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Employers will do almost anything to find workers except pay them more (latimes.com)
427 points by SQL2219 41 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 441 comments



And if you think it's bad, it's even worse in Europe.

Taking the French example: I'm an freelancer, but I used to have a contract with an American company.

They gave me 3x the salary most of my French colleagues would get, while keeping the exact same social advantages (they paid me through a French branch).

However, to them, the salary was twice lower than what they would have paid for the same guy in the Valley.

Now as a freelancer, I move a lot from companies to companies, and I hear the same complaint over and over: we can't find good devs.

But when I look at the job offers they publish, it's full of buzzwords and cool attitude, yet the pay is not remotely matching the skills they are hiring for.

You want somebody speaking 2 tongues, coding expertly in 3 languages (e.g: server lang + js + css), knowing a bit of sysadmin, ergonomics, architectural design, data base, and capable of understanding your undocumented stack du jour + infra.

No, you can't pay that $2500 a month.


My example comes from Greece where I reside for the past 9 months.

People owning touristic buisnesses on the islands are moaning about how much they need more staff and can't find any, and they are arguing why younger people tend to not work and just receive benefits instead of going to work.

The argument here that they won't understand though is that, 1st they are paying very low. They are all willing to pay the minimum salary available... which is somewhat 500 euros. It varies from 500 to 900 euros and 1200 in best cases. The unemployment benefit is 400+ euros per month. So tell me who in their right minds would go to work for 500 euros or even 800 euros, whilst they have to spend petrol to get from and to work, work prolly 10+ hours a day, in the sun most likely cause thats what means tourism industry, get told by 'BOSSES' on what to do, and get treated awfully. There is just no point. And then all I hear from those guys owning massive hotels making 1m+ revenue in their pockets per year saying : 'Cant find anyone good to work for you nowadays, its all youngsters fault'. Well ok I'll admit that prolly youngsters dont have the nerves that older people had in their age, but at the same time you are not helping the situation at all when you are offering money that someone will just pass by and you are making 1m+ euros in your pocket a year, and then the only way to keep profiting is to steal a bit on tax and of course not fully insure your employees. AWFUL system!


I wonder if it's quite as simple as being reducible to salary as a single (or majority) variable. I tend to think people are willing to work a poorly paid job if there was some kind of light at the end of the tunnel (career advancement, primarily). (As a casual outside observer, and with all due respect) My bet would be that a pervasive sense of pointlessness or helplessness in society is an equal partner along with low entry level salaries in the case of Greece and many countries that face similar struggles.


There are only so many dollars you can shave off of your employment budget before people decide they do not have to bother.

It's an escalating problem in Eastern Europe in general. Our politicians are way too greedy. They lost all perspective. They try being a bit more insolent since the last year, they sit and wait -- no revolts, no fires, no pitchforks. So hey, these people don't mind! Let's get EVEN MORE money from them! Sadly it's how it has been going ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Many elderly people say: "It was not all sunshine and rainbows back then either but at least the people had everything necessary to live respectful lives". They do have a point.

Thank the gods for internet and for me being a programmer ever since teenager. Otherwise I would probably live off social benefits as well.

It's very easy to demean people for being lazy or unmotivated or non-ambitious. But the reality is, the best career advancement ~85% of the people around here can hope for is an awful job with 2-3 hours of commuting in total for the day, for an income that exceeds the bare minimum needs with 5-10%. So it's pretty normal many decide not to bother, or to turn to petty crime.


The version of that currently operating in Hungary is that even though living on benefits is impossible, you can just go to Austria/Germany/UK and make way more money. Interestingly this is less true of programmers than it is of waiters and cooks, but then it's extremely true of doctors and plumbers.

Nobody in Budapest expects to make even a Berlin salary, but the difference is big enough now that lots of people say screw it, better to live abroad at least long enough to buy an apartment and so on at home. But I doubt many of those people will be coming back.

Ironically enough you could make a killing as a plumber anywhere in Germany right now, or in Vienna, or in Budapest, as per your choice. But a ton of Hungarian plumbers left when it wasn't like that, and now they have lives in Dinkelacker or wherever.


And it doesn’t help that large companies use to hire jobs that are low skilled directly and at least there was an opportunity for advancement. But now with most of those jobs being contracted out, there is no chance for advancement.

I’m even seeing that in IT. Back in the day you could start out as tech support, or an operator (as I did - long story) and be given a chance to program and move up. Now even those jobs are outsourced. It’s just as easy to hire someone from a foreign country to admin your AWS hosted instances as it is to hire someone locally.


If people are willing to drive a truck carrying garbage and feces all day, it is about money. Maybe also about shorter work days, but that is also related to money.


It really is reducible to the differential between salary and unemployment benefit, which is the opportunity cost of not taking a job. This is a well-known phenomenon in economics since the stagflation of the 70's, called the "poverty trap".


Just a few notes: After a few years of full time employment I received a bit over 300 euro a month I believe, for a full year, when I was fired myself.

And I believe the maximum amount of time where you can be eligible for unemployment benefits over here in Greece is a year or so.

I believe a large cause for the apathy in people who you'd expect to work these jobs is the fact that working a job like that doesn't move you forward in any way.

Back in the day, you could work for a few years and survive on your salary and hope to open your own business.

Now what's the dream for these workers? They can never afford to save up on their 500 euro a month. They can never get a loan to open their own business.

The best they can hope is that they won't be discarded and their job given to a more young-looking person down the line.

pc86 40 days ago [flagged]

> Now what's the dream for these workers? They can never afford to save up on their 500 euro a month. They can never get a loan to open their own business.

Work harder. Make more money if you want to do your own thing. Surely there are professionals in Greece making good money working as employees for others. What are they doing that the lazy uneducated worker is not?

Do more of that and less complaining that you're making 500 euro a month.


Let's ignore the fact that there simply aren't enough high paying positions for everyone that "tries hard enough".

Let's simply discuss why people might not always go for the highest paying job they could get.

What most people that aren't doing everything optimally to improve their situation is that they're succumbing to common human logical fallacies.

People don't see that there are jobs that can potentially lead them out of that class of salaries, not because they're lazy but because they're uninformed about these possibilities.

Or they might gauge that the small chance they have to get such a job isn't worth doing something they don't enjoy at all, and would rather survive doing something they find bearable.

For a lot of younger people however, things are even more depressing. A lot of the "lazy uneducated" workers you mentioned spent years getting a university education, up to the PhD level frequently, and they feel they're invested in a thing they might be good at or they might enjoy practicing.

Objectively, they should give it up. Subjectively, I can understand wanting to hold on to a small hope that you might eventually get to do the thing you enjoy doing for a living.

If I'm allowed to be frank I find the characterization "lazy" very offensive, despite not having been in their shoes, because I have countless peers that are in this exact situation.


> A lot of the "lazy uneducated" workers you mentioned spent years getting a university education, up to the PhD level frequently, and they feel they're invested in a thing they might be good at or they might enjoy practicing. Objectively, they should give it up. Subjectively, I can understand wanting to hold on to a small hope that you might eventually get to do the thing you enjoy doing for a living.

And all it takes is one(!) bad/uninformed decision in your past: skip STEM.

One of most cirurgic comments I read in HN. It's a pity that is buried in the thread.


At least over here, studying STEM isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to make a career out of your degree, much less a lucrative one. Tech gets you a job, but medical or physical sciences, and math, from the stories I hear involve fighting over scraps. I could elaborate and repeat the horror stories related to me by people around me but I won't for now.


By STEM I meant Tech/Medical sciences. Unemployment rate in these areas is virtually zero in my country.

As an anecdote, on average, a masonry assistant(!) earns more than an architect (buildings, not IT) where I live.


You're suggesting they pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Put on some boots and try to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Let me know your vertical.


What boots? I can only afford flip-flops. Try pulling on those straps, and see what happens.

Not only are you still not upright, but you just ruined your shoes, and have to pay yet another $3 to replace them.


I suggesting that maybe, just maybe hard work might play a role in things. If someone doesn't want to work hard for 800 euro because they can get 400 euro for nothing, do they have the mindset and drive necessary to become wealthy in today's economy?


