> From an interview with Kurt Vonnegut in the November 1995 issue of Inc. Technology. Vonnegut was asked to discuss his feelings about living in an increasingly computerized world.
>> I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, “Are you still doing typing?” Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, “Okay, I'll send you the pages.” Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, “Where are you going?” “Well,” I say, “I'm going to buy an envelope.” And she says, “You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.” And I say, “Hush.” So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.
The whimsy of Vonnegut betrays the truth that too many of us suffer from too little time in the day to create genuine, shareable moments with one another. Technology can help beat back that tide by simplifying the tedious, and little by little, we may find ourselves making time to be more present in our everyday lives.
Technology should be celebrated, and not feared.
It is precisely the post-industrialized culture of consumption, and economy of progress that is robbing individuals of our free time.
When did laundry and cooking and doing work at home cease to be a social function and instead move into the sphere of "work"?
Do you realize that you're basically implying that housewifes were chilling at home while their husbands were doing the real work? Home work has always been real work, but us men didn't really feel it before we had to do more of it due to gender equality.
housework is indeed real work, real labor. But post-industrialized societies have worked to strip joy from all chores. The idea of of a housewife is a good example of this — A woman alone in a house cooking for another person, cleaning a vast amount of things that endlessly collect dirt. So long as we don't reach the singularity there will be chores to do, mouths to feed and things to clean. Is it easier to spend all our waking hours devising "technologies" to "simplify" life or is it easier to re-evaluate what a simple life is and embrace that labor is a part of life.
Don't confuse the two issues here – the ability to let one person stay home, in a traditional 2-parent household was a great thing. Expecting that to always be done and always be a woman was terrible and sexist.
But, now, are we really saying the "liberated housewives" are any more free? They're even more constrained by the need to earn a paycheck so that their families can remain at the same level as their parents or grandparents were able to achieve on one income. Yes, they're on closer (but not equal) footing with men, but I don't think I'd really say we've increased the freedom of anyone here.
Than we did historically? We do.
Things that I am forced to do, I do not consider "free time", although for some reason anti-technologists like to consider at-home labor to be "free time", so they can make it look like pre-industrialization people had less work than we do today.
That said, with every passing year there is measurably less stuff that I have to waste time doing, mostly thanks to the power of the internet.
There's a sad irony in the image of first world citizen who can't waste time cooking so they consume large amounts highly processed ready-made food from places like trader joe's and sits down to watch Game of Thrones for three hours and browse pinterest.
Alternatively, I don't waste time cooking and instead spend that time eating with friends at a restaurant and not having anyone burdened by the cleanup afterwards (well except for the staff paid to do so).
strictly speaking, the only thing that's necessary is for me to have food in my stomach. A lot of people enjoy cooking (and I have the luxury of being able to do so with close friends sometimes), but there's little point in romanticizing me heating some water and pouring in pasta in a bowl when I'm by myself. As others have said, a lot of people don't have the luxury of being able to make i.e. cooking and cleaning a social activity.
Beyond the whole socio-economic "guy/gal working 2 jobs" thing (Why do we think working 2 full-time jobs solely to survive is OK?!) , there's even the "person who doesn't really have many friends at the moment". I know some people who find themselves in such situations after moving to a different country for example.
As for things like cleaning, I think the meta-solution to that is to live in a small place and not own many things. Gives me more time to watch game of thrones (or browse HN ;))
Many people enjoy e.g. watching TV than cooking, and there's nothing wrong with that. More power to them.
Due to a broken governance model that the world uses, we have poverty; technology is already advanced enough that most of us don't even need a job. Humanity is producing enough for everyone's need (but not greed, like gandhi said) but we haven't a fair distribution. Getting a job is our way of distribution of wealth.
Female literacy levels is a good leading indicator of social and economic development.
I disagree that modern life is somehow unnatural or participating in it requires some form of submission. Providing for our needs in a more convenient fashion is one of the pillars of civilization.
