Im an engine mechanic by trade, and our shops handle bids for cash strapped local governments that outsource their motor pool maintenance. We do things like fire trucks and police cars, but we were working on a new regional idea as a "service center" for municipalities that purchased MRAP combat vehicles for their police departments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRAP
We all, especially the veterans I work with, hated this idea. MRAP's are for combat, not police work, and have a dangerous propensity to roll over in city streets or escalate already violent situations. 14 of us sent a signed letter to the owner and senior management detailing our major concerns and heard nothing back for about a month. Then out of the blue we got a call for a meeting with 3-4 very senior managers at a local irish bar.
They paid for dinner and tried to explain how the business would be extremely lucrative. we would all see major bonuses, we could hire more workers, and grow the business faster than just large truck repair. It took 3 very emotional hours, but we eventually talked down a handful of people from making a very wrong decision.
for a week after, we were all sort of stunned that it actually worked at all. Tire cages meant for MRAP tires were cut up and turned into random parts holders, or as new hangers for air lines...one even replaced our mailbox post.
I say that fully realizing that not everyone is in the financial position where they can risk a fight with their employer. You can't expect everyone to be Ghandi.
I believe this is key. If more folks at more organizations were brave like this and willing to take the risk, a good chunk of the problems our civilization is facing might be greatly improved.
The problem with modern unions, particularly in tech, is that the legacy structure is inapt for current problems. Tech workers don't need a union to negotiate compensation, they're compensated fine already. They don't need a huge bureaucratic structure for engaging in long-term detailed negotiations. They don't need a contract at all.
What they need is a no-dues no-fulltime-union-reps union that operates through direct democracy. It does nothing unless the employer is doing something bad wrong. Then if the majority of the union members vote to refuse, either the employer concedes or they strike.
Because it's not about a thousand little things here, it's about a small number of big things. It needs to be able to address those and then go back to being invisible instead of succumbing to feature creep and destroying the host with overhead and principal-agent problems as we've seen with the auto makers.
Software one of the highest margins of any industry. They can afford to pay more, especially since they are constantly whining about "shortages" of tech workers.
Which is why they already do pay more than other industries.
The best argument you have against that is the anti-poaching shenanigans they've engaged in -- but that's already illegal, so the answer there is a courtroom rather than a union.
How is that different with a union?
> and be willing to risk their reputation
Class action suit or submit evidence confidentially to the attorney general.
> With a union, the onus is on the business to act right, or risk labour action where the SRE folks walk out, and all the little blinky lights turn off.
If Apple won't hire Google employees then the Google employees can retaliate against Apple by not working for them?
I disagree, given the massive cash reserves the tech companies have.
Yes, having a higher salary would be ridiculous in a lot of these cases, but we should moderate that through legislation that benefits the most people - not by a public company further lining the coffers of its owners.
Apple and Google particularly have a lot of cash just lying around, and that cash is the result of the employee's efforts, and they deserve it. I think if we think their salaries are too high in that case, we need to talk about better taxation systems.
They have massive cash reverses because the tax laws have encouraged that rather than paying it to shareholders as dividends. And that level of return is necessary because of the nature of the industry -- you have to spend millions of dollars trying to create the next tech giant before you know whether you've succeeded or not, and most of the time you haven't. The returns to success have to be enough to overcome the high failure rate.
Most of the employees aren't taking the same level of risk. If you work for a company for five years taking home a six figure salary and that company fails, you don't have to give back your salary and in a few months you're working for another company making the same amount of money.
If you think you can do better on your own, risking your own time and money instead of taking outside investment, go right ahead -- but then shouldn't it be you who gets more of the reward if you succeed rather than the people you hire in after you're already an established success?
It feels like what you're saying is that the risk of failing in a startup is massive enough for a founder that they deserve literally billions of dollars.
Could you let me know exactly what risks you think a failing startup founder faces that would entitle them to say, a thousand times more dollars than the average salaried employee? Are you saying that because a founder may go bankrupt they are entitled to thousands of times more money? Does this mean that any individual that takes out a loan larger than their assets to start a business is entitled to thousands of times more money than their average employee? Could you help me understand what makes you think that?
Of course, because the level of risk is different. $100,000 guaranteed is worth more than a <50% chance at $200,000, much less a <1% chance. A very high reward is inherently necessary to offset the very low probability of major success, otherwise people aren't going to do it.
> Could you let me know exactly what risks you think a failing startup founder faces that would entitle them to say, a thousand times more dollars than the average salaried employee?
The less than one in a thousand chance of making that much.
> Does this mean that any individual that takes out a loan larger than their assets to start a business is entitled to thousands of times more money than their average employee?
