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Comment: Re:Technology can NOT eliminate work. (Score 1) 389

by RalphSlate (#49077607) Attached to: What To Do After Robots Take Your Job

While costs have come down on some things once production has been mechanized, costs in general haven't come way, way down. Although I can buy a DVD player for 1/10 of what I could 20 years ago, my health care is 10x more expensive. We have less of a middle-class than we once did, and poverty is increasing.

Food may not be as expensive as it was 30 years ago, but we still have a substantial number of working people who can't afford it. Do you have any examples of things that have dropped in price so much that they went from an expensive commodity to something anyone can afford as an afterthought? The only thing that comes to mind is long distance phone calling.

Comment: Re:Technology can NOT eliminate work. (Score 1) 389

by RalphSlate (#49076751) Attached to: What To Do After Robots Take Your Job

Rather than shortening the workweek so my a better idea to move the retirement age forward. You go to school as normal, then work full time for ten years, save enough money that you can live off the interest/afford your own robot whatever to make you passive income, and retire around 30.

That is a more difficult way to do things because it either presumes that people are going to magically get really good at long-term planning/saving, or it presumes that we will enact a social insurance system that will cost a lot more while people are working so they will not starve once they are not. Neither seem plausible based on history.

I think that people need productive things to do in some way, shape, or form. I see my retired father who genuinely seems bored, especially in the winter when he can't golf. He's not the type who would volunteer at a day care or try and invent something in his spare time. Don't get me wrong - he's glad to be retired after nearly 50 years of working a physically demanding job, but I think he would have gone crazy if he had stopped when he was 50 years old.

Shortening the time we are mandated/expected to work would work better. This used to be the case in the form of longer vacations based on your years of service. The economy doesn't work like that anymore, people don't put in 30 years at the same company and accrue 6 weeks of vacation. They move around and start their seniority-based vacation from scratch every 5-10 years - and few companies give out 6+ weeks anymore anyway, it's more like 2-3.

I would love to see a work culture where hours could be more flexible. For example, I'd love to be able to say "this year, I would like to take 10 weeks off because I have young children, but in a few years I won't have as many demands so maybe I'll only take off 3". There is no formal mechanism for that, and if you informally ask it of your employer, your professional reputation will be tarnished. I asked to go part-time when my first child was born - I wanted to take off every other Friday, basically a "90%" schedule. I was told "no" in no uncertain terms. Not possible. And I work for a decent-sized company.

There are three major stumbling blocks that keep people tied to their jobs: healthcare, retirement and college education for their kids. If I knew that my retirement was secure and that my kids would not have to pay for college, I might consider working less or pursuing something different (but less lucrative or maybe more risky). Those are really big important expenses to have to worry about though.

Comment: Turnabout is fair play (Score 1, Insightful) 79

by RalphSlate (#48937215) Attached to: Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products

If corporate America can offshore the production of its goods to China, displacing US workers, but continuing to keep prices high, then I see this as a fair and just response to that. Cut out the middlemen, it is good for the US consumer, and that's all that matters, right? Just like global trade.

Comment: Re:Tell me it ain't so, Elon! (Score 1) 181

by RalphSlate (#48814009) Attached to: Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

That's almost a convincing argument, but you missed something - a corporate store means a complete monopoly on the product, and the price is 100% fixed. Think: Apple.

That does not mirror a grocery store. Sure, the price of a can of beans is fixed, but only at that store. If you don't like the price for that exact can of beans, you can try several others, and often can do better.

I do get your point about the secrecy though - although for the most part, even though prices are openly posted everywhere, they are de-facto secret because you can't get the information. You don't know how much a can of beans costs at all stores right now. You don't know how much I paid for it yesterday. It's still secretive, though open.

Comment: Re:Tell me it ain't so, Elon! (Score 1) 181

by RalphSlate (#48813929) Attached to: Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

That's one way to look at it - though characterizing it as "rip-off" because he wasn't charitable enough to subsidize people's gas seems a little antagonistic. Perhaps you didn't read where I wrote that Texaco charged him more for gas (i.e. the wholesale level) than it charged its retail customers. He took the risk by pioneering the market, they later came in and undercut him once it was established. That is the corporate way.

