anarchist tribes battling for resources. Just like most people think a "green" is someone who would rather see people starve to death than drive to work in a vehicle that runs on fossil fuels.
  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:40PM (#31278128) Homepage

    I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing this article, and many of the responses are from the USA, the last developed western country without universal healthcare, and labour laws out of the 19th century.

    I stay at my job with large soulless corp due to the fair pay and excellent benefits - not fear of lacking health care.

  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:40PM (#31278138)

    Public health care. I've had it for my whole life. I'm Canadian.

    In BC (we're hosting the Olympics in case you don't own an Atlas) we have insurance covered by the Medical Services Plan. For a family, it costs about $120 every month. Everybody must pay it, with exceptions and pro-rating for those with low incomes (basically, under $35k a year and you don't pay.).

    It covers your basic medical coverage. This is everything from surgery to bandages. I was born via c-section, as were my two kids. It cost me $0. My kids were hit by a car. It cost me $65 for the ambulance. I had heart palpitations a while back; I got a Holter, stress test, ECG, and bloodwork for $0. As for waitlists, I had chest pains and had an ECG within 15 minutes of arriving at a nearby clinic (and saw a doctor with whom I had no previous relationship.)

    You can get extended coverage, available privately, which will cover dental, optical, massage, prescriptions, etc. Lots of jobs include this as a perk, and will often cover those MSP premiums.

    If you don't have your "public option" then you simply don't have health care. Otherwise, insurance will only be available for healthy young adults. If I understand your constitution correctly, assassination is acceptable for those who would threaten that option. It is, technically, self-defence.

    Your health companies are being very odd with this -- you can set the levels of basic care, and then let people buy extended coverage. We've got that up here. We just make sure you don't have to pick which finger has to get sewn back on or make you flash a CC before you see the OR.

  • by AnotherUsername (966110) * on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:42PM (#31278174)
    I know several Libertarians. I don't think they are nutty. No, I think they are bat-shit crazy. I have thought about it for well over half a minute, and I just can't wrap my head around the selfishness involved in a Libertarian position.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:44PM (#31278192)

    Now figure out how much your insurance company is spending on you and your family's health. It's probably $15K a year, averaged over the past several years. Figure $500 per ear infection, and you see where that's going pretty quickly. Fuck the lawyers. Fuck the lawyers. Fuck the lawyers. Yes, I figured this out when the GI doc said "I don't think this is the problem, but your widow will sue me if I don't do this procedure and you die.". There's anoter $3K from the insurance company for preventative medicine -- lawsuit prevention that is. And yes, the procedure was a complete waste of time and a violation ... I've been assraped by proxy to keep the lawyers happy.

  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:44PM (#31278204)

    The best thing America could do later this year in the election is to vote out EVERY incumbent

    And what is that really going to achieve? They themselves will just end up becoming incumbents and will end up as dirty and corrupted as the current lot. Or do you think they are magically going to be immune to being corrupted unlike every other politician in the history of human politics?

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:45PM (#31278212)

    let's see which ones of those professions depend on software nowadays:

    - doctors/nurses/medical, think that MRI machine is mechanical? what about that CT scanner? or simply the gizmo that charts your BP/pulse?
    - civil engineers: think they are still using drafting tables to come up with buildings? or hand-write calculations for those bridges?
    - mechanical engineers: do you think that cars today are fully mechanical? airplanes?
    - rest of traditional engineering: electrical engineers do again everything on paper?
    - military: I am sure they'd love to go back to scouting parties instead of satellite imagery

    unless you want society to roll back entirely to the 1930s/1940s I think you might want to reconsider putting software developers at the same level as telephone sanitizers...

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:50PM (#31278302)

    Tell me what Obama has changed.

    1) Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: no change, in fact Obama sent 40,000 more troops to Afg.

    2) War on Drugs: little change (Federal enforcement of marijuana laws slightly relaxed, but not entirely).

    3) Giant bank bailouts: no change. Bush started them, Obama continued them. Then he bailed out the car companies in addition.

    4) Guantanamo: no change.

    5) Environmental policies: no change (they're still doing aerial killing of endangered wolves, for instance).

