I'm ready to announce my new blog! I've moved to realfreemarket.org.
I'm leaving this blog up. If something bad happens on my new site, I'll go back here.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
It's discouraging reading job ads. I wish employers were more explicit about what they want.
We're looking for pathetic losers who are willing to work 60+ hour weeks, and act like we're doing a favor for letting them work so much. We only want applicants with no life and no interests outside of work.
We're looking for candidates who are dumb enough to accept a couple shares in our startup, instead of cash.
We want you to act like our stupid startup is the most brilliant thing you've ever heard. We want you to act like back-end number crunching is the most amazing and exciting thing you've ever done. There's nothing more intellectually stimulating than writing an ad hoc report that's meaningless and nobody reads.
We want you to think that free soda is awesome, and ignore the fact that we're underpaying you and overworking you.
We want people who are smart enough to be a computer expert, but also dumb enough that we can manipulate them. We want people who are smart, but who aren't smarter than us.
We want to hire a superstar genius. All programmers are interchangeable cogs.
Our startup doesn't have a technical co-founder. That's not a problem. We can hire anyone to develop our website for us. Even though we're computer illiterate, we're capable of hiring a good team and managing the product. Even though we're computer illiterate, we can tell the difference between hiring someone good, and hiring someone who's faking it.
We hired an outsourcing team to do version 1.0 of our product. They did a brilliant job and it's almost done. It just needs some tweaking and finishing. We hired losers to do version 1.0. It's a complete mess and you need to redo it. We're hoping to hire you to replace them.
I did another interview with a startup, with no technical cofounder. I asked them "How did you build your website, without a technical co-founder." They said "We hired an outsourcing team. We managed it. It's great! We're ready for beta!" I asked "May I see the beta?" They said "NO! That's a secret! We can't show anyone! Our beta is awesome, but we're not ready to show it to you!" Given their fear of showing me the beta, what they have so far is almost definitely a turd. They're using "This is SECRET! IMPORTANT!" as cover for "We have nothing."
If you have no technical ability and hire an outsourcing team, you're practically guaranteed to get cheated.
WHY DOES ANYONE START A WEB/SOFTWARE STARTUP WITHOUT A TECHNICAL COFOUNDER? WHY DO VCs GIVE THESE IDIOTS MONEY? IF YOU DON'T HAVE A COFOUNDER WRITING VERSION 1.0, YOUR STARTUP IS WORTH $0.
Why do so many people think "I can hire anyone to implement my website for me." It doesn't work that way. There are a lot of people who can successfully implement a website. If you have no technical ability, the odds of you hiring one of them are practically zero.
I wonder how many people could configure a Linode and WordPress, like I did? Even with the guides, it wasn't easy.
This is a pretty severe symptom, of corruption in the economy. The important people are the marketing wizards with VC connections and a slick powerpoint presentation. The people who actually do the work aren't important.
If you don't have good computer literacy, it's almost impossible to make a decent website.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
This story was pretty offensive.
Two key congressman emerged from an hour-long meeting with the NFL and players union and announced a deal to begin blood-testing players for human growth hormone. Minutes later, union officials would commit only to testing when a fair and safe system is in place—what they’ve been saying all along.Do you see the mistake?
The correct response to this story is "WTF? Why is it any of Congress' business, whether the NFL tests for HGH or not? The NFL is a private organization, and can make whatever rules it wants."
One problem is State labor law. Due to the way labor law works, the NFL owners can't unilaterally implement HGH testing. The union must approve. This leads to arguments over what test is appropriate. The union can veto the owner's choice, if they think the test is flawed.
A flawed test is obviously bad. You don't want players suspended for false positives. You don't want the test to be too weak. Unfortunately, if the NFL chooses a test that's too strict, the State legal system can't easily handle the dispute via a lawsuit.
No matter what doping test you use, people will find loopholes and ways to trick the test.
That story was offensive. It's none of Congress' business, whether then NFL tests for HGH or not.
Why do people assume, by default, that every sports conflict is Congress' business? It's cheap publicity for the Congressmen, because they know lots of people like sports and are interested in the results. The Congressmen pretend to be the hero, resolving the dispute. Congress created the problem in the first place, by various laws.
The NFL should test for HGH. My complaint is that Congress shouldn't get involved. Due to defects in State labor law and the State legal system, it's hard for the NFL and players' union to agree on a test. The State legal system makes it hard for players to dispute the results, if the NFL does adopt a flawed test.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I bought my Linode! I'm still configuring it.
I'm glad I spread it out over a day or two. (domains first, Linode the next day) It takes awhile for DNS changes to propagate.
