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Shutting down the idiots

!!! WARNING -- RANT AHEAD !!!

Am I alone in having visions of getting all the lame, worthless companies out there put out of business?  Call me vengeful, but I for one am sick and tired of the plethora of businesses, usually small mom-and-pop shops, that flutter about and continue to do business when their environments are utter shit, and by rights they should be closing up shop?

You know the kind of businesses I'm talking about - the ones that don't want to hire staff but "automate" everything to keep as few people on the payroll as possible; the ones who spend nothing on their IT operations and then complain when it's shit, the ones who demand the world from overworked one-man IT departments and then fire the poor guy when he gets burned out from being a programmer/network admin/dba/helpdesk all in one; the ones who don't care about putting a single cent into the business but focus on starting as many businesses as they can to ensure that they and their family gets a quick buck and to hell with everyone else; the ones who stay on legacy technology from 20 years ago because they're too cheap and stupid to upgrade their systems; the ones who freely pirate software because they think that it "costs too much" for licenses.

And yet these places thrive, and stay in business, and even get newspaper articles written about what a great pillar of the community they are, when in fact they're piles of shit run by morons and used cars salesmen-like hucksters who don't even understand their own business model apart from "I want to make lots of money".

If only it wasn't illegal to ruin the infrastructure of places like this, because God knows they deserve it.  Companies like these are a toxic cesspit that ruins people's careers, and yet for some unknown reason they continue to exist.  I've had the opportunity to turn some places in for violating MS license agreements, and I've always been talked out of it by friends who bring up the "karma" rule (i.e. what goes around comes around).  What I want to know, though, is where is the karma for these shit companies that exist doing the bare minimum and skirt ethical and legal rules all the time?  Where is the karma for the small business owner who is little more than a tyrant and treats his employees like slaves, and who only started a business so he can be "the Boss" and not for any legitimate reason?  The guy who has a business and just kind of flies by the seat of his pants because he doesn't understand his own market and has no desire to as long as he gets some $$$?  Where is the karma for the person who gets all of his computers second-hand from a flea market to save a few bucks and hires one person to do the job of 5, but is lauded by the newspaper for the great service his company provides, even though he pays barely above minimum wage but has a Ferrari himself?

Where is the karma for these people?  Why are they allowed to be successful and profitable when they refuse to put that effort into their business and employees, and good people are forced to toil away for an idiot, making him rich, while getting paid shit in return? 

The only way for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing - and as long as people do nothing to get these shitty companies shut down, they continue to thrive.
Not giving my name for this post, for obvious reasons
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Oh my. Are you, by chance, stuck in one of these places right now?
AaronL Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>Where is the karma for these people?

Oh it is there.  Why do you think they are still running rinky dink outfits, instead of growing into large respectable businesses?
Brian
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>> Why do you think they are still running rinky dink outfits, instead of growing into large respectable businesses?

Fair enough point, but I don't consider that karma; most of these folks don't care about growing into "large respectable businesses", all they want is to make a quick buck to live like a king.  IMO "karma" would be them going out of business instead of reinforcing the idea that you CAN run a "successful" (technically speaking, successful as in make the owner money) business on a shoestring, without putting money into it and with treating workers like serfs.
Not giving my name for this post, for obvious reasons
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
"Where is the karma for the small business owner who is little more than a tyrant and treats his employees like slaves, and who only started a business so he can be "the Boss" and not for any legitimate reason? "

The "slaves" in those companies can quit.  Also, many business owners start a company for the power IE: being "the boss".  I see no problem with it.

"The guy who has a business and just kind of flies by the seat of his pants because he doesn't understand his own market and has no desire to as long as he gets some $$$?"

Eventually, somebody that does understand his market will put him out of business.  It's only a matter of time.

"Where is the karma for the person who gets all of his computers second-hand from a flea market to save a few bucks and hires one person to do the job of 5, but is lauded by the newspaper for the great service his company provides, even though he pays barely above minimum wage but has a Ferrari himself?"

I blame the IT worker willing to work for pennies and not just quitting.  It hurts the rest of us trying to find a job, because business owners expect everyone to work for pennies. 