There are many ways to turn a thousand dollars into a 0.1% chance at a million dollars. Then 99.9% of the time you lose the thousand dollars -- and it's your time/money, not the bank's. Nobody is going to give you an unsecured loan to gamble with.
But if you bet on your own horse at 1000:1 odds and win, how are you not entitled to the proceeds?
The amount they mutually agree upon. The employee wouldn't agree to work indefinitely for no pay.
The high compensation of successful founders is actually one of the things keeping salaries up, because any of the salaried employees has the option to quit and found their own company. The existing company has to pay well enough to compete with that -- because if what they're paying wasn't actually competitive with that alternative given the relative risk between them, why would anybody accept the salary?
2) It is possible for both to be true at the same time, because the industry is much larger than Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe. Even if they didn't compete with each other, they still have to outbid Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. -- and pay enough to prevent the workers leaving to found their own companies. It's not unreasonable to expect that the effect on wages was marginal even when it was occurring.
Incorrect, that value is only sustained and increased by the efforts of company workers.
> Employer competes with other employers for both a)market share b) hiring employees -bidding up their prices.
Incorrect. Companies that don't have significant oversight in the form of government regulation or strong unions tend to collude to keep salaries low - which is exactly what has happened in the valley, and has meant that these companies have gigantic cash reserves that they aren't leveraging to hire the best talent.
> By comparing gains from entrepreneurship with regular salaries, you are comparing a stock variable with a flow variable.
No, I'm merely saying that the differences and risks suffered by investors and founders versus regular salaried employees are not a justification for the sometimes ridiculous difference between the compensation of the two.
The other thing you aren't taking into account is the fact that this boom in the tech industry isn't guaranteed to continue forever. There will come a time, maybe pretty soon, where tech workers will become as precarious as those steel workers and autoworkers eventually became. Big tech companies are already putting a lot of effort and resources into educating the next generation of programmers to provide a more competitive labour market and drive down salaries. There's already talk of a coming recession, where I'm sure the belts will be tightened and people will be laid off. When we have a union, we will be more protected from the inevitable exploitation in such scenarios.
The temporarily embarassed unicorn founders among us need to realise that we are the creators of all the value in these companies and, collectively, we have the power to influence their direction and impact on society. We can help secure not only our own rights as workers but also have the power to change society at large and secure better standards of living for all workers (or non-workers). That's why these recent actions by Google employees have been so important. They can set a precedent for how other companies and even states can safely act in future, without fearing repercussions from their most valuable resource - the workers.
The technology needed to let people submit proposals and let other people vote on them is on the level what individuals do over a weekend as adjunct to a side project.
> How do you get the minority in any vote to go along with the result when there isn't any common binding agreement such as a contract that enforces majority rule?
Why do you need to force them to? By definition the majority will already agree, and then many in the minority would participate out of solidarity because that's the whole point of joining a union to begin with. You don't need 100.0%, a large majority is quite sufficient in general. And anything that actually required 100.0% is already lost, because then they could pay off the cheapest defector or contract it out.
And your picture of humam behavior is all too rose-colored glasses if it's having all members of a minority vote just go along out of solidarity when it's non-binding. I've seen unions vote on issues, and it's often contentious with emotions running high on all sides. If the losing side in any of those could have just said "nope" to accepting the result, they would have. Sometimes they try to anyway.
This is a major problem for country-level populations. For corporations it typically comes pre-solved by the corporation itself, because each employee would have a company email address or Active Directory account etc. that could be used for authentication. (In theory the corporation could illegally tamper with the results that way, but the tampering would be immediately obvious to the person whose vote was changed.)
> If the losing side in any of those could have just said "nope" to accepting the result, they would have.
Because they're using the union for the wrong stuff. A lot of the votes would be for things like accepting a policy that gives raises to only senior people. No doubt the junior people being screwed over by that policy would strenuously object when they're the 49%, especially when being in the union deprives them of the opportunity to negotiate something else as an individual.
But how many Google employees have that kind of personal stake in a question like whether to censor search results in China?
The most I've ever done is threaten to quit if a project for the RIAA was accepted by my employer when I was invited into the pre-pitch meeting. It just depends on a specific case.
Its one thing to say maybe you'll quit, or skip your pay check for change, its another to actually put your life on the line for what you know is right.
1. Give up their Chinese-Manufactured iPhones/Android Phones? Tablets? Laptops and workstations??
2. Give up watching movies/shows on their Chinese-manufactured TVs??
3. Stop wearing Chinese-made iwatches/fitbits/etc.??
4. Boycott silicon valley startups that have accepted chinese investments?
5. Boycott every product by US/Foreign company (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, GE, Disney, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, etc.) doing business in China?