I understand that not everyone in this world has the luxury of free time, but if one has the ability to shop on Amazon, making time away from work and the internet is almost definitely an option. It's thinking like that which will hurtle us towards an Idiocracy-like reality.
Except that so many of those genuine moments can't be created with any sort of precision. They happen exactly because they are outside of what was planned.
We suffer from a lack of time because we have too much crap planned or demanded of us. Abstracting away all the small things sounds wonderful, but it's exactly that pursuit of efficiency above all else that is killing us.
I feel like it describes some of my days pretty well. But another part of me thinks he's writing from a very privileged position, and doesn't (want to) recognize it.
Quite the opposite I think. Our machines can 'already' work well enough to provide free food, shelter and education to every person on earth. Even still, we produce food for 10B people yet hunger is a problem.
If everyone was given free food, shelter and education, then everyone would fart around and get bored until some of them hackers gather to build a space-ship and others join in. Utopia? probably. But the real problem is broken distribution model which real means broken governance model.
Secondly, are you sure all work can be done by currently-existing machines and people willing to do that work for fun? For example, maintenance on a broken sewage system. I think there's going to be some jobs that machines can't yet do, no one wants to do, and yet still need to be done.
This fact works counter to the studied "just a dude out observing the fullness of humanity" vibe of the paragraph.
So for me the piece is very unstable, tilting back and forth between these two poles. Perhaps that's why I remembered it across 20 years.
>> These images are backward projections of modern work patterns. And they are false. Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that working hours in the mid-nineteenth century constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind.
Oh, and it's also remarkably close to this , which I didn't know about until now, and now want to try. Thanks for your accidental character transposition. It has led to good things.
2. The sibling that notes Vonnegut's privileged: Probably. But something tells me so are most of the Amazon Prime members. http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/amazon-attracting-high...
3. I loved walking and commuting on the T in Boston. I got time to watch or interact with people. Being present in the world is a form of productivity for anyone creating things for people.
Keep in mind the excerpt you just read was written by a professional writer. A good one at that. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's got a quality where even if nobody told you it was written by a writer, you could just tell.
No flowery prose. Just simple description. But highlighting many little things and quirks that most people leave out of descriptions of events. Without those, his errand reads a bit like this: "I write on a typewriter. When I'm done I mark it up in pencil, then I ask a freelance typist if she's got time to do a clean manuscript for me. Then I have to go down to the newsstand to buy an envelope to send it off in. I like the roundabout way of doing it"
Not quite as fun is it?
edit: the style reminds me a lot of reading Gaiman's blogposts about his life
There was an interview or podcast (some sort of video) with Ira Glass about this same idea. He describes a man waking up and getting coffee, the most mundane activities, with incredible suspense. You really have to appreciate that sort of ability. It's not even apparent until someone else points out how boring it would be if stated differently.
"Attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal," said somebody wiser than I.
Easy to say that, sitting on a Hugo award and the subsequent career of Kurt Vonnegut.
So, were there any???
Here in Norway online shopping involves finding an online store that sells what you need (there's no site that sells everything, like Amazon, here), going through a cumbersome sign-up/payment process, paying a lot of money for the shipping costs, waiting several days and having to go to the post office unless the package is really small (or if you're willing to pay even more for premium shipping).
I really don't get why so many people here dislike the idea behind Dash Button. Buying essential shit isn't fun, it's a burden that needs to be done. I can't understand why removing the hassle of purchasing stuff like toilet paper and detergent is "dystopian consumer hell". Dystopian consumer hell is what we have here in Norway, where we need to physically go to the store and buy the same stuff over and over and over again.
How often do you need laundry detergent? Every two weeks? If this button saves you ten seconds each time, that's a total of 4.3 minutes per year saved. And that assumes you buy the stuff one at a time instead of getting a bunch at once.
Amazon as a whole is great because you can use it for so much stuff. Saving time on a rare purchase is almost pointless, but saving time on all your rare purchases put together can be significant. But this button thingy is inherently single-product.
This is basically the ordering-side equivalent of when you buy three small items from Amazon and they get shipped to you in three separate gigantic boxes filled with vast amounts of padding. Maybe it makes sense when you see the big picture, but I can't help but scream "why??"
... it's about creating a barrier to exit so that your customers won't comparison shop for different brands of detergent.
I don't know what the things I used in the dinner I just prepared costs. I only know roughly how much my weekly grocery bill comes to (it's all delivered - the order is auto-populated by Ocado's algorithms, so if I don't do anything I get a reasonable default set of products based on what I usually buy). And I like it that way.
IMHO the essence of this product is neither about enforcing brand loyalty nor saving time.
1- Brand loyalty benefits well established brands, yes, so amazon probably got big companies on board by offering brand placement on their marketing material among other benefits.
2- Saving time (and cognitive flow/energy) benefits consumers, yes. There is some risk to follow brand reputation instead of product quality, agree, but that is a manageable risk, so amazon can potentially get consumers on board.
The essence and reason of why this product/service came to be, answers to one question only; 'How does amazon benefit?' and it is brilliant.
From my POV this little button is not just a way to introduce an enhanced experience to an existing and growing consumer behavior that would result in greater sales for amazon; more than a product they introduced a service/platform that can be seamlessly integrated to new home appliances, so amazon is effectively expanding its presence into a diverse and conveniently positioned custom/customizable 'points of sale' inside people's homes, making itself more and more ubiquitous as time goes by and more companies and individual innovators adopt their new service/platform, and their investment to accomplish this was little compared to the alternative of investing in manufacturing their own home appliances, but that's not brilliant, that's only natural and expected from a company like amazon.
It also places amazon's brand on not all but many people's minds as a high-tech high-quality home appliances brand by association to the actual home appliances brands, and amazon is not really manufacturing that kind of hardware (...yet), that's the brilliant part (an opportunity that they may or may never exploit, either because non-compete agreements or because it wouldn't make sense for their business plans or because Jeff Bezos decides not to because reasons, an opportunity nonetheless).
Its about the API and what new purchasing flows will be created by eager startups, resulting in new MRR for Amazon.
I really like that it ignores the repeated pushes.
> Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.
Another good use case is that I can head to the store as soon as I realize we're out of something, and by the time I get there, the list has everything else that she thought of.
Do this: pretend you own Tide. Do you want people pressing a button that sends you money for more tide, or do you want them going here: https://www.google.com/search?q=laundry+aisle&espv=2&biw=144...
When the time to complete tasks changes by an order of magnitude - even going from seconds down to milliseconds - our behavior tends to change. We easily accept this notion with developer related tasks such as compiling and testing. I don't see a difference here.
Now I come out with a new product where the entire pitch is, that build-and-compile you do once or twice a month now takes one second instead of ten! Oh, and it only works for one project. If you work on multiple projects, buy multiple products.
Would this be worthwhile? I don't see it.
Developer tasks like compiling and testing benefit from small efficiency gains because we do them constantly. Or the efficiency gains allow us to move from a model where we do them rarely to a model where we do them constantly. Neither one applies here. You won't buy detergent any more frequently with this button, and it's not something you do often.
- Wipe your hands from moisture/whatever you had on them.
- Find your phone in your pocket.
- Orient it.
- Unlock it.
- Exit whatever app you left running in the foreground.
- Open the app drawer.
- Find the ordering app.
- Click through several layers of UI to get to the right product.
And there's a bigger picture outside of comparing the convenience between using this little button as opposed to mobile apps, but that's off topic for this branch of the conversation, if you're interested IMHO & my brief reasoning, read this other brach (also because DRY).
(1): Optimally you realize you are about to run out of something before it happens.