    I guess I can think of one thing: Bush wanted NASA to go to Mars, and Obama wants to cut its budget instead. That doesn't sound like something that most Slashdotters would favor.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @04:58PM (#31278408) Homepage Journal
    "You would need to right away get some lawyer to tell you everything little minor detail in law, an accountant to make sure you fill the complicated taxes correctly, take care of payment processing, and pay large amount of money for irrelevant things like health care and so on."

    Really...it is not that hard. Honestly.

    You incorporate yourself, I went for the "S" corp thing in order to be able to save on SS and medicare taxation (per the law), and to write off as much as I could. It works. Yes, it pays to get an accountant. She showed me the forms to fill, when to fill them...etc.

    Yes, there is a good bit of paperwork, and you do want to keep good records. But I find it IS worthwhile to do so that you can keep more of your hard earned dollar. And if you like to be in control of your destiny, it is all about that too. I figure out my bill rates to include enough to let me take about 3 - 4 weeks a year vacation / sick time. I opened up a high deductible medical insurance policy which allowed me to open a HSA (Health Savings Account) which I can load up to the max pre-tax and use to spend on routine medical expense. I mean, really...anyone remember when insurance used to be called 'hospitalization'? Insurance should only be for catastrophic emergencies.

    And you don't have to stretch the truth to get good money and keep good money. If it weren't a good thing...there wouldn't be quite so many people out there doing the independent contractor thing. If you can get into it...do govt. contracting!! Long term contracts that you can do 1099 with for years at a time.

    However, if you are completely risk adverse..well, maybe it isn't for you. But if you are completely risk adverse...you're gonna have lots of problems in life. If you can't risk money for stocks and all...your savings WILL lose value in the long run.

    And I've heard it put forth...you never get rich working for someone else.

    And while I won't ever get really rich, I do enjoy the independence when I'm doing my own thing. I cannot stand having to "earn" vacation hours with each paycheck...figuring if I have time to take off for this or that. When working 1099, I notify the customer I'm gonna be gone 'x' days and I just go. I've figured it into my long term bill rate..so, I'm not losing any money.

  • by cellurl (906920) * <speedup.wikispeedia@org> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:02PM (#31278498) Homepage Journal
    So lets start a union. I am finally ready to join a software union. If you don't want to join, thats ok too.
    If you are a union organizer, tell me what to do. gpscruiseNOSPAM@gmail.com
    We need to get off our asses gentlemen.

    53-year-old Andrew Joseph Stack III, we don't honor you, but we owe you.

    Rgds,
    jim pruett
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:10PM (#31278602)

    You forgot teachers.

    None of the important people you listed learn how to do their jobs through osmosis!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:13PM (#31278660)

    The U.S. government pays $16 billion per year (a large chunk goes to corporations like Monsanto) to make food cheaper.

    From your link WHICH YOU CLEARLY DID NOT FUCKING READ: "US corn ethanol subsidies are between $5.5 Billion and $7.3 Billion per year, and US ethanol producers are protected from imports of cheaper Brazilian ethanol by a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff." Having a high tariff on imports does not make food cheaper for me. Requiring that 10% of my gas be ethanol (which lowers MY fuel economy by 10% or more) does not make food cheaper. In fact, it makes both gas and food more expensive. Just because Farmer Joe is getting a back rub from Uncle Sam, that does not mean my grocery bill is lower.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:16PM (#31278706)
    You do realize that it is basically impossible for US Citizens to escape the IRS right? Even if you live overseas, you still owe taxes. The only way to become completely free of the IRS is to renounce citizenship at an overseas embassy which cannot be done without proof of alternative foreign citizenship because you cannot became a "stateless" person in this way. The benefits of American citizenship heavily outweigh the costs in taxes for most of us, besides the fact that many of us were born in United States (i.e. it's our home country), so this is basically a non-starter.
  • Re:More news at 11 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:29PM (#31278884)

    Why is it IT people in general feel that they are somehow different than everyone else in the world? Are they really so ignorant and socially dysfunctional to not realize that they are no different than any other part of society in any way? Is this ignorance or a form a geek elitism, thinking that we geeks can't possibly be expected to suffer under the same working conditions of the rest of the pathetic planet of idiots?

    Translation: I'm doing okay, so fuck the rest of you because you plainly suck.