Contracting to build a censored search engine is the moral equivalent of contracting to build a barbed wire fence around a concentration camp.
You're being an active participant that directly assists in making that oppression happen by building tools required for the actual act of oppression, as opposed to building something that merely done in the same country.
Over 5 trillion in US tax money has been used to prosecute unjust war in the middle East resulting in 100s of thousands of deaths. Is boycotting Disney movies that support the government through taxes the same as boycotting predator drones?
We've gone a long way from being serfs who have almost no rights, even the right to read and write.. to citizens who can communicate via the internet.
Advancement in technology will/have make current powers obsolete. Robots and algorithms have been taking more work since the stone age.
Better tools, means more surplus, means more time to think critically, more time to comment over the internet, or read books.
The only problem is that we probably won't see any observable improvement in one lifetime. It is however, also very possible that the incumbent powers put an end to our civilization. Hopefully enough people like these Google employees, Snowden, Assange will be there to stop fascism.
Yes there is more surplus, but where is that going? People in developed societies are working more hours now than they were 100 years ago. Wealth inequality has risen to higher levels than ever existed in modern society. I wish it gave me more time to read books...
We definitely need to be more engaged in resisting these dangerous tendencies, particularly with recent political developments. I think organised tech workers have immense power. If Google employees could formalise their current actions and then even unite with other groups across other companies, they would be a force to be reckoned with.
It only works if everyone goes along.
Be brave and stand up for yourself, what do you have to lose?
+ if they're willing and able
(Disclosure: having worked at Google I know some names on that list personally, and respect them greatly. I haven't worked at Google since early 2015.)
If that were true, then their silence can definitely not be construed as any kind of tacit agreement, or even disinterest.
How many Chinese citizens (or people otherwise susceptible to this purported pressure) work at Google?
Even as an American with no family in China, I'd be slightly worried that putting my name on such a list might prevent me from getting a visa to visit the PRC. They've shown a willingness to factor politics into visa decisions:
That guy didn't even express a stance, like these Google employees have, he just happened to be the acting leader of the club when a speaker the PRC opposed was scheduled to give a talk.
That doesn't make a lot of sense. I don't see why the USG would want to sanction them, especially since this letter has nothing to do with the USG.
If they're discouraged from signing due to their US visa status, the mechanism that makes more sense is that they fear Google could fire them and it would take them longer than 60 days to line up another job that could sponsor them.
There's a short grace period in practice (usually, and this isn't official) if you have another job all lined up that is ready to sponsor you. But if you were an H-1B applying for a green card via your employer, this basically resets your position in line, unless you're in late stages of the process. And keep in mind that the wait is measured in years for many countries (e.g. for India, >9 years right now unless you're in the "exceptional" category).
Out of the 88k how many dont care, how many cant afford to care, how many are looking to profit off not caring.
I've heard this before. I'm not sure if it's a statistic or just a saying. What's the standard formulation?
My wife and I once went around and petitioned all 100 people that lived in a condo complex for a specific issue. About 80 people signed. We didn't even need to present the signature sheet - the one hold out on the board we had to convince had caved after learning about the efforts - not knowing the percentage of signers (only we had the number).
Maybe, you meant to say - Gandhi  ?
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi
If we're talking about Ghandi, the man that fought for Indian rights (but not for Africans and in fact was a racist against them). And that is probably for the best:
Collective action. They can hire 14 new guys, but they won't have any to instruct the new employees in their work.
How far is Google willing to go to be friends with China? Mass detainment and ethnic cleansing are well within the realm of possibility, especially in the likely event of an economic crisis.
Will Google help sniff out their Anne Franks? Imagine trying to operate an underground railroad against the full force of Google. There are so many ways that machine learning and modern private surveillance can determine things like if there are extra uncounted people living in an area.
If Beijing did decide to solve the Uyghur problem, would Google cover for them and purge search queries?
No, this is not at all hyperbolic or reaching. American corporations did business with our enemies right up until they were forced to stop during WWII. American machines have been used to commit horrific atrocities. And read Chinese history. Read about what China has done as recently as a few decades ago.
I'm glad to see Google employees taking a break from their virtue pageantry to actually take a stand on something that matters, finally.
If Google actually were to do anything to help they Anne Franks of China, do you think they would announce it to the world to debate on HN, or do you think they would do it in secret?
That was very pragmatic. Both sides wins.
The real issue with having your work-force leave is three-fold. First, you lose all the accumulated knowledge of your team. Second, you lose the cohesiveness of your team. Thirdly, you have to _pay to get a new team_.
All of these things conspire to make all but the lowliest of jobs (think Target Associate) much more painful to replace than it seems.
In short, there are lots of hidden costs in recruiting.