So you're saying that the labour force of entire countries in the Mediterranean region (Portugal, Spain, Greece) suffers from lack of mindset and drive, and that explains the low salaries they suffer from right across the board. Interesting. Perhaps you might want to come over and straighten them out. White man's burden and all that.


It’s not 800 Eur all other things being equal, it also incurs additional expenses. There’s the rub.


Read the article. Wages are lower today than they were in the 1960s. So overall, workers are making less across the board.


> Please don't insinuate that someone hasn't read an article. "Did you even read the article? It mentions that" can be shortened to "The article mentions that." [0]

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


"The unemployment benefit is 400+ euros per month. So tell me who in their right minds would go to work for 500 euros or even 800 euros, whilst they have to spend petrol to get from and to work, work prolly 10+ hours a day, in the sun most likely cause thats what means tourism industry, get told by 'BOSSES' on what to do, and get treated awfully."

This is the argument for Universal Basic Income.

Give everyone something less that 400s euro, whether they work or not.

Let's say its 300 euros. Then the decision is don't work and take home 300 euros, or work and take home 800 or 1100 euros. There is a much greater incentive to work.


> The unemployment benefit is 400+ euros per month. So tell me who in their right minds would go to work for 500 euros or even 800 euros, whilst they have to spend petrol to get from and to work, work prolly 10+ hours a day, in the sun most likely cause thats what means tourism industry,

There are always people who don't just want to live off the dole.

Also a lot of the people who complain about crappy entry level wages (that they're unwilling to accept) also complain that they are rejected from higher jobs because they don't have any work experience.

> ... get told by 'BOSSES' on what to do,

That's kind of the norm at any job. I'm curious what alternative you propose, a commune where workers decide on their own what they'll be working on?

> ... and get treated awfully.

That's not acceptable period though specifics matter.


>That's kind of the norm at any job. I'm curious what alternative you propose, a commune where workers decide on their own what they'll be working on?

Pretty much all the software engineering jobs have worked at have given me quite a bit of autonomy. At least within software engineering organizations the purpose of a manager should be to make sure workers have the necessary resources and coordination, but they shouldn't be telling workers what to do.

I know someone that got hired at a company to answer the phone for technical questions from users. When she started they didn't have a phone hooked up yet so she asked for github access and started writing software. They never bothered hooking up a phone at her desk and she just wrote software for the next 2 years. The software she wrote was valuable to the company and was mostly self-directed. I don't think stories like this are that uncommon in the software engineering world.

Edit1: Fixed typo, thanks PaulRobinson

Edit2: Added Anecdote


I think you mean "autonomy", and at larger firms, you're going to have to work with others. The ideal is collaboration, but you don't normally get to choose what you work on, your management does.


> a commune where workers decide on their own what they'll be working on?

Even a commune where workers "decide on their own", has bosses. They are just not called bosses. See any of the '70 and '80 communes.


"I'm curious what alternative you propose, a commune where workers decide on their own what they'll be working on?"

Ever read about Sun Hydraulics?

"At Sun, we have no job titles, no hierarchy, no formal job descriptions, no departments, no budgets, no direct sales channel, no close supervision, and only some work instructions."

https://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2016/09/15/sun-hydraulics-sh...


There is no way that would work in the service industry.


As I read it, the whole point was that those normal hassles of a job aren't worth the (small) differential between the salary and the dole, and the suggested alternative was go on the dole.


And don't forget you usually don't work from home: so you pay for gas or public transportation. As you're at some shit job you lose opportunities to network or get new skills. You're not there for your children.

All for a differential of 200 or 400 euros?


The OP has a very strong point when it comes to money.

If they offer you a $800 wage, when your unemployment is $400, your effective earning rate for the work you are doing is just $400/mo. Cost-benefit analysis isn't in favor of working. The employers either have to offer something on top of the starting wage (like clear path to advancement), or raise the wage. Otherwise it's a fairly logical choice for people to stay home and draw unemployment.


>> ... get told by 'BOSSES' on what to do,

> That's kind of the norm at any job. I'm curious what alternative you propose, a commune where workers decide on their own what they'll be working on?

Did you ever work in the hotel industry as a low-level worker ?


Interesting. When I was in Mykonos last year my server was a registered accountant but made more bartending / serving than he would make in industry.


>The unemployment benefit is 400+ euros per month. So tell me who in their right minds would go to work for 500 euros

Is there a limit to how long you can collect unemployment? In Finland if you still haven't found a job in about a year, you stop getting payments altogether. And while getting payments, you still have to prove that you're actually searching for a job and not just trying to scam taxpayers.


The above is incorrect. Basic unemployment benefits are paid for 400 days, but after that you can go on labor market subsidy indefinitely.

The subsidy is ~32€ per day, which is the same as the minimum basic unemployment benefit.


Similar system in the UK, you have to demonstrate you're applying for jobs. If you're offered something and you refuse to take it your cut off.

I think they may even force you in to unpaid/extremely low paid work if you cant get something yourself.


Yeah, it's not like people suddenly changed thirty years ago... It just doesn't make sense to work those jobs.


'undocumented stack du jour' love it!


Interesting, would this be a case that shows that basic income wouldn't work?


Not at all. It is a signal that with the instinct for survival removed, people will push back on hard work for low pay, as they should.

I think society would be a better place if people were paid based on the value they delivered, and not coerced into work based on the need to subsist. When employers/owners have to absorb long-term costs, they make changes.

People who work on pipes or other buried things used to often get killed or injured by collapses of mud or stone. Worker's compensation costs forced employers to put reinforced steel safety devices in the holes to mitigate.


It's not the same model. Presumably the €400 are forfeited when earing €500 as a salary. One of the premises of basic income is that working more doesn't cancel out any benefits.


That sounds like a stretch, and you probably need to define what you mean by "basic income not working". For who? Society? Employers? The worker?

Parts of these "youngsters" are probably off doing something related to self-development and fulfilling which might provide benefits for society later on.

In this case they (seemingly) aren't getting any more money from working extra, compared to not working either, since their social benefits are stripped away if they start working. If this was basic income, they would be left with something extra at the end.

In this case there's no incentive to work?


Really frustrating to hear that argument. It's the same the right is making across Europe: "Just remove the social security net, then people will be forced to accept any wage.".


Do you think that the owner(s) of the hotels shouldn't be compensated for the risk that they're taking by building and operating the property? There's a ton of risk associated with investing like that.


You mean the properties they now own for a decade? Those that are fully developed and barely require maintenance? The same properties that are fully insured even against natural disasters that obliterate them to their foundations?

Yeah, let's compensate them for being insured and at the worst case scenario lose 500 euros a month every now and then when a shadier employee comes around and leaves quickly. Poor them. Whatever will they do, 1 million euros a year can barely get your ends meet!


Risk implies footing the salaries.


Could you explain what the risks are?


Many risks. A disaster (war, bad weather) could keep customers away. A competitor could build next door, and resulting in your hotel being half full instead of full. A competitor could start a price war. Tastes in vacations could change resulting in less customers than expected coming. The laws could change in many different ways, each of which can change either your income or expenses.

That is just off the top of my head.

Of course as has been pointed out, your suppliers could demand more money than you have left in your budget (employees are a form of suppler - the human aspect has been intentionally ignored)


I think the GP's comment was unhelpful, but there is always risk in starting a business, particularly in hospitality, and especially as an independent operator.

There's risk in the construction (that budgets/timelines will blow out, contractors will be unable to complete the work to specifications), in whether the hotel will be appealing to customers, in the possibility of a recession or natural disaster or civic crisis that will keep tourists away.

There's a few of the more obvious ones.


The thing you describe is the narrative of the evil capitalist owner exploiting poor workers.

Here's a thought experiment - those (tourism businesses) owners are making lots of money, so why not create such a business yourself (maybe with help of some external capital) and pay better wages and treat your staff better and pay taxes? Your clients will be much happier with you while having to pay the same. Other capitalists are probably happy to get a piece of the cake.

Of course, you cannot blame workers to not work in this industry right now, but obviously there are still enough people accepting that type of employment, otherwise salaries would have improved already.


So what you're suggesting is that this person should not complain. Instead he should set up his own business, offer better salaries than everyone else, and single-handedly change the labour market of an entire country. Great suggestion. Why didn't I think of that?