Comment: Re:Tell me it ain't so, Elon! (Score 3, Insightful) 181

by RalphSlate (#48812949) Attached to: Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

Your vision may be clouded by Elon Musk's cool name and your belief that he is good, not evil. Picture Jack Welch as the head of Tesla instead. Now picture that you're considering buying a Tesla dealership. You pay your franchise fee (maybe a few million), you sign your agreement (which states that Tesla retains the rights to sell directly), you build your building, and you start selling your cars. Turns out that you are pretty good at your job, and your dealership becomes a top-selling Tesla dealership.

Jack Welch checks his monthly reports and says "hmm, look at the Anytown USA territory. Everyone down there wants one of our cars. Let's open a company storefront down there - we can sell for less than our franchise and make more money". Sorry, you're out of business, and probably bankrupt too, because you took the risk for Tesla, and they cashed in.

My father used to own a Texaco gas station. He often competed with stations that were owned by Texaco itself. There were times when those company-owned stations would sell gas for cheaper than they would sell it to him wholesale. Corporate mentality doesn't care about anything but profit.

Comment: Re:Tell me it ain't so, Elon! (Score 0) 181

by RalphSlate (#48812889) Attached to: Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

I don't understand this mindset. People hate auto dealers because they don't like to haggle and they also don't want to pay the list price (deeming it too high). In order to remedy this, they want a system where they are prevented from haggling, and must pay the list price.

Comment: Re:It's a plane, not a very good car. (Score 1) 56

It's a nice dream, but likely very unfeasible. The reason is that any malfunction or accident means both likely death for the occupants, and likely serious damage for people on the ground. I don't think it's likely the skies can handle hundreds of such vehicles at any given time.

Comment: Google's unbounded power (Score 1) 251

by RalphSlate (#45055055) Attached to: Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites

Doesn't anyone find it troublesome that a private company (Google) is the one deciding whether this should be permissible? A private company, not democratically elected representatives, is deciding if this speech is protected or not? And that private company has the power to make or break the companies doing this?

Don't get me wrong - I don't think that posting booking photos should be legal, and I think that our representatives need to work on the issue of digital memories, where a stupid mistake made a long time ago can affect you for the rest of your life due to the availability of digital records. However what if Google quietly decides that it won't return valid results for people searching for certain computer algorithms which might let people compete with them? Or refuses to return results for certain colleges that it decides aren't good enough? Or decides to exclude certain authors from its index because generally speaking, people don't like them?

No company - unaccountable to the public - should have such power. Sure, you may like what they're doing with their power now, but they are already showing signs of turning their power away from what is good and onto what makes them the most money. Watch out.

Comment: Re:Corollaries (Score 1) 1255

by RalphSlate (#44736441) Attached to: Why One Woman Says Sending Your Kid To Private School Is Evil

I would argue that when both the rich and the poor alike used public schools, they were better.

I would argue that in places where more people use public transportation (look to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Europe), it is better.

I would argue that Social Security is a pretty successful and popular program.

Comment: Re:If I... (Score 1) 1255

by RalphSlate (#44736417) Attached to: Why One Woman Says Sending Your Kid To Private School Is Evil

You're missing the primary difference between democracy and capitalism. If you're unhappy with the public schools, you have a vote, and can cast it for change. If just over 50% of the people agree with you, change will happen.

In capitalism, you have dollars, and you can cast them for change. If 99% of the people want change, but just over 50% of the dollars don't, then change will not happen.

Democracy = 1 person, 1 vote.
Capitalism = 1 dollar, 1 vote.

The founders of this country did not set up a capitalistic government. They set up a democratic government. They recognized that capitalism cannot function as a system of government, that democracy was the way to do things.

Comment: Re:If I... (Score 1, Informative) 1255

by RalphSlate (#44736395) Attached to: Why One Woman Says Sending Your Kid To Private School Is Evil

You're posting misleading information about Social Security. Although general life expectancy was lower than 65 years old in 1930, those averages took infant mortality into account. 54% of men and 61% of women who survived to age 21 would survive to age 65 by 1940. Of that group, the average life expectancy was 13 years for men and 15 years for women.

You seem to think that if we didn't have Social Security, that people would plan for their retirement. But we've tried that experiment - before Social Security, people did not plan for their retirement. They worked until they died, or they were cared for by their children, usually daughters (who did not work).

There are three kinds of people: men, women, and unix.