Nor are the outcomes produced by a few brave people locally.
The point of the story is to draw a line in the sand. And that line matters when people are afraid to stand together on one side of it.
If you look at the example of Gandhi and the Salt Tax the mere act of picking salt of the ground and being threatened with arrest unified a country and sent a signal to the British were the line was. Sending that signal matters. Countries were that signal was not sent took many more decades to get independence.
I think it is a engineer's dream to think they can't be replaced. But they can, and the probs created by it simply don't matter.
My post about SCALE was apparently too hard to understand. There is a big sea of programmers that would be happy to work for Google censorship or not.
If you want to argue the cost of replacing people - I'd argue the cost of paying people who won't do the job you want them to do.
There's a difference between your coder who can build you a chat app and a coder who can keep you on the bleeding edge of innovation. In theory.
WOW. Yes, that must be it. I can't possibly have an opinion about the matter that doesn't align with yours because surely you are right!
The only logical option here is I am spreading fear uncertainty and doubt - because I'm Google and this directly impacts me. Anyone who disagrees must be silenced because they are wrong!
EDIT: Nope, opinions not allowed. Try and hide anyone that disagrees!
Not that you are a "naysayer" and are trying to spread fear by commenting on this website.
Hmm, I must have misinterpreted that. Maybe you're right.
It truly depends on the company and employee though. For many people that point can be extremely high so they have the power to push for ethical (or not) choices.
That power of course multiplied by the number of such people.
Not if they are employees that are complaining about doing the job you're paying them to do.
Not that I don't agree with them, but in this case, Google Co has decided a route and the employees don't want to do it. I think they may find that they are more replaceable than the down votes implying the opposite are willing to accept.
It's interesting you would label this as such.
In what is ostensibly the best country in the world, and a massive proponent of free speech and human rights, you think it's bold to write a letter on the internet to your extraordinarily famous employer?
If it's considered bold in the USA involving Google, I shudder to think about anyone else doing this anywhere else.
In the year 2018 I would hope it's very much not bold to do so.
Free speech only applies to the government though? Your employer is still free to fire you.
Sure you won't be put in jail but for most people losing their job still certainly affects their livelihood.
When pointing in this direction, take a big U-turn or don't post.
I'm not sure why you scare quote free speech and then use an example of free speech to somehow disprove free speech. Free speech isn't supposed to be just for propagating popular ideas, that's the entire point FFS.
>And I guess with 'human rights' that goes along with the USA's tendency to start senseless wars over oil
Ugh, what a boring and incorrect trope. The wars are not about oil, oil companies aren't the ones making money off of them. Show us all of the successful US oil companies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. Additionally, the US produces enough domestic oil that it makes no sense to go after conflict oil even if that was a thing.
Finally, your whole post smacks of whataboutism. Pointing out shortcomings does not mean the US isn't leaps and bounds ahead of China/Russia/etc in human rights. Try running a newspaper truly critical of the government in China or Russia and then you'll see why 'free speech' matters.
This was a post-Bush II, Hillary Clinton-driven innovation. She helped popularize the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that has unlocked previously inaccessible domestic oil supplies. Before then, oil prices were virtually dictated by OPEC. Bush II's foreign policy was informed by this fact, and the ongoing war in Iraq he started opened their resources up to western multinational oil corporations. Under Saddam, the oil in Iraq was extracted by a company that had been nationalized in 1961.
It's pretty clear that Stephen Miller has been pushing specifically for family separation. He appears to be fairly "focused" on the issue as a strategy in his goal of limiting immigration (legal and illegal) in general.
"As appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so; apparently."
> You said: "There has never been a better society than in the United States in 1958." What do you mean by that?
> FROMM: Well, I mean it, of course, in relative terms. The history of man so far is nothing to brag about, from the standpoint of our ideas--and what I mean is, that in comparison with most other societies, our present-day American society has achieved things which are remarkable: material wealth, greater than for any other nation; a relative freedom from oppression; a relative mobility; a spreading of art, of music, of thought, which is also rather unique. So, I would say, compared with the 19th century, compared with most previous history, this is as good or better a society than any which man has ever made. But that doesn't mean it is such a good one.
Not that I disagree with you, and a lot of things changed for the worse. But still, the US has a lot of tools to fix its problems that other nations never had, and currently don't have. If the US falls for good, it will have an incredible domino effect, I for one don't want to see that happening. Wherever you are, count your blessings -- not to rest on them, but to use them, fiercely.
