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Comment: Re:"Obamacare Enrollment"? (Score 1) 720

by Steve Hamlin (#46725723) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

"April 8, 2014. The long-awaited Rand Corp. study of Obamacare's effect on health insurance coverage was released Tuesday and confirmed the numbers that had been telegraphed for more than a week: At least 9.3 million more Americans have health insurance now than in September 2013, virtually all of them as a result of the law."

"That's a net figure, accommodating all those who lost their individual health insurance because of cancellations. The Rand study confirms other surveys that placed the number of people who lost their old insurance and did not or could not replace it -- the focus of an enormous volume of anti-Obamacare rhetoric -- at less than 1 million."

Source: http://www.latimes.com/busines...

Comment: Re:So why use trees? (Score 1) 112

by Steve Hamlin (#46663621) Attached to: Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

Burning isn't always bad.

Burning carbon sources that are the accumulation of millions of years of photosynthesis is bad, because you are net-adding carbon to the atmosphere.

Efficiently burning renewable carbon sources (while controlling other embedded pollutants) is not so bad, because over a reasonable timeframe you are merely putting carbon into the atmosphere that your fuel sources took out several years before; rinse & repeat, with little effect on long-term atmospheric carbon pollution.

Comment: Re:Walmart employees, rejoice! (Score 3, Informative) 455

by Steve Hamlin (#46606013) Attached to: Wal-Mart Sues Visa For $5 Billion For Rigging Card Swipe Fees

"Hard to break free of that system though...everybody expects the benefit, and it costs the company less to provide the benefit than they would have to pay you extra to afford your own insurance."

True. Right now, you do not pay income tax on the value of the employer-provided insurance that is provided by the employer (i.e. that which is not charged to you as premiums or deductibles - employers used to pick up most the tab, and still do pick up some of it). It was usually not even possible for you to get a good answer from HR on the value of that. In the past several years, something akin to the value of that untaxed benefit has started appearing on your W-2 (as information only - not included in your taxable income).

McCain floated a plan in the 2008 U.S. Presidential race to slowly phase out that untaxed-benefit, which would ultimately divorce health-insurance from being mostly employer-provided: it would start including the value of the employer-provided health insurance as taxable income to you, and then provide a tax credit that would cover the majority of this new taxable-income (based on some value of an average health-insurance plan). Over time, that credit would be reduced, under the theory that in a perfect free-market for labor, wages paid would adjust upwards to compensate as previously-health-care-providing employers competed on a tax-neutral playing field against employers that paid 100% in cash (whose employees would purchase their own insurance with after-tax money, just like any other consumer purchase).

This would help to disclose both how much health-insurance costs (theoretically bending the health-case cost curve down), as well as ramping down any tax benefit associated with employer-provided health insurance. Eventually, when there would be no advantage to employer-provided health insurance, people would buy policies on the open market without any connection to their employer, and you would be able to carry that policy with you when you changed employers - no COBRA, because it's not needed.

Of course, that plan did not address all of the other problems with the health insurance market, and of course not all of the problems with delivery of health care in the U.S.. But I liked the plan, because it provided