Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Solution (Score 1) 251

Interestingly, before the oft-questioned "passage" of the 16th Amendment, "labor given in exchange for payment" was just that; income was what a business earned as a result of selling a product or service.

We're wasting billions of dollars because of people like you, trying to maintain the illusion that taxing businesses is somehow different from (morally superior to) taxing individuals.

It doesn't matter which one you tax - the money is always coming from The People. A business is just a group of people who've decided to work together. If you tax a business, that doesn't magically spare people from the taxes. The business has to get that money from somewhere - it gets it by raising prices for customers, and/or reducing employee wages.

Income (whether by individuals or businesses) is just a manifestation of productivity. And the only source of productivity is people - a business is non-functional if you remove the people. Taxes are simply a way to divert some of the fruits of that productivity to the government.

So it doesn't matter whether you use an income tax, a sales tax, or a corporate tax - they all have the exact same effect. Some of the fruits of people's productivity get shifted from their control to the government's. If you use an income tax, their take-home pay is reduced. If you use a sales tax, their purchasing power is reduced, which is mathematically equivalent to reducing their take-home pay. If you use a business tax and the business pays for it by reducing wages, then take-home pay is reduced again. If you use a business tax and the business pays for it by raising prices, purchasing power is reduced again. It all does the same thing.

There are incidental effects of taxation which can justify certain taxes outside of immediate revenue-generation. e.g. Property taxes encourage people to find a productive use for land, or sell it to someone who will. Without them, you end up with people hanging on to their strawberry farm in the middle of an urban growth area, waiting for the value to increase when the land could be put to much better use right now. Value added taxes discourage middlemen from buying resources and supplies simply to flip them. etc.

But these benefits are orthogonal to immediate government revenue. They don't change the fact that taxing anything means you're reducing how much of The People's productivity is under their direct control, regardless of what exactly you're taxing. So the most efficient strategy is to come up with the simplest and easiest to enforce tax and use that for the bulk of your government revenue. Whether that's an income tax, a sales tax, a corporate tax, or some other tax is irrelevant.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47978133) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

If kidnapping, extortion, and good old fashioned robbery were so profitable, the everybody would be doing it.

In places without the rule of law, everybody (with the muscle) IS doing it. That's why it's a major industry in certain parts of Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. Which of course you know, but would rather ignore.

If you think they can do all this damage without continued aid from the US/Europe (Saudi, especially them. You are so barking up the wrong tree), Russia, China, whoever is competing for the territory, then I'll have to assume you own several bridges and the Haney Farm...

This sentence is impossible to parse.

But I'll take a guess. You think that 30,000 guys armed with millions of dollars, fanatical recruits, and huge numbers of weapons abandoned by fleeing Iraqi forces, are unable to walk into village and towns and kill people? How complicated do you think this actually is? Your need for a fantasy narrative is making you invent something far to complicated, and you're now confusing yourself and writing incoherently.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47975729) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria
Who said anything about defending their honor? We already defended them by delivering food, water, and medicine, and by running off and/or killing the ISIS guys on the ground that were preventing them (the Yazidis) from escaping the spot in which they were being starved to death. You know, bombing for peace. If a Yazidi family had a peaceful breakfast this morning, it was because of US air power.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47975705) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

Hundreds of millions, eh? From a single bank

Says the governor. Intelligence people on our side apparently think it's anywhere from at least "millions" to close to what the local Nineveh officials estimated. Regardless, whatever they've been extracting from the central banks they've taken apparently pales compared to the revenue they get from kidnapping, extortion, and good old fashioned robbery. And, again, millions a day in oil proceeds. I know, you're still hoping you can just have their checking account locked, right?

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47975451) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

So, you don't think cutting off funding to them is better than going to war?

You're right. We'll use a time machine to undo the hundreds of millions in cash they stole when they knocked over a bank (you have been paying attention, right?), and then we'll take steps to make oil no longer a commodity that places like Russia and China buy, so that we can dry up the millions a week that they're earning on the black market. Then we'll force Europeans and others to stop sending them millions of dollars in ransom money for the hostages they keep taking.