Further, the US is not great because it’s progressive. It’s great because we are allowed to be progressive. It’s great because it is structured to systemically fight oppression. Does that mean we are absolutely free of all possible oppressions? No. But we have invented a society that limits the damage oppressive factions can do. In other countries the government, the monopoly on power, is allowed to oppress (and we’re trending that way in the US, which is unfortunate) for the “greater good”. Because the government can’t do that in the US, it means we e.g. can’t silence homosexuals or transgender people arguing for equality. It means you can call Trump a thing and not have the police at your door.
We are certainly not “the greatest country evar omgee” (I’m not into the imperialist stuff either). But the example we have set for the world has lead to the fastest expansion of human knowledge our species has ever seen. That’s pretty great.
This is true:
~(p ^ q) -> ~(p because q)
Trump is a symptom, not a root cause. I was convinced he's a fascist nearly a year before he was elected, and even then was already annoyed by the circus around "what will he say next?". Then he did get elected (which I by the way considered to be a punishment for the popular support of Bernie Sanders... one thing is sure, the next president will just have to be a polite human being, and a lot of people will cry tears of joy and eat out of their hand, "progressive" now got reset to "not utterly mad"), and it go so much worse, instead of fixing their own mistakes, people just point fingers at him some more. He's a giant distraction.
But I guess if you're interested in virtue signaling, checking boxes and waxing poetic about what could have been...rather than looking at actual quality of life stats for Americans...I guess the U.S. might look like a lost cause.
Oh and if you want to understand the electoral college, read The Federalist Papers . It's far more resilient to corruption than a nationwide popular vote.
I would certainly never in a million years hope anyone would seriously claim the US to be the greatest country in the world.
I am quite certain a significant proportion of Americans genuinely believe it is.
Not central to the point, but Kashoggi was not a US national. He was a US-resident Saudi citizen. It's possible to be a US national but not a citizen, but Kashoggi wasn't one: https://www.immihelp.com/immigration/us-national.html
Should we not care about his murder as much then?
Actually, the correction was so that people wouldn't continue making the mistake, not because his citizenship status is a critical point. The error is a distraction from the main point that is avoidable in the future.
Point taken. The intricacies of status continue to wonder and delight. :)
Pretty much the only speech outlawed is child pornography and that which a reasonable person would see as inciting imminent violence. That's a pretty high bar, higher than any other country I've ever heard of.
Fighting words is essentially a dead precedent, and all that remains is inciting imminent violence, which I mentioned.
These are much bigger restrictions that impact far more people than the others you mentioned.
>Fighting words is essentially a dead precedent, and all that remains is inciting imminent violence, which I mentioned.
There's also huge limitations on commercial speech; obscenity (which covers more than child pornography); reasonable time, manner, and place restrictions; perjury; blackmail; harassment; solicitations to commit crimes (not just inciting violence); student's speech while in school.
The reasonable time, manner and place restrictions aren't enforced and also wouldn't be upheld, but you're right, perjury, blackmail and some kinds of harassment aren't covered. Solicitations to commit crimes actually aren't always illegal.
The definition of obscenity isn't well defined, but there are still numerous laws throughout the US that ban obscene speech that have been upheld--zoophilia porn laws, and bans on selling sex toys are 2 examples I can think of off the top of my head.
>The reasonable time, manner and place restrictions aren't enforced and also wouldn't be upheld
The government very regularly enforces this. What do you think free speech zones and protest permits are for?
but also this pales in comparison to the abuses of existing Chinese nationals by China, taking Muslim property , placing citizens in internment camps and abusing them, placing them under "deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress as they are forced to abandon their native language, religious beliefs and cultural practices" , imposing a nationwide social credit system that can deny citizens of China basic access to education, air travel, etc on a whim ...
Whatever your thoughts on Trump (besides being off-topic...he's not racist, by the way )...he's kept in check by a robust court system, a constitutional republic and the congress itself from imposing the systems listed above on U.S. citizens.
And yes, free speech is the right to say offensive things. There's no reason whatsoever to protect "inoffensive" speech. Yes, free speech (and liberty in general) allows you to be skeptical of the assessment on global climate change. It allows you to question what role if any, our government should have in attempting to control the climate. Sorry you hate liberty, maybe you would prefer if a social credit system imposed punishment on those not pre-disposed to your particular beliefs? If so, then China is looking like a good move for you.
Literally his first appearance in the NYT was for being a racist asshole - https://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/07/30/1973-meet-d...
Sounds like liberty for humans, and not for the planet, which we have to live on.
What's the point in free speech if we destroy the place we live in? Who will be left to speak?
You've really mischaracterized the situation. Check out "No Wall They Can Build" for a closer look, and maybe "An Indigenous People's History of the US" for an explanation of the sentiment that "we didn't cross the border; the border crossed us."