You want to blame business owners when you should be blaming people for letting themselves get into those situations willingly.  Also, in this economic climate, most people should be happy they even have a job.
john B.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>The only way for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing - and as long as people do nothing to get these shitty companies shut down, they continue to thrive.<

If they are making you miserable, don't work for them.  If they are actually breaking some law, report them to the authorities.  If they are surviving in business, even though they don't have the same business smarts as you (in your humble opinion), get over it.  In fact, if the part that really bothers you is that they are making a living doing what they do, maybe you should copy them.  I don't think any of us are qualified to be the benign dictator who tells everyone how to live their lives.
RGlasel Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
"Where is the karma for the person who gets all of his computers second-hand from a flea market to save a few bucks and hires one person to do the job of 5, but is lauded by the newspaper for the great service his company provides, even though he pays barely above minimum wage but has a Ferrari himself?"

You know, the karma is that he didn't waste the money on computers, so he bought a Ferrari.

Other people have other priorities from you.

If it bugs you this much don't do business with them. Obviously it doesn't bug their existing customers that much.
Katie Lucas
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Wow, you have issues, dude.

"I for one am sick and tired of the plethora of businesses, usually small mom-and-pop shops, that flutter about and continue to do business when their environments are utter shit, and by rights they should be closing up shop"

If the continue to do business, why should they be closing up shop? Usually businesses should close up shop when they aren't making money

"You know the kind of businesses I'm talking about - the ones that don't want to hire staff but "automate" everything to keep as few people on the payroll as possible; the ones who spend nothing on their IT operations and then complain when it's shit, the ones who demand the world from overworked one-man IT departments and then fire the poor guy when he gets burned out from being a programmer/network admin/dba/helpdesk all in one; the ones who don't care about putting a single cent into the business but focus on starting as many businesses as they can to ensure that they and their family gets a quick buck and to hell with everyone else; the ones who stay on legacy technology from 20 years ago because they're too cheap and stupid to upgrade their systems; the ones who freely pirate software because they think that it "costs too much" for licenses."

In my experience, this behavior describes a wide range of companies from small to huge.

"And yet these places thrive, and stay in business, and even get newspaper articles written about what a great pillar of the community they are, when in fact they're piles of shit run by morons and used cars salesmen-like hucksters who don't even understand their own business model apart from "I want to make lots of money"."

What should their business model be? Make everything perfect for the staff and go out of business while doing it, thereby not having jobs for anybody?

"I've had the opportunity to turn some places in for violating MS license agreements, and I've always been talked out of it by friends who bring up the "karma" rule (i.e. what goes around comes around).  What I want to know, though, is where is the karma for these shit companies that exist doing the bare minimum and skirt ethical and legal rules all the time? "

Knowingly letting people steal is good karma? It sounds like your friends are idiots. Why don't you start stealing from these "friends" you have. See how they feel about it. Start small with a can of beans or something. See how far you can go before they do something about it. I'll bet you can at least get their cell phones and call all the 900 numbers you want before they even lift a finger

"started a business so he can be "the Boss" and not for any legitimate reason?"

What's a more legitimate reason? Sounds good to me.

"as long as people do nothing to get these shitty companies shut down, they continue to thrive. "

Um, if you are in the US nobody is forcing you to work anywhere. Almost all employment is at will. If the company offers a product or service people don't want and nobody works there to help provide said service or product, then the business will eventually fold.

If every company somebody thought was "shitty" for whatever reason was just arbitrarily shut down, it would be awful hard to have any businesses whatsoever. No business is perfect. I would suggest you try running one some time to get an idea of the multitude of issues business owners face. It sounds like you have been living most, if not all, of your life taking paychecks form other people, which is fine, but it hardly makes you qualified to deem when a business should be closed. Not providing employees with cool toys to play with at work certainly isn't a reason.

The vast majority of the business owners I know personally do not have any of the character traits you mention. When things are tough, they are the first, and usually only, ones to take a pay cut.  As much as you are complaining about running an IT department on a shoestring, the only reason they hire an IT guy at all is because it might be the one thing they can't do themselves. The owner is likely handling sales, payroll, inventory, some or all of the customer support and a myriad of other issues that you, as the poor overworked IT guy don't have a clue about.  I'm sure if you had to run things you would quickly become one of the moron shitheads you talk about or, much more likely, go out of business, have to go back to work for "The Man" and you can happily go on whining about how everybody else is doing everything wrong.

Anyway, this is one hell of a rant. Hope it made you feel better. Sounds like you had a bad day.
Bart Park Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
"Where is the karma for these people?  Why are they allowed to be successful and profitable when they refuse to put that effort into their business and employees, and good people are forced to toil away for an idiot, making him rich, while getting paid shit in return?"

Most good, smart people don't toil away and get shit in return.  They leave and get paid what they are worth. 

"The only way for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing - and as long as people do nothing to get these shitty companies shut down, they continue to thrive."

Sorry, the world doesn't work this way.  Everything you described is legal.  If you don't like the way a company does business, don't work for them and don't bu their products.
john B.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Next time you see a business pirating software; Turn them in. Their Karma will come soon enough.
Wells
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
NGMNFTPFOR > I for one am sick and tired of the plethora of businesses, usually small mom-and-pop shops, that flutter about and continue to do business when their environments are utter shit, and by rights they should be closing up shop?

If you can do better - not necessarily much better - , there's an opportunity right there to start your own business and steal their customers.
ZeFred
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
If we shut down the idiots, who's going to employ their now-unemployed workers?  Or pay the taxes for all the unemployment that'll have to be laid out? 

If nothing else,  they're idiot enought to own a business and employ people.  Having been a supervisor/manager several times, I'm content to work for someone else for now - even smart employees can drive you nuts and kudos to anyone that wants to put up with it.

As many people have already stated - if you don't like them, don't work for them.
a former big-fiver Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Totally with you on this - use glassdoor.com, twitter and blog the truth and tell all your friends.

I have no idea what keeps (small and large) companies afloat when they treat employees and customers like crap.
Cade Roux Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
+ 1 to ZeFred and to Cade Roux

Their posts also describe ways in which karma can be inflicted upon worthless small firms.
Wells
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
I have to agree with others, the REAL idiots are the ones that stay at such scamshops.  I've even had the displeasure of working for one for a short while (shortest job in my career) and I have to agree with others, I don't blame the scam artist, I blame the people who stay.
TravisO Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
If these companies are so horrible, go into business as their competitor and do things the way you want. If your methods are so far superior you will drive your competitors out of business and make a small fortune in the process.

Or you could just complain loudly and do nothing.
January 21, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
One thing I've noticed about business culture is that all companies talk themselves up. It's fairly easy to get roped into working at one of these places, particularly if you are desperate, because even the really bad places will have an inflated self image and they will bring you into their reality distortion field. The worst places all describe themselves very positively as progressive, advanced, cutting edge, etc.

What you need to do is to NOT pay much attention to what an employer says about themselves. In other words, treat gigs and permanent jobs just as employers regard YOUR OWN representation of your abilities: subject to actual proof.  Because most businesses lie about themselves and even when they don't outright lie, they are practicing self deception. Observe how they operate, and make your own determination.

The fact is that non technology businesses use technology as a means to an end and they don't care if it's any good. If a customer doesn't know any better, then that is OK with them. Even a virus laden, crashing PC has some value inside their office because they can do *some* work on it.

The bottom line is that in an office where the network or the computers are regarded about as highly as the lawn care service or the bottled water delivery, there is usually *nothing* good for a technology professional.
Long Time Contractor
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
PS: if these places are making their current customers happy, then good luck "shutting them down".
Long Time Contractor
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Move to a big bureaucratic company.  Maybe you'll like that better.

Hint: all jobs have problems.

Your legal/ethical points are valid, but the rest of the stuff is just whining.
Milo
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
I actually see the OP's point - the fact that the owners of these companies are rewarded (via having a "successful" business) is IMO disgusting and just reinforces the fact that it's okay to cut corners wherever necessary and look, you can STILL end up rich.

It's not so much that they're "idiots" but that it shows the world that you can not pay people shit, treat them like dirt, not know a damn thing about your business domain and yet make money and be successful.
Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
It's not that simple.
For a company, being profitable or for an entrepreneur being rich are not the sole purposes.

Tim O'Reilly recently blogged on this here http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/01/work-on-stuff-that-matters-fir.html

I myself would add few things.

Schools teach that the purpose of management is to keep the company profitable in the medium-long term. In this way they can produce value for every stakeholder; that's ultimately good for the society in a whole.  Companies like those described above tend to have a very short sighted management so produce value in the short term just for few.

The cycle "build the company, squeeze it, close the company, up again" offers a very small contribution to make an economy solid. It may be assimilated to speculation: a small dose may be normal but excess is harmful for everyone.

Companies like these tend not to invest but to concentrate on short term roi. This "hit & run" style of management prevents from having consistent R&D plans. The combined mass of R&D produces "technology" (in a broad sense), and technology is what keeps the western world afloat; it is what pushes back Chinese and Islamic Fundamentalists till they'll learn the rules of tolerance and civilized cohabitation. Shops like these do not contribute to this function.

Finally, from an ethical point of view, who is given the most has the highest responsibility because, unlike the less gifted, he can act and make things change more efficiently. Focusing only on personal income at the expenses of the employees' life quality is an act of selfishness at minimum. Sucking resources from a company and pouring the whole of them into something unproductive not only sinks value but shows no interest whatsoever to the others.

My 2c
Stray Cat Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
- Stealing code
Many companies sell commercial applications and steal GPL code. You see commits with  GPL license headers. Who cares? I don't but I don't steal code Open Source code myself.

- My company, your home
Don't get too much involved into those "social activities". You are not to spend all your time and your life at work or talking about work. You have probably more interesting things to do outside or at home.

- Overtime for bug fixes or releases
We need to get this done by tonight? And yet I wonder, who will be using it tonight? :-). The boss announced it before consulting  the guy who will doing the real work? Just let the guy know that you have something else to do, big smile and wish the man a good night.

- Multitasking
Time to time, you have that boss willing to make you do your job and his job too. What do you think about doing this? My answer is always "I think it is great!". The guy would take all the credit of my ideas anyway.

- Evil manager
You always have that manager trying to stress you out for no real reason.  He wants you to know he's the man and that there'll be no slacking. "Yeah baby, I'll come again in 20 minutes to ask you that very same question... is it done? Why isn't it done?".  Simple answer "Windows is acting strange today, I probably have a virus". There's no point trying to discuss with that man. Stupid question = Stupid answer.

- Incompetent manager
Most IT managers don't understand anything about technology or act as if. "We have to deliver that feature which is similar to Windows Update by the end of the month". I just tell myself "Another funny guy" and I answer "Absolutely" :-). If the guy can't tell that it's not possible or doesn't want to hear it, I don't care that much anyway.

- If you work hard... yeah right...
A good chair and "Nice work" doesn't cut it, especially if you're expected to work hard. If it's not about money or promotion, then what is it about? When you see that there's no way to get advance in a company, there's no point in working hard.

Ok nice speech but the point is?
You shouldn't get irritated about "the idiots". Keep it business, it is nothing personal. Some are at the office to work and some others to spend time. You work to make a living, not the opposite.  If you can't tolerate it anymore, leave whenever you can.
Eric Patterson Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Idiots are everywhere: big companies, small companies, everything in between.  Do you think all those morons you went to high school with just *disappeared*?  No, they need a job, just like you do.

20% of the people do 80% of the work.  The rest are just there forwarding emails and adding little value.  In some cases, they create *negative* value because they're introducing communications overhead, asking the wrong questions, and giving the wrong answers.

I'm convinced you could downsize corporate america by 20 or 30% and net productivity would actually *increase*, once we got past the morale issues.
Trim the fat
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
You are right in pointing out employment is at will in your neck of the woods. Furthermore, the reflex of not taking the crap and quitting is the right attitude.
However, there is a lot of water between "slavery in sweatshops" and "an employee nirvana". It could be the company the OP described is just one of a handful of similar outfits that are the only IT opportunities in that region. You might suggest he moves or changes industries, but that might not be feasible options.

Normally regulation exists to prevent the extremes. Minimal wage, workplace conditions, working hours, vacation rights, maternity leave, ... to protect the employee from what could be an overall race to the bottom. In certain situations even getting the regulation enforced could be a very daunting, if not near impossible, endeavor. At least in Europe unions were formed long ago to protect the rights of employees through mutual support.

IT workers so far have not had to face serious hardship, and as such have never had the need yet to fall back on such instruments. General contempt for the need of collective organization is the norm in our industry. This might be more a reflection of the cushy ride we have enjoyed so far.
Vee
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
I'll quote what Deep Throat said to Bob Woodward:  "Follow the Money."

If you really want to devote time and energy to shutting these businesses down, instead of building up a decent business of your own,  you need to find out what keeps them in business.

Where do they get their money from?  Is it mostly from clients, or is it mostly from venture capitalists?  Do the people who provide the money regret it later on, or are they happy with the result?  Is there a way of reeducating clients or investors so that they will stop providing money, based on their own interests?

The reason I base it on their own interests is that that's how you get people to really follow through.  If the clients and investors of idiot companies are getting screwed,  they can be persuaded to stop supporting the idiot businesses.  Without support, those businesses will wither.

Trying to shut down the supply of serfs willing to work for them or trying to prevent them from stealing software is like holding back the flood.  You don't have the resources to do that.

The current economic climate favors your objective.  Millions of tiny businesses will be shut down in the next two years.  A large fraction of them will be idiot businesses.
Walter Mitty Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
IME most of these small shitty companies stay in business through sheer force of will - the owner continues to pump money into it just so they *have* a business to lord over, and the company usually does barely enough business to squeak by/break even and puts on a good facade to appear as a legitimate business and not a mickey mouse organization like it truly is.

In many cases, I wonder why these companies even have customers at all - they don't provide a really great service and usually cut lots of corners on the services they DO provide to keep operating costs low, or they go the Circuit City (pre-bankruptcy, obviously) route and do nothing different than their competitors, yet they're are 10x smaller (one place I worked at used their competitor's software for years to process things for their customers and then tried to reverse-engineer it when they got tired of paying the money for it) and think they're a "big boy" and can compete/overtake the market.

The main issue that I see is far too many businesses whose owners want to "play" at running a business; they just want to be the "boss" and not really take the time or effort to build a successful business; so long as it brings in enough money to pay for that Ferrari or mansion, then it's good enough and who needs to pay employees a decent wage or pay for decent equipment?  Family-owned companies are the worst in this regard, IMO.  The whole business is usually a sham fly-by-night operation that exists only so the family can live richly.
Observer
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
Counter this with someone who starts a business on the side and tries to get it to grow to where they don't have to be in the office to manage it (taking a page from "The Four Hour Workweek") so they can pursue other things with the revenue from the business, as opposed to someone who "runs" a business (badly, usually) just so they can be the boss.

It's insanely funny when these struggling businesspeople will forget about one business and start up ANOTHER business, and then another, and then start non-profits and social networks while their initial business flounders and hovers on the bankruptcy line.  These are exactly the kind of "idiots" that I think the OP is talking about - the ones who don't care about running a business or seeing it work, they just have a ton of crackbrained ideas and try to "change the world" when they're a nobody.
Observer
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
Years ago, I had interviewed at a small but very profitable Hedge Fund. They had a technical consultant in a few days a  week. But, i was to be the first real IT person. And yes, I would have been a programmer/network administrator/desktop support/dba . I had 2 interviews, but never really followed up on that position.

My point: LEAVE!
Patrick From An IBank Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
This does not apply only to small biz.
For example a lot of the still operating banks are completely dysfunctional in terms of infrastructure and how they manage IT.
One example is LEH who was mismanaging it's internal flow of information so badly it never new accurately how toxic it's book was.
And btw if it would be so easy to get a ferrari and a mansion we would be all doing it.
Any place small and large has internal systems who do not coexist peacfully.
WagTheDog Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
I agree 100% with the OP.  Every company I've worked for has been this small, "playing at running a business" type of company that astounds me how they routinely get customers and manage to stay in business when the owner(s) clearly just want to reap the rewards without expending any effort at all to, you know, actually RUN a business.

Sometimes I really wish it was legal to hack these morons and delete their database, for example, so that they would be forced to close their doors, because they don't deserve to remain in business without putting funds into growing a business.
Lost
Monday, January 26, 2009
 
 
These "idiot" companies sound exactly like the place  I currently work for... so the OP certainly gets my sympathy for dealing with companies like this. 

Count me in the group who fantasize about doing something to put these loser companies out of business; it's just too bad they're just fantasies, because I've worked for a lot of companies that should never have been able to stay in business.
The horns hold up my halo :)
Monday, January 26, 2009
 
 

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