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Comment Re:Unions (Score 1) 548 548

And we're thankful for that. However, since those are largely codified into law now, the need for the unions has lessened.

I've seen a family member burned by aerospace unions in the '80s and '90s. He got so sick of them showing up at the picket lines in fancy cars and wearing expensive suits, continuing to draw a salary while he got strike benefits (a pittance) that he started crossing the picket lines to work.

On the other hand, I've also seen the nurses' union fight to increase the number of nurses per patient, both to increase patient safety and to decrease burnout in the nursing industry.

There's enough good that some unions still have value, but there's also enough bad that some of them are just dead weight. When unions exist solely to protect themselves, they've become as bad as the companies they once battled.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 423 423

He's trying to force Iraq and its local allies to deal with the problem rather than inserting American troops into combat situations in an area where they're largely unwanted or even hated. (The forces on the ground are largely there for training, not combat.) Part of dealing with the problem was getting the extremely anti-Sunni al-Maliki out and bringing in al-Abadi, who has promised to work with the Sunnis and has reportedly done so well enough to start changing the minds of some of the Sunni tribal leaders.

By conducting airstrikes, the US and participating allies are filling in a gap in Iraq's military capabilities. They have a few strike aircraft, but they're old and not built to handle the weapons that Iraq is buying from the West. The first F-16s in the Iraqi Air Force were delivered to Iraq itself (rather than being used for training Iraqi pilots in Arizona) just three weeks ago. Delivery was delayed over security concerns at Balad Air Base, which isn't far from ISIS territory.

I don't know if it will work, but it's probably the best option from a list of pretty much only bad options right now. The air mission may be expanding, though, as the US has said it is willing, together with Turkey, to protect civilian populations in at least part of Syria from Syrian bombing runs. That suggests a no-fly zone for those parts, and that can result in a serious escalation. (Turkey wants a no-fly zone over all of Syria and has called for it for years.) All it takes is for one Syrian aircraft to be knocked down and Syria to respond by even targeting US or allied planes with surface-to-air radar, and the US will have reason to respond by taking out at least part of Syria's air defense network and possibly its air force. That could turn the controlled chaos barely held together by Syrian forces into complete anarchy if the government forces are denied air cover. It could be what actually breaks the back of the government, and then it will be a race between ISIS, al-Nusra, and the Free Syrian Army coalition to get to Damascus. At least if ISIS gets knocked down or out, there's a slim chance of a negotiated collapse.

So far, Syria has been tolerant of Turkey shooting down a couple of its aircraft that strayed too close to or over the border with Turkey, but it may not be so willing to tolerate its aircraft being shot down well inside its own territory. If it escalates, we might see just what the actual effectiveness of the Russian S300 SAM system actually is.

Comment Re: Not going to happen (Score 1) 423 423

I'm not ascribing special status. I'm explaining how they think and how they view outsiders. Russia has been a fairly xenophobic society for a very long time.

Whether they were successful in repelling the invaders isn't really a factor, either. It's that they're constantly concerned about being invaded. Check with the Poles and you'll find that they, too, are wary of it for precisely the reason that you mention. They're constantly looking over their shoulder at Russia, and don't fully trust Germany, either.

Comment Re:And it all comes down to greed (Score 1) 548 548

If benefits are what makes it morally right to use taxis over Uber/Lyft, then doesn't that make buying from large chain stores morally better than buying from mom-and-pop stores, since those are often so small that they don't have to provide benefits to their employees?

Comment Re:That's nice too (Score 1) 548 548

Every home I ever visited within my extended family was under 2000sf, and many of them were under 1300sf, until my parents bought a 2100sf home in the late 1990s. That was the biggest in the family until I bought my 3800sf house.

Go look at older neighborhoods, particularly those built before 1980. They're far smaller than we see today. Home sizes overall are growing, with the average in 2014 being 2600 square feet, larger than the 2400sf that was the average during the housing boom.

Comment Re:And it all comes down to greed (Score 2) 548 548

The taxi industry is a poor example if you're looking for something that needs sympathy. Getting in as anything other than a hired driver is nearly impossible. Look at the prices of taxi medallions. In Chicago, a medallion went for about $70K in 2007 before skyrocketing to $357,000 in 2013, then falling back to $270,000 earlier this year. In New York City, it's even worse: they were going for around $850,000 earlier this year, down from $1.2 million in early 2014.

There's also the problem of having a cab around when you want one. Some cities are great for this; the aforementioned Chicago and NYC are examples of places where it's generally easy to get a cab. But in much of Southern California or the Dallas suburbs, cabs are relatively rare, and even when calling the company, the wait can be significantly over an hour compared to an Uber or Lyft pickup time of usually only a few minutes.