Let me guess, you were thinking about calling their bank and putting a hold on their Visa card, right? Yeah.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47974627) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

I'm really not sure why you mischaracterize neo-nazis as a non-violent group; ignorance is hard to believe

Who said anything about non-violent? They're violent. Just like local street thugs are violent. It's a law enforcement, not a military issue. They're not on the move with tanks and missiles. They're not taking over dams, or now running oil fields. If they were, that would rise to the level of a military issue. Do you really think that if some neo-Nazi movement in the US rose to the level of them occupying large portions of US states in the north, bordering Canada, and started killing off people with French heritage by the thousands, and the US government couldn't or wouldn't do anything to stop them as they spilled across borders, that Canada wouldn't take steps to prevent that cancer from spreading? Your example of such a huge militarized operation involving tens of thousands of neo-Nazis filling mass graves in the while the US military runs away from them leaving them to expand their territory as they promise they're coming next for other countries and territories ... is a total fantasy. Because that's not happening and won't. They'd never make it past the skirmish-at-the-compound (a la Waco, TX) level, let alone occupy whole swaths of the upper midwest, slaughtering thousands of people.

On the other hand, that's exactly what IS happening with ISIS. One you can deal with as a law enforcement problem. The other is a military problem.

Comment: Re:My only question... (Score 2) 419

by ScentCone (#47974557) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

told Saddam what he had to do to keep us from coming back and left with the approval of the international community

Which Saddam never did. You get that, right? He kept building/importing long range missiles. Kept shooting at the aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones that were set up to keep him from continuing his ethnic slaughter in the north and south, kept starving people as he skimmed aid money to rebuild his guard and more palaces, continued to play cat and mouse with UN inspectors, never disclosed what he did with all of the VX that the UN inspectors originally saw, and so on.

He never did any of what he agreed to do when he was pushed back out of Kuwait - that conflict in effect never ended, because Saddam chose not to actually live up to the agreement that kept him alive and in limited power. Intelligence agencies from multiple countries had strong reasons to think that he was still in possession of at least some of his huge pile of chemical weapons (he was), making missiles (he was), shooting at aircraft (he was), killing rivals (he was) ... and every attempt to find and catalog his chemical weapons was rebuffed by his people on the scene. It's quite possible that he himself was being lied to about how much he still had, by people who didn't want to lose their lives (and those of their families) by telling him the truth about how much had been trucked to Syria or otherwise abandoned. Doesn't matter: complete lack of his cooperation, ongoing targeting of allied aircraft, and the continuing deaths of Kurds and other minorities at his hands were line-by-line violations of the agreement that kept the Gulf 1 invasion from rolling the rest of the way into Baghdad. Eventually that operation did happen, because he (Saddam) effectively insisted on it by never changing his Kuwait invasion period posture.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47974097) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

The answer you're looking for is best stated as an old signature line.

"Bombing for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity."

What a stupid, empty, non-sequitor of a hippy aphorism. If someone has a camp full of heavy weapons, out of which they are launching daily slaughter and earnest attempts at genocide (a la the Yazidis, just as an example ISIS victim group), and you use an airstrike to stop that slaughter ... the resulting end of the campaign to kill that group of people isn't good, from where you sit? You'd rather, instead of "bombing" to stop them, that we line up a huge logistical support operation and send in ground troops to get in protracted firefights to the same? And take weeks or months to set it up, by which time of course all of the Yazidis would be very thoroughly dead at the hands of ISIS?

If you really think your quoted platitude makes sense, then you'd also be against anyone using force to stop a rape in progress, right? Because that would like "Violence For Safety," right? Right?

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47973993) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

You might look up the definition of sovereign state []. Throwing bombs on another states territory without explicit permission is an act of aggression.

You're right! So when Syria launches missiles and artillery at our NATO ally, Turkey, and creates a huge and dangerous refugee problem that extends across multiple borders, it's something to worry about, isn't it? I doubt that Syria had "explicit permission" to strike Turkey. Worrying about the sovereignty of Syria (as it pours money and weapons into the hands of groups that call for the total destruction of another country, Israel, and has camped out in its territory a large and heavily armed and financed group - ISIS - that is attacking other countries and promises to do more) is hilarious.