> So what you're suggesting is that this person should not complain. Instead he should set up his own business, offer better salaries

Yes. Either yourself or maybe find someone else who does.

But if you find no one who solves it for you, the question stands whether the employer is indeed an evil guy or just doesn't have a lot of margin to hand out higher salaries. It's easy and lazy to assume evilness without ever having been there.

> and single-handedly change the labour market of an entire country. Great suggestion. Why didn't I think of that?

No.


> so why not create such a business yourself

Not many people have €5M to build their own hotel, particularly those who are unemployed. Furthermore, not everyone can overcome all the barriers to entry, or have the know-how to keep a hotel operating.


> Not many people have €5M to build their own hotel

There are evil rich guys waiting to invest into a promising venture. Interest rates are at a record low. VCs are everywhere.

> particularly those who are unemployed

You just added that element to the discussion.

> Furthermore, not everyone can overcome all the barriers to entry, or have the know-how to keep a hotel operating.

That's an interesting point, maybe it's not so easy after all and maybe the risks and costs of operating the business is higher than the employee thinks.

Do it yourself and the you can complain and prove you have cash left over and hand it out. Then you can complain the guy is evil, the rest is mere speculation.

Note I am not saying it's easy (I know for a fact that it's hard). I'm just saying it's lazy and non-constructive to just assume the other guy being evil without knowing even 10% of what's going on and where the problems of the business lie.


Small business guy here. When abusive employment practices give you a competitive advantage and nothing stops you from doing them, you can indeed go and be virtuous and make less money for yourself and your business and lose all day long.

At the scale of publically held companies, your bossy evilness is virtue signalling that tells the market that you are viable in the era of Uber and Amazon. Right now, as things stand, wrecking things and your own employees is expected and you will get no support and no investment from breaking ranks. That's just how it is.

In my field, I ended up just flipping the table and switching to Patreon so I could dump free competitive product and better serve my own userbase. My income got literally decimated by this decision but has rebounded to about a third or half of what it would have been, but I'm totally exempt from having to behave like a vulture: it suits my market positioning quite well, though if I was a really serious threat to the market leaders in my sector, I'm pretty sure they would come up with a way to sabotage me. That's also why I MIT license: I can funnel good stuff to poor musicians if I also let already-rich people steal it in exchange for only publicity. The alternate is they steal it anyway but with no publicity, or simply try to wreck my operation so there's less competition.

The narrative of the evil capitalist overlord persists for good reason: in the absence of a working society it's down to power and power alone, and only winning and getting the most capital allows you to continue to win and get more capital. It's a feedback loop and there's no reason 'salaries would improve' barring outside interference, which is less likely by the year.

Go ahead and do your thought experiment, but it doesn't map to the real world of 2018. To survive you've got to think more disruptively: your axioms here are pretty naive. For instance, what is actually important: your clients being happy, or your clients paying more money?


All is not lost, the story of Gravity Payments is an unfolding example and experiment of a company owner, Dan Price, taking positive actions for employees including large wage increases. https://gravitypayments.com/thegravityof70k/

Dan took a thought and turned it into a real experiment. I believe the results are very positive in terms of profits, much higher wages for workers, higher customer retention, and deservedly good PR. https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergeorgescu/2018/01/24/what-...


I think you're reading a little too much into my above comment.

Just to reduce my point to the basics:

Either the evil guy makes lots of money (in the sense of profit) -> You start your own business in the same sector -> get some of that market share and profit -> pay your workers better -> everyone is happy except evil guy

Or the evil guy doesn't make a lot of money -> He cannot pay his workers more -> He's not the evil guy.

Sure, this isn't black and white but as long as there isn't a monopoly on anything involved, the above holds.


Your a fool if you don't see how the "evil guy" can undercut the good guy all day long. Evil has a pause button.


In a way you're saying I'm correct.

Let's just stop complaining and force evil guys to press the pause button by competing with them.

As a side note, it is an open question whether truly evil guys have a pause button (I assume Sauron and Darth Vader don't have one) or whether there are other things at work.

Maybe those guys just spent years living close to poverty to make their start-up a huge success. Maybe not. Just saying there are somewhat understandable reasons that don't necessarily mean the guy is evil.


That's so true. Employers in general complain that they can't buy filet mignon for the price of hot dogs, and that's suppose to be the employee's problem.

To make matters far worse, the industry in general pays lip service to on-the-job training and some employers also avoid junior/inexperienced developers, because they don't want to train anyone.

And don't get me started on the absolute cancer that are HR/outsourcing/body farm companies, the type that hires 3 HR technicians to dedicate themselves to bullshit naive techies to work for 50% of their actual market value and fire them as soon as they aren't indispensable.


>> Employers in general complain that they can't buy filet mignon for the price of hot dogs, and that's suppose to be the employee's problem.

The real underlying problem is that most employers I've encountered think that they're doing their employees a favor by "giving" them a job. They don't truly perceive it as a value-for-value economic transaction.

This becomes quite evident when they give you a pile of legal papers to sign where the balance of the benefits slant heavily to the employer.


I've seen this a lot, a lot of employers seem to think they're doing their employee a favor and are insulted when they demand higher salary/better hours, but they are quick to mourn their loss and to say they can't find anyone when the employee decides to leave.


> they can't buy filet mignon for the price of hot dogs

I'm going to use this analogy in the future. "You want filet mignon, but you're only willing to pay for hotdogs- and you're blaming the meat".


That is a good analogy. Another one I've heard is "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."


I've worked around in a couple of european countries and I can confirm that the freelance rates for software development today are the same or typically less than in 2001.

The software developer golden age was in the mid-nineties here in Europe, and then the rates and salaries have stagnated (but not the inflation).

Also, the contractual conditions are getting worse. We are now many times offered contracts with a termination clause of one week on the employer's side, and without a termination option the the freelance side.

This means that if you sign a contract of one year, and then on the first week you realize that the job is not what it looked like in the interview, you are stuck for one full year.

This is especially important as employers are not really transparent in the interview process, they will often not tell you what the job is really about, and the job description you have is either out of date or it was embellished to look much cooler than the day to day job actually is.


I can confirm that rates are a lot lower than what they used to be. Comparing what I earned in 1996 with 2018, the actual income at the end of the month is about 20% of what was there in 1996 for about twice as much work, and 20 years experience more.

For the contractual side, if you are in Europe, one-sided rules in such contracts are easily removed, since they are void by European laws.

It's the same with US companies insisting that you do not work for a competitor after contracts end but European laws actually then require the company to pay you for monetary loss or such clauses are void. Also has been confirmed in court cases.

Regarding lack of information or even invalid information before signing contracts: this is also grounds for annulling the contract.


Do you mean that in 2018 the income is 5 times less than in 1996, taking into account both lower rates and inflation?

Or 20% less today than in 1996, in gross terms? The problem is, now most freelancers are forced to create their own service companies (of one person), so the contract is between two companies and not between a company and an employee.

And in those cases, the rules are not the same, AFIK. I did ask a lawyer to get the contract reviewed in 2013 for a mission that I was baited into taking and then there is literally almost no programming involved and I wanted out.

The lawyer examined the service contract and told me that by the terms of the contract, I would have to either serve the service contract or reimburse the company for what they would lose. Maybe another lawyer would say something different, or things changed since 2013.


How is that enforced on the employer side, keeping employees in their contract?


They can terminate your freelance contract with a one week notice, but on the other hand, we can't terminate the contract on our side under any circumstances.

All we can do is wait for the contract to finish and then not renew it. Its perfectly legal, a lawyer told me.


Well that should be easy to fix. Just keep showing up at the office but don't do any work. It shouldn't take too long before your employer gets sick of it.


They can fire you on disciplinary grounds (you ruining labor discipline or they can even try and prove you are actively sabotaging them). And then you can be liable for damages in court.

Believe me, they know how to cover their backs.


Call their bluff.


Surely they can't make you work, right? That's called slavery.


I agree, its pretty close to slavery. Theoretically, they could sue you if you don't work, although what happens in practice is that if the freelance is really fed up and talks to the end customer saying they want out (which the hiring company does not want you to do), they want to avoid problems with the customer and they will replace you with someone else after a few months.