It's not ambiguous, to those of us holding the facts, that the US' encroachment onto Latin American life is a violation of human sovereignty, and dignity—if not explicitly the peculiarly circumscribed "legal rights to emigrate."
So yes, the consequences of making a "bold" statement from a 6-figure tech job in the US will be different than taking similar actions in less developed places. Don't let your hatred of Trump bias you.
Your morals are your own? Why do you insist on imposing them on others?
A lot of people have no problem with their countries governments manufacturing and/or selling arms to dictatorships that inflict harm on innocents and supply extremists e.g. UK-Saudi arms trading. As far as some are concerned the UK is just doing what another country may do instead.
If you leave a morally odious contract on the table (lets say it's cutting up human babies for baby veal) knowing your competitors will take the project, enrich themselves, expand, and develop the capacity to engage in larger, even more odious business, then what's the proper course of action?
Do you cut up babies because fuck morals? Or do you try to get no one to cut up babies? What if you have imperfect information and aren't certain if your competition would do it? What if they have imperfect information about your intentions and decide to take the deal purely on that basis?
Should be straightforward to recognize how corrosive this cycle gets.
EDIT: some people seem to be upset with the baby example. Just exchange that with anything you find clearly morally unacceptable. Like selling reverse mortgages to elderly people with limited capacity, or signing people up for ponzi schemes or adding intentionally addictive additives to a harmful consumable product, etc.
When I say "have no sense of morals," I'm talking about competitors who were acquired by large PE firms a decade or more ago and do not have any internal discussions about the morals of what their employees are building/maintaining. They operate entirely by asking what clients want and then trying to build what they can of those requests.
I'm mostly talking about incentives and market pressures, not "imposing morals on others" or other such emotional nonsense that you are reading into here.
Whether people believe unions are a good idea or not, the key is to organize into something that allows people to work together and find common ground to address common problems.
Thank you for standing up to this.
What should a police crew use against a criminal equipped with high caliber armor piercing guns?
Would it effectively require applying the label "terrorist" or "national security threat" to any criminal who shows they are prepared to use lethal force against a law enforcement officer?
Police have to deal with enough crap that they shouldn't be expected to handle paramilitary situations as well, is what I'm saying.
As a counterexample, remember the "Bundy standoff"? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundy_standoff That's the kind of situation where the Posse Comitatus Act means you don't send in the Army. However, if they had shot a bunch of people I'm sure they would have had to face at least the National Guard, eh?
While I think the average developer has a more negative opinion of Google these days, for years they have been considered one of the best places to work in the world.
I know if I told my parents, for instance, I had done what you did, they probably would've called me an idiot. :P They just know Google is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, they don't see a lot of their especially recent practices as bad.
To say 'no, thank you, I'd rather not as I don't agree with the company's practices' indicates a kind of moral standing I wish more people would confidently have. It shows you're taking a personal stand against what you believe to be corruption, and that's awesome.
While it is a nice enough gesture, let's not kid ourselves that this was some difficult selfless act on the part of the OP. Apologies to the OP if I have misinterpreted their earlier post but:
> I considered working at Google last year after a recruiter reached out to me
This statement often becomes true by virtue of having a reasonable computer science qualification and living in the Bay Area - eventually a recruiter for a FAANG style company is going to spam you with an email. Actually converting an outreach from a recruiter to you know, an actual concrete job offer at Google, is another matter entirely.
If declining recruiters is the new (very low!) bar for high minded civic engagement, I'm accidentally a grizzled activist on the front line.
Source: have never lived in the Bay Area. Have a large number of those emails in my gmail.
This. I have said 'no, thanks' to FAANG in the last 3 months because my life is in a bit of a flux right now. It was a bit more than a simple 'no, thanks' in case of Facebook, but that's a story for another thread :)
I think the moral of the story here is that it's better to sell out from day 1 than to be seen as a hypocrite.
Source? I was not aware there was any hesitation or even disagreement from Apple's side. Is there an Apple statement saying they disagree w/ Chinese government requests similar to the statements saying they disagree w/ US government requests? In their absence, is it safe to assume they agree since they have shown that when they disagree they make public statements?
As of July, these datacenters were nationalized , giving the Chinese government access to all Apple user data.
It took only two years to go from refusing the FBI request for one user to handing over the encryption keys to millions of users.
If you wanted to do software work for a company that didn't kowtow to Chinese government demands, chances are 99% of jobs are available to you. Does that mean they could if they would? Unknown, and since regimes change with frequency you can't rely on stated principles, only actions.
Because they are actually in China and give concessions to the government.
We should recognize here a very thin line between respecting the Chinese law and actively collaborating to subvert human rights - because the law is defined by an authoritarian regime with a long history of human right abuses.
That being said, surely you cannot change Chinese law from outside China, and if respecting it's current iteration is not in itself an unacceptable violation of human rights, it stands to reason that expanding in China at least forces the government to stick to it's own laws under the threat of a public exit and protest if unlawful pressures are made. It puts ethical companies in a position where they can nudge the Chinese towards ethical behavior - or at least very publicly denounce unethical demands.
Imagine yes, this person would work for Amazon even though they're in China too. Does that make them not working for Google because they're in China a bad choice? I don't think so.
Are we really prepared to tear everyone down who isn't absolute in their morality?
Their logic makes Google a better employer than Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and any other tech company currently operating in China. Saying they spurned Google because the company was considering going to China is disengenious, since the majority of the substitute employers are already in China.
There is life outside of the FAANG/GAFAM bubble. If you refuse to work at Google, it doesn't mean that you're then obligated to work at Amazon or Microsoft, etc.
If we're looking at it in that lens, then GP's problem isn't with Google, but with large tech companies in general because that's the industry standard.
The life outside of the FAANG/GAFAM bubble isn't just "small-town software shop[s]." There's a lot more diversity than that, and to conceive of the industry in that way is too parochial.
That is what an economic substitute is. SMB tech companies typically don't compare.
But Dragonfly [ostensibly] went well beyond just censoring results, in that it implemented specific tools like linking search requests with phone numbers identifying people who made those requests. That's straight-up aiding and abetting oppressing people - political opposition, for example, or even unorganized dissenters. I can't believe we are even seriously talking about whether this is okay or not.
I have no basis for saying this beyond not knowing how they could do this otherwise, but I would assume that they must censor results to exist there. I don't know if they go further, such as you describe Dragonfly plans to do.
Similarly, if internal morale is in decline and reports come back saying that it's because of X, that also has a real (and quite possibly quantifiable) cost.
It's much easier to excel in the pursuit of something you believe in. Seems like folks who accept jobs that they don't believe in are liable to become increasingly demotivated and eventually burned out.
What kind of question is that? No citizen supports all the actions of their government. Government options are a lot more limited than employment options.
It's true that the US government officially recognizes the Beijing government as the legitimate Chinese government and doesn't recognize Taiwan.
OTOH, the US has a security partnership with Taiwan. See https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-united-states-securit... for details of this unique relationship.
How can you say this when those that build, even small parts, of surveillance technology are directly contributing to oppression?
Workers absolutely have a moral obligation to what they work on. This notion that they're not responsible for this is horrifically wrong.
Good for you on making a decision like that.
But... Just so long as you know that someone did take your job there. And they're almost certainly happy to do anything asked. That's something I think many idealistic users here aren't understanding.
If talented engineers were that easy to find, Google wouldn't have participated in illegal wage-fixing; and that's without selecting for engineers that want to support an authoritarian regime. Statistically speaking, every rejection drives up the price. To wield even more power, we'd need to form some kind of industry-wide union.
As Google's position becomes increasingly strengthend (with all the market share it can capture in search already realized ~ and it slightly decreasing anyway due to it's slightly tarnished brand), it doesn't need to maintain this illusion of values over profits anymore.
Since 2005, though, good engineers have had lots of options for where to work, many of which pay better or have more growth potential than Google. And "Don't Be Evil" was a great way to persuade them to come work for Google rather than Yelp or Facebook or some hedge fund, and keep them there rather than have them go off and found their own startups that potentially could compete with Google. Because so much of their product moat depends upon technical excellence, keeping the best engineers within the company is critical for them.
I'll predict that if they don't reverse course on this, we'll see a mini-exodus of Googlers who either end up founding their own startups or start working on political-tech projects. Ultimately I think that may be good for the world, but it's not really in Google's long-term interests, although perhaps at this point their moat is entrenched enough and they're big enough that it doesn't really matter.
Growth probably, but very few actually pays better than Google considering all the perks and work life balance you would get from working for Google. And since the startup boom is almost over, it is even more so like that now...
I think the boom in web & mobile startups is basically over at this point, but there's a new boom in cryptocurrency & AI startups that's just beginning, along with a social movement (multiple social movements, actually) that's just beginning and will likely need communication technology to organize.
You're comparing 2 pre-ipo companies to Google and apple.
Right, but this is different from having higher expected value, or higher likely-case value. Most people don't value compensation offers based on 'growth potential' (aka 'best case').
(I'm assuming you mean growth in the sense of 'growth in value of equity', based on your reply to another commenter)
In some cases, the personal priorities can be personal advancement. We see this all the time when managers hire/promote their friends, sexually harass their subordinates, and make decisions on the basis of politics as opposed to technical/business merit.
