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Comment: Re:Cartels will be fine.... (Score 2) 256

by Copid (#46788779) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops
Let's say we go after the bastards, then. Make tobacco illegal and drive them underground. We could outsource the production and distribution of tobacco to Los Zetas and it would be a net win, right? At least that terror Philip Morris would be out of the picture.

To some extent, I measure how threatening they are by how dangerous they are to me as a bystander. I'd much rather see a major cigarette outlet near my house than an illegal marijuana distribution center. I can avoid most of the problems with a cigarette outlet by simply not going in. Not so much with the drug import hub.

We seem to have managed to neuter them pretty effectively by taxing cigarettes and making the public aware of just how bad they are for us. It looks like smoking is down about 60% in the US just due to minor regulation and social trends. Our approach with other drugs doesn't seem to be following the same trend.

Finally, measuring "evil" in absolute numbers is fraught with problems. If all we care about is number of dead rather than how they died and why, we'd be pounding on GM's door too. And of course, I don't think we Americans would be so unconcerned about the drug war if it was our country that they were turning into a failed state. Deaths notwithstanding, the total collapse of law and order in a democracy is something that should be talled on the "drug cartels are bad" side of the ledger, even if it's not our country they're doing it to. Duffel bags full of the heads of police officers and elected officials in some foreign country aren't a really big deal for us, so we tend to turn down the knob on "evil" when we assess it.

Comment: Re:Cartels will be fine.... (Score 3, Insightful) 256

by Copid (#46787889) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops
For all of the badness of Philip Morris, I think I'd still rather they be running the show than the guys who kidnap busloads of people, rape them or make them fight to the death, and then bury them in the desert.

I don't think that's just personal squeamishness talking. It may very well be that the sociopaths who did bad stuff for the cigarette companies are just as evil as the sociopaths who run the cartels. But they do seem to control themselves a little better when they can make tons of money by staying in the law's good graces.

Comment: Re:Simple problem, simple solution (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46784503) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
You're describing the "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" problem, though. Major urban areas are hard to get into becuse they're super crowded, and super crowded means a huge number of potential employees and amenities. Plenty of people can get into San Francisco every day. Evidence: San Francisco is chock full of people every day.

Sure, it would be easy for people who live in the exurbs to commute to a Google office in their particular exurb, but there just aren't enough potential Google employees to run a Google office living in a single exurb.

Comment: Re:Simple problem, simple solution (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46784479) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
It's not 100% of the problem, but rent control is a major issue. Given a choice between selling or occupying your property and renting it out, rent control gives the owner a very strong disincentive to rent. So even with the same number of units, the split between "owner occupied" and "rental" shifts strongly in favor of owner occupied dwellings.

Comment: Re:Without reading TFA, but living in the area... (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46782419) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
So when you say this:

In summary: Having some profit is acceptable. Horever, to want 900% profit as in the example is simply stupid, blind greed.

We're to understand that you mean that 900% doesn't actually happen, but if it did it would be bad. And while some profit is good, too much profit is bad. But for unspecified values of "some" and "too much." So realistically speaking, are we in a state where "too much" profit is being made? If so, how do we know that? And what amount would be appropriate?

We're talking about a very practical problem here, so some concrete answers would be useful. As far as I can tell, the profit in the home building business is not abnormal, so are we saying that businesses in general are making too much profit? If so, what would be a more appropriate profit margin and how do you decide what that is?

Comment: Re:Without reading TFA, but living in the area... (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46782195) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
If you're going to complain about "unreasonable" profits and then back off when people actually ask whether the profits are really that unreasonable, you might want to consider the possibility that the profits aren't all that unreasonable and that your basic complaint is nonsense.

And it's not like building houses is a new high-tech endeavor that only a few companies have figured out how to do. There are *a lot* of people and companies in the home buidling business. They know what it costs and they know what the return is. If the return was far higher than the return on other investments, they'd be borrowing shittons of money and then using it to build houses like crazy. The fact that they're not doing so indicates that the return on that invested capital isn't all that much higher than the return on other investments.