    There's at least one of these in every thread on employment issues. Why they get marked Insightful is a mystery to me.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:38PM (#31279002) Journal

    So we put in Libertarians and they deregulate businesses massively. Now those same big businesses can abuse their monopoly powers to ensure small businesses have even less of a prayer than they do under the D&Rs. Hardly an improvement, IMHO. Even the third-parties like the Libertarians are very much pro-big-business. There are basically no political parties that aren't, with the possible exception of the Green party (and it's possible that I simply don't know enough about their platform to see the giant flaws in it, too).

  • by B4D BE4T (879239) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:46PM (#31279100)

    This is a great example of why I think the current debate over US health care is focused on the wrong issue. The problem is not the cost of health care insurance, the problem is the cost of health care itself. Sure, there are many problems with health insurance, but the question we need to be asking is not "how do we pay for health care?" The question we need to be asking is "why is health care so expensive?"

    It is ridiculous that simple things like diagnosing/curing a common disease or setting a broken bone cost as much as they do. It is even more ridiculous that these things are so expensive that we need insurance to pay for them. Bring the cost of health care down and we can save insurance for the uncommon stuff, which should bring the cost of insurance down as a result.

  • by javelinco (652113) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:53PM (#31279172) Journal
    And yet, what's being proposed wouldn't really lower your rates. If you weren't able to get health insurance AT ALL, then it'd help. But it won't make it more affordable, if the problem is that it is too expensive. If it's possible to get health insurance, no matter how crappy or expensive, under the current proposal - you'll be REQUIRED to get it. Period. No further help. And add to that? You will be taxed on the income you use to pay for it. So, what's so good about the proposed "socialized medicine" again?
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:56PM (#31279194) Journal

    The only reason the U.S.S.R. collapsed is that the U.S. had enough of an advantage in terms of their economic output and ability to incur debt to spend them under the table. The "Cold War" bankrupted the U.S.S.R., not socialism. Were it not for the isolation and the need to spend insane amounts of money on military spending due to fear that the U.S. would rule the world, they would still be around today, and they would probably be doing at least as well as China is.

    Also, libertarians are *not* always socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They claim to be, but they almost universally favor corporate deregulation. That's anything but fiscally conservative; in many industries, every attempt at deregulation has consistently resulted in monopolies and higher costs in the long run. There are many industries where the most fiscally conservative position is actually socialism.... Health care, power production, telecommunications, and most other essential services fall squarely into that category.

    What we need most are not people with ideologies like "socialism" or "libertarianism" or "liberal" or "conservative". What we need most are people who have brains and can think for themselves---people who look at each problem with fresh eyes, analyze the problem, analyze the possible solutions, and try to figure out the option that provides the best balance between improving the situation, causing the least overall harm, and causing the least discriminatory harm to any single group. Unfortunately, those people are too busy fixing what the politicians wreck to actually run for office.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:59PM (#31279236)

    None of the examples you presented REQUIRE software they might use it, but they don't "depend" on it. NONE. Hell more than half of infrastructure you use every day was designed and built before software even existed. Software might increase productivity but it's not essential nor does that put it in the most valuable profession category. Hell more than half the New York Skyline was designed with slide rules, there are roads, aqueducts and sewers built during the Roman empire still in use in Europe. Hell, they went to the moon with slide rules. Software developers aren't essential to civilization. It's a modern profession that increases productivity at the expense of larger errors due to GIGO. We could shoot all the software developers into the SUN and there would be a hiccup as we relearned to do things the old way (as in the early 70's, not the 30's as you claim) but civilization isn't going to collapse without them.

    Don't over inflate the value of software, it's a commodity that increases productivity and can make life better, but we got along just fine without it up until the mid 70's and we could do so again. Software development isn't a profession that makes civilization possible and as a result it's not even in the top 100 of most important professions. I swear the kids today just don't realize how far we got before computers even existed.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @05:59PM (#31279238) Journal

    That's because their primary job is not to make the country better. Their primary job is to get reelected. This is why we need A. slightly longer terms (say eight years), B. term limits (one term, period), C. campaign spending limits, and D. a total ban on third-party campaign ads that mention candidates by name. That's the only way we'll ever fix this problem.