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47973957) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

By that logic (or lack thereof, IMO), Europe has every right to bomb neo-Nazi targets on US soil as a "defensive" measure against far-right ideology, and the US has every right to bomb Scandinavia as a "defensive" measure against socialist ideology.

Do find a lot of examples of neo-Nazi idiots with hundreds of millions of stolen dollars and heavy weapons rounding up thousands of people and promising to slaughter them because of their religion, or marching cops and soldiers into trenches and machine gunning them down? Are you finding lots of examples of Scandinavian socialists wagging their fingers at the camera and then lopping heads of of hundreds of people, including journalists? No? Do you see either group promising to tear down embassies and kill everyone in them, and then heading that general direction in stolen armored vehicles carrying RPGs and worse? No?

Neo-Nazis talk a lot. But they're just noisy idiots. ISIS actually do what they say, and now control large swaths of land in which they are actually in real life murdering thousands of people, and bragging about it.

If all ISIS did was post angry rants online, you'd be right. But they're an army of 30,000+ people who have completely taken over large territories, only recently held a dam that, if damaged, could seriously threaten US and European (among others) people in large numbers on the ground in key cities. Defanging these guys isn't merely an ideological exercise, it's necessary in very simple, practical terms. Something you're pretending you don't understand so you can make hollow points with people who also don't want to think it through. We have a fellow NATO member that is being swamped with refugees, and which has had air strikes and artillery lobbed at it from the the nice peaceful Syrian government that you think shouldn't have its feathers ruffled.

This doesn't mean I approve of Obama's specific strategy and tactics. This (a large air campaign involving lots of locals, too) didn't have to happen. But his utter bumbling in the wake of Syria's use of chemical

Comment: Re:Aggression in practice, right? (Score 1) 419

by ScentCone (#47973089) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

Can someone convince me that in the absence of a specific invitation by the legitimate Syrian government, which is the case this time, this [US] action cannot be defined as aggression?

IS/ISIS/ISIL is the aggressor, slaughtering thousands of people for being insufficiently Islamic, etc.

Hitting their command/control and training operations, from which tens of thousands of them are directed and supplied, is DEFENSIVE, not aggressive. That they happen to be running their little shop of horrors out of towns they've captured in Syria simply means that that's where some of the defensive action has to take place.

Like this is any mystery to anybody, right? Right?

Comment: Re:Is it healthy or unhealthy for society to have (Score 2) 266

by Solandri (#47971321) Attached to: Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light

I'm just wondering if when a society has conspiracy theorists speaking out freely, the 'tin hat' crowd, is that the sign of a healthy society or not.

It's bad I suppose when conspiracy theorists are flat out wrong, but would a repressive government try to silence them or do repressive governments only bother suppressing people who are telling the Truth?

Does it do harm in that when somebody really finds something bad going on people will tend to disbelieve them because of all the flakos (sort of like crying wolf too many times)?

There's a subtle distinction here that gets lost in our modern society (mainly by the media) which tends to look only at results while ignoring the process to get those results.

Skepticism is healthy. If you're skeptical that NASA landed on the moon, then by all means you should be free to ask questions, do tests and experiments to determine the truth of the matter to your satisfaction. Implicit in this is keeping an open mind that your skepticism may be wrong.

Where it crosses the line into conspiracy theory is when you assume a certain conclusion, and only accept supporting evidence, while ignoring evidence to the contrary, That's unhealthy.

Unfortunately, pure skepticism is impractical and an evolutionary dead-end. If you were skeptical about everything, you wouldn't be able to function. You'd second-guess every decision you made, every thing you thought you saw, anything you were told. Is the news really broadcasting the Presidential debate, or are they slyly editing it to make their preferred candidate sound better? Is it really safe to change lanes, or did you miss a car in the other lane somehow? Did you read what I just wrote accurately, or did you misread and so you should go back and re-read it to make sure? At some point you have to make the leap from 90%-99% certainty to assuming it's 100% just so you can make a decision and choose an action. That's why engineers tend to be more religious than scientists - engineers are forced to make design decisions in the face of incomplete data all the time, while scientists by the nature of their work are expressly forbidden from doing so. So engineers are more comfortable making that "leap of faith." But as long as you understand you're making that "leap of faith" for the purpose of making a timely decision, you're not into conspiracy theory territory yet. You only cross that line when you refuse to revisit your conclusion in the face of contrary evidence.