I live in silicon valley where all these new delivery services are being tested, and I almost never go to the store. Google Shopping Express delivers non-perishable groceries to my home within 24 hours, Instacart delivers fresh groceries within 2 hours, and Amazon delivers everything else I need within 2 days. I really want to sign up for Amazon Fresh because they deliver perishables and everything else same day, but it's a little pricey.
I hate going to the store now (especially since our local market isn't very nice - I love a good market). For me it is a big chore. I work from home so I'm rarely even "driving by" the market.
Amazon, google, and others want to enable a world where no one goes to the store (and we all order from them). It's nice not having to go to the store. Your cute calculation of 4.3 minutes saved is making assumptions that totally don't apply to people like me. I don't want to take a 30 minute experience and shave ten seconds off, I want to eliminate the trips to the store entirely.
It's fine if you don't see the need for new products, but just because you don't see the need doesn't mean there isn't one. Not saying this product has a need (I feel like I can use my smartphone) but you've completely missed the big picture of deliveries for everything. In San Francisco you can get a bento box delivered in 15 minutes for $12, and I just got a flyer for dinners delivered starting at $8.
Everyone wants to do deliveries, and once they're done by robot it will be so cheap we'll all have it.
What I don't understand is button-for-delivery for uncommonly ordered items.
You want to order detergent online? Great! Me too! But why do you need a specialized button that only does that? That's the part that makes no sense.
It's also self-selecting: if you ARE searching for the absolutely lowest price, or are price sensitive, you're not the right target audience for this kind of tech or company :)
It -does- make sense if you take it as a way to introduce not a product ("specialized button") but a platform for long overdue and much needed innovation that some very influential people have started to fund and promote. It is not the only way to do it, but it is amazon's way to facilitate it and in the process get some market pioneering advantages. A company like amazon doesn't have the infrastructure to start building home appliances but it required little effort for them to contribute in a way that brings them great benefits. Smart move, amazon.
Because it's a tangible reminder that you need to buy new X and it removes all the barriers entirely to that. It's wildly convenient.
Might I remind you:
- Locate mobile device
- Swipe/Unlock mobile device
- Locate Safari App/Amazon app
- Tap and wait for Safari to load
- Access amazon.com
- Type in 'X'
- Locate results and click on option
- Press 'one click purchase' for irony
- Press a button.
Or are you just being hyperbolic?
I don't know about you, but I make a trip to the grocery store about 1.5x every week anyways. I definitely would never use an online food/grocery service; I prefer to see the lettuce I'm buying when I take it off the shelf.
So, given that I'm already at the grocery store something like 80 times a year, and assuming I need to buy more laundry detergent 5 times a year, that's 16 opportunities for me to not pay Amazon shipping and just pick up a jug of detergent when I'm going to be out shopping anyways.
Assuming this isn't an April 1 joke and I just got trolled, hard, this is definitely a solution in search of a problem.
What's your point? Neither of us knows which products are here to stay and which aren't.
If so, what happens when, say, your apples come bruised?
Me: these apples are bruised
Tesco man: sorry sir, let me refund that straight away. And keep the apples, you could make a pie with them.
Though in five years of online grocery shopping I've only returned a couple of items. The apples have made it all the way unbruised from New Zealand after all, four more miles is nothing.
That sounds like a much worse experience than simply going to the market and picking out unbruised apples.
Tough call, but I guess I'd rather pay less and get quality fruit every time.
Shopping takes maximum 45 minutes and I like browsing the different cuts of meat at the market and/or my local butcher.
Had you gone to the market you would not have bruised apples.
It is predictable enough (and with options for "always include" and "never automatically include") that we quite often don't bother adjusting the order.
My grocery shopping have never been less stressful.
I hadn't noticed that they help you to remember your order and try to deliver what you normally have. Is this automatic then. What happens if you are out of the country for a couple of weeks?
Is this kind of service not common in the US then? It seems to be massive in the UK now.
Did the early humans really need wheels, when they were already fit enough to run and carry weights?
You may make a trip to the grocery store about 1.5x every week, but I "never" go to the grocery store any more - it's all delivered. I can not imagine going back to shopping in person other than the odd "emergency" purchase.
More importantly to cover the various other uses I could see for this, such as printer toner, just the grocery store would be insufficient.
This is a solution in search of a different demographics than you. Like me.
Maybe that's your daily pattern, but for example in my case, this almost never happens. I just don't sit on my couch thinking about home maintenance; I have too much other, more interesting stuff to do. Phones have really annoying, user-hostile UI, so I don't even use mine much at home. They are good enough for commuting, when I can't really do anything else except maybe read a book, so I schedule tasks I can do from my spartphone for the to/from-work route.
If the use case was something like, push this button and dinner arrives, I'd say it's fantastic. If it was something like, push this button on your phone to re-order detergent, I'd say that's pretty sensible. But a physical button to order an infrequently ordered product makes no sense to me.
Even for Amazon it's cheap, and quickly pays for itself.
The line between physical and digital is blurring more every day.
Pretty much every other time the phone will be in my pocket and the value would be less. But even then it'd mean fishing my phone out, unlocking, starting an app instead of just pushing a button. Not torture by any means, but if I can just stick a button there and not have to think about it again, then awesome.
One of the primary rules of running a business is to make it as easy as possible for people to give you their money. This makes it ridiculously easy.
1. Find my iPhone (I don't carry it with me around the house)
2. Enter my PIN to unlock it
3. Open Safari
4. Navigate to Amazon.com
5. Type in their search bar and browse through the results
6. Click on the product I want
7. Add it to my cart
8. Go to check out and confirm settings (e.g. delivery speed)
9. Place order
It's actually way more cumbersome than it has to be.
When I'm in the privacy of my own home, and I'm not expecting guests, you'd be hard pressed to find me dressed at all, let alone in anything that has pockets ;)
But wait, how do you handle nudists?
Out of clean clothes today,
Also laundry detergent,
Imagine surprise face on UPS man when I open door.
Push button like a hamster
When I need something
out of detergent, as well.
Hi UPS man.
"Get me some clean clothes!"
From the description of it, I think the button wouldn't work if you don't carry a phone with you, as it depends on it.
There is a better solution than spreading branded landfill buttons across your house!
There was an article posted about usage of bands in Disney world. The idea is to have technology integrated with you such that the idea of interacting with a generic computer shouldn't exist.
Amazon have had a few "ridiculous" ideas (e.g. drone delivery, 1 hour delivery, pre-emptive shipping). I think they know these ideas are a stretch but it gets people thinking in a new way and out of it there may be a few more solid ideas. Product marketing by annealing if you will.
Is this like, what society wants though? Are we all here to be waited on hand and foot, have our every need taken care of? Do we end up being able to solve more real problems this way, or do we end in a dearth of imagination? Interesting implications - we either end up with a higher percentage of people being self-actualized or an idiotistopia a la wall-e and idiocracy.
I think I'm better off for the effort I put into things like buying detergent, walking to work and figuring out my way instead of using GMaps. It's not like I'd be worse off if I stopped doing any one of those things, but the lifestyle in aggregate where you have a button for everything does have an impact I think.
I have a hard time seeing how people can develop the schlep tolerance and planning skill to do something challenging and big if they can't remember to buy detergent.
I did eventually get mine back in February or so. The add to shopping list feature is very convenient. I don't see this obsoleting that Echo function which is much more general purpose. (Can add anything whether you get it from Amazon or somewhere else.)
Let's merge these two threads together and see which wins!
Buying groceries is a solved problem, mostly.
It takes more than 10 seconds to go to the store and get detergent. I suppose it'll save the 30 seconds it takes to order detergent on a phone, but the big gain is that it's RIGHT THERE so you can't forget to order it and then find yourself dead in the water and have to go to the store to get detergent instead of wait 2 days for amazon to deliver it.
As for the big gain being that it's right there, I figured everybody's phones are right there too. Apparently not everybody does that. Seems like if you really find this to be a problem, you could just keep your phone in your pocket.
