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Comment: Greece's Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 3, Insightful) 340

I've been following the Greek debt crisis for at least five years, Greece's problem is that they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity (cutting deficits to match receipts) since they joined the Eurozone. Not once. (By contrast, Estonia did eliminate their deficit, and as a result started recovering from The Great Recession quicker than other EU economies.) Greece merely slowed the rate at which they were going more broke (or at least pretended to). Despite being right at the edge of complete national bankruptcy, Greece continues to insist that there will be “no wage or pension cuts” for government workers.

Greece lied about their economic situation to get into the Eurozone, lied about it before the crisis broke, lied after it broke, and continue to lie now.

Keep in mind that the past four years of bank loans from the ECB have not been to save Greece. What they were really designed to do was to keep the card game running long enough to let EU insiders and favored national banks unload Greek bonds, and to reduce their exposure to Greek default risks long enough to put European taxpayers onto the hook in the inevitable event of a Greek default. They pretended to save Greece, and Greece pretended to reform. And now here we are.

The adoption of the Euro hastened and deepened Greece's crisis, but was not the central cause, which was their refusal to stop spending money they didn't have to prop up their extravagant (even by European standards) welfare state. This modern welfare state has now become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics that make it possible. As Mark Steyn put it, "People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense."

The problem is that with declining demographics, the cradle-to-grave European welfare state is unsustainable. Greece and the rest of the PIIGS are discovering that first, but birth rates are declining all across Europe, and modern welfare states are unsustainable without a new generation to stick with the bill. Most economists believe that Greece will never be able to pay back what they've already borrowed.

Syriza was elected on a platform of ignoring basic economic reality, but they've finally run out of people willing to loan them money to spend. The risk of a Grexit is already priced into all the European markets, But leaving the Eurozone doesn't provide relief for any of the Euro-denominated debt Greece already owes, and there's no guarantee European markets would even be willing to exchange refloated drachmas for real(er) money. And since it's hard to see any sane institution buying Greek debt after a default, Greece's government would undoubtedly start printing drachmas like mad and trigger hyperinflation.

If Greece was willing to pare back its welfare state to much saner levels, they might have a chance to slowly dig their way out of the crisis. Since they refuse to, they're in for a whole lot more economic pain...

Comment: Re:Will there be an SOS OS as well? (Score 1) 208

by jpellino (#49763191) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
Ah but would it be permissible to scan both the embedded sensors for spoiled milk and spoiled meat on the same device? The story I always heard was that there was an unspoken agreement that Brillo and SOS were different colors so that you could have one to clean cooking utensils for meat and one for cleaning milk product utensils. Only glitch is that SOS pads didn't go from red to blue until 1960 or so, and the relatives who told me that were keeping kosher long before 1960.

Comment: The European Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 0) 374

Since the UK wisely kept its own currency, disruptions from a "Brexit" would be relatively minimal. It's far more likely that will see Greece exit the Euro, because they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. (Note that despite talk of "austerity," not once since the European debt crisis started has Greek cut government outlays to match receipts.) To Greece (and to a lesser extent the other PIIGS), the welfare state benefits have become more sacred than the capitalist system underwriting them.

The problem with the modern welfare state is that eventually you run out of people to stick with the tab. It both discourages work and generates declining demographics, a dynamic that is unsustainable in the long run.

Well, Greece is starting to reach the long run. They can't afford their own welfare state, but it's become so entrenched that politicians refuse to significately pare it back even on the brink of national bankruptcy.

The UK, like Germany, has a strong enough economy to avoid this fate for quite a while, but it too will get there eventually...

Comment: As with the faded memory of the pain of childbirth (Score 1) 377

by jpellino (#49758007) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
one can now wistfully remember the birth of Windows. I was 6 years on Macs (supporting 28 units in a school) at that point, and remember looking at the Mac graphics and then the Win graphics ("I don't care what it takes - bonuses for anyone who can make this OS look sorta like AppleWorksGS!"), the placement of menus inside individual Windows ("How can we make people spend MORE time using our product?" "You mean USE it more, right boss?" "No, just spend more time using it.") and the mouse driver ("Remember that great scene in Bambi when he's on the ice? Let's make that an easter egg." "Sure, boss, we can have a little movie pop up when you hit crtl-alt-shift-esc-b" "No, you moron, I mean right there in the mouse behavior - it'll be a cherished childhood memory every time you try and point to something." It all but turned my mom & dad's Leading Edge D into my happy place. But hey, at least Media Player was included!

Comment: Interesting. (Score 4, Insightful) 190

by jpellino (#49710327) Attached to: Arab Mars Probe Planned For 2020
Five years to get from no rockets to an interplanetary orbiting probe. The video they produced clearly shows the launch from somewhere near UAE, so they're not just going to hire an existing launch-proven company/state to give their satellite a ride. Ambitious. Highly collaborative with the existing science community. Aces. There's a woman as Co-I on the project - well done. They're not going to try and land, good idea. And the not-landing part will fill in some pretty significant gaps in mars atmospheric science. The only true unknowns are how many freshman US legislators will become outraged and demand a congressional hearing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty In Boston Marathon Bombing 649

Posted by timothy
from the what-say-ye? dept.
mpicpp writes with a link to the New York Times's version of story that a Boston jury earlier today returned a verdict of death in the Boston Marathon bombing. From that report: A federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failed college student, to death for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision. It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.

Comment: Nonsense. (Score 1) 51

by jpellino (#49689189) Attached to: How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns (Video)
Research protocols and IRB rules are built to allow research on children, through minor assent and parental permission. Happens all the time. In this case, for most circadian studies, it would mean using / not using the same screen-based devices that the children already use and then checking melatonin in saliva which is minimally invasive and poses no significant risk. "Lab rat" is hardly an accurate image. Your charge of only poor people cooperating in research when paid is also inaccurate. How do I know this? From serving for a number of years as an educator on a major research hospital's IRB panel, where we approved research involving children when properly designed, and proposed modifications when not. Also from conducting circadian rhythm research on children beginning 30+ years ago, when IRBs were just being developed. We erred on the side of safety at any decision point, and in one early study of 1,300 students (in a balance of urban, suburban and rural towns) had over 90% consent students overall.

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.