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Comment: Re:More than PR (Score 1) 355

by Sarten-X (#49748621) Attached to: What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"?

I'll point out that even reporting the money's use doesn't really mean anything. They just report that they entertained potential donors, and their big party is a perfectly cromulent expense. Of course, they have to show that the fundraising was somewhat successful, so they'll be sure to invite a few retired politicians who kept their own PACs and run their own parties. It's all a big cycle, where the money and champagne keep flowing.

Comment: Re:More than PR (Score 5, Insightful) 355

by Sarten-X (#49748575) Attached to: What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"?

The main difference between libertarians and liberals is in their preferred solutions.

Ultimately, the liberal philosophy is that society can and should take care of everyone. The libertarian philosophy is that everyone should only be required to take care of themselves. From an antagonist perspective, liberals have their heads in the clouds, and libertarians have never heard of the tragedy of the commons.

Both are able to see problems in the government programs that Sen. Paul spoke against. When it comes time for a solution, however, the libertarians would fight to abolish the programs entirely, reducing the size of government and ultimately the burden on citizens to support what little benefit the programs may bring. On the other hand, the liberals would usually rather fix the flawed programs, to preserve that benefit while removing the harmful details.

For completeness, we should discuss the conservative position as well: Government should only be involved when someone can't take care of themselves. If someone is able to manage their life without dealing with the government, then the government shouldn't interfere with that. The offending programs should be fixed so that their flaws are covered or resolved, but ultimately don't interfere with society's operation.

The libertarians are mocked because they throw the baby out with the bathwater. The liberals are mocked because they just keep making the system bigger. The conservatives are mocked because they rarely actually fix the problems. Welcome to America, where the most common use of free speech is to complain about someone else.

Comment: Re:One thing to consider... (Score 2) 82

In a number of states you HAVE to give the registration desk at the hospital your SSN. Otherwise you are in violation of some idiot state law. ... Federal law now states you have to give the desk a 'government issued ID' for ANY care.

[citation needed]

I used to work in medical data, and SSNs are actually explicitly prohibited in a number of states. I never encountered any state that required them. I'm also particularly skeptical of your "ANY care" comment, as that would prohibit care for foreigners, vagrants, emergencies, and many accidents.

Unfortunately, it is true that many doctors' record systems require the field. I quickly lost count of how many different patients apparently had 123-45-6789 for their SSN.

Comment: Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1076

by Sarten-X (#49742759) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

He also ignores that officials, happy to buy votes by spending taxes, will tax what the market can provide, so to speak, rather than what is needed.

Isn't it the whole point of society to improve people's lives?

Recently, improving my life meant making some major renovations in my hometown... Repaving roads, clearing an old nature trail, awarding scholarships, and the like. One particular city official started making those things happen, so he got my support when he ran for mayor. I suppose from one perspective, he bought my vote with my own tax dollars. From my perspective, my taxes were spent on very worthwhile causes.

This is why they mentally tie spending, taxing, and borrowing to the GDP rather than population or necessity.

The GDP serves as a reference point, because it's independent of demographics. It provides a scale for normalizing other ratios, so the numbers that come out of such analysis can be applied usefully. It also avoids the issue of whether production comes from individuals or corporations. If you want those numbers, you can derive them pretty easily.

They want to be as high a fraction of that as possible.

Do you have any evidence of this generalization? The politician's I've dealt with usually want to maximize GDP, but maximizing a tax/GDP ratio would suggest they'd be better off decreasing GDP.

It has nothing to do with necessity or population.

And that is precisely my point. The world was different in 1940, in many ways. Why should we, as tompaulco suggested, treat 1940 as some ideal standard for running today's government?

Comment: Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1076

by Sarten-X (#49732255) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

I think the basic standard of living has increased somewhat since 1940. Just guessing here, but I suspect that today we have a few more roads, better schools, better healthcare, better law enforcement, and of course, we can't forget that in 1940, we didn't really worry about ICBMs, orbital weapons, or instantaneous ethereal attacks from the other side of the planet. We also didn't have satellites, global surveys, or anywhere near the level of scientific study we have today.

Sure, we can probably keep 300 million people breathing for far less than we spend today, but our lives aren't the same as they were 80 years ago. The equivalence is false.

Comment: Re:Best first steps (Score 1, Insightful) 215

by Sarten-X (#49726583) Attached to: Trojanized, Info-Stealing PuTTY Version Lurking Online

I just rebuilt my Windows desktop at home.

The first thing I did was to install Google Chrome, because I'd rather not tolerate IE while fetching other stuff. Next was Steam, mostly so I could get it downloading a game immediately. Once my game was underway, I downloaded PuTTY, followed by a few other utilities.

From my perspective, you're all very close, but wrong nonetheless.

Comment: Re:Freedom! (Score -1, Offtopic) 109

by Sarten-X (#49723767) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Utterly offtopic...

Regardless, the answer (assuming your unasked question is "why not?") is pretty straightforward: God won't let you. God gave you a life, and no, he didn't ask if you wanted it. You play a particular role, but you don't get to choose whether to accept the part or not. Depending on the particular brand of theism, you might get to choose how you'll say your lines or hit your marks, but according to other schools, you are simply a soul experiencing the story (including your internal thoughts and emotions) that God has laid out for you. Even if you "choose" suicide to escape, that may very well be exactly what God has planned, or it may be a grave insult to your director.

My perspective: Why bother? Either God is or he isn't, and if I have these thoughts and emotions, I might as well play them as my own. I'm not so arrogant as to demand that my free will actually be cosmically and ultimately free.

You can do what you will, but in any given moment of your life you can will only one definite thing.

-Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Freedom of the Will, 1839

Comment: Re:Well duh (Score 1) 44

by Sarten-X (#49677385) Attached to: MuckRock FOIA Request Releases Christopher Hitchens' FBI Files

There's nothing wrong with people rocking the boat. That's the claim politicians make to get elected, and it's what they try for to get reelected.

What scares the government is when someone tries to capsize the boat. If your anti-religion rants are a means to radicalize people against a supposedly-religious government in an effort to spark a civil war, then yes, the FBI should be watching. That's a large part of its job.

I've been involved with a particular group of people who like to build rather energetic exothermic chemical devices, and set them off (legally and safely). We had the FBI come out and watch us for a while, and a few folks had some probing questions, but they've left us alone ever since it was clear that we're a bunch of nerds with no political ambitions whatsoever.

Comment: Re:Laws that need to be made in secret (Score 1) 169

by Sarten-X (#49637605) Attached to: Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

The reason we don't want to make another nation look like a petulant child is that it wouldn't help us at all. We want to trade with them. We get an economic boon from the trade as well, but insulting/embarrassing other nations will either accomplish nothing or, as you've noted, give them an opportunity to do the same to us. The only way we come out ahead is if we play the game so everyone wins.

Comment: Re:Laws that need to be made in secret (Score 1) 169

by Sarten-X (#49632661) Attached to: Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

America might think they're good reasons, but another party might disagree. Politics is far more complicated than "we like these guys now".

There was a time when China (the communist mainland) wouldn't deal with any organization that recognized the government of China (the government in exile on Taiwan). If they had to interact with such organizations, the PRC would make sure they got a better deal than the ROC did.

Your simple solution doesn't work so well in the real world.

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