What they really don't want to do is to lose the billable position. In practice, a lot of people will just suck it up to the end of the contract and then leave, especially if the contract is less than a year.


What if you just don't show up for work? They fire you, right? Do you have to pay some big cash penalty? Or is the hesitance just that you can't get a reference for your next gig?


Legally, they could sue you for the same value that they were charging the customer for your work until the end of the contract, which is the money that they lost by the contractor not working.

In practice, they will probably not do that as the HR team is busy with other things and the lawsuit might be bad PR, although a hiring manager that wants to get back to you for doing that might have the HR department sue you, legally they could do that.


This seems like it's begging for a test case to strike this down on humanitarian grounds. I can't imagine any western judge of any serious level (possibly some county judge in West Texas or something) would take seriously the claim that this wasn't a violation of basic human rights (in US terms, the 14th amendment, though I assume similar principles apply elsewhere), and that such contracts were unenforceable. IANAL and I'm certainly not a limey lawyer, but our notions of justice on both sides of the pond share a lot of DNA.


They are happy to convict drug users (even medicinal), so why would they be lenient on employers?


How are the two things (drug convictions and unfair labor contracts) related?


Human rights


That would be a breach of contract and would activate whatever penalties the company had written into the contract.


My bet would be that the contract's early termination would lead to some heavy penalty that effectively forces them to continue.


They can't actually force you to work but the contract can definitely have really bad early termination clauses for the contractor which make it extremely expensive to break the contract.


In the US, one-sided contract clauses are supposed to be thrown out (judge's discretion though). If they can terminate free and clear while you cannot, that contract is very one-sided and I wouldn't personally sign that contract for any price.

Sometimes I think an international one-week walk-off by IT staff would do wonders for the worker-employer relationship.


Paiment in Europe is often late, from 30 to 90 days. So if relations between the contractor and the company go bad, there's quite a bit of money that can be caught up.


An Englishman's word is his bond. ;)


Freelancers are not legally employees (they are contractors), this employee protection laws do not apply.


If you quit, they will fire you


Depends in Ukraine the pay is very decent especially considering taxes side of equation.


Amend the contract before you sign it.


I started doing this later, but it can get complicated. If they have two freelancers that have passed the interview, and one is asking for contract amendments while the other is not, we can see what would happen.

But in general, if you insist that they add a termination clause of 15 days on your side, they usually do it although only after some insistence and negotiation, which if you have several interviews ongoing and are waiting for other responses might puts us in a precarious position.


I generally do this as a rule of thumb. Every engagement is a partnership between equals. I have the skills they want. They have the capital I want. We exchange on terms that suit us both or we don't at all. It also sets out the stall as to how the relationship will play out. I've been in enough contracts I need to get out of to save my sanity to know that it's not worth compromising on certain points. Everything on equal footing. The clause will always read something like "either party". There is no way they can legitimately argue against that.


My job takes me to Frankfurt and Brussels once or twice per year for four weeks at a time.

Every time I am inundated by queries from the local engineers and developers about how to get work either directly with for my employer or any other US company.

For the same level of skill and experience I'm paid more than double the typical EU engineer and the cost of living (including health care and retirement planning!!!) is much lower where I live.

On top of all of that, I'm 49.5% moron. Most of the guys I work with here in the US and in the EU are much better than I am. The only reason I go on these trips is because nobody else wants to be away from home for a month.

So I just shrug, say "I don't know man", take their business cards and resumes and forward them to HR where I assume nothing happens.

edit: and my understanding is that Frankfurt is a relatively high-wage area.


>On top of all of that, I'm 49.5% moron. Most of the guys I work with here in the US and in the EU are much better than I am. The only reason I go on these trips is because nobody else wants to be away from home for a month.

This sounds like a job that would be perfect for me. Where do you find a software job like this?


Just send him your business card and he'll pass it to HR.


Well played.


Exactly this.

All tech companies in Finland are like "We can't find enough competent coders!" and newspapers are publishing that as is.

Well, no shit, because your pay is shit.


> All tech companies in Finland are like "We can't find enough competent coders!" and newspapers are publishing that as is.

To me, if a tech company claims in a newspaper that it cannot find competent coders, to me it says that they are uncapable of detecting talent. Which means "we have a really incompetent human ressource team". This is clearly not something that I would like journalists to print if I were a company owner. :-)

On the other hand, journalists should change their headlines towards "We can't find enough competent coders for xxx €/$!". Giving this information would be a strong service to the reader.


>To me, if a tech company claims in a newspaper that it cannot find competent coders, to me it says that they are uncapable of detecting talent.

Nah, you see the pattern in pretty much every first world country.

1. Government makes law protecting citizens saying companies must hire local unless as a last resort

2. Big tech companies post job listings with unreasonable qualification requirements, while offering wages so low that few people would accept

3. Nobody applies/accepts offers from those companies

4. Companies start whining to the government about how they can't find workers (at these wages) and that we need to increase the amount of visas from India/Bangladesh/wherever.

5. Government falls for it hook, line, and sinker. More cheap foreign labor is approved.

6. The market value for all programmers in the region drops.

Repeat steps 1 through 6 until the average programmer salary hits minimum wage. If local citizens resist at any point, just accuse them of being racist.


> Repeat steps 1 through 6 until the average programmer salary hits minimum wage

Did it ever happen? I mean, some active high-tech markets that have a lot of hiring going on and have been around enough to run these cycles if it's indeed what is happening. I don't know about other first world countries, but I am seeing in the US software developer's salary is nowhere even near the minimum wage. In fact, they are substantially higher than average wage for all the other comparable occupations (i.e. not bank CEOs and board members for Fortune-500 companies). I also am not seeing them precipitously dropping. So I am not seeing it happening as your model describes. Why do you think it is so?


Met a Indian in Sweden who was exploited in exactly that way. He made 27k while the market rate for a native with his skills would have been 40k at least. He got fed up with the bullshit and is now working on his PhD at a top university.


100% agree. It's all about the money.


> 100% agree. It's all about the money.

Is it really worth to invest so much money into "marketing" and "lobbying" the skill shortage instead of simply increasing the salaries to make the job more attractive? Just wondering...


Yes, lobbying has an incredibly high return on investment.

>After examining million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.

https://sunlightfoundation.com/2014/11/17/fixed-fortunes-big...

>In a recent study, researchers Raquel Alexander and Susan Scholz calculated the total amount the corporations saved from the lower tax rate. They compared the taxes saved to the amount the firms spent lobbying for the law. Their research showed the return on lobbying for those multinational corporations was 22,000 percent. That means for every dollar spent on lobbying, the companies got $220 in tax benefits.

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/01/06/144737864/forg...


True enough, but most of this is corporate welfare lobbying (e.g. getting favorable legislation or direct subsidy or tariffs or taxes or something like that) not specifically about employment and immigration.


Is it really worth to invest so much money into "marketing" and "lobbying" the skill shortage instead of simply increasing the salaries to make the job more attractive?

Well it keeps the money in the Management caste rather than any of it going to the Worker caste.


A certain huge multinational once tried to hire me, and disappeared when they were supposed to send me a test.

Cue some months later I see in a magazine a interview with them, and complaining they can't find someone for that job.

So I applied again, they apologized profusely, blamed old HR company. Sent me to talk to new one.

New HR company approves me, then multinational refuse me explicitly because corporate policy is that this particular job must be done by someone experienced.

Thing is: they wanted a local, and they were the first company here offering that job... So good luck finding a experienced person when you are the first one offering that job in first place.

No wonder they complain on media...


Same in Estonia, some companies complain they can't find competent coders, and that we have to import from India...


Which is a joke because you have some damn good coders in Estonia. And the salary is even lower than in France.


Not to mention the fact that the good coders in India are pretty quick to leave India.


Doesn't Estonia have highest percentage of technical workers in Europe?


Steve Chandler has a great piece on "How to versus want to" that is somewhat relevant. People will say they don't know "HOW" to find talent, when in reality they just don't "WANT" to find it.


> Well, no shit, because your pay is shit.

Or their definition of competent is unrealistic.


Can you read this article? I'm in Europe and run into a message saying "Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism." with the LA times since the GDPA.