It isn't easy being root! Even though Linode has a lot of nice guides for setting it up, it still takes effort and thinking to set it up properly.
The NBA owners cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season. The owners demand severe concessions from the players, and the players' union hasn't caved (yet).
Even if the owners approved the players' last proposal, it's still a huge win for the owners. They already got the players to concede 4% on the cap number, 57% to 53%, a huge win.
Dropping the cap number from 57% to 53% isn't a 4% pay cut for the players. It's a 7% pay cut. (4% divided by 57% is 0.07). That's pretty severely greedy, to get a 7% pay cut concession from your workers, and still demand more.
The owners claim "We're losing money!" That's hard to prove. There's all sorts of clever accounting and loopholes. For example, suppose the same person/corporation owns the team and the TV channel. Then, the TV rights can be sold for $50M when they're really worth $100M. That allows the team to claim a loss, while the owner makes a fortune.
There's another interesting aspect. Most NBA teams play in taxpayer-financed arenas. Taxpayers are financing the owners, in the fight against the players.
Scenario #1: Suppose owners paid for their own stadium. The owner would think "WTF? I paid $1B for this arena and it's sitting empty? That's a lousy return on my investment."
Scenario #2: Taxpayers pay for the stadium. In effect, the owner isn't suffering from idle capital, during the lockout. The taxpayer bears the loss, more than the owner. With taxpayer-financed stadiums, the owners have very little capital expenses.
The franchises are very valuable. However, the owners have no real capital expense. Their biggest expense is player salaries, eliminated during the lockout. The major networks show other stuff during the lockout, continuing to enjoy their monopoly/oligopoly. The game day arena workers are all temps. All the other workers are laid off during the lockout. By getting free arenas from taxpayers, the owners aren't suffering any capital losses.
That's a very interesting observation. With taxpayer-financed arenas, the owners actually have very little tangible capital invested in their business. They enjoy a State-backed monopoly, but invested practically zero actual capital.
There's another problem with CBA negotiations. The contract is approved by a majority vote of players. The NBA could offer a lower cap, but double the minimum salary, and a lot of players would vote for the deal. That's the problem with democracy. The majority can steal from the more-productive minority. Other clauses, like the mid-level cap exemption, provide an incentive for average and below-average players to vote for a deal that cheats superstar players.
The salary cap and maximum salary hurt superstar players. A superstar will get great TV ratings and sell out arenas, but the CBA caps his salary. The current system cheats superstar players, who are worth more than the maximum salary.
Teams like the Knicks and Lakers could afford to spend 2x or 3x times the cap, because they have a monopoly position in a large market. The salary cap gives the Knicks and Lakers windfall profits. NBA franchise rules prevent other teams from moving to NYC or LA and competing with the Knicks and Lakers.
NYC probably has the population to support 4 or more teams, but NBA rules forbid it. This guarantees huge profits for the Knicks. A small-market owner can't move his team to NYC and compete with the Knicks. A small-market owner can't move to Chicago and compete with the Bulls.
That's one advantage of the European promotion/relegation system, compared to the US system of giving each team a monopoly in each city. The US system guarantees that big market teams have a big economic advantage over small-market teams. In Europe, if I wanted to and had the money, I could buy a minor league team, invest in it, and eventually get promoted to the top division, even in a city that already has a team. In the USA, the monopoly franchise system guarantees inequality between big-market and small-market teams.
The NBA owners are being obviously greedy. They already got huge concessions from the players, but want more. There are plenty of ways to cook the books, and present the illusion that you're losing money. With taxpayer-financed arenas, taxpayers are subsidizing the owners in their battle against the players, because tax-funded arenas lower the owners' capital expenses. The city-monopoly franchise system guarantees inequality between big market and small market teams, because it's illegal to move a small market team to a bigger market and compete with an existing team. The CBA process gives the players' union an incentive to ratify a contract that cheats superstar players while boosting benchwarmers' salaries. A salary cap and maximum salary provides windfall profits for owners of big-market teams.
The whole CBA negotiating process is a State-created mess. The State gives NBA owners a monopoly, making it hard to start competing leagues. In a really free market, if the players were unfairly underpaid, someone would start a successful competing league. The State subsidizes owners with taxpayer-financed arenas. The State subsidizes cable and broadcast TV, giving them a monopoly/oligopoly. Labor law forces the players to negotiate via a union, rather than each player making his own contract.
Some fans may blame the owners or players. The real blame belongs to the State. State labor law encourages brinksmanship negotiating, where neither side budges until the last minute. Under State labor law, if you make concessions early, that's a boost to the other side, because that becomes the baseline for future negotiating.