Weekly Roundup: You Get The Minimum for the MAX Edition

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 costs $134,900,000 — that’s about half of the price tag for an F-22 Raptor, but it’s five times as much as you’d pay for an Embraer 175 super-sized regional jet. Given that American Airlines was paying $48.4 million each for 737-800 jets a decade ago, you’d expect that the MAX 10 offers a lot of additional utility and capacity to go along with that significantly increased price. What you would not expect: that much of the software responsible for keeping the big little Boeing in the air was developed in Chennai, India at a cost of $9/hour.

But it was.

Boeing is a “Top 50 Diverse Company” according to for-profit diversity consultants DiversityInc. It paid its CEO more than $30 million while paying nearly that much in direct lobbying. The company knows all the right people, babbles all the correct platitudes, and greases all the right palms. But this gleaming Current Year facade hid a deadly rot beneath.

In 2010, Boeing opened a “Center Of Excellence” in Chennai. Those readers who are familiar with the Orwellian inversion of modern corporate communications will have no difficulty figuring out that the “center of excellence” was, in fact, a way to drastically cut costs while putting American programmers out of work. In the case of the 787 Dreamliner, an Indian consulting company offered to perform all the coding work for free in exchange for payments once the plane was successful. When Boeing wasn’t getting the work for free, it was paying between $5 and $9 an hour to “skilled engineers” from India.

It is reasonable to ask: Why pinch pennies on a nine-figure aircraft? In some cases, it was about more than that. Boeing invested billions into Indian software companies and was rewarded in turn with orders for Indian airlines which had previously favored Airbus. You see, Indian companies lack the enlightened attitude of the “global citizens” who run American firms. They like to incentivize doing business with their countrymen. They like to hire their countrymen, even when doing so violates American law. In short, they’re patriots — in much the same way that American C-suite leaders are not.

The orders from India didn’t really amount to that much, however — eleven billion dollars. The costs associated with grounding the 737 MAX aircraft will easily eclipse that, even if you don’t bother to include the opportunity costs of having your most popular airplane acquire a reputation for falling out of the sky. So it wasn’t really a quid pro quo situation. What was it?

Why, it was profit. Every penny was squeezed out of the $134 million 737 MAX in the name of profit. This is how we do business in the United States now. Shareholder value is paramount. An entire generation of investors is now retired and expecting their investments to carry them all the way to the grave in style. They are remarkably ruthless about maximizing short-term gain, for obvious reasons. Boeing gave them that, quadrupling stock price in the three years from 2016 to 2019. Well, the lizard people will now have to give some of those paper gains back.

Bloomberg isn’t the only outlet reporting on the disintegrating situation at Boeing. The aggressiveness with which the company pursued cultural and political goals while simply ignoring or outsourcing all the hard parts of airplane design and manufacture is not entirely unreminiscent of an Ayn Rand polemic-novel. How long will it be until someone patiently explains to the American taxpayer that Boeing is “too big to fail”, that it must be propped up by American tax money which will then be sent to Chennai and elsewhere?

This MAX fiasco feels like a personal insult to your humble author, who transferred his childhood loyalty from the L-1011 “Whisperjet” to Boeing aircraft once Lockheed abandoned the civilian sector. Whenever I fly Delta, I always check the “equipment” of the flight in question. If there’s a choice between flights, I’ll take the one with the American aircraft. A few years ago, I spent a fair amount of money to send my son across the country in the Delta One cabin of a Boeing triple-seven just so he could have the experience of flying on something besides a regional jet or a plain-Jane 737-200 — what he called a “regular travel plane” when he was six years old, because all of his flights up to that point had been on Southwest.

I used to say, mostly in jest, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going.” Given the number of people whose travel plans were sledgehammered by the 737 MAX debacle, perhaps Airbus should update their slogan from the tepid “Setting the standards” or “We make it fly”. May I suggest: “Airbus: We’re not Boeing, which means you’ll still be going on that trip.”

* * *

This week, Brother Bark asks us to treat a reader as a friend.

For Hagerty, I suggested an X-Cadillac and ranked the best C7 Corvettes for sale today.

56 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: You Get The Minimum for the MAX Edition”

  1. Avatar-Nate

    Well said .

    I always refer to Southwest Airline as “Cattle Car Air” and hope to never again be forced to fly in one .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      Until you go into business class or first class, neither of which Southwest has, they are ALL cattle cars, one small step up from a bus. I fly with other big name airlines when I have to, and the boarding process, seating and amenities are negligibly, if that, better.
      One thing you CAN count on with Southwest; the flight will be full. I sometimes think if there are a few empty seats, they go out into the concourse and try to talk people into taking that flight.

      Reply
        • Avatar-Nate

          The last time I flew was right after mom’s funeral, my family got in that last dig by abandoning me in the pouring ran miles from the airport (I’d ridden across America in a car to get there), I walked three miles to the light rail getting soaked to the bone and rode it to Logan, bought a 1st. class ticket and had a pretty nice flight ~ it’s nothing like 1st class in the 1960’s & 1970’s but the seat was roomy and I didn’t have to smell last month’s vomit and feces ground into poorly cleaned cloth seats and the toilet wasn’t a plastic booth in the middle of the aircraft with a curtain instead of a door…. it was clean too .

          The Stews were nice too, got me something to drink and then let me sleep my way home, no babies crying, no fat women braking the seat in front of/next to me, no side passenger who doesn’t understand soap and water or snort cocaine all the way etc….

          Yes, it broke my budget but I’d rather take a train or ride the ‘Hound than fly cattle car air again .

          -Nate

          Reply
          • Avatardave

            You must not fly a lot. Southwest is the safest airline in the world and has good on time ratings which is what I care about. Crappy boarding process > delayed on the tarmac in first class

          • Avatardave

            Again, you obviously don’t fly a lot. Southwest is essentially a mid-tier airline at this point, considering the existence of Spirit, Frontier, and ‘basic’ fares introduced by the legacy carriers. Being able to bring two bags and a carryon now costs a lot extra on virtually every other carrier.

          • Avatarsabotenfighter

            Yeah, SW isn’t too bad, but the boarding process sucks. It also feels much more like a bus than other regionals. Then again, I rarely fly within the US. Most of my flights are international, and so far the worst experiences have been on American airliners (packed with backwoods Chinese tourists). Worst regional experience was with Jetstar. Pretty cheap flights, but the seats have about 2in of pitch. They are absolute nazis about carry-on bag weight, going so far as carrying around a scale and measuring each bag. Their web check-in rarely works. Last time I flew with them, we sat on the tarmac for 2 hours, then were told our flight was cancelled. Deboarded, got a 500 yen (about $4) food ticket for the airport as compensation (not enough to even get a drink at any place there). Had to wait 8 hours for the next flight.

          • Avatar-Nate

            As I keep saying :

            I don’t enjoy being trapped in close with the great unwashed for hours at a time .

            Oddly enough, I often ride the bus when I’m in a new place just to get a feel for the place and populace .

            Of course there I can get off at the next corner…..

            One time I was O.K. but there was this guy who was clearly having an issue with me, the only White person on the bus, the next stop was right in front of Jordan Downs Housing Projects so I declined to disembark .

            Life goes on, how you choose to deal with it (or not) is your problem .

            -Nate

    • AvatarTyguy

      I used to think the same. Unfortunately the customer service of all the big American Airlines has gone down so much the last few years, Southwest is often my first choice. I have grown to appreciate that they don’t seem to nickel and dime and up sell the way everyone else does nowadays. On top of that the staff seems to be reasonably courteous, especially compared to United.

      Reply
  2. AvatarJustPassinThru

    What happened here, can be condensed into the story of many old corporations in the Western economy – not all, but many, American. They rose. They rose because they offered a quality product at a price which represented value.

    With time, management changed. They cut corners to increase their performance stats. Out of that, their product became substandard; customers went elsewhere; and the business was in free-fall.

    This is true of General Motors. It was true of Packard, which, small but debt-free, committed a colossal blunder in trying to shortcut a way to move past the purchase of Briggs, their body supplier, to Chrysler. They bought Studebaker, based on cooked books which should have been obvious.

    It was true of CSX Transportation, one of the four major railroads, which, after frantic merging and acquiring, has been trying to slowly put itself out of business for twenty years now. They will soon succeed, IMHO – I say that as a former employee of Conrail, one of its component railroads.

    It is true of Merck, the quiet pharma giant, which was a leader in research and social contribution for decades. New blood in the front office, cut corners…and out of that came crushing lawsuits. Now they’re trying to rebuild as crony-corporatists.

    Boeing. As with Chrysler buying AMC, Boeing, purchasing McDonnell-Douglas, was apparently taken over from within. And not by old MD-D people either, but by the young climbers.

    Boeing’s cautious attitude of over-engineering and redundancy, was apparently discarded. As was honest structuring of the platform – the Max8 should have been a new airframe, so many changes were made to compensate for the different size and characteristics of the new engines. But they were cutting corners from Day One on this project.

    And this is what comes of it. I don’t see how Boeing survives this. Nor will this be good for Airbus, either – monopolies get very, very sloppy, and quickly.

    Nor will a government rescue likely result in a workable New Boeing providing quality product. All of our experience shows otherwise. The only government bailout that worked was Chrysler under Iacocca – and that was merely GUARANTEES of PRIVATE loans. And the serendipity of a number of quality individuals surfacing at once.

    Reply
  3. AvatarMrFixit1599

    Many years ago I installed 2 new highly accurate press brakes in a Boeing plant. At the time they were the most accurate and repeatable press brakes produced in the world. I was told they were replacing 2 older press brakes, and I was very curious what they were replacing. Turns out it was 2 old hydro-mechanical brakes from probably the mid 1970’s that were not known for their accuracy or repeatability. Kinda terrified me. Don’t even get me started on RV manufacturing, and the terrible equipment and tolerances they have.

    Reply
    • AvatarCdotson

      As a mechanical design engineer who was “enjoying” some vacation time with the family in our stick-and-tin travel trailer when this article first published you don’t even have to say word one. It’s the “beat to fit, paint to match” quality attitude of the pre-assembly line era combined with the indifferent ignorance of the “not-invented-here” diversified supply ecosystem that overtook automotive OEMs by the end of the 1990s.

      And hey, the trailer only sprung 2 leaks over 5 days! And only one of those was in the roof!

      Reply
  4. AvatarTyler

    Blaming The State of Things on Boomers purely as an investor class is a new insight for me. The next 40 years propping up a generation of pension plans built on 10% return projections and zero cost-share health care is going to be a HOOT.

    Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      I’m old and have never seen a zero cost share health plan yet that didn’t belong to a millionaire…

      -Nate

      Reply
      • AvatarJustPassinThru

        Nate, they’re common in government work. When I worked for the State of Ohio, my contribution to my health-plan was a token amount. With zero-deductible. It was with a then-new HMO – this being the 1980s; and HMOs had not yet slipped into the pit of mediocrity they soon would, because of their design. But yes, it was dirt cheap.

        A family member, a career State of Ohio employee, also had a token-contribution requirement to health care. It was not walk-in-the-door-and-help-yourself free. But the price was something that would be of little thought.

        Tyler’s comments about pension-investment returns dropping, in this age of QE-ZIRP, is spot-on. We haven’t seen the full effects yet. Traditionally, money saved for old-age sustenance was expected to provide a return of around ten percent, give or take. That’s disappeared – and it’s one reason that stocks in zombie companies, that NEVER CAN provide return, are exploding. Instead of looking for solid returns based on profits, investors are frantically looking for the Bigger-Fools stocks, they can buy now, watch rise, irrespective of their profits and even the economy, and unload in the future for Moar Money Fo’ Free.

        That is not a business plan or a retirement strategy. It’s the first stages of economic collapse. Be it ever thus, with Central Bank Financial Repression.

        Reply
        • Avatar-Nate

          I guess that bad old California is smarter than Ohio then because there’s no free / low cost government heath care option here .

          You’re dead right about the short sighted financial strategies, I can only dream of getting 10% on any of my investments .

          -Nate

          Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            It is called CalPERS health care. Taxpayers pay 89% of the premiums overall, and closer to 98% for all those forty-something pensioners who own waterfront real estate around Mission Bay. HMO plans are capped at $1,500/year copay, something unimaginable to people forced into ACA exchanges by people who voted like California public employee unions.