Here you go: https://outline.com/vKj7vM

Basically, whenever there's a website like this that annoys me, I just copy the URL and Outline it: outline.com/$url

No clicking through annoying dialogs, or having to use a vpn.


which would appear to be a violation of their terms:

If someone else might own the copyright to it, don't submit it. Outline is for reading pages that:

* you own the rights to,

* is in the public domain,

* constitutes fair use, or

* you have consent of the copyright holder.


That's not terms of use; it's a feeble attempt to shift any legal issues onto the end user.

It's unlikely to hold up in court; the servers of outline.com and their owners will likely be deemed as creating the unauthorized derived work.

You cannot sue a hyperlink that's floating around in the wild; you cannot prove who created that link.


Thanks for this, pretty useful for when I'm not on my own device.


Same here. It works for paywalls too! I wonder what their business model is though.


Disrupt some shit and duck? :)

If I were to guess; they will start inserting their own content into these filtered pages, after some time. Newly created ones will be nice and clean, but after some months perhaps, mysterious stuff will start creeping in when those URLs are viewed.


I just tend to move on when I see a message like that. If you rather block access to 400-500 million people than sort out your privacy policy and how you manage sensitive data, then so be it. Stay away from such websites!


I use a vpn, but you can use a simple proxy.

E.x: https://us.hidester.com/proxy.php?u=eJwBWACn%2F3M6ODA6IoYNRJ...


He might be using a VPN, I get the same message from the UK.


i see this more frequently in recent days but only here on HN, i guess it's same media house as LA times because you end up on same domain


Just get a VPN like the Chinese posters use.


> Can you read this article?

Use Tor Browser.


I have the same message in Sweden, shame they can't find to operate business without abusing user data.

Still there's an archive.is link listed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17506215


Would you pay for an LA Times subscription? Do you know anybody that would?

The newspaper business is struggling as is. Every time a publication is blocked in Europe people complain. Ads were the answer for most online publications, but showing targeted ads now pose a legal risk.

I don't know about their business ops, but I'd suspect they've done the math and decided it isn't worth the effort to change their platform so people can read for free in Europe.


You don't need to be not-GDPR-compliant to display ads and do user tracking. Just inform the user and give them the option to opt out of tracking / storing data. Ads won't be as optimized for the user, but they'll still be there.

And of course they can offer a subscription.


> You don't need to be not-GDPR-compliant to display ads and do user tracking.

You also don't need to be tracking anything to be non-compliant.


Of course, offering a subscription means tracking users means being subject to the GDPR!


you know there are news websites based in Europe right?


Sure, and they're a) subject to European regulators and b) have a largely European audience.

The same is not true for the LA Times.


and their economic model its vastly different from american?


Item one: I wouldn't subscribe to any old school newspaper from the anglo-saxon world because they make it extremely hard to unsubscribe. About the same respect for their readers as their targeted ads they can't give up on.

Item two: I wouldn't subscribe to a newspaper just because i read articles linked from HN occasionally, so I'll just pass on LA times.

Item three: whenever someone comes up with a working micropayment platform, I might throw them 2-3 cents if they get linked on HN. No more.

Yes, I haven't read the original article. I won't even through the free links. They don't want me, they don't get me.


Oh, hey, wait, let's not forget the daily standup rituals of agile scrum behavior modification.

Every day, justify your existence. Every day, beat that same dead horse. Every day, grab your coffee, sound off, and then listen to 20 other people bark at the empty air under their nose to show their devotion to a product that has the slimmest utility, and is coated in slippery, greasy dark patterns intended to screw the users that UX/UI supposedly cares so much about.


If the scrum has 20 people, something is really wrong.


Seconded.

I have also experienced it in person. The customer, which was their only customer, and works with many similar contractor businesses, made noises that they want their contractors to "be more agile". So a lot of them just cargo-culted something and said, "we're more agile now!"

My previous employer declared a daily stand-up meeting--with mandatory attendance at 8:45 AM, the flexible hours be damned--crammed the entire team (minus customer support) of ~20 people around the walls of the manager's corner office, and proceeded to waste 45 minutes every morning, as everyone listened to everyone else justify their existence to the boss. Needless to say, I was already looking for other jobs, and doubled down on the application rate after that.

At my current employer, we just changed the day and time of our weekly status meeting, moved it to the conference table in the server lab, where the testers in adjoining offices can theoretically hear it and elect to participate, and said, "we're more agile now!"

The customer has absolutely no in-house ability to evaluate the effectiveness of external software development teams, so they just have to take their contractors' at their word.

I think you can probably guess who the customer is.


Sometimes backs will join in the scrum in order to push their forwards over the line to score a try. It's rare but it does happen and is legal under IRB rules.


Sometimes you get stuck on multiple scrums, back-to-back. Separate projects, but the same plans and activities each.


Then that's not agile.

Agile means small teams focused on one project communicating constantly with the client in a feedback loop.

If any of these elements is missing, you are not doing agile, you are doing the same thing most companies do, but with some agile pieces and labels attached to it.

It's like saying you are on a keto diet, but you eat ice cream, or that you are for democracy as long as the press is controlled by the state.


> Then that's not agile.

It's kinda saddening that from everything OP said, the only take you got from the message is whether a soul-crushing mouse-wheel is buzz-word compliant in your opinion.


I actually meant the opposite : most companies do terribly, and then smash some buzz word lipstick on that pig.


It's wrong even if it has 2.


I've definitely seen agile implementations that are burnout hamster wheels.


If you're a senior software engineer, come to Sweden. You'll at least get 6000 usd/month as an employee. Management usually has a background in tech, you get lots of vacation, parental leave, etc. You're not expected to stay longer than 5 pm and working from home is common. There are many interesting jobs in finance, telecom, automotive, entertainment, medicine, defence, and there are plenty of startups.

I work as a contractor in Stockholm (long term assignments; basically like employment but I pay my own taxes), and I can save ~80k usd per year (after expenses and taxes, no family though, but I live in the city center). To get paid more, I either have to specialize hard or move to Silicon Valley.


Better yet, come to Switzerland and earn > 10K usd/ month; and on top of that, you pay only a fraction of the Swedish taxes.


Maybe, but what's the cost of living in Switzerland? And is it easy to get a job for someone only speaking English? And don't you have to pay for your own healthcare?


The cost of living in Switzerland is high, that's true. But in IT the office language is English. And you have to pay your own healthcare insurance but afaik that's the case in most of Europe.

In my experience it is a bit more difficult to find a job here compared to the rest of Europe, and that's because there normally are more candidates for every job offering.


I thought it was pretty tough on immigration side of things?


Depends of the country. If you are french, it's quite easy to work there. If you are Estonian, probably less.

There are not part of europe, so they do whatever they want.


>There are not part of europe, so they do whatever they want.

My map says otherwise... Switzerland is most definitely part of Europe. Maybe not the EU, but that's a different thing.


Yeah, and the internet is not the web, but when I say I'm going to surf the internet, you get my point I think.


Estonia is part of the EU since 2004.


Not for a EU citizen with a signed job contract.


Not for most EU citizens.


That's sort of the dilemma I see - living in the US and make more money compared to EU friends, but the lifestyle component of US work life is much behind EU. I can see how working in the US to earn more money during younger years might be good, then moving to EU later in life to enjoy the social benefits. Even in Silicon Valley, there are many people I know who make 6-figure salaries, but spend 2+hrs per day commuting, live in small apartments since rent is so high, and basically spend any time not eating/sleeping at or around work.


Does $72K go far in Sweden? I would assume not due to taxes...? I'm in a position of ignorance so I'm just looking to get a better idea of what it's like there :)


$72K is about $50K post tax (including one month of paid vacation). $72K is also a lower bound: I often see positions for ~95K-100K. And if you work as a contractor, ~$160K.

The national median wage is ~$35K ($27K post tax) afaik, and people live good lives on that, albeit in smaller towns.

And if you have a mortgage, you can deduct 30% of interest payments.


>The national median wage is ~$35K ($27K post tax) afaik, and people live good lives on that, albeit in smaller towns

That doesn't sound like much help for a single expatriate coming to Sweden for software work. They're going to want to live in a city where there's lots of other people (including other expats) to network with, date, etc.


