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Comment: Re:They ARE a utility. (Score 1) 706

by Copid (#48352105) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility
True, there aren't that many airlines, but they're still clearly competing with each other on price and service. I can fly just about anywhere in the country for a few hundred bucks these days, which is a pretty good sign that things are working. It's also worth noting that Southwest is such a huge player exactly because it squeezes costs down so low and passes savings on to the consumer.

The cell phone market is similarly ologopolistic, but that hasn't prevented the few big competitors that exist from driving prices down and service quality up at a pretty impressive rate. Everybody hates them, but we all remember when talk time was rationed and text messages were $1 a piece. Now talk and text is unlimited and a gig of data costs less every year. We're even seeing the old "bend over and take it" contract model start to show cracks.

As long as they're legitimately competing on a level playing field, you only really need 2 sellers doing battle for customers to keep monopolistic assholery in check.

Comment: Re:They ARE a utility. (Score 1) 706

by Copid (#48352051) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility
So what's the solution on the ISP side? Or a better question, who owns the pipes in your deregulated power and gas scheme, and is that entity in any way tied to or regulated by the government? In my neighborhood, Comcast owns the pipes and any deregulation scheme is going to have to deal with that problem.

In a perfect world, cities would all have conduit running underneath them and would simply lease conduit space to the highest bidders to run their cables. Rerun the auction ever few years to keep things fresh and let the market sort it out. Outcomes would be amazing. Unfortunately, a city with empty conduit ready for cables from many competitors is exactly what we don't have.

Comment: Re:They ARE a utility. (Score 4, Insightful) 706

by Copid (#48351299) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility
The important difference here is that airlines are a market with competition, so there's really no reason to think that regulation is likely to make things better. If one airline does a crappy job serving a particular route or customer set, another one is perfectly free to jump in and do a better job. In that sense, air travel is no different from shoes or cheeseburgers.

Broadband Internet is a tougher problem. In terms of infrastructure, it's hard for a region to have robust competition. It's not as extreme as, say, sewage (where it's basically impossible to have two competing sewage systems under a city), but it's closer to that model than to a healthy market. So you're stuck dealing with pain-in-the-ass monopolies that don't innovate and don't compete on price.

Comment: Re:Obama (Score 1) 706

by Copid (#48351215) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

Why should they? Why should anyone? Telecommunications hardware is not free and does not maintain itself. Whichever companies/individuals use it more should be paying more.

That's fine. Charge more for more bandwidth. But don't charge different amounts for different types of content. I don't think "net neutrality" means "unlimited bits for everybody for $0" in the mind of any sensible preson.

Comment: Re:Telsa's lobbiest crashes (Score 1) 294

by Copid (#48163933) Attached to: Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales

Lobbying involves talking and bribery involves illegal money.

Half of the lobbying transaction is talking. The other half is listening because the person doing the talking is a good source of campaign money.

Also, there are more definitions of bribery than the legal definition used to describe the crime.

Comment: Re:Good move... (Score 2) 139

by Copid (#47976127) Attached to: Google Quietly Nixes Mandatory G+ Integration With Gmail
Exactly this. I want to keep Google, the company that knows everything about me and then some, totally separate from social media, a thing whose default beahvior seems to be to share whatever it knows about me with anybody I've ever met. Kept separate, both of those things have value. But let's be honest--Google has my email, records of most of my purchases, my web search history, and everything on my smart phone including GPS location stamps and call records. Why would I ever want to connect all that shit to a public data spew with constantly changing policies and behaviors? No good can come of it.

Comment: Re:Are You Sure About Germany? (Score 1) 444

by Copid (#47892455) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Unlike most other taxes, the energy tax does not reduce differences in disposable income, but it merely leaves them constant (when electricity use is equal).

The problem is that the things the rich give up to pay an additional flat tax are different from the things the poor give up. A flat tax of $1000 may cause a rich person to buy $1000 less in nice clothes and electronic toys, an average family to cancel a vacation, and a poor family to drop their health insurance. So the tax is flat in a dollar sense, but a much heavier burden on the poor in a standard of living sense.

Comment: Re:THere still isn't any reason (Score 1) 75

by Copid (#47831149) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

Interesting idea though could create situations where a potential licensee may come along and be faced with potentially bolstering a patent that could be free for them to use in a few months if they don't.

That's an issue that exists in all time-limited systems, though. It's currently hard to license a patent that will expire in a few months. The trick is setting the expiration time long enough that there's an incentive for the licensee to license rather than running down the clock but short enough that there's some urgency to get the damn thing to market.

Several related companies could easily license each other's patents in exchange for licensing eachother's patents just to keep them current.

This is a more interesting problem, but the first regulatory question should be, "So, Mr. Licensee, what product are you using that patent you licensed in?" If somebody tries to sue you over a patent they've been sitting on for 15 years, the first thing you ask is if the patent has been exercised enough to still be valid, and you check to see if the licensees have actually brought it to market in a meaningful way. If not, that's a strong argument that the patent should have been invalidated. It doesn't eliminate the need for courts to deal with the issue, but it does create more of a burden on the patent holder to create a track record of getting the ideas to market. If companies cross-license patents and bring real products to market in order to keep their patents active, I'd argue that it's a win as long as the functionality is actually there and not a sham.

Comment: Re:THere still isn't any reason (Score 2) 75

by Copid (#47830145) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation
I'd rather see the expiration for patents depend on whether they're actually being implemented or not. Coming up with a new idea is great, but only if something actually comes out of it. If you can't get somebody to license and build it in a reasonable number of years, all the patent is really doing is cluttering up the idea space for companies that are inventing things in-house with the actual intent of building them.

Right now, every time a company comes up with a cool new invention, they have to search through mountains of patents to see if somebody, somewhere has done it before and is just sitting on the patent. A system that puts a greater burden on inventors who bring things to market than on inventors who don't is not balanced correctly. Maintaining a patent monopoly should require continuous effort to put that idea to work in something useful.

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.