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June 30, 2005



The 45 million Americans without health insurance at the bottom of the income ladder will sympathize with this. This cheap labor force subsidizes the upper and middle classes and we offer less and less in return. Bill Gates Sr. talks about how companies like Microsoft owe so much to the public trust for early funding of computer science, the internet, universities and the infrastructure that makes companies successful. All intuitive and true - unless you're in the current administration. Do I need to mention the growing wealth gap?

On outsourcing I have mixed feelings (and dirty hands). With all costs considered an engineer in India costs about half what one here in the US does. The salary disparity is more of course. Why not give those chaps a shot? Are they less deserving? In many cases we simply can't find large pools of well educated computer engineers in the US, so regardless of cost we need to look abroad.



Don't call me a Republican for saying this, but in many cases CEO's actually earn their salaries. At least in the software world, the founders of companies I've been involved with (Paul Brainerd of Aldus, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock of Adobe, Ted Johnson and Jeremey Jaech of Visio, Bill Gates) provided much more than seed money. In some cases, they didn't have money at all & relied on vc. In all cases, they had vision, leadership, tenacity, and the ideas to create something from nothing, and if it weren't for them there would be no lower man on the totel pole (e.g. me). This doesn't exonerate the scum at Tyco and Enron, but you've got to give visionaries their due.


Bill Gates is unusual as the founder and current CEO of one of the worlds largest companies. Most CEOs are principally employees themselves, and (like other directors) get paid such a lot because as the people in charge they have the most influence over the company's resources - and so the most potential to make a big profit (or loss). The other employees are simply part of the resources - and are paid accordingly.
Investors on the other hand simply provide money to a business - which involves the risk of losing this money - and it is for this risk that they are paid. If the risk is great - so often are the returns. It's an educated gamble basically - not much better than people winning on the lottery.


Another point I should make is that America is probably one of the countries least guilty of punishing the successful. A very short story will illustrate. In his autobiography (of some years ago now), Michael Caine recounts that on returning to England after many years living in Hollywood, he required the services of a plumber for some work on his luxury bathroom. On seeing this luxury, the plumber walked out - refusing to work for someone with such excessive wealth. He told MC he should be ashamed of himself. MC was shocked at this reaction, having recently come from a country where a poor guy made good (he's from a very poor family) would be looked up to - someone to aspire to be, rather than someone to bring down to their level. Now I'm no fan of disparities in wealth - and America has more than its fair share, but I think using the success of others as motivation rather than as a reason for bitterness is certainly positive. Of course, America doesn't have a long history of class or cast like most of Europe or Asia.
On the orginal topic, Koreans are very like Japanese in this way, and my colleagues at school had no hesitation in asking me how much I earn. I hesitated at first, but was told not to worry because most people already knew. They have a very different concept of privacy here.


One of the posters onthe original thread mentioned this British distaste for wealth/success-which I was going to comment on.

I guess I was trying to say that excessive wealth often sickens me, but sometimes I feel it is deserved and worthy of admiration. Sometiems not-what id dGeorge Bush ever do besdie have hsi father buy him a baseball team? I believe he ran two or three other business into the ground, before finding success with the Rangers and a as a governor.

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