True. A common starting salary in Stockholm is $50K ($37K), with that you can afford a nice and central apartment (~$20K without a mortgage, otherwise [potentially much, of course] lower).

Note that you don't rent apartments, you buy them. It makes a comparison harder.


I just realized "Sisu" would be a sweet name for a programming language.


Darkness, cold, property market - no thanks.


The first two ones aren't much worse than London (actually -- it seems Stockholm gets more sun on average per year: http://svemet.org/stocompare.htm). The property market isn't a problem if you make this much; also, the buildings tend to be well-kept.

But yes, dark and slushy winters.


Those first two are positives for me.


I have worked for 5 diferent french companies as a developper and this is so true. They all complain because they can't find developpers, sometimes its not even that they can't find "good" developpers its just that they can't find any developpers willing to work for them. Then when you see what they wan't to pay i just laugh. Someone helping on a kitchen in a restaurant can earn the same as a developper here in france. Most of the devs in Paris earn like 2000 per month after tax. Its just a joke, and when you get paid a decen't salary the marketing/finance/lawyers complain beacuse you are "just a developper".


The sad truth is that Big Companies are always cutting prices. It's impossible to get contracts at decent prices to shovel it down to the devs. I see both sides of the equation and in France you can't get clients if daily rates are too highs ; then you struggle to pay people what they truly deserve.

Our devs are not paid enough to save projects poorly down by half-competent team from big SSII that undercut everyone else.

And then the client is saying : "how can it takes so long ? I am only asking for this feature from Dropbox, that one from Google, a Facebook like feed and some Whatsapp notifications, all synchronised with these existing applications ! NOTHING HARD to do here !"

/rant


> And then the client is saying : "how can it takes so long ? I am only asking for this feature from Dropbox, that one from Google, a Facebook like feed and some Whatsapp notifications, all synchronised with these existing applications ! NOTHING HARD to do here !"

People use these fancy features for free by companies having billions of budget and income... then they want the same features from you, also for free:)


How and where did you find a US remote job whilst being/remaining in the EU? I'm a bit in the same street as you (freelancer, Belgium, previous experience with remote work).

More on topic, I hear the same in Belgium, they want someone to work 24/7 basically for free and then they are surprised that the guy they hired isn't some kind of magical being that knows every language (for some reason this goes for both natural and programming languages) and framework and whatnot.


> How and where did you find a US remote job whilst being/remaining in the EU?

I worked in Africa for a while, and got many American contacts there.

I also have a very high ranked stackoverflow profile, and get offers from there.

And I'm extremely active in the Python community.

I'm not actively searching a job with an american company, but if I were, I would just apply to any american job offer that interest me as I would do in France. Just be very clear on the situation. A lot of job offers seem definitive, but the people behind it are often ready to make many concessions.

> I'm not actively searching a job with an american company, but if I were, I would just apply to any american job offer that interest me as I would do in France. Just be very clear on the situation. A lot of job offers seem definitive, but the people behind it are often ready to make many concessions.

Well, most people don't understand IT at all. They can barely use their computer. What we do is very foreign to them, and they can't assess at all the difficulty of anything, or the skill of anyone.

Also, the fact something is "virtual" gives it less value. People thing that google is just a page with a button. They can't imagine the complexity behind it. Form then, the UI is the product. For them, stealing a banana is a crime, but a mp3 is ok. So your work seems easy.


Hmmm, should seriously up my github / stackoverflow game then. My clients tend to be in the more closed branches, not much opportunity to work or give back to the community.

After this client I'll apply to job offers more aggressively, see if that helps. Honestly, I just want to work from home most days instead of wasting my time in traffic.

I agree on business/management not comprehending the complexity of IT, it's one thing we need to try to do a better job of, at least to some degree. But I have turned down / terminated jobs because clients are unwilling to even try to understand what we do and simply want to stay stuck in their pre-computer/pre-internet way of thinking and working. IT is here to help your business move forward, but if you are unwilling (which includes paying the right people correct wages) there is nothing I can do for you.


I never steal mp3s, I just copy them.


mp3 is ok for me too


I prefer .mp4's


I see this a lot in the UK, and it's why I'm now a contractor.

You will have 10 years experience, a relevant degree, security clearance and no boundaries when it comes to overtime.

We will pay you £35k!

The sad thing is, they will fill that position, with someone not very good, with low expectations and no confidence in themselves. And they will get mediocre work, which they expect.


The difference in pay between contractor and permanent position in the UK is almost weird. The job is exactly the same, often for a duration of several months to years, and full time, except as a contractor you get paid like 2 or 3 times more. There are advantages to work in a permanent position but that doesn't make up for the massive loss in revenue.


Job security is a huge psychological factor. I'm starting on my own this very month, and deep down I'm incredibly scared that in a year I might be without a roof on my (and my children's) head.


In the UK I guess it depends a lot on the region, those are not, for example, London rates, right?


I do contract webdev work for a multi-national in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut. The london office posted a job that is exactly what I do but is paid 5 times less. At the Edinburgh office, 7 times less.

Same company, same upper-upper-upper management, but VASTLY different pay scales. Its nuts to think about, especially when I can rent a full 3 bed/3 bath house with basement and garage for about 2 times less than a 1 bedroom flat in London.


Part of that cost of rental is location. London is a world class city, highly desirable by millions of people as a place to live.

Connecticut isn't.


I completely get that, but I'm paid for the same position 5 times more. The wage they are providing my position in London isn't even livable without roomates. I could (if I wanted a terrible commute) afford a nice apartment in NYC for what I'm paid. If the UK gov't wasn't so anti-immigration, I could actually afford a pretty decent flat in London for what I'm paid as well (on top of the house I currently rent).


The post was not about London vs Connecticut but about pay-scale relative to the cost of living.


You won't be living in world-class accommodations in London on that salary, which is the entire point.


> London is a world class city, highly desirable by millions of people as a place to live

London is a great place to be, but horrible to live.


Anecdotally, it doesn't seem so. Even straight out of University with 0 years experience, salaries among my cohort seemed to be between 30-40k GBP and this was some years ago.

Not to say that there isn't companies making terrible offers in London, but I don't know people working for them.


This is also amplified by tech companies in "non-tech" areas. I know I make less than I should, but my options are very limited unless I want to add a long (and extremely dangerous) commute. Moving is more expensive than I can afford right now.

And when I say extremely dangerous, I mean the highway I'd have to take to the larger cities with more jobs is consistently in the top five most dangerous roads in the US, and has been #1 a few times. I can really only hope wouldn't end up in the hospital (with a massive bill) or dead before I earn enough to move. I just kinda have to stick it out unless someone wants to hand me a fairly sizeable signing bonus. I can always negotiate, but it seems like it would foolish to rely on that perk being there.

Your job listing example describes me pretty well, that's what I found striking. At least I do enjoy my job for the most part.


>No, you can't pay that $2500 a month.

Right now, not that often. However, we're attempting to educate a lot more people in this skill set, and the increased supply will help reduce the cost.

White collar is the new blue collar. Business is incentivized to make this happen.


Good luck.

First, I've seen the attempt to dumbing down on the workforce for programming (delegating offshore, hiring only interns, etc). It almost always fails in terrible ways.

Second, the demand for devs is exploding because of the society we live in: all activities uses programs. Shopping. Driving. Listening to music. Working. But the universities are nowhere close to match the demand with their output. Not in quantity, and not even in quality.

Third, there is a limit to this. Not all people can be programmers. A lot of them hate it. And a lot of them don't have the abilities for it. But here we are not talking about just any programmers, we are talking about decently skilled ones. I know that 90% of the people in my classrooms in the 11 schools I went to wouldn't be able to do what I do. Just like I wouldn't be able to boxe professionally, even with a good training, or be a surgeon thanks to a bootcamp.

And finally, complexity is exploding. A simple website was just HTML before. Then we added css. Then a server side language. Then JS. Then JS libs. Then a server side framework. Then quality tooling (version control, ci, task runners, packagers, etc). Then a client side framework. With preprocessors. And all that are moving targets, and must be integrated together. Not to mention is somebody throws in the server admin / deployment / database maintenance / nosql setup / microservice thingy to the mix.

I pity the new comers to the field. The things we can do have never been so amazing, but the thing but they become also mroe and more complex to the point everybody specialized. I know now some people that do only DB, or only server side, or even "only security". We used to comfortably do it all 15 years ago. But the job offers often still want us to do it all.

There is a reason the GAFAs pay premium: they have high quality services, and they know it takes a lot to make them work.

The China and India may change that though, as they are numerous, and skilled. But it won't come from our our societies.


Maybe, but you have to be pretty smart to be a competent software engineer. Most people just aren't capable of it (just like most people aren't capable of being a lawyer or a civil engineer).


How many people are experts in a non-JS server language and CSS at the same time? Assuming anyone even falls into that category, how many of them want to work for someone else as opposed to just doing their own thing?


>How many people are experts in a non-JS server language and CSS at the same time?

I've always assumed the term "full-stack" essentially implied that as part of the front-end emphasis.


That's what the job offer requests, not what they need or what they will get.


[flagged]


We've already asked you to please not post generic inflammatory comments here. If you keep going we'll ban the account, so please stop?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Why is the OP submission not removed then? Do you only allow one side of the argument?


No, all sides are fine if the argument is made within the site guidelines. We need you to make your comments more thoughtful and informative because readers are here to learn something substantive.


How do I know my comment is not thoughtful and informative enough to meet the guidelines so I won't make such mistake in the future? If I had added more details regarding the taxation and who benefits the most from it, would that been enough to not trigger such response?


Imagine a reader who is not you, and imagine whether or not such a reader would learn something intellectually interesting that's grounded in our shared reality. The guidelines themselves give a lot of other specific advice, so you may find it helpful to re-read them closely.


> and yet you have to give away sometimes more than half of it

It's not being given away. How are the roads, police, schools, defense budgets funded?

> so that people who don't give a flying toss get their benefits

I just checked. The US and the UK both have a 4.1% unemployment rate. Many of those people are unable to work at all. our social security net means that if you're disabled you shouldn't end up honeless. Note it also pays for healthcare, so there's no chance of me being bankrupted from being hit by a car.


> How are the roads, police, schools, defense budgets funded?

I would assume the same way they're funded in America, but for a lot less and with better results.


>It's not being given away. How are the roads, police, schools, defense budgets funded?

Domino's streets, McDonalds Police, Facebook Schools, Nestle Fire department,

The army is the only taxes they are okay paying

because they think their money goes towards punishing poor people instead of helping them


When I was living in NYC I paid 39% federal + 13.5% state/city - that’s over 50%. Healthcare and children education not included. I was not a home owner, and my other deduction amounted to almost nothing thanks to AMT.

It’s a myth that taxes in the US are low.


I make $100k in Texas and after taxes and everything including healthcare I have approximately $75k. Living in a democratic state has its price.


After federal taxes you'd be left with 81710.5, so 7k for property taxes and healthcare seems reasonable. Except that you are neglecting to calculate in your higher sales tax that the state of Texas uses to generate tax revenue as well as oil sales which are a non renewable energy and can't be relied on forever


If I made $100K in NYC I would have likely had the same $75k .... which would have left me with $0 after housing and child raising costs. If I made $10k, I would have had the entire $10k. You are comparing big apples to oranges.


You said: > When I was living in NYC I paid 39% federal + 13.5% state/city - that’s over 50%

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_State... you earn >$400k a year? If so you shouldn't have any problems in NY.

If you do make $100k, you'd be way better off in Texas: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

In other words, we're comparing apples to apples here.


I didn’t say I had problems in NYC. I just said US taxes can be as high or higher than European taxes.

Yes, if you make $100k you are better off in Texas. There are way more jobs that pay $100k (not to mention $400k) in NYC than in Texas though. I’m not sure what the apples are or what we’re comparing; if it’s tax rates than the US isn’t as low as people believe.


Every one is better off in Texas compared to NYC financially. Apples to apples. But it's true, if you insist on the Euro experience, you'll have to pay for it...


> you have to give away sometimes more than half of it

Where?

This is the tax in Germany for example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/ES...


In the UK the marginal tax rate between £100000-£123700 is 60% as you gradually lose your tax-free allowance, so even though the tax is technically 40%, you're losing another 20% at the other "end" of your income - https://eqinvestors.co.uk/library/avoiding-the-60-percent-ta... .. Admittedly this never means 50%+ of your entire salary is tax (you keep 59.6% net of even a £1M salary, for example) but is a real pain point for earners around the £100K level.


Above 70k, you are supposed to start your own business and optimize your expenses through that. Despite recent squeezes on related practices, it's still much better. Not doing it, is basically a gift to the taxman.


Agreed, though I think it's even more a disincentive to pay yourself more than 100K, even if you're mostly on dividends, once you've already seen ~20% come off for corporation tax.

For third parties unfamiliar with the setup, to pay yourself those dividends that take you from £100k to £110k, you need to take £12500 of biz profit, then £2500 goes to corporation tax, then £6000 to the taxman in personal taxes, leaving you with £4000 from that initial £12500 profit(!) which "feels" like a 68% tax to, say, a contractor in that situation (note: I am not a contractor).


But that's the thing, you don't pay yourself in cash - you move most of your expenses to the company (cars, houses, investments, pension payments etc), so that money is only touched by corp tax. You take out the bare minimum that you cannot reasonably claim as business expense, squeezing your taxable income all the way down. When you reach a point where that's not possible, either you are making way more than 150k or you have a poor accountant.


At >£100k it is better to create offshore structure, but they are honing on that bit as well.


Employer spends 4k€ on salary. Gross salary will be 3k€ (Bruttolohn) due to social security the employer pays for you. Net salary (Nettolohn) after taxes and your social security is 1850€.

This example is from 2010 back when I was a student. Since I only worked 6 monhts, I got back 300€ per month, so effectively received 2150*6 = 12,9k out of 24k paid by the employer.

Note that when you spend money, you'll most likely additionally pay 19% VAT, so out of your standard 1800€ another 324 are spent on VAT.

Hopefully you don't buy gasoline, electricity or products that are produced or transported using gasoline or electricity, because then the taxes paid will be higher.

;-)


The highest tax rate in the Netherlands is 51,95% (Note that this only covers anything you make over ~70k+ a year, 0-20k is taxed ~35%, and 20-70 is taxed 40%). Then you pay 6-21% VAT over anything you buy, so yeah, in some scenarios you definitely lose >50% of your gross income to taxes.

https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/...


> Note that this only covers anything you make over ~70k+ a year, 0-20k is taxed ~35%, and 20-70 is taxed 40%

Which means that you'd need an income over 480k a year to get an effective tax rate >50%.

I hope I calculated that correctly: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=solve+((x-70)*0.5195%2B...

> Then you pay 6-21% VAT over anything you buy, so yeah, in some scenarios you definitely lose >50% of your gross income to taxes.

If you count VAT, you'd also need to take into account all the benefits you get in return from the state.


You don't just count VAT, let's count everything: 150%-250% taxes on energy, ridiculous amount of fees and duties. As a Dane, we're probably the most taxed in the world and for a high earning software engineer it's approaching 75%.


The state enables a lot of stuff for you in return though, which we'd also have to count as a benefit if we "count everything". It's just infeasible to come up with a concrete number of how much they "take away" from your earned money.


I have the same benefits in the US as in Denmark (more or less). In the US the government take 25% of my income in Denmark it was around 75%. Personally I don't think the extra 50% is worth it. The only ones better off in Denmark is the minimum wage earners.


I highly doubt it's that simple, sorry.


@rglullis: Well. There is social security, health care, retirement funds and there are taxes.

Well: I gladly pay health insurance in Germany instead of having an American system. Could it be better - hell yes. There is so much bullshit being paid for and so much in the system is made to extract money. But first: taxes are not the culprit here. And second: Pay for healthcare in the US yourself and see what system you like better. Esp if you get older.


It is a false dichotomy. I don't mind the health insurance being mandatory, much like I don't mind people being forced to pay for car insurance if they drive a car. What I find absurd in Germany is that you pay based on your income, just that. I would accept it being factored in, but not being the sole metric to determine pay.