And no, conspiracy theorists are not always wrong. They were right about global warming. I'd estimate that probably a third to half the people who believe in global warming do so because they want it to be true for environmental protection reasons. The data had nothing to do with it aside from affirming a conclusion that they'd already reached and were going to stick to no matter what the data said. i.e. They are conspiracy theorists. In that respect I don't consider many global warming proponents to be any different from global warming deniers. The time just happened to match up with the hands of their broken clock. If it had turned out that the Earth was cooling and we needed to pump industrial quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere to forestall another ice age, they would've been the deniers, not the other way around.

tl;dr - Skepticism is better, but you need some conspiracy theory-like tendencies in order to function.

Comment: Re:Please describe exactly (Score 1) 388

Nah. You just talked about subsidies. You said: "They're not going to help here, because our situation is exactly what the law calls for. If you're making more than $60k, you don't GET subsidies, you have to GIVE subsidies to other people (like you)."

Exactly. If you don't qualify for subsidies, then there IS NO CHEAPER MAGIC SOLUTION than those that the regulated insurance companies in the state advertise. They don't have the option of having secret cheaper-than-the-exchange plans. So if you call a hotline and complain that your new insurance plan is too expensive, their ONLY OPTION is to try to find a way to qualify you for a plan that somebody else is forced to help you buy. Otherwise, the price is what the price is.

Especially the one that pointed out that it was those very same insurers that you implicitly praise that raised their rates to where they are now.

For which they had no choice. They are required by law to suddenly provide a range of coverage that was not previously built into their pricing. If you were suddenly told that you had to provide a bunch of new services or else, would you just eat the loss, or raise your prices in order to maintain your business? Insurance companies work on smaller margins than companies in many, many other industries. Remove that margin, and they are out of business. Now, that may be what the ACA backers secretly want, but in the meantime, you raise your prices to deal with the fact that your government has just substantially raised your costs.

They *knew* that they had just a few years before those rates became government controlled

They've always been government controlled. Every state in the union has an insurance regulating body to which those companies must turn for approval in order to change rates. And each of those scenarios plays out in something of a vacuum, because laws prevent insurance companies from providing services across state lines. The government has been entirely in control of this stuff for decades (as if you didn't know that!).

In civilized parts of the world, that would be considered collusion and price fixing.

No, it's known as state regulation. The companies who have a very innovative way to deliver the same (government approved) class of services with less overhead MAY be able to offer a lower price if they can survive doing so. But there's generally very, very little latitude in the cost/price recipe before the insurer is on intolerably thin ice.

Comment: Re:Your employer (Score 1) 178

by Solandri (#47967691) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?
It's hard to tell from the summary (probably intentionally so), but it sounds like it's the author who wants to go to the conference - it's not something his employer wants to send him to. There happens to be training he can take there, and the employer is willing to foot the bill on that. And the author is using that to falsely imply that he's going to the conference to get the training, therefore his employer should pay for the conference as well.

If the employer wanted him to go to the conference, they would be sending him there and paying for it. If they wanted him to get training, they would be sending him to training and paying for it. If they wanted him to get training at the conference, they would be sending him to both and paying for both. Frankly, I think his employer is being mighty generous offering to pay for the training he's taking because he wants to, not because they required or requested it.

If the author feels this conference is critical to his ability to do his job, and his employer is not willing to send him there, then he needs to do a better job explaining (to his employer, not to us) why it's so important for him to go to this conference. It's common for a particular employee to be the company's subject matter expert in a particular field, and a good manager will know to trust the employee's judgment in those cases. If author has not made such explanations before, try breaking it down into monetary cost/benefit. Business-types love that. e.g. Show why the tech will become of key importance in the future, lay out the cost to hire an outside consultant expert in the tech, and compare it to the cost of paying for your conference, travel, and training to make you expert in the tech.

"The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl." -- Dave Barry