          • Avatar-Nate

            Lying again as usual .

            I have CalPERS and it’s nothing like that .

            I pay plenty every month plus I have to shell out every time I go to the doctor but what do you care when you can spread alt right propaganda ~ gobbels would be as proud of you as prager is now .

            Don’t forget : you bragged endlessly on that other site about how you lied, cheated & gamed your way through the U.S.A.F. hitch….
            -Nate

          • AvatarCJinSD

            I got my numbers from CalPERS website. You think you pay a lot when people who don’t receive CalPERS are paying for your safe retirement. You never had to grow up or understand how things are paid for. Congratulations on affixing your lips to the public teat before the ladder was pulled up on the white men behind you.

            Your dementia has really gotten the better of you. What site did I discuss the USAF on? I’ve never been in the Air Force, or on the taxpayers’ tab in general.

          • Avatar-Nate

            That’s good, change your story now after the fact .

            I didn’t pull up any ladder like you used to brag about .

            I’m one of those little people who paid for your HUGE tax cut ~ the rest of us were lucky to get $1,500, me I _pay_ taxes every year, no refunds for me .

            -Nate

          • AvatarCJinSD

            You obviously have me confused with someone else. I used to post on TTAC as CJinSD. I am not highdesertcat, who was there long before I was banned for offending some Canadian twerp’s sense of political correctness. I have no idea how you paid for my huge tax cut, seeing as I received a small tax cut that was nonetheless much appreciated. I am a member of generation X, so pulling up the ladder was never an option for me. I did once help break a call center union, but I’ve also been a teamster and managed union electricians. You confusing me with a retired military lifer doesn’t seem outside of your character.

  5. Avatarstingray65

    From what I understand, the 737 Max design was an attempt to adopt modern jet engines to an obsolete airframe designed when jet engines were much smaller in profile, hence the wings are too low to the ground for the modern engines. It was of course cheaper for Boeing to not design a new airframe, but perhaps the bigger factor was a new airframe would require the airlines to spend big money retraining their flight crews on the new aircraft type. By using software fixes to compensate for the strange weight distribution caused by placing the engines farther forward, Boeing could get the Max version qualified as a minor derivative of earlier 737s and hence sell the airlines on the ability of their pilots to transition to the new type with no expensive training. Of course this meant that the software had to be very good, so farming it out to the lowest cost bidder probably wasn’t a very smart move.

    Reply
    • AvatarFred Lee

      As a computer engineer I certainly sympathize with the concerns about low-cost over-seas workers. My former Fortune 10 employer (former Fortune 10 and former employer) has had its own share of dalliances in hiring Indian engineers to “do the needful”.

      That said it’s not clear at this point that the software was at fault. “Bug in software” is being used as a catchphrase for undesired behavior (i.e., planes crashing) but as anyone ever involved in a large project knows, there are countless layers involved here. There’s specification, architecture, design, implementation, quality control, and I can’t even imagine what’s involved once the government regulators, who apparently are captive to Boeing, get involved.

      I hope we get a real root-cause analysis of this at some point. It would be great if we could eventually point to a line of code written by Fred, or Vivek, and say “here is why the planes crashed, because this 16-bit accumulator was being used for multiple things and they failed to account for overflow”. But I think more likely we’ll find that this is a management failure. To the degree it may be indirectly related to out-sourcing, I’d bet that’s more a function of not having the architect, and the designer, and the QC all sitting next to each other than any innate weakness of over-seas code.

      Of course we engineers like to blame all failures on management. If it’s our fault, then it’s management’s fault for not giving us enough resources.

      Reply
  6. AvatarE. Bryant

    The problem with the 737 MAX, though, is not one of where the software was developed (although I do indeed find this distressing). It’s a series of serious missteps in business ethics (the idea of charging more for a diagnostic function that should have been standard equipment), of customer management (convincing its clients that money could be saved by avoiding training), of systems engineering (misspecification of the MCAS functionally), of human factors design (not understanding how the aircrew would actually respond to an MCAS fault), and of regulatory capture (getting the FAA to turn a blind eye to all of this).

    Considering the breadth of the above charges, a simple software bug emanating from low-paid programmers a half-world away would be far less distressing. But this is on the verge of a burn-it-all-down situation.

    Reply
    • AvatarFred Lee

      I am in full agreement with what you wrote. What I find interesting, however, is that in this case the 737max has flown tens of thousands of times successfully, and our current realization of the flaws is in a very small percentage of flights that, er, crashed.

      This is interesting because we are two deviant cases away from not realizing that there is a fundamental flaw here, in which case all the things you mention would make it into a HBS study of *good* management, rather than where they’re headed now, which is a HBS study of *bad* management.

      The line between good and bad is terrifyingly thin.

      Reply
    • AvatarDirt Roads

      I have to ask you where you get your idea that the FAA has turned a blind eye to this?
      I worked with Boeing 12-13 years ago and never saw any indication they were in bed with the feds. And I was in industry at the time.
      They have the typical large corporation silos/empires but getting the FAA to turn a blind eye? Nope.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I think he is referring to the process of self certification in which a Boeing employee acted as an FAA rep during testing.

        Reply
  7. AvatarScottS

    The whole Boeing 737 Max thing is deeply depressing. For many of us, air travel is becoming akin to a colonoscopy, and I don’t this changing anytime soon. I mostly agree that Bowing’s current situation is largely created by the narrow focus on the investor class and it’s crack cocaine-like addiction to crony capitalism. Bankruptcy could be very therapeutic for Bowing if the Government would stay out of it and let them fail.

    Now for something eminently more cheerful, and that would be the new C8 Corvette. I enjoyed your ranking of the C7 cars and I have configured many times a 2LT GS Z07 and while the deals are getting better every week this car doesn’t move the bar past my 2LT C6 Z06 in any way that really matters to me, and the LT1 can’t compare to the LS7 for pure visceral appeal. After the official reveal of the C8 if find this one surprisingly more interesting than the C7 generation. In many ways, it’s a technological tour de force while at the same time retaining the LT smallblock V8. Yes, I’m disappointed there is only one transmission option, but I am optimistic the new DCT will be more engaging than the current auto shifter. What say you?

    Reply
    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      Interesting read. His assertions (of internal conditions I cannot verify) mirror my own suspicions – of how after the acquisition of Douglas, the rotten internal Douglas culture infected Boeing. As with AMC leaders inside Chrysler, only with reverse results: Mediocrity and incompetence triumphed over a culture of engineering and product-first.

      In hindsight, this was all predictable. Rather than a clean-sheet airframe to work with new-technology engines and new standards (regulations) they chose patches, government blessing, and kludgy computer programs and auxiliary trim controls to make the whole ball of Band-Aids fly. Outsourcing software coding didn’t cause this, although this outsourcing to $9 coders who were worth just-that, was also symptomatic of the real problem.

      The problem, now, for everyone who flies or depends on safe air travel…is…Boeing, the Boeing that was, is now gone. No way to resurrect it, any more than AMC/Chrysler could be recreated once Daimler retreated. A government bailout will merely take the name, trademark and patents and place them in an effectively new, subsidized corporation – which will probably operate with the same competence and efficiency as Amtrak or Carter’s Synthetic Fuels Corporation.

      Reply
      • AvatarPat

        I was actually looking that Stoller article up to share before I saw this comment. It *should* be common ground between the left and right to combat the “financialization” that has taken over (and ruined) so many good companies (in fact, “Little Marco” was talking about it recently). For some reason it’s not.

        Reply
  8. Avatarscotten

    I’ve worked in IT for global companies for awhile and that fucking phrase “Center of Excellence” is both overused and usually means the exact opposite. 2 thumbs down.

    Reply
  9. AvatarFred Lee

    I find myself pricing a C7 GS too often. Readily available for nearly $15K off MSRP, my FOMO is great, particularly after failing to jump on the Chevy SS fire-sales.

    I’d probably go with a base 1LT model, and that seems like a hell of a lot of car for $55K. A big part of me wants to get a manual transmission, RWD, NA V8 while it’s still possible. But getting sub-3 seconds for $60K in a C8 is unreal.

    I suppose I’ll hold out. If the base C7 drops below $40K, or the GS below $50… That’s hard to turn down.

    Reply
  10. AvatarCliffG

    Years ago Boeing bought MacDonald Douglas. Weirdly enough the MD people ended up in charge of Boeing. They moved their hq from Seattle to Chicago. They mumbled something about central location, blah, blah, blah. The real reason was fairly simple: their intention to move much of their operations away from Seattle environs. When you are planning on not hiring, or having unpleasant labor negotiations, or laying off a bunch of people, it is a lot nicer if you aren’t around to accidentally run into former employees or business partners while golfing, shopping, etc.
    Admittedly Washington state is a blue state, but there is no income tax, and the state is more than happy to give tax breaks and deliberately designed its’ business taxes so internationally oriented businesses minimize the amount sent to the state directly. The Export-Import Bank is not known as Boeing’s bank for nothing so the feds get their piece.. Any taxpayer who doesn’t think defensive contracts aren’t also a means of subsidizing these kinds of companies should probably just avoid all thoughts about government entirely.
    Like most major companies in this day and age, the MBA mindset of fixating on labor as your only variable cost means that crap like this ( failed cheap Indian software) will spring up to bite their ass. Rest assured any lesson that these guys learn will be the wrong one.

    Reply
  11. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    As a long time Boeing fan, I second your thoughts. I’ve watched modern management use “center of excellence”, “make it a great place to work”, “moonshot”, etc. to mask the inability to actually take responsibility, make decisions and recognize that the product was what made the company, not visa versa. Creating yet another risk analysis is no substitute for making a decision to do the right thing. It’s not just Boeing.

    Reply
    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      “Creating yet another risk analysis is no substitute for making a decision to do the right thing. It’s not just Boeing.”

      No, it’s all of the culture. We’re morally bankrupt – the term is “anomie.” We’ve jettisoned our traditional moral understanding of Right and Wrong; instead, we condemn Judeo-Christian ethics and teach children Moral Relativism in the schools. We’ve replaced morality with Legalism – and that is where Risk Analysis comes in.

      And this is what comes of it. It’s happened before, of course…someone will trot out the Pinto case. Ignoring that the Pinto was statistically no-more dangerous than other small cars…yes, it’s true, that someone, somewhere in Design looked at the issue, the likelihood it would become a problem in actual use, looked at the cost of another mod to prevent it, and decided, Fuggit, it’s good enough for who it’s good enough for.

      The same thing was done at the General with various engineering aspects of the Vega; and X-Car brakes, et cetra.

      It’s been a building movement, substitution of legal protection and regulatory requirements for, as you say, doing the right thing.

      Expect more. This isn’t a problem in society; it’s a SYMPTOM, and the sickness is getting worse.

      Reply
    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      I would suspect, very little.

      The McD-D merger had already been done. And Mulally, for all his strengths, was a big fan of these Diversity shibboleths, such as “Center of Excellence” and the picnic-photo above.

      Whether he would let it distract from the mission is another question; but interjecting it into the front-office culture, muddles the mission. Sometimes shifts the mission.

      The bean-counter suits from McD would have taken over anyway. He’d probably have “resigned to pursue personal matters” – either truly of his choice, or with a letter-of-resignation placed in front of him one morning. In fact, I seem to recall reading an account…American Icon, Bryce Hoffmann…basically that was what had happened. He was denied a promotion in spite of top performance, and while Bill Ford was pursuing him, it was that denial that led him to finally take the Ford top job.

      It’s interesting that while both Boeing and Ford benefited from Mulally’s stewardship, neither survived his departure. I always thought he paid too much lip service to liberal social sacred cows…this Diversity mantra…

      Reply
    • Avatarrnc

      Mulally – think it was huge, commercial was his kingdom and everything came down to quality and being honest about the situation with him.

      Reply
  12. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    I once wrote an article titled “It All Started with Little League”, a tongue in cheek explanation that today’s “no decision, diversity, another group meeting, risk analysis, remote worksite, mission statement” management style began to evolve when parents took any responsibility away from children and started chauffeuring them to endless supervised activities. No imagination required, therefore no decisions or responsibility required, everybody gets a trophy. The same sort of fuzzy logic prevails through college. Not saying it’s good or bad, just that two and a half generations of this behavior does have consequences!

    Reply
    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      Oh…kaaayyy…

      Planes falling out of the sky, because of a series of what we can all agree were bad, unwise decisions. Decisions based on cost-benefit analysis; plus a need to comply with Diversity mandates. Decisions based on the pressing need to meet the projected stockholders’ guidance on quarterly profits. Decisions made by bean-counters, who hold engineers in contempt…who farm out the work to where it costs what the bean-counters figure it’s worth. About $9 an hour.

      You take it back to childhood training, or miseducation…of Participant trophies, of decisions all made, of value neutrality. Okay…I’m with you there.

      Then, you close this incisive observation…by saying “Not saying it’s good or bad, just that two and a half generations of this behavior does have consequences!”

      Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot. Yes, this behavior has OBVIOUS consequences; and I have NO compunction with calling this behavior indescribably bad. Incompatible with Western civilization, even.

      Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      I’ll agree with everything but the remote worksite comment. I’m paid for my output, not for some manager to micromanage me. If a company or manager can’t quantitify my output, then they don’t need to be in the firmware/software game.

      Reply
  13. Avatarbullnuke

    There is a product engineered and built in Chennai, India, that is available today right here in ‘Murica for purchase by the proletariat for much, much less than $134M. It probably won’t stall and fall out of the sky due to inadequate software engineering (unless it crashes through a bridge railing). The amazing and desirable Ford EcoSport.

    Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      And a guy at work just lemon-lawed one a year ago! And Ford is still trying to do something to get him to sign over the title, even though he had already done so a year ago. The damn thing was probably used as a crash-test subject by now. 🙄

      Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      One comment, two sites…!

      Sent my Dell laptop back to their “Advanced Repair Center” after it took a tumble out of my hands and down my stairs the other day. Have their “ProSupport” warranty, which doesn’t cover damage, but includes US-based support.

      The support may be BASED in Houston, but judging from the thick Indian-subcontinent accent of the tech who will be handling the repair (probably H1-B, what else is new?) who left a message today, Dell doesn’t extend hiring practices in the same way! It is beyond frustrating to have to have a Sanskrit interpreter with you every time you pick up the phone nowadays when you’re trying to reach what used to be called “customer service,” much less to get so frustrated as to demand to speak with someone on this side of the Atlantic who can converse in remotely passable English before just hanging up, then spiking the phone in utter disgust!

      And the worst thing is that we’ve done this to ourselves, as is noted!

      So what IS safer? A plane made by a Euro-snob conglomerate with controls that don’t behave like “normal” (viz. Air France 447), or a plane made by what used to be the best of the best, but will sell safely out to aforementioned clods with whom conversation is all but impossible when discussing the weather, much less software requirements and technical specifications, testing protocols, and other deliverables, with lives literally hanging in the balance??!! (Two sides of the same coin to a degree, admittedly, but read what I said about “best of the best!”)

      And we continue to have this crap, “diversity,” and “protected classes” of all types and stripes, shoved down our collective throats! From putting a man on the moon to letting grown men into women’s restrooms in fifty years!

      Where, dear Lord, did we go so wrong?!

      Reply
      • Avatarsgeffe

        That bit from “so what IS safer” didn’t go onto TTAC, knowing that the “ban-hammer” would be the outcome. Not so here, hopefully!

        For that, Baruths, I thank you!

        Reply
      • AvatarAoLetsGo

        Speaking of putting a man on the moon.
        How about this timely video to illustrate the point of software development then and now.

        Reply
        • Avatarsgeffe

          Assembler code!

          And the guy literally cold-called NASA, and they offered him a job!

          How many of today’s kids would even try that?

          A year ago, an 18 year-old fresh out of high school sent resumes out in a similar fashion, and wound up with a full-time position in my department, with benefits, and flexible hours while attending school!

          Sadly, he’s the exception today, not the rule! One defeat, and the average snowflake is either sulking in their parents’ basement, or slinging lattes at Starbucks!

          Reply
          • AvatarDaniel J

            That’s rare. I tried cold calling NASA, Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop, and all I got was “did you put a resume in on our website”

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