Most health insurances will give you benefits for staying healthy (e.g. visiting the gym or a nutritionist). Visiting the dentist at least once a year will also give you a benefit. There might be other stuff I can't think of right now.

So income isn't the sole metric which determines the pay.


Please tell me how I can reduce my TK payment by showing them my gym membership, and I will be very grateful. No sarcasm here.

Also, as far as I know there is no benefit in going to the dentist, except as "We pay one dental check-up and one clean-up for year, more than that comes out of your pocket". That is at least what I was told when I went to the dentist.


> Please tell me how I can reduce my TK payment by showing them my gym membership, and I will be very grateful. No sarcasm here.

It looks like the TK doesn't pay for just visiting the gym: https://www.tk.de/techniker/service/leistungen-und-mitglieds...

> Also, as far as I know there is no benefit in going to the dentist, except as "We pay one dental check-up and one clean-up for year, more than that comes out of your pocket". That is at least what I was told when I went to the dentist.

They will pay more for a tooth replacement if you visit the dentist on a regular basis: https://www.tk.de/techniker/service/leistungen-und-mitglieds...


Some public insurances tried giving benefits for going to a gym or having reduced membership fees at partners but this has been shut down by the regulator.

You might be interested in their bonus programme: https://www.tk.de/techniker/service/gesundheit-und-medizin/p... Some public insurers have a more extensive one or special, reduced tariffs under some conditions (Wahltarif).


Anyone earning over €60k in Germany can opt for private health insurance.


As a Dane living in the US. I'll take the US health system anyday over the danish system. Just too bad Obama increased premiums by 50-100%.


Bear in mind this is only income tax. If you put deductions like health insurance (mandatory, and also dependent on income level) my take-home pay was indeed less than 50%.


Right, but that money isn't used for the benefits of "people who don't give a flying toss" - you'll get a value out of it (health insurance).

Furthermore you'd also need to take into account all the costs you can set off against tax liability.


Paying health insurance is apart from the income tax. So in this particular case your income tax money is not getting you anything in return, healthcare-wise.

Worst in case of health insurance, the amount you pay is dependent on your income, not your actual actuarial risk. This means that, indeed, the healthy people working are subsidizing the costs of the ones "who don't give a flying toss".

And don't get me started on things like Künstlersozialkasse...


I consider "health insurance" to be somewhat of a scam, just less so in Europe than the U.S. I feel like I'm forced to pay into a black hole with no accountability.

Don't know anything about Künstlersozialkasse - "artist social fund". Is that like a tax to (supposedly) support cultural activities..?


No, more like a social security system separate for the artist "class". If you manage to declare yourself as an artist, they pay a substantial part of your health insurance, social security, etc... All funded by us, poor feeble minded workers with no creative bone in our bodies, to support 20-somethings and eternal Peter Pans who can't keep a job.


The Künstlersozialkasse is funded by companies which utilize creative work such as publishers, media, ad agencies, museums, etc.


You are technically correct. In practice, I had colleagues working as "web designers" who were working right next to me and would not get a substantial part of their salary taken out for health insurance. So, they were still funded by the non-artists.

Why the distinction? Because this work involved Photoshop and mine used emacs?


As I said, the portion they don't pay is taken from companies using creative work. Not from you and not from me.

It is only available to freelancers. People working in those fields usually don't have the option of regular employment. For that reason was decided that companies using their work still need to contribute to health insurance (as all regular employers need to do as well). For everybody else the answer is: seek regular employment if you want someone else to pay half of your health insurance.


Alright, then. One could argue that the costs that companies have with this still get passed along to the consumers and other workers, but I will concede it is not "funded by us".

Still does not explain why there is a distinction. Why do artists get to have companies paying them part of their social security while other freelancers still need to make this out of their own pocket? If this is a good idea for the artists, why not for other professions?


German public insurance is pretty transparent about what happens with their money. Why exactly do you feel it's a black hole?


> I feel like I'm forced to pay into a black hole with no accountability.

Why exactly is it a black hole? Doctors need to be paid, too.


I'm curious, but you do know that there's other taxes than income tax, right?


Personal taxes in Belgium are huge, to the point that most companies will give you an awesome leased car to compensate for a lower personal wage.

The state caught up on that eventually, and you now have to pay a monthly fee for the car of a couple hundred euros.


That’s factually incorrect. For example the max tax band in the U.K. is either 40 or 45 %. So you don’t give more than half of your earnings. Also every country in Europe decides how to tax ppl in that country.


But you have to pay national insurance on top of that to pay for the rapidly crumbling NHS.


You also pay VAT on personal purchases...


If it wasn't for "socialist Europe", our health care would be shit (see the US where people die on the streets because they can't afford an ambulance), my brother would be homeless and probably dead, my dad would've been without any income at age 60, years before his retirement, my sister wouldn't have been able to attend university, and I wouldn't have been able to attend college and land a job in Amsterdam where I ended up out-earning my dad within a couple years.

This "taxes pay for lazy fucks" meme needs to die.


Speaking of memes that need to die:

> see the US where people die on the streets because they can't afford an ambulance

American hospitals cannot deny emergency treatment for lack of ability to pay.


No but people avoid going to the doctor until it's too late because they'd rather not go bankrupt


Then maybe GP should say that instead of making false statements about ambulances for dramatic effect. Ambulances are for emergencies. Nobody has ever died because they couldn't afford an ambulance to take them to their chemotherapy appointment.


Well have fun paying off your student debt and ridiculous health insurance


Oh shush, taxes are not 'extreme' in most of Europe, and you get a lot for your money - healthcare for example.


Income taxes tend to cover up to 50% of your income.

Then there's VAT syphoning an extra 20% of the remaining cash.

Then there are hidden taxes charged throguh other fees being levied, even to access mandatory state services.

In the end you get healthcare, but in general the service is practically unusable and you end up having to pay for health insurance anyway.

And by the way, a large portion of your taxes is effectively "lost" between your wallet and the public services provided to the population.


The alternative from the US perspective:

- About $20k/y to provide health for a family, regardless of income. Median wage is barely double that amount. So most people in that situation forego health coverage (or pick the cheapest catastrophic-only coverage they can afford, and then are on the hook financially for any health issue).

- Still have 33% income tax

- Retirement: it's entirely up to you to save. Good luck! (rule of thumb is 15-20% of income)

- Child care: $12-24k/year/infant should your spouse have to work.

- College education: similar figures, maybe less with some assistance programs, maybe more if children go to prestigious schools. Or you can punt the bill to them and have them be on the hook for a loan.

- Oh, and nursing home for the elderly is about $30k/year so better get that retirement fund full of money. Though it's an undue burden to place on someone else, the traditional view is that having children can help reduce that cost.

In short, the US' system is not optimized for the median citizen ($59k in 2016), it's optimized for those who are in the 75th percentile or above.


>Then there's VAT syphoning an extra 20% of the remaining cash.

UPTO 20% of what you SPEND. In the UK you pay 0% VAT toward most food and child stuff. Then 5% toward essential goods and services. THEN full VAT on the rest of the stuff.

But that doesn't equate to 20% of your remaining cash unless you are only buying pre-prepared foods and furniture with your salary, and spending every bit of it.


In Denmark you 25% VAT on everything except rent and mortgages. Completely ridiculous.


Yeah up to 50%. Very rarely.

You don’t have to pay VAT if you don’t buy anything. You can just invest your money.

A new passport costs money. You need to pay for one if you want it. That shouldn’t be part of your income tax because nobody knows how often you will need one. Essentially those fees are on per person basis.

The NHS is very useable. I never used to pay for any private health insurance for about 5 years. It might not be convenient for you to wait but that’s your problem. That system works and saves lives... so it is usable.

I don’t even know what you mean by “lost”. Money doesn’t magically disappear. Maybe it’s a more complex system than you can imagine or haven’t thought about it hard enough.


> In the end you get healthcare, but in general the service is practically unusable and you end up having to pay for health insurance anyway.

Yeah this is just wrong. I have friends who have moved to the US, and said things like - "I wouldn't be as annoyed at how massively expensive health insurance here is, if you got any better service, but you don't"


Your hyperbole isn't helping you deliver your point.

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