  • by petit_robert (1220082) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:08PM (#31279310) Homepage
    However, $12K out-of-pocket is still better than losing 30% of my paycheck to Obamacare I wonder where you got that 30% figure from? Here (Paris, France) Social Security is actually 15% of my paycheck, the other 15% going for retirement and unemployment benefits. It seems to me that you would have much to gain with such a system, which mutualizes costs. I suppose this inflated estimate of the cost of Social Security is the type of FUD that is spread by people who stand to lose a lot of money if they stop collecting insurance premiums. Yet health care in the US costs 14% of GNP, compared to 11% in Europe(*), where everybody has access to medical care, which is far from being the case in the US. (* : http://www.amis.monde-diplomatique.fr/article1040.html [monde-diplomatique.fr])
  • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:19PM (#31279416) Homepage

    The administrative overhead imposed by Medicare and the private market health insurance in the USA is a big problem, indeed.

    FTFY.

    The private market insurance companies tend to only pay out 20-30% over what Medicare pays out. Sometimes Medicare does amazing things. Other times, they'll deny things that just don't make any sense whatsoever. A procedure that legitimately costs somewhere around $1500-2000 can expect to get paid out something like $300-500 at best from Medicare in most cases.

    Remember my earlier remark? The private insurance companies pay out only about 20-30% more than than on most items.

    While I'm all for a public option, I can't envision it being a good thing with the way we're currently running the public option for the elderly and the indigent (Medicaid...).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:25PM (#31279468)

    That's so true.

    The thing that shocks the hell out of me is that Americans just don't seem to realize how deeply immoral it is to make money out of health care. What you're saying is "I invest in poor people dying". Universal health care isn't perfect, but it's far closer than any profit driven venture.

  • by haruharaharu (443975) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:52PM (#31279670) Homepage
    You forgot the part where the IRS is actively going after single person corps and slapping their clients with employment taxes on the rationale that the person is actually an employee. That sort of risk is hard to overcome when going for clients.
  • by Mothinator (1103295) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:58PM (#31279722)
    Oh really? I have medicare taken out of my check every month.
  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:01PM (#31279768) Journal

    Health care is so expensive because people use it for anything and everything. Think of it like this...

    If you used your car insurance for everything dealing with your car (like we use health insurance for everything dealing with our body) you'd be able to claim routine maintenance bills on your car insurance like you claim doctor's visits and checkups. You'd be able to claim oil changes and tire replacements on your car insurance... people wouldn't care what the cost was because it's paid for. The tire companies and oil companies would slowly raise prices on their goods, mechanics would get more wages (because the customer doesn't care about the bottom line... they have monthly fees)

    It would be the same situation with the car industry as it is with health care. It's even scarily similar in that health insurance and car insurance both have network providers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:39PM (#31280096)

    I had my six months as a Ron Paul follower before I came back to the progressive netroots. There are certainly things to like, but there's a hell of a lot that is abhorrent not just to liberal attitudes, but to common humanity. These people are not people you want in leadership positions, and they largely do not want leadership - they can't imagine(or are too stupid to understand the implications of) living in the state they would create, they just want to make a statement. Everyone has that one summer in high school where you read Ayn Rand and It All Makes Sense. Most of the libertarians are either in that phase, are sophist nihilists, are paranoid schizophrenics, or are bigots who resent having to operate under the standards of conduct our society expects. Some are all four. The Reason crowd is the closest to my beliefs, but they maintain a dogmatic stance on economics that isn't tenable with reality - and refuse to give up or explore the full consequences of anarchist ideals.

  • by Mothinator (1103295) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:46PM (#31280146)
    So, then single-payer health insurance will come as a tax.
    That is how they will force everyone (who works) to pay into it.
    They won't force you to USE medicare. You can always choose to go to a private hospital (as you can in Canada).
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:00PM (#31280282) Journal

    oh jesus bloody christ... seriously? socialist? are you completely mad? if socialism worked, then we'd still have a U.S.S.R.

    USSR was a failure of totalitarian socialism, not socialism in general.

    pray for more government sponsored programs and interventions (that is the definition of socialism my friends)

    The definition of socialism is actually collective (via state in statist socialism, directly by community in anarcho-socialism) ownership of means of production. That's all there is to it. If a person can own factory or land for themselves, then it's not socialism - it's still capitalism (albeit possibly regulated).

    Going by your definition, though, there are many successful "socialist" states - most of Europe, for example.

