An ode to confiscatory taxes and people who make the best of their capabilities

Reading, "Jet Age", there were a couple of really surprising things that I hadn't heard before:

Boeing started developing the 707 because of confiscatory tax rates.  During WW-II, FDR set taxes at 90% for any profits above what a company was earning prewar (to prevent military contractors from profiteering). This was okay for companies like Douglas which had a civilian business before the war that they converted to military use.  But Boeing had no civilian business, and all of its military profits were therefore "excess profit".  What this meant was the Boeing took its profits and plowed it into R&D because for every $10 it spent on R&D, $9 would have gone to Uncle Sam anyway.  Confiscatory tax rates are responsible for the space age.

Britain's Comet predated the 707.  However, the Comet had a fatal flaw that caused several early Comets to crash.  One of these crashes was after takeoff from Calcutta's Dum Dum airport in the 1950s. The crash was investigated by British and Indian aviation agencies. I read that, and thought: what capability would the Indian aviation agency have had in 1950 and automatically discounted it as mere political correctness on the part of the author. Surely, it's the Brits who would have found any reasons for the crash. As it turned out, the Brits concluded that there was nothing wrong with the plane, but the Indian investigator, a "Shri" Srinivasan (the author mistaking the South Indian version of "Mr." for a first name), insisted on adding in the appendix that the 7th rib of the wing was probably at fault. He came to conclusion by running a simple load test on the wing and noting the stress tolerance happened to be poor at the exact place where the damage had happened. One more illustration of how a good scientist can thrive even in a poor environment.

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