Saturday, May 25, 2019

The IRS and financial institutions need to make reporting of asset sales simpler for taxpayers, would require major "mainframe technology" project

I’ve had a bit of a row with the IRS, as I haven’t been reporting the 1099-B’s properly, although it looks like when I go back in and find a stepped-up basis to insert into two of the entries, it won’t make much difference now.

But it seems as though the IRS ought to create a project, and have a contractor analyze and implement it (some company like Unisys, EDS, or even IBM) to provide taxpayers consolidated reporting information on a 1099-B summary on the first page so they don’t have to look through the details.

That would mean summarizing all the 8949 subcategories, but moreover, looking up “unreported” cost bases off of databases for historical prices for securities.  This might mean that the SEC would have to set these databases up for LLC’s.  This would be a traditional mainframe project, with COBOL and probably DB2, with lots of direct connect, and intricate security access protocols.  But as Obamacare found out, mature old-fashioned financial systems professionals don’t seem to be around these days.

Furthermore, for "grantor trusts" and taxpayers with multiple accounts at one institution, they need consolidated reporting summarizing all accounts. 

I can remember job-hunting in Dallas in 1981 that there was a company called Fasttax.  Dallas would be a logical place to house such a project. 
Mainframe based systems are much harder to hack, still.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Amazon wants its employees to convert to the gig economy and start their own businesses with A-trademark; "skin in the game"?

Amazon has most recently attracted attention by announcing that it will pay existing employees a $10000 stipend (and the best three months of salary) and offer various support to start their own delivery businesses. CNBC has a typical story. 

Amazon reasons that this networked arrangement would shorten delivery times for prime customers.
The idea appears to be open only to existing employees.
The plan certainly follows the idea of the gig economy, following onto Uber and Lyft, for example.

A good question would be whether the franchisee’s could have a health care program set up for them to offer employees.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb had warned readers in his “Skin in the Game” book, “You must start a business.”  But does that mean hanging the sign of somebody else’s brand, their trademark?  Do you lose your own identity?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Working in a phone bank, probably this one is illegal; very regimented

Here’s a link inside a spam call center, by Jim Browning.

This looks more like a tech support scam than a robocall center to sell health insurance or warranties.
But imagine what it would be like to work there.  It’s probably in India.

This is what goes on in countries without good job markets. A “phone bank” used to be the only job some people could get.  But they aren’t “bad people”.  I’ve heard that said exactly.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Can your laptop ever be accidentally wiped out by nearby magnets?

Yesterday, while at the Parkway theater in Baltimore, while in a lounge, I put my laptop down on a table at it held the computer like a magnet.

I immediately pulled it away, put it on a hassock, and it worked oK.

I’m told that you don’t have to worry about modern laptops and ordinary household magnets.  I guess you don’t have to worry about being near power lines either.  Also smart phones, tablets, cameras, etc. should be OK.

But I definitely remember that you could not get away with putting old floppy disks next to kitchen magnets.

The TSA tells you not to bring unprocessed film through checkpoints.
It you are in a building, could a neighbor with a flux device wipe out your electronics?  Has this ever even happened?  That’s the idea behind E1 EMP  (a Popular Mechanics article in Sept 2001, just before 9/11). 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Does under-employment drive the skills gap? Do low wages?

Matthew Yglesias has an interesting piece on Vox about how the skills gap is a result of unemployment or under-employment, not its cause.

During the later years of my IT career (through the end of 2001) it became harder to keep up with the “new stuff” because it was so different in work style from the IBM mainframe world, which everybody needed to have to get a job in the late 1970s.

And IBM was different from Univac (Exec 8), Vax, Unix, Linux, etc, which in the 2000’s began to retake the job market back.