2x43: Shouting and shaming


This is a question of degree: I have only once left a job without having lined up an alternative for ethical reasons. I have changed jobs a few more times for similar reasons but my response to unethical actions of my employer has been to look for other work. I have also looked for alternative work for promotion or better pay as I am sure we all have.

I have not yet felt the need to go public on my reasons for leaving a particular company but I can imagine circumstances where I would. I have certainly been vocal about the actions of my and other governments.

I was recently contracting with a company developing motors and motor drive circuits for use in lifts, or elevators as they are known in the US. I was designing the drive circuits. We had a problem with one installation in a UK Air Force base and I was asked to investigate. I could have refused because ‘I don’t work on military projects’ but the technology is not is not specifically military: the company had similar installations in apartment blocks, shopping centres and banks. I did the job but while on site felt uncomfortable surrounded by people with loaded guns and able to see military aircraft both on my drive into the facility and through various windows while I was working. Some of the aircraft, at least appeared to be, loaded with missiles ready for launch should the need arise.


The balance of listening to ones conscience and being reasonable isn’t always easy. It is easy to apply ones conscience on another when things are a bit fuzzy. If something isn’t so clear cut, another’s conscience must be respected.


That’s very illegal in any civilised country.


I agree. There is an element of trust tied to a package brand. The original owner has a certain degree of unstated responsibility towards the accumulated trust. This said, it is unstated, (F)OSS fundamentally runs on a honour system. A developer is technically entitled to squander that trust, which does happen sometimes because, as we all know, FOSS developers are chronically overburdened. By buying in the ecosystem, one has to accept this fact of life and be kinder to package developers for their gifts.

In this particular case, though, there is an actual culprit, and it is the company npm, Inc.. They host and maintain the npm registry, actively police packages, and de-facto discourage the Javascript world from fixing the huge problem of not having an official and reliable stdlib. They are actively promoting a broken system that makes these abuses more likely, while relying on free labor from developers. If you want to blame someone, you should blame npm.


No not really is that not saying they have a greater value, at an employee level. Which is of course true.




Sadly that is not to relivant.


A bunch of SV companies have already been publicly slapped for labor violations (Jobs’ little “cartel”), I don’t think there is much appetite for a repeat. This action has been high-profile enough that anyone finding herself blacklisted will be willing to sue - and even if she weren’t, there is plenty of demand from small companies who don’t have the time for these games.

A subsection of IT workers is actually powerful enough, right now, that they could establish the new frontier of unionization, if they really wanted / were forced to. It might well happen in my lifetime.


I dont think you have to sack someone to end their career. Also you have to imagine that SV companies and companies in general have learnt from the public shamings, no to say that they wll stop the practice but to say that they will do a better job of it next time.

And all that being said, you have to bet your career and family home on you being right.


I have heard that more companies are seeking IT workers in other countries. I wonder if this is one reason why. How well that will end up…???

Not to be off topic, but I can’t help of thinking of how many people are one paycheck away from being homeless.


I never put them two together. Not a bad point though.


I don’t see this as being off topic at all. A term that has been coined in the UK is JAM (Just About Managing). If you are the sole wage earner with few savings life can be very difficult.

There are lots of people in the UK who are in work but still have to rely on charity to survive. I spend a lot of my spare time supporting my local Food Bank either supplying food when I can or giving my time. A Food Bank provides packages of food, pasta, tea, tinned goods, etc., to people who can’t afford to feed themselves properly.

A friend of mine has a Thai restaurant and regularly opens it up to the local homeless to feed them. The food tends to be vegetarian and is often just past its best before date but still perfectly fine to eat . He relies on donations for this local grocers will give him food that is close too or just past its best before date so they are unlikely to be able to sell.

If you lose you job in the UK it can take months to get any benefits. I know one man who has been out of work for three months and has yet to see a penny. Luckily his wife works so they are managing to pay the rent but only just. If he lived on his own he could easily be homeless by now.

Employers know this and it makes it more important that those of us who are secure enough to be able to make a stand and support the little guy.


Offshoring has existed in IT for a very long time. When any resource gets scarce and prices go up, it’s logical to look for cheaper markets. A SV acquaintance once told me something to the effect that “all the big boys have interviewed any able man, woman and child in the Valley”, an obvious exaggeration but with a kernel of truth. There is a reason the region is such a powerful magnet: the demand is really that high, to a level we’ve never seen anywhere in Europe (well, I’m told Berlin is pretty hot, but not that hot yet). It is logical to look for alternatives, from a business perspective.

That doesn’t mean everyone could just up sticks tomorrow if Californian IT workers unionised. IT work in itself is very transferable, sure, but there is a lot of entrenched know-how and skills that sit at the core of those companies, that would be lost. This is why Chennai being what it is (or any other outsourcing hotbed, like Prague or Nicosia) didn’t stop the rise of SV.

On the paycheck thing, as a recent self-employment convert, don’t I half know it. This month I am an unpaid invoice away from touching my savings, which themselves are only worth 3 months of mortgage and basic expenses. I am lucky that my kids won’t need a roof if I lose mine, but still, I’ll probably spend most of the Christmas season working harder than ever. And who knows, by March the UK racist-in-chief might well kick me out.


I am thick. I kept scratching my head as to what “SV” meant. :joy:

It takes me a while, but I gets there. Usually. Sometimes. Maybe. One can hold his breath. They will revive.


My bossed asked me once if I would be interested in buying his business if the situation came about. I said no. I keep in mind the ancient proverb that says how sweet the sleep is of the one serving. I’ve know of a few self employed people that seemed to have in care free. But they were by for the minority.

Hope you do okay! :slightly_smiling_face:


I think one has to be either desperate or irresponsible to walk this path. I’ve always been the latter and this year I added enough of the former to just go for it. A lot of the motivation was the loathing I have for job interviews; at my age, if I’m forced to choose, I’d rather pitch than get grilled. But who knows, come February I might well be humbled back into the ranks.




This may come as a surprise. My view of unions pretty well reflects my view of governments.


My recently retired brother worked for Boeing (Seattle). When the production line was running full tilt he sometimes had to work mandatory overtime. The difference between unionized and not was that while his union conceded Boeing’s need to push hard at times, it also negotiated generous overtime payments (up to 3x on Sundays). He sure as heck would not have gotten paid like that if he had not belonged to one of the stronger unions. Though he is highly skilled and not easily replaced, the younger workers were in the same boat and enjoyed the same benefits. Pity I never was paid 3x for overtime as a postdoc or research scientist.

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