In any case, if the only reason that a new industry is morally wrong is because it puts people out of work, then almost every industry today is morally wrong. The tractor industry would be wrong because it put farm workers out of work. The airlines would be morally wrong because they put ships' crews out of work. The printer companies would be morally wrong because they put typing pools out of work. And yet no one really claims this because it's not true.

Comment Re:i love infrastructure (Score 1) 423 423

I didn't say it makes them unimportant. I said it makes them hard to fight over, and that means far less chance of fighting. Absent discovery of significant resources in those locations that can be economically extracted, there's no reason for an outright war over them. India and China are both well aware of the problems that India and Pakistan have had fighting over the Siachen Glacier, where around 2000 troops have died, all but a few dozen from exposure, avalanches, or other climate-related circumstances. Neither China nor India wants to deal with that to fight over economically unimportant territory. That's why there's an occasional skirmish, but not much else.

One exception may be the Tawang region in eastern India, but China would still have to cross the mountains to take it if it came to war. India would likely have significant notification of a build-up, and could through airstrikes and artillery make life difficult for any Chinese forces heading over. That's not including whatever economic restrictions would be placed on China over such actions.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 423 423

Russia and its predecessors have a history of about 800 years of being invaded by one group or another. These included the Mongols in 1223 (who weren't driven out completely until 1480), the Crimean Tatars in 1571, the Polish-Muscovite War from 1605-1618, the Cossack uprising and incursion from 1667-1670, Napoleon's invasion in 1812, Japan in 1904 (mostly naval, but still an attack by an outside power), and Germany in 1941. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the eventual joining of NATO by every non-Soviet member (plus the former Soviet Baltic states) is often seen internally as an incursion into Russian interests, with the discussions of Georgia and especially Ukraine joining NATO leaving Moscow surrounded by enemies who are only a couple of weeks' fighting from the gates of Moscow.

It has a traditional reason to be xenophobic, regardless of whether it makes logical sense to those outside Russia. The Warsaw Pact nations and the former Soviet republics were buffer zones for Russia, land they could afford to lose, at least temporarily, while ensuring that Russia itself survived.

The current situation is only barely tolerable to Moscow, and is exacerbated by recent low Russian birth rates and low life expectancy, leading to a decline in population for nearly two decades. While this is turning around recently, the increasing birth rate is also heavily subsidized by the government (families who have more than one child get a lump-sum payment of about 428,000 rubles (worth about $6800 now, as much as $11,000 before the downturn in oil prices) and heavily dependent on the economy, which is in a difficult position, to say the least. As fragile as it is, it may decrease due to hits to the economy if more sanctions are added or the nuclear deal with Iran induces further oil price reductions, and perhaps in that case by increased alcoholism (more than a third of deaths in Russia are linked to alcohol).

I don't expect Russia to go to nuclear war, but they see the situation as desperate, possibly bordering on disastrous, and it puts them in a difficult position where even pie-in-the-sky ideas (like a Bering Straits bridge, to get back to the original post) sound like a good idea. You might think their position self-made, illogical, or even stupid, but it's very real. You don't have to agree with it to understand it, but dismissing it is just dangerous.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 423 423

Sometimes it's the only way. We held off on airstrikes against ISIS specifically to ensure that Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki would not hold on to his position. As soon as his successor's selection (and so someone who actually accepted the Sunni) was ensured, airstrikes started in earnest. (They had begun already to help protect Yazidi tribes fleeing ISIS persecution, but only a handful of those happened.)

As much as Karmashock's hyperbole and predictions are off-base, on that point, he's right.

Comment Re:i love infrastructure (Score 1) 423 423

China is prodding Vietnam and the Philippines over maritime claims, yes, but to say they're picking on Japan isn't really accurate, as Tokyo's nationalist mayor restarted the public argument over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This triggered Japan's nationalization of the islands to try to ward off further diplomatic incident, causing an incident which inflamed the Chinese people, which demanded action from the government... The whole thing is a mess that the governments in Beijing and Tokyo would be much happier to see die down again.

And how are you bringing India into this? Aside from a moderately-disputed, very high-altitude border that would be difficult to cross with ground forces (let alone fight in), China and India don't have much in the way of overlapping claims. Even if China got serious territorial ambitions for Indian territory, India's military is at least as good as China's, wouldn't have lengthy supply lines to deal with, and has far more combat experience in the last few decades than does China. The Indian Navy--much stronger than China's--could also make life incredibly difficult for Chinese trade passing through the Indian Ocean for Africa and the Suez Canal, especially since India has a strong blue-water navy and China is still coming to grips with serious operations outside of the China Seas.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 423 423

Chinese trade is a reason that I focused on the rail traffic. Russia's benefit there would be in providing the transit corridor, and prices could easily be set in roubles US dollars, helping fill its coffers with roubles (helping to strengthen the rouble on the open market) or foreign currency (that could be used to buy roubles, helping to strengthen it on the open market).

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