Edit: and the answer is pretty clear, I think. If people actually go for this, it'll be a massive advantage for Amazon. It essentially banishes competition permanently for people who use the button regularly. It'll also make people much less price sensitive. So I completely understand why Amazon would try to push this. I just don't understand why anyone else finds it interesting besides that.
Could apps be better? Sure. Can any app get as good as a button that's already right there when you realize you need a replacement? I don't see how.
Eh about once every 2 months.
It's taken me 2 weeks so far to remember to get it. I go to the store almost daily. :(
> It's taken me 2 weeks so far to remember to get it. I go to the store almost daily. :(
This is a behavior that isn't going to change by having a thousand buttons all over your house. Maybe you won't ever worry about running out of detergent or dogfood again, but there's always something else. "Oh shit, I bought pasta for dinner but I forgot to buy pasta sauce!" What's the solution, get a pasta sauce button?
I see nothing wrong with dedicating a wall of my kitchen entirely to Amazon buttons for everything in my fridge and pantry. :)
As I mentioned in another comment, though, a better system would probably be to use some cheap, single-purpose wall-mountable tablet computer (probably e-Ink based, maybe even with a column of physical buttons instead of a touchscreen to bring costs down to a pittance) that one could load up with a list of products that need to be routinely reordered for a partiuclar room. If prices could be brought down considerably (if not free with Prime membership, as is being proposed for these Dash buttons), this could be pretty viable.
If I cannot check a list in 2 seconds of pulling out whatever said list is stored on, I am done.
I miss my old Palm. One push of the task list button and I could see what I needed to do next.
The choice is between having to remember to buy the product next time you go shopping, having to remember to order the product next time you are in front of the proper device, or not having to remember a thing.
Being able to move a task to 'done' as soon as it is recognized is a savings in cognitive load far more valuable than any time savings.
Then again, I am the type of person who frequently says "might as well do it now before I forget." Younger, more single people might not see the value in this sort of thing.
Clearly Amazon understands that human aspect, and credit to them for not getting stuck on the idea that if I have to go to the web site, they can up-sell while I'm there.
I don't get household supplies from Amazon now, but this is making me consider it just as soon as I've compared prices.
I suspect something similar was said by the horse owner the first time they saw a car.
There's an obvious reason Amazon is doing this: they're trying to continue to grow their share of the consumer's brain. When someone thinks about shopping, Amazon wants to be on the very short list of that thinking. So this button is a relatively inexpensive way to keep doing that. Get into someone's house, get into someone's mind, and try to show yourself as innovative.
With this system instead of adding an item to your list to process later it's processed immediately.
Perhaps you don't see the value in it, but that doesn't make it ridiculous. Why not just move along instead of complaining about a new option for those who do happen to appreciate it?
I'd use this. Every time I return from the store, there's always something I forgot to purchase. Yes, I so use a list. The problem is when, say, cooking, I actually focus on what I'm doing. When I'm running low on something, I don't rush to my phone to log it because it's an interruption that takes away from cooking (especially when there's a notification waiting for you). Amazon is providing an extremely low-friction solution that won't take your away from what you're focusing on.
I don't know how anyone actually remembers to do this. I know I don't. What inevitably ends up happening is that, despite making a bunch of trips to the store, at some point I'll discover that I'm out of dog food and make a purpose-specific trip to pick some up so my dog can eat. Later that day I'll remember, when I go to do laundry, that I'm also out of detergent. Then it will be dishwasher tablets.
Every bottle of Tide I buy at target also means amazon just lost out on a toilet paper sale and a paper towel sale and maybe some food if its a supertarget and all that other stuff target sells. Its not amazon selling a $20 bottle of tide but preventing the target sale of a $120 shopping cart full of junk.