    That's what I actually find funny about some of you pro-capitalist guys... you use the example of USSR to show why "socialism cannot work", but then give a definition of socialism that is much more broad than the specific stillborn variety that was practiced in USSR and its client states.

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:22PM (#31280418)

    "if you actually want to be the next Microsoft"

    If you actually want to be the next Microsoft, you'd better start with a grandparent being president of a national bank, a million dollars in your account, a mother in direct connection with IBM's board of directors and quite a bit of luck.

    Not so much for a starting.

  • by msoftsucks (604691) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:37PM (#31280514)

    They actually have modified the Constitution, they just don't call them amendments. The Patriot Act, DMCA and now ACTA are all designed to take away rights that the Constitution provides. Many sections of the Patriot Act violate the Constitution directly, yet in all the passing years, there hasn't been a successful challenge to it. Both the Dems and Reps have figured out that they can pass any onerous law without scrutiny by going down this road. Just look at whats going on with ACTA right now.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:45PM (#31280562)

    No we need an "American party". This partisan crap is getting as bad as all the nut-bag religions.

    Not exactly. Like Lewis Black said, "The only thing stupider than a Republican, or a Democrat, is when these little pricks work together." That's why bipartisanship is good for the country. See, we already have more bad law than we could ever possibly use, so I prefer it when they waste time and energy arguing over some stupid bill rather than actually passing it.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:57PM (#31280644)

    Plenty of problems in canada, plenty of problems in UK.

    Plenty of problems here in America too. Those countries you mention cover everyone, spend half as much (as a percentage of GDP, and since their GDP is less per capita even less than that), and their life expectancy, just as good...

  • Re: Dire things (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symbolic (11752) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:08PM (#31280716)

    The most dire thing that will happen is that the industry CEOs will start having to cut their salaries and benefits. We can't have that now, can we? I mean, surely these guys are worth so much more than everyone else, aren't they? They do provide a commensurate degree of value for what they're paid, don't they? So to afford them any less than the lavish, overly-materialistic lifestyle to which they feel they are entitled would be unthinkable!

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:28PM (#31280810)

    "So, what's so good about the proposed "socialized medicine" again?"

    * Europe has socialized medicine
    * Europe pays less on healthcare than USA (11% vs 14% of GNP)
    * In Europe you never go bankrupt because of long hospitalization or live-longed treatments
    * Child mortality in Europe is lower than that of USA (while I didn't find the average value for the whole European Union, i.e. Spain, not one of the strongest countries on the region, 4.26 vs 6.9 per 1000 born)
    * Europeans have higher hope of survival (79 vs 77.9 y.o.)

    Draw your own conclusions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:56PM (#31280962)

    Okay. So how the fuck am I supposed to have more than one client? My work is at the top of the field, extremely specialized. That's the reason it's valuable enough for me to be an independent contractor to begin with. The one client I have wants me to sign a non-compete. Otherwise, my work has no value to them if I go and sell it to their competitors. It's a catch-22.

    I don't want to have to punch a clock and work 40 hours a week. My client can't afford to pay my hourly rate full time, only to have me sit around doing nothing most of the time or working on side projects. And breaking into another field in order to find more clients could take years. I don't want to have to put up with all the other little corporate bullshit that the average worker is subjected to: windowless cubicles, hours wasted commuting, oppressive unhealthy work environments. That would stifle the creativity and talents that allow me to work independently. I spend my energy and focus being at the top of my game, not worrying about corporate politics or getting to work exactly on time.

    Likewise, I don't want any employees. I've considered hiring an ex-stripper just to hang out with. But it's quite a leap to go from supporting yourself to supporting yourself and an unproductive employee, all in a single year. And I certainly don't want anyone else fucking with my work. More programmers doesn't equal better code. And hiring adds a whole other layer of bullshit to have to deal with, that I don't want. I'm not a businessperson. I'm not a salesman. I'm not an accountant or HR manager or lawyer. I'm a fucking programmer and I have a right to earn a living working to my full potential, not wasting away in some corporate hell-hole or being ass-raped and prevented from working by the federal government.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @10:35PM (#31281212)

    Tell me what Obama has changed.

    I only have a rough idea of how the US system works, so I'm kind of curious - how many of those does the President even have the ability to "change" ? Are they not things that need to work through layers of politicians before they can be enacted as legislation ?

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