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Comment: Re:Responsible party? (Score 1) 65

The outcome is fines paid by one part of government to another, but it does focus the leadership to get it right

Or discourage reporting any incidents. If losing a container of Anthrax means you get punished, then you have strong incentives to not tell anyone and hope you'll find it, rather than rise alarm and put the place in a lockdown.

Comment: Re: How about (Score 1) 375

Or hell, look at the Fourth Amendment. You're concerned about a program that could (theoretically) be used to abuse millions of Americans. When asked to provide evidence that anyone has actualy been hurt you respond with a) abstract compalints about how bad you feel that the government knows whom you've been emailing, and b) claims that of course nobody has evidence of more then a handful of people being oppressed via NSA information because it's secret.

I haven't been so asked. But since you mentioned it, widespread contempt for the law is something that should be scourged from government at any level.

Sure, that's an abstract observation. But I don't see the need for anything more. Government routinely oversteps the bounds we attempt to put on it.

As to point b), that is a rather obvious argument. Notice that no corporation gets to protect its secrecy like that (unless of course, they're contractors for the US military or intelligence and can protect their inner workings with these secrecy laws).

Either increasing corporate power relative to the Feds is pro-freedom or it isn't.

Either the sky is green or it is purple. False dichotomy is false.

My view is that there is in the current situation some freedom to be gained from making business and the private world more powerful with respect to the federal government. I consider it an informal balance of power, much like the official ones between states and federal government or between the branches of the federal government.

Sure, I can see situations where increasing business power beyond a certain extent causes a decrease in personal freedom. But I think it's foolish to think we're in that sort of situation now.

Also, the NSA problem is notable because it gives lie to the common claim that the federal government is being run by corporate powers. Well, the supposedly obedient servant just cost its masters a lot of money (once again, I might add) and is likely to continue to do so for many years to come.

They have trouble with disputes with corporations because a) they don;t have a guy on-staff who instinctively understands all paperwork every corporation in the country issues, and b) very few private companies have a boss who fears Congressional hearings.

a) is irrelevant (and even if it weren't, you just need someone with some basic legal knowledge, not "instinctive" knowledge of each and every corporation's paperwork). And b) congresspeople can do a lot more than just have hearings. They have a lot of media and political contacts for starters. They can pass laws. It's not that hard for them to affect the bottom line.

Comment: Re:Airspace (Score 1) 167

by danheskett (#47440893) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The problem is that you presume that you should have more access to the air space than anyone else. You shouldn't. For a long time the cost made access to air space prohibitive except for a small class of wealthy individuals or large companies. That's over.

It's time to make it fair. You have no greater claim to airspace than anyone else. Your desire to tool around in an aircraft for hobby in no way supersede my desire to do the same with an UAV.

Comment: Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (Score 1) 167

by danheskett (#47440879) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

This is not exactly true, but the spirit is right.

Any administration has two prerogatives that they exercise:

1. Upholding and enforcing the laws, "faithfully". This is the ultimate judgement question. Imagine that Congress passes law intended to allow any person to breathe free, and that the penalty for violating that law is death. But Congress makes a mistake and passes language that says "one person may breathe free". Is the President required to go around, arresting and trying people for all breathing free, when only person is supposed to breathe free? No, he is not. That is the essence of "faithfully".

2. The FAA, like DHS and many other agencies, have prevailed upon Congress to grant their administrators massive deference to the implementation of rules and application of law. This is a worrying trend that has gone back many decades, but has really picked up in the last 20 years. In the past, Congress would work on bills in committee and in markup and in conference, to implement many of the smaller and fine details in the law.

Laws like the ACA are said to be very long, but really, they aren't that long. Most of it is technical wording to amendment the text of other laws or titles. In terms of detail, there isn't as much as you might think. And it's full of certifications, "as the director sees fit", and other various elastic clauses.

This administration especially has focus on passing laws that have very little meat to them excluding a set of broad goals and somewhat corresponding powers. Almost all of the commonly cited abridgements of the ACA fall into one of three categories:

a. A portion of the law that was left to the descretion of the Director.

b. Unenforceable - i.e. whatever the law says, it must be real and practiacable, or it is not enforceable by a Court. If the law says you must grow wings and fly away by August 1st, 2014 and you fail to do so, you can't be held to penalty by a Court. The same is true of the ACA. If they say all employers must provide accetable health insurance by a certain date, and a list of acceptable health insurance is not developed, then the penalty is not enforceable in Court. It's a matter of due process.

c. A portion of the law that creates no grieved party that has standing. This one is most interesting to me personally. Imagine a law passed that says that if certain conditions are met by two other parties, I am a poopy pants. Who can I see for my poopy pant status? The answer is: probably no one. There is no harm, so there is no basis for a successful suit.

In the end, your spirit is right though. The question is: what is the recourse when the Administration does not follow the law. The Courts can intervene, but in a practical sense, the Court has limited enforcement options.

The answer is: Congress can cut off the money. Unfortunately, the only House that can appropriate money is also hopelessly broken and run without really any interest in governing. For example, with this FAA thing, in the past, say when the House was run by Speaker Tip O'Neil and the White House was controlled by Republicans, Congress knew how to keep the White House on a tight rope. That House often attached funding directly to enforcement and deadlines. They would insert language into must pass bills, like funding appropriations, for things that they wanted done by the Administration. These were small-ish things. It would be perfectly in tradition to design funding for the FAA to ensure that the FAA met the legally required deadlines, by inserting language into funding appropriations that, say, reduced FAA funding for executive salaries and benefits by 1% for each day past the deadline that the rulemaking dragged on.

Unfortunately the current GOP really has no taste for governing. This type of thing requires a staff that is very competent, who have some weight in the Administrative branches, and who know the in's and out of policy. Whatever their strong points, the current GOP House really has no skills for actually making policy. Picking huge political battles that nearly break the government, only to cave at the last minute, is probably the most this GOP can accomplish. It is a complete and total myth that they can't do anything with just one House of one branch of government. The reality is that, properly managed, the GOP controlled House could force the Administration to do almost anything. Their problem is that they gave away the power of the purse for the length of their entire term. A huge,huge, huge mistake since that is their only power.

In fact, the best thing they could have done is only appropriate money month by month, and make the directors of each agency come and justify their funding requests every month for the entire two year terms. (But of course, that means less time for all the other important stuff they do.. like... err, well, I'm sure it's out there).

Comment: Re:Tea-Bagger Click Bait (Score 1) 167

by danheskett (#47440791) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

You may have a point about low-wage labor, but it's lost on the fact before 1940, the Federal government didn't even know about foreigners inside the borders of the United States. Up until then, aliens who could physically get to the US didn't even have to register, and did not have to do or not do anything special.

Comment: Re:Not a rule (Score 1) 167

by danheskett (#47440779) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

Rather, the FAA is drawing a different line here.

It's quite a bit worse because they aren't drawing a line. Is there any rule making that has completed that supports their commercial vs. non-commercial claims. And it's not clear that the FAA is enforcing any existing promulgated rule or regulation.

Their actions against commercial drone operators just appear to be arbitrary.

Comment: And done elsewhere (Score 1) 199

by Sycraft-fu (#47440405) Attached to: Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

In Tucson 10%ish of the drinking water comes from reclaimed water (aka filtered sewage). Makes sense in an area with not a lot of fresh water resources. Also in those areas you can have different kinds. You can purchase a non-potable (not for consumption) water source for irrigation. Again, reclaimed water, but it undergoes less filtering and thus is cheaper. Plenty of larger places get a hookup to keep their watering costs down.

It is a very sensible way of doing things and you actually have more control of purity than water that comes out of the ground.

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