You're complaining about a problem that doesn't exist.

Comment: Re:Simple problem, simple solution (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46780893) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
A lot of people consider both Mountain View and San Francisco as valid places to live. Some people would never live in suburbia and some people would never live in the city, but a lot of people are flexible and see costs and benefits to both. They make their decisions in the fuzzy gray areas based on commute time, living environment preferences, and price. Shifing the price of either will cause some percentage of those people to alter their decisions.

And your Honda/Lexus analogy is spot on in many ways, but it doesn't illustrate what you think it does. Many buyers consider both a Honda and a Lexus when they're buying. They may prefer the Lexus but choose the Honda because it's a better deal overall. A $2K bump in the Honda price is very likely to sell more Lexuses. It's not like we're comparing driving Hondas to riding zebras. The two goods are real substitutes, if not perfect ones.

Comment: Re:Without reading TFA, but living in the area... (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46780823) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
I'm still wondering where you're getting 900% profit from. If there as 900% profit to be made on the dollar, I guarantee you that smart companies like Google and Apple that are sitting on billions of dollars in cash would get into the home building business before the end of the business day. The reality is that once you account for all of the costs involved, different business sectors tend to have fairly similar yields for exactly this reason: if somebody is making outsized profits, everybody pulls their money out of what they're doing and gets into that business.

Comment: Re:BS (Score 1) 358

by Copid (#46780729) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

My grandparents home in Los Angeles County took 35 years to grow 10x in value.

But it eventually happens, and if you limit tax increases to 2% per year, homeowners get a tax cut in real terms most every year.

Anyways, why the need to sell your house?

Are you saying that people should never move? I can think of a few reasons: To change jobs. The kids have moved out, so you don't need a big place (especially useful as it vacates a big place for new families with kids). You're too old to go up and down stairs. You need cash for retirement so you want to downsize from your suburban home and move into a small one story condo. This system breaks the normal lifecycle of home ownership.

Why not target the federal government for supporting the home loan interest deduction, which promotes massive financing that props up pricing?

Absolutely! Provided it was phased out over a number of years, I'd vote for this in a heartbeat.

Why force people out of their homes because of unreasonable property tax hikes?

You can get past the "forcing people out of their homes" problem in a couple of ways. The first would be to allow people with little to no income (seniors, for example), to have the tax assessed against their home and have it taken out of their estate when they die.

The second would be to move to an income tax and forget about property tax entirely. Property tax causes these sorts of problems by its very nature. Property isn't liquid, so you can't use property to pay taxes on property. Rich people have lots of property, so they pay more (in theory). Old people don't have the income to pay property tax, so we give them a break. Basically, we're fiddling with the property tax to try to make it act like an income tax, but with the nasty side effects of all sorts of terrible market distortions. I don't get why we do it.

Comment: Re:Rewarding the bullies... (Score 1) 791

If nothing else, I'd bet good money that most people who apply to be cops are bullies. The "drive fast, carry a gun, and tell people what to do" job description must draw bullies and nuts like flies to shit, especially when it pays better than most jobs within reach of unskilled assholes. I pity the people who have to weed those guys out and find the decent folks to do the job well.

I will say anecodtally that while I've had good dealings with my local police, I've noticed that the guys in high school who I stereotpycally thought would end up being cops ended up being cops with a surprisingly high probability.

Comment: Re:Why we vaccinate (Score 1) 586

by Copid (#46749121) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"
Come on! It makes sense! Letting people die of polio eliminates the weak people who tend to die of polio. Never mind that nobody has to die of polio so that "weakness" is kind of a non-issue. We could expand this philosophy wider by setting land mines everywhere. Sure, it's a problem we don't actually have to live with, but it does keep us on our toes and it weeds out people who don't pay attention and people with bad clotting times.

A colleague of mine suggested that we screen resumes by randomly shredding 50% of them. Those are the unlucky people. Why would you want an unlucky person on your team? If only the lucky people are left behind, the team is much better off.

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis