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Comment Re: Better Question (Score 1) 392

That's true today. Not in a few years. Don't let your hatred for Tesla blind you to the fact that the big auto companies will not be the only game in town forever. Well. ..maybe they will, but only if they succeed in keeping stupid regulations like the franchise requirement in order to minimize innovation and keep the auto retail market stagnant.

Comment Re:Better Question (Score 3, Interesting) 392

you sure are big into regulation to set the rules of the game. why don't you let the market sort itself out?

Wow, that's an interesting reading of this thread. I thought I was responding to the hypothetical idea that nobody would repair cars if we didn't have a state-mandated dealer system. Apparently not.

I think you find that it will settle to exactly where it is now. Aside from some high end boutiques, all the OEMs will sell through a dealer network.

I think that's somewhat true, but I also think that what the dealers will look like will be somewhat different. They'll end up competing with the few OEMs (like Tesla) that control their buying experience, and frankly, the buying experience through those operations is superior. There's not a human on earth who enjoys dealing with car dealers, so as soon as any cracks in the system show, they'll have to change their ways. They definitely won't go away (for reasons you mentioned), but they'll probably start looking more like retailers and less like the hellscapes they currently are. Toyota will be saying, "We have to compete with Tesla on price and quality, but we also have to deal with the hit that comes from a miserable buying experience." The threat that Toyota will start selling directly will definitely put pressure on Toyota dealers to up their game.

And the car buying process continues to get easier and more transparent.

I think this will be the game changer. I bought 2 of my last 3 cars through CarsDirect. Reasonable straightforward price that's easy to check, no negotiation or games. My last car was delivered to me at my office with the paperwork. If I had to guess, I'd say we're going to move more and more toward that model and the only people who haggle at the dealer are going to be the real sharks who aren't profitable to haggle with. Once that starts to happen, the incentive for having a staff of professional hagglers goes away. Eventually, I expect prices will normalize and dealers will have to differentiate on other factors.

Comment Re:Better Question (Score 1) 392

On the one hand, I'm highly skeptical that it's actually true. I mean, it's not as though the dealer is the only place you can go for car servicing even now. In fact, going to the dealer is generally considered to be what suckers do. And in terms of complexity, cars are likely peaking out--as we transition to electric, they'll get mechanically simpler. Whether the electronics are serviceable (software lockout, etc.) is an interesting question, but the only way to make independent service operations viable is to mandate that manufacturers make replacement boards and diagnostic manuals available. If we don't, manufacturers will be able to software "lock out" everybody no matter what our sales channels look like.

Even assuming it's the case that we need some mandate to make it happen, there's no reason for car *sales* to go through that channel. You just need to mandate that manufacturers make parts and manuals available to third parties on reasonable terms. The reality is that the dealers don't seem to be making much money on sales anyway these days. It's all through servicing or financing. And in exchange for that, we get a miserable, sleazy buying experience that is widely recognized to be the worst in any industry or market. So it seems clear that whatever we're trying to do, we're doing it wrong.

It seems like the simplest solution would be a ban on manufacturers offering services and parts directly to the public. That way there would be a profitable market for parts and technical manuals, but the manufacturers wouldn't have an incentive to kill off the competition. The service operations would just be customers instead of competition.

Comment Re:Better Question (Score 2) 392

Answer: Some middle men add value and some simply extract rents. Distributing and warehousing a wide variety of perishable vegetables for purchase on demand at random times is a valuable and complex service. Having a showroom to poke at cars in person adds value, but basically *everything* else a dealer does is either overpriced compared to alternatives or actively subtracts value from the car buying experience.

Comment Re:It was most likely in Syria (Score 1) 571

I suppose it's possible that there's a different reality, but it seems to me like we have two major possibilities:

1) Russia, which has a record of being increasingly aggressive about airspace, allowed its aircraft into Turkish airspace despite complaints and warnings and got shot down.
2) Turkey saw some advantage in shooting down Russian aircraft and antagonizing Russia for no reason.

I suppose there's also various forms of incompetence that could be dumped into possibility 3. But really, what does Turkey have to gain from intentionally shooting down Russian aircraft outside its borders? Is there some eleven dimensional chess operation going on here that I'm not seeing?

Comment Re:There are no "moderate rebels" (Score 1) 571

That is the problem with handing weapons over to "moderates" and hoping they'll be tenacious enough to win a civil war for us, isn't it? At best, it's the, "We'll fight to the end, kill everybody and scorch the Earth," faction against the, "We wish you guys weren't so militant," faction. Pouring crates of weapons in is just going to continue to arm the people who are aggressive and committed enough to seize them.

Comment Re:Time for a policy shift (Score 2) 359

That's really just a trick for the ultra-rich, though. The vast majority of people, even wealthy people, don't do that and can't do it very easily. For most people, at some point, assets need to come out of the corporation and go into the hands of a person for that person to enjoy them, and those show up on the tax forms. If their income isn't being taxed to begin with, no tricks we do trying to tax corporations is going to help that situation. If anything, the corporations are even better at tax avoidance.

Comment Time for a policy shift (Score 4, Insightful) 359

It seems like if we had any sense at all, we'd immediately dump the corporate income tax and replace it with a revenue-neutral increase in the capital gains and dividend taxes. The corporate shareholders ultimately end up paying any dollars that get paid anyway, and humans are much easier to tax than corporations are. A corporation is a shape-shifting non-entity that can "spend a year dead for tax purposes," so trying to change the laws fast enough to get any revenue out of them is a losing battle. All we end up doing is giving them an incentive to do ridiculous things like hold money in foreign accounts and set up subsidiaries all over the world to move revenue around. It's great for the tax lawyers and financial consultants, but it doesn't really get us any real revenue. It's the tax enforcement equivalent of the drug war.

Comment Re:Another example (Score 1) 728

There are different levels of belief, though. Is it just as dogmatic to assert that unicorns don't exist as it is to assert that they do? I'm pretty certain that they don't exist, but if I saw one, I'd be perfectly happy to change my mind. Likewise, I'm an atheist because I don't see any compelling evidence to believe in a god, but if such evidence presented itself, I'd be willing to change my mind. Is that still a dogma or just a general belief that the preponderance of evidence points in one direction?

I think that the creation of an "agnostic" category implicitly overstates the certainty with which atheists disbelieve. I've know a lot of atheists, but I've never known any who disbelieve in a god as firmly and certainly as the more sincere Christians I have known. It's fairly easy to find a religious person who will say, "I believe this with 100% certainty, and nothing I see will ever change that." I've never met an atheist who took that position.

Comment Re:In line with current US thinking (Score 1) 190

Which is faulty logic if applied to its conclusion. If we're all guilty then we'll all be locked away in some prison somewhere, and you don't "rule" someone in prison.

No, if we're all guilty then we could be locked away in some prison somewhere, but for the benevolent lenience of our watchers. So long as you don't piss them off. That's the point.

If the law worked the way you suggest (everybody who commits a crime is automatically caught and impartially sentenced according to the law), things would be fine. Bad laws would be taken off the books and we'd all be safe and happy. The problem arises when you can make something illegal and then only charge people some of the time.

Comment Re:A better idea (Score 1) 284

What you said is actually a misconception of H1-B visa that is very common for those who do not really know much about the visa. A H1-B holder CAN change his/her employer at any time while holding a visa without the need to let the current employer know.

I'm aware of this, but they still do need to find a new employer who is willing to sponsor an H1-B, which is a hurdle that a US worker doesn't have. It still puts H1-B employees at a competitive disadvantage, and in a tight job market, that advantage can be huge.

Also, auctioning the visa will create another issue later on. If you think that big companies/corporations will not find a way to work around the system, you have too much trust on them.

How would they abuse it, specifically? This is a really straightforward economic question: What would a giant company do to mess up this particular market for everybody else that they don't do with every other market?

Besides, how would small companies (which is the main idea in TFA) compete with bigger companies/corporations for the visa price anyway?

The same way they compete with bigger companies for everything else you buy. With money. Microsoft and Google are huge, but they don't hire all of the employees or buy up all of the computers. They acquire what makes economic sense for them to acquire. Smaller companies do the same.

Another issue with your idea is that it would result in most if not all of the H1-B holders would be in technology.

A couple of things: First, that's not necessarily the case. It's very easy to create "classes" of visas for different industries if that's an important problem to solve. That would provide even clearer information on where the shortages are. Second, if the purpose of the H1-B program is to bring in valuable employees in industries where there is a real shortage, there's not a very good economic argument for bringing them in for low-wage jobs.

TFA is actually talking about how big companies/corporations abuse the visa, NOT about what's wrong with the visa.

There are a bunch of problems with the visa, and they're largely tied to how easy it is to abuse. The key ones are:

1) A lottery system assigns a valuable resource randomly instead of buy actual value. A lucky bonehead can get a visa when an incredibly valuable genius doesn't, which defeats the whole point.
2) The whole job description / prevailing wage system is total nonsense and easily gamed.
3) Whether there's a "shortage" of workers or not is entirely up to debate instead of actual pricing data.
4) Employees on a visa are at a competitive disadvantage because it's harder for them to change jobs, depressing wages.

All of those problems go away automatically (or are at least mitigated, as in [4]) without any additional regulation (and with the removal of a ton of existing red tape) if you just let companies and people buy and sell visa slots. We don't set a up lottery and bureaucracy up to allocate corn or rice. There's really no need to do it with work visas.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder