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Comment: Re:Making smart choices (Score 5, Informative) 1146

by Caffinated (#45700935) Attached to: US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month

...Government has decided that it is a bad decision for people to not purchase health insurance. I know many perfectly reasonable, rational people who did not purchase health insurance before the ACA because it was not worth it to them. I made the opposite decision; but there is no way that I could ever objectively come to the conclusion that their decision (or mine) was a good or bad one. Value is entirely subjective and for someone to impose their own subjective values onto another is asinine, coercive, and straight up maddening.

Except the value of insurance isn't subjective from the perspective of everyone else. If one of those "reasonable, rational people who did not purchase health insurance" gets hit by a bus and has the good luck to survive, then almost certainly it'll be everyone else paying for their treatment in one way or another. That's a direct 'objective' reason why having everyone be covered is beneficial, but there are other reasons why the requirement is there.

One such reason would be that removing the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions pretty much compels something like it. Otherwise your perfectly reasonable, rational people would just wait until they got sick and buy insurance, and drop it as soon as they were better. That behavior would, of course, destroy the insurance market pretty quickly, which might be a bit of a problem.

Comment: Re:As an anti-science, pro-ignorance republican... (Score 1) 416

by Caffinated (#43123153) Attached to: Global Temperatures Are Close To 11,000-Year Peak
The chart is the data from the paper which is the basis for this story. Previous temperature record reconstructions only went back 2,000 years or so, this one went back over 11,000 years to provide more context. Even in the shorter 2,000 year chart the recent change is hard to parse since it's so nearly vertical. Anyway, the paper here was to show how the recent changes are far, far, larger and more rapid than any that have been seen since civilization began.

Comment: Re:As an anti-science, pro-ignorance republican... (Score 3, Insightful) 416

by Caffinated (#43119501) Attached to: Global Temperatures Are Close To 11,000-Year Peak

Well, the article didn't note the alarming part of that so well. The issue isn't the temperature at the moment so much as the really alarming rate of change. Here's a chart that documents the history and recent changes. Notice anything odd about the recent record relative to the entire temperature record going back to the dawn of agriculture?

Comment: Re:Fear of robots is a red herring (Score 3, Insightful) 275

by Caffinated (#43002687) Attached to: Human Rights Watch: Petition Against Robots On the Battle Field
Well, that raises the question of the "who controls the robots" question, doesn't it?. Presuming that they'd be as effective as you outline (I quite doubt it), they'd be great for making it domestically painless to invade and occupy places that one doesn't like for whatever reason, and I doubt that's a good thing (Iraq and Afghanistan only happened and went on as long as they did since even with the causalities, the pain was almost entirely borne by military families; heck, we didn't even increase taxes to actually pay for it). In short, I'd imagine that you might have a bit of a concern with autonomous foreign peacekeeping robots patrolling your neighborhood, and I'd expect that people in other places feel that way as well.

Comment: Re:I say cut the F-35 (Score 1) 484

by Caffinated (#42990569) Attached to: There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon

I remember a few things from the news, down through the years. I remember congress dipping into Social Security for money. And again. And again.

Social Security is something of a pyramid scheme, yes. It isn't truly sustainable. But, despite that, Social Security had surplus money, time and again. And, every time, Congress put their fingers into the surplus, and skimmed it off.

Congress hasn't done anything to the social security surpluses. Like just about any fund that prizes security over raw returns, the SS trust fund invests it's surpluses in treasury bonds. (largely) the same sort that you can buy. The money didn't go away, it wasn't skimmed, it's invested to grow until it's needed. The payroll tax was increased in 1986 specifically to build up the trust fund as it was recognized that the baby boom generation demographic bulge was going to cause issues. The commission that recommended the changes didn't take one thing into account, which is why there's a (relatively small) long term deficit; income inequality growth. Since there's a cap on the amount of income that's subject to the payroll tax (~$110k IIRC), increasing inequality leads to less income to the fund. If the cap were removed (or increased to account for the increase in inequality), there'd be no issue with SS funding.

Is it REALLY true, that the vast majority of Americans take out more than they pay in? Or, is it more likely that the vast majority of Americans don't LIVE long enough to collect what they have paid in? Maybe, just maybe, Social Security is going broke only because Congress can't control themselves, and they have spent our Social Security already!

Again, the SS trust fund is a real thing, with real assets. It's like saying that if you bought a treasury bond for your grandkid that congress spent his money. It's a silly assertion.

Comment: Re:Or just not buy a Kindle Fire HD (Score 1) 81

by Caffinated (#42875701) Attached to: Turning a Kindle Fire HD Into a Power Tablet
...and the Kindle 8.9 is $115 more than said Nexus 7. If you were so inclined, you could spend $85 more than the 8.9 and get the Nexus 10 if the larger size is what you want. If you're happy in the amazon ecosystem, then the kindle is great. If you want a more flexible tablet, just buy the Nexus. If you're spending that much, you might as well get what you want since it's not a big difference price-wise.

Comment: Re:Here's how... (Score 4, Insightful) 227

by Caffinated (#42465317) Attached to: Reason On How and Why 38 Studios Went Bust

Put another way, this is precisely the same sort of crap we saw Bush and Obama do with the banking sector (using public funds to secure private losses that were not incurred due to a public purpose). In either case, the government stepped in to do what the market should have done in an otherwise private transaction with minimal to no public purpose.

To be fair, there's a strong public interest in the banking sector not melting down, so while we might have wanted to go about it differently, ultimately the public was going to have to stabilize the banking system and that was going to take money. The cronyism in the bailout was that we didn't then make the "guilty" parties pay for their damage or significantly fix the system.

The loan guarantees for 38 studios were just worse than usual example of local/state business "incentives" which are unfortunately quite common. They're not cronyism exactly since businesses can (and do) compete without these sorts of things, but they're typically needless giveaways of taxpayer money regardless. That being said, there are certainly areas where government investment makes sense, but this isn't one of those cases

Comment: Re:But when will the Nexus 7 be compatible of Amaz (Score 1) 251

by Caffinated (#42205029) Attached to: Android Options Mean "Best" Browsers Might Surprise You
Amazon wants to sell kindle devices. They're more effective at locking people into Amazon's ecosystem. Not providing their video content on stock Android gives them a big lever to push people to pick up the Kindle if they're considering their tablet choices. If Kindle weren't selling, I quite expect that they'd provide an instant video app for Android; there's no obvious technical reason why they couldn't.

Comment: Re:1st! (Score 1) 205

by Caffinated (#42126115) Attached to: US Congressman Wants To Ban New Internet Laws

Exactly. This needs to be a constitutional amendment. It will never pass either body of congress. Issa is being sloppy, but at least this is surprisingly well-intentioned for a Republican.

... until you realize that net neutrality rules/laws would be prohibited here as well. It's not well-intentioned, he's just found a great sounding way to spin giving the store away to the telcos. Oh, and the DMCA stuff would likely be considered intellectual property rather than internet law, so I'd quite expect that it'd not be covered here. Always look for the money.

Comment: Re:If there was a Bad at Math Map... (Score 2) 1163

by Caffinated (#41962673) Attached to: Secession Petitions Flood White House Website
It's not BS, it's actually called Duverger's law:

Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system tends to favor a two-party system.

The wikipedia article specifically notes Canada and explains why there are more than 2 parties at the national level:

In the case of Canada, the highly regionalised parties are evident in province-by-province examination: while the multiparty system can be seen in the Canadian House of Commons, many of the provinces' elections are dominated by two-party systems. Quebec, for instance, is driven mainly by the separatist Parti Quebecois and the centre-left Liberal Party, while in Saskatchewan, it is the left-wing New Democratic Party and the centre-right Saskatchewan Party (a coalition of those affiliated with the Conservative and Liberal Parties). Unlike in the United States, where the two major parties are organized and unified at the federal, state and local level, Canada's federal and provincial parties generally operate as separate organizations.

So, Canada's a bit of an exception due to strong(er) regionalism, but first-past-the-post voting will tend toward two parties as the stable configuration.

Comment: Re:Third parties don't work (Score 1) 204

by Caffinated (#41914705) Attached to: Actual Final Third Party Debate Tonight

Ron Paul libertarians are marginalized because they don't have the numbers for any significant electoral clout. They're committed, vocal, and active, but there aren't that many of them and they've not shown the ability to actually get people elected and that's ultimately what it comes down to. teabaggers, for all of their faults, can win primaries for their candidates and even get them elected (in republican districts). So, teabaggers are quite relevant in the republican party. The reason that they've not gotten what they want though is more that their message is quite toxic outside of the republican party.

The thing is that I don't suspect that the broad coalition parties that we have actually change things as much as one might presume. Were multiple parties actually workable in the US, libertarians would likely win a smallish number of seats in the legislature but wouldn't likely wield much influence. teabaggers would be comprised of what's currently the hardest core of the republican base, and would dominate the south, as they largely do now, and would be a fairly sizable right-wing block.

Comment: Third parties don't work (Score 1) 204

by Caffinated (#41889945) Attached to: Actual Final Third Party Debate Tonight

Third parties in the US don't work. With the way that we vote, 2 parties are the only stable configuration. That's not some grand conspiracy on the part of said parties, it's just the dynamics of the system. The result of that is that the each of the 2 parties have historically themselves been fairly broad coalitions who align around general principals. So, we might not have a Green party as such, but people with those views would be welcome in the Democratic coalition, for instance.

The way to foment change in this system is to push the major party most aligned with you in the direction that you'd like it to go. You do that by getting more candidates who agree with you to run and win. If your cause(es) are really that popular, then it shouldn't be so hard with a lot of work and focus. Third parties are an excellent way to make sure that this doesn't happen. In short, you win by taking over the party that's most closely aligned with your values.

The republican party is an excellent recent example for this actually. The teabaggers rebellion didn't run third party candidates, they ran in party primaries and started knocking out incumbents. The remainder of the party saw this in action and moved fairly quickly to align with the insurgent faction out of simple self-interest. The result was that the party shifted rather significantly to the right to accommodate them which meant that they ended up getting much of what they wanted.

"Who cares if it doesn't do anything? It was made with our new Triple-Iso-Bifurcated-Krypton-Gate-MOS process ..."

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