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The State and the Cubicle

March 9, 2006

From a Fortune article on Cubicles: The great mistake:

Another critical factor in the cubicle's rapid ascent was Uncle Sam. During the 1960s, to stimulate business spending, the Treasury created new rules for depreciating assets. The changes specified clearer ranges for depreciation and established a shorter life for furniture and equipment, vs. longer ranges assigned to buildings or leasehold improvements. (Today companies can depreciate office furniture in seven years, whereas permanent structures--that is, offices with walls--are assigned a 39.5-year rate.)

The upshot: A company could recover its costs quicker if it purchased cubes. When clients told Herman Miller of that unexpected benefit, it became a new selling point for the Action Office [the original cubicle]. After only two years on the market, sales soared. Competitors took notice.

How many unpleasant aspects of corporate life are traceable back to government intervention? I just asked my boss why our company does drug testing (we don't have gov't contracts which is the usual reason). He explained that the test is only for illegal drugs and he just doesn't want to have employees who are involved in illegal activity. I asked him what would happen if the Drug War was over and these drugs were legalized. Would he require drug tests then? He said "No".

[Thanks Slashdot]

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