Thursday, May 04, 2006

They killed Mr. Softie

Here's some tired crap you hear a lot - it's one of those memes that people hear and pass on and on and on, without ever pausing to think about how fucking stupid they sound first off for repeating something verbatim which probably everybody has heard many times to begin with, secondly, for doing so in a complete mental vacuum in re: labor history:

Unions were fine organizations, 100 years ago. Back when the federal government was not addressing certain crucial labor issues, unions brought them into the public's view and created needed debate.

Today, however, unions do little but increase the costs of doing business. Sure, some select people benefit by earning more than they would otherwise get in a truly free market. But the majority suffers from higher prices and union corruption.

It's from here, but oh god it doesn't matter. Anyhow, I am on a mailing list for They have taken on the Quixotic task of getting techies to Unionize. Quixotic because among other things techies are anti-social creatures, so the whole getting together and organizing thing seems a bit absurd. Also because they are highly competitive, so the whole working for the common good thing seems a bit absurd. You could probably be a passable manager of techies just by insinuating to your various reports that 'employee X might do job Y better than you'. They would then bust their techie asses to prove you wrong. Anyhow.

Here's an article from a former Microsoftie, The WalMartization of Microsoft.

I left Microsoft to be a full-time parent to my newly adopted daughter in 2000. Since then, not only is the stock stagnant, but the wages and salaries are too. In fact, wages and salaries seem to have stagnated at the same time Microsoft hired a top Wal-Mart executive. That same executive has just been promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

Meanwhile, according to anonymous sources, managers at a recent Executive Retreat were encouraged to make everything like “Wal-Mart.” How deep will this exhortation go? Will wages continue to be stagnant and perhaps decline?

She goes on to reference Steve Ballmer's advice to fire 6.5% of your staff every year. That might actually please 'Who da'Punk', the individual behind Mini-Microsoft, a blog with this mission statement:

Let's slim down Microsoft into a lean, mean, efficient customer pleasing profit making machine! Mini-Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft, lean-and-mean!

Sounds good on paper, but who is he kidding? You can't go back to the garage. Once a company reaches a certain size, all it can do is hang on and make modest but safe gains, picking up new products by buying out little guys here and there, hopefully without accidentally destroying them with your hamfisted clumsy big fucking corporation hands, and eventually you just die. In the meantime, the blog is an interesting window into Microsoft, as many Microsoft type folks vent spleen within (here's the big revelation - middle management: not good!), and it's also a good source of Schadenfreude for Microsoft-bashers or maybe just people who wished they worked someplace of significance.

For the record, I actually like a lot of Microsoft products. XP, which I'm using now, SQL Server, I even think C# is pretty cool despite the Java resemblance. I got no personal beef with Microsoft. I'd get much more Schadenfreudic enjoyment seeing Oracle or Sun go down the toilet, actually. Larry Ellison's role in life seems to be making Steve Ballmer seem all cuddly and Care Bear like.

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