How To Stifle Innovation

During the late 1990s I was living in California and managing a large multi-national project for a French company. France (unlike the US and UK) is one of the few western countries where an engineering education is highly valued, and they turn out a lot of good engineers.

Unfortunately, France has very regressive labour laws (35 hrs/week max) which stifle innovation and makes them unattractive to start ups. So many of the best French engineers wanted to get green cards and move to California, where they could  actually make money.

Now France is piling on with a 90% top tax rate, which will drive off any hope of innovation, and will also likely drive Ibrahimovic out of PSG. Similarly, California has implemented repressive taxes like AB-32 which are driving start ups to Texas.

Government leaders like Barack Obama and Jerry Brown understand nothing about business, and simply see short term opportunities to steal money from anywhere they can.

For the good of the planet, of course.

During that time I was flying to the UK several times a month, and was astounded by the warm winters they were having. I had little doubt that global warming was real, and that snow was a thing of the past. At least until Robbie Burns night in 2003, when I got stuck on the train between London and Cambridge due to heavy snow.

Feb 09, 2003

During the past few days snow has fallen in the eastern parts of the United Kingdom. It is not an uncommon phenomenon in the winter, but it brought parts of the country to an uncomfortable standstill. Conditions on the M 11, one of the major motorways, which runs from London to Cambridge, were chaotic. Motorists spent up to 15 hours unable to move, and with virtually no help from the emergency services.

The Hindu : Ammunition to the cynics

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13 Responses to How To Stifle Innovation

  1. gator69 says:

    I was born in France and had dual citizenship until I turned 18, and my family still has friends there It has been a long slow sad story watching family fortunes, built over generations, confiscated by socialist know and build nothings.

  2. GW says:

    “France (unlike the US and UK) is one of the few western countries where an engineering education is highly valued, and they turn out a lot of good engineers.”

    This brings a tear to my eyes. As a former engineer in the utility industry, we have been crapped on for at least two decades (why I retired). While it is a great education – proving you can think logically and solve problems – the profession seems to be as valued as used car sales, and I advise anyone who asks my opinion of it to avoid it.

  3. That’s why I don’t employee staff any more. Everyone I use (except for existing staff) will now be contractors. Why would I employee staff when –

    * I have to cover their “pensions” (9% of wages, to be moved up to 12% with no explanation from Government on where I’m to get the extra 3% from).

    * I have to pay for their accident insurance, etc.

    * i have to pay for their holidays, sick days, long service leave, etc.

    * It’s difficult to fire them and I could potentially be dragged before government bodies if I tried to.

    * Added pressure on me to be responsible for their livelihoods…

    Sorry, no incentive for me to do this any more. Yes, contractors cost more, but the extra costs are worth it because they manage themselves and I only pay for results.

  4. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1950’s, when America in general, and Detroit in particular, were at the pinnacle of world prosperity. We had a heckuva run through the 1950’s and 1960’s. While Detroit was always prosperous then, you could never say it was beautiful. Engineering was a valued profession then. By the late 1970’s, union greed, government “help”, and management incompetence and cowardice had started the slow descent into the bottom.

    One cannot blame the “white devil”, Republicans or George Bush as the chain of mayors starting with Jerome Cavanaugh in 1962 (last white mayor of Detroit), through the corrupt, profane, and incompetent Coleman Young, and ending with most of the recent mayors in jail, were all black Democrats. More than 45 years of incompetent leadership, if you can call it that.

    The unions were forever on strike. To get them back to work, the clueless management did not offer them the wages they wanted; rather, they offered pension increases that did not really affect current costs and profits. It was impossible to maintain disclipline or quality in the plants as it was impossible to fire anyone. By 1971 when I left Chevrolet Gear and Axle (long gone now), there had been 5 shootings that year. INSIDE the plant!

    The blame I have for management is for not standing up to the unions when they had the chance, telling the government to get the hell out of private business and no upholding their primary responsibility: protecting shareholder value and dividends. By the second oil price shock in the 1980’s, it was all over.

    I moved to California in 1980. At the time, it was the land of opportunity, especially for technology companies and the engineers they hired by the tens of thousands. If California were a country, it would have had the 5th largest economy in the world. The weather was great, work was plentiful, the money provided a great lifestyle, the living was easy and government had a light touch on the private economy. As with all good things, the socialists are drawn like magnets to prosperous places where they act as leeches on the real, productive economy. By the early 21st century, excessive, suffocating, incompetent government, along with illegal immigration had killed that golden goose too.

    For the last two years, I have lived in Shenzhen, China. I do not look forward to learning Chinese at 61 years old, but I am in a country where the government does not promise much, the people do not expect much from them, and they government delivers on the few promises they make. There are no unions here. People realize that they have to work for a living as the makers will not take care of the takers. While there are plenty of problems here too as with anywhere, I find it ironic and sad (for America) that the Chinese people of today have more self reliance and other “American” values that I was taught as a young boy in the 1950’s and 1960’s than the good little socialist drones of present day America.


  5. Funny how human societies move forward and grow powerful and influential while they are led and managed by innovators, engineers and entrepeneurs who understand ‘trade’ and engineering, and wither and die as the accountants, lawyers and ‘managers’ push aside the people who actually do the real work …

    The MBA ‘I’m a manager’ culture has a great deal to answer for.

    • Read “Parkinson’s Law”. Succinctly stated (as Parkinson did), it is “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The underlying human conditions behind that law (also as given by Parkinson, so long ago now, as “almost axioms”) are: “An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals”; and “Officials make work for each other”. The reader of Parkinson is astounded that it has nothing to do with the real work, once the “organization” men get hold of the enterprise, and also that Parkinson’s wit so often fits the reality of organizations (including presidential administrations) so well.

  6. jeremyp99 says:

    75% top rate in France since Hollande I think. Still ridiculous.

    Given Zlatan’s KNOW income from PSG AFTER tax is €11 million, I think he’ll probably stay :-|))

    I’m pretty sure that we as a species are as dumb as it gets. A prime factor in this belief is that people keep electing Leftists governments. Those who do not learn from history…

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