And in other cases, the personal priorities can be moral values. Values such as promoting free speech, fighting censorship, protecting consumer rights, and avoiding layoffs.
The idea that every single decision taken by a company is perfectly optimized to maximize long term profits, is baseless. There simply does not exist any mechanism to monitor and enforce such a requirement. The shareholders have only one lever to pull: accept the current leadership team, imperfections and all. Or fire them and risk destroying the company in the resulting churn. This gives both the executives and employees tremendous leeway to prioritize values over profits, as long as they are good enough to not get fired.
Hell, this entire post exists because some Google employees care more about their values than about making as much money as possible.
I can assure you if google employees revolt on a number of projects and that drops the stock price in half over the course of 3 weeks PEOPLE WILL CARE... Even the ones that today you say don't care.
What an absurdly preposterous thing to say. Money is a motivator and a large one for many, many people, but it's ridiculous to call it the sole motivator for everyone.
There are an awful lot of people in this very comment thread who would claim to be counterexamples to this. Are you going to say they're all lying or deluded about their own motivations?
This might sound weird but some people (and companies) don't subscribe to the notion that money is the only thing that matters.
It's not to say that the employees don't have some power. Shareholders may play along with their request while figuring out how to maximize the profits and avoid such road bumps as this in the future.
So in the end you have to weigh the wants/needs of the employees and how much money might be lost or gained if you go along with their demands vs how much money can be made or lost if you ignore them.
I could see a argument that upsetting your employees could lead to a value drop that might be greater than whatever contract they are protesting. But it is hard to judge, and it will often only be looked at quarter to quarter.
Now if you give the impression that you are all bout money but don't act like it then shareholders can be rightfully upset. But if you clearly state your values and ambitions and shareholders don't like it? Then, sucks to be them! There is nothing more to it than that.
Serving shareholders’ “best interests” is not the same thing as either maximizing profits, or maximizing shareholder value. "Shareholder value," for one thing, is a vague objective: No single “shareholder value” can exist, because different shareholders have different values. Some are long-term investors planning to hold stock for years or decades; others are short-term speculators.
And yes, we can define shareholder value -- its the stock price. But I see your point and why I have talked about the grey area of what is the best move. But you would be hard pressed to find a group of shareholders who who all agree not taking big contracts is going to be the best move.
It will also attract shareholders that share those values and thus going against them will cause an uproar.
Most companies charters talk about their relationship and obligations to the shareholders -- people don't invest in companies that don't intend on increasing in value.
Thanks for a civil disagreement and exchange.
There is some grey area along strategy short game vs long game, but a company's charter is to increase the value of its shareholders -- THE ONLY THING that literally matters for a publicly traded company*
* Some companies can be setup with a different charter that does not prioritize profit, but google and most of the publicly traded companies on the market today are not those. And it would be very hard to convert to such a company.
Perhaps similarly to anti-monopoly laws we should also have size caps on companies.
As a thought experiment, I've often wondered the best way to maintain the positive corporate culture that small companies tend to lose as they grow.
It's not clear it's simply growth, or whether it's profits. I wonder if a non-charity oriented non-profit would maintain a better corporate culture.
It's more like regression to the mean; it gets harder to be different as you grow. Good companies get worse, bad companies better (just look at Uber's internal culture).
Come on. A lot of people create startups to do something interesting that they're passionate about. Customers and profit merely serve these ends, not the other way around.
As a society which (hopefully) would like to have some sort of moral compass, how do we prevent large companies from seeking profit even at the expense of our freedoms/health/planet? It seems to me that if the punishment for unethical behavior is economically "less" than the costs or potential losses associated with acting in a good, ethical way, companies will continue to do what we're seeing them do now. My intuition is that capitalism (in its current Western incarnation) can't function without some strict controls to protect what our societies value most.
Or do we simply value profit over everything else? If so, that's kind of depressing, but I get the sense that most people don't think this way.
There's the consideration of true values. Then there's the consideration of lost opportunities from following those values. Then there's the cold consideration of the money gained from PR boost due to following the values. Then there's the "game theory" consideration of altogether dying in the marketplace if your competition don't act on those values.
I think the best thing for all of us to do on the outside is to create a culture where every company benefits from the PR boost. Google executives are one concentrated interest, separate from Microsoft, etc. The employees, I reckon, are not as financially motivated (i.e. don't stand to lose _as_ much individually) and can afford to advocate their values. It seems to me (I'll phrase it conservatively, since I'm just throwing out ideas here) that Google employees should make friends with Microsoft employees to make sure they raise the same noise on their end as well. Make it okay for each company to gain (monetarily or otherwise) from good PR, and make it less profitable for all of their competitors to sell out.