Last month I had to go to store at least twice in the morning before work because we ran out of milk and my two year old was close to having mental breakdown without cereals for breakfast. We use combination of Google Shopping Express, Walmart and Safeway delivery services - they are godsend and save us enormous amount of time. Unfortunately Amazon Fresh is not available where we live.
Having one second ordering for regular staples will marketdly improve ordering process, especially if buttons are reliable and convinient to use.
It's definitely a common thing for me and my fiancee - we're not forgetful people, just busy. The less disruptions and banal activity in my life the better.
Why not order it on your phone at the moment you notice that you're running low? You can do that right now, without a special Amazon button.
The max personal tax rate is 47.2%, but that includes a 8.2% pension contribution.
It's hard to directly compare though, since we have really high excise taxes/VAT, especially for things like cars.
But I believe your employer pays an amount equal to about 20% of your gross income as pension fund payments. I don't know if USA has similar "hidden" costs which makes direct comparison of grass salary difficult.
"making the total Social Security tax 12.4% of wages and the total Medicare tax 2.9%."
You might get properly funded roads; that is if they don't squander it between the time they lie and promise to use it for that and when it comes time to do road repair.
I saw this old blog post recently, supporting your assertion: https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/us-r...
Basically, underground rail construction in US costs much more per kilometer than in other countries, and people in the comment section claim that the same holds true for other types of infrastructure construction, like bridges and highways.
If Germany's tax rate starts at 40% from 40,000 EUR and California from $200,000; those are not equivalent.
My marginal tax rate in the UK is 45% but I take home 75% of what I invoice.
Yes, there's a cost, but tax rates in the US aren't ultra low compared to every other country in the world.
It's not so much how much money you spend, but what you spend it on that is the real difference.
Add your health care costs to that 12% and I think you'll find Canada has the cheaper rate, and you still get to take advantage of many (not all) of the same credits a typical American can.
You're also forgetting that the US doesn't have a national sales tax or high taxes on gasoline.
I would agree that the highest tax states in the US aren't that different than the lowest tax states in Canada (income tax only), my own person experience tells me that the US, on average, has a much lower tax burden than countries like Canada. And many jobs pay a higher salary.
Also the US brackets kick in at higher incomes. In Canada the highest bracket (29%) is over $136K. In the US, the highest bracket is 35%, but it doesn't kick-in until you earn more than $375K per year.
I easily have more disposable income in the US than I did in Canada, even after taking into account insurance costs. Even living in a high-tax US state.
In other words, you aren't entitled to people's money with no strings attached; you have to work for it. Using institutionalized violence to get what you want is lazy and immoral.
I would rather be paid enough and have the choice of where to put my money, instead of the government making all of those choices for me.
There is something to be said about not being 100K in debt after getting your degree and not having to go bankrupt if say you were diagnosed with cancer in your early to mid 20's.
Sorry but i rather not to have parents have to work their arse off just to send me to college, or hope they have enough money to treat me if i get sick just as i fall of their coverage plan.
I also would like for my self or my wife to be able to go of work for a year and raise a child without having to be afraid of losing income or job security.
Welcome to HN, where some people think they just have to dislike everything they see on top to show how "unique" they are.
I think Amazon has the right idea. Just launch products and see how they go, what you learn, and if they stick. Very interesting company to watch operate.
Businesses want to sell tons of crap anyway, so I'm never surprised to see harsh (but often constructive!) criticism on these boards.
Sure, maybe if that's your mindset. Personally I love going and doing the grocery shopping with my kids, and they love noodling around the supermarket, helping select things from the shelves, and it's generally a good time.
The drive to crush every interaction beyond a screen flow that sticks money into Bezos' pocket, glorified by misanthropes under the banner of "efficiency" seems more like a vision of hell to me.
The rolls are smaller, the prices are higher. Actually do the comparison. Note that box stores rotate the sales weekly between the major brands, but they each go on sale in turn each month.
I see an opportunity there :)
The "dystopian consumer hell" is that humans spend their time making this crap instead of, you know, something that's not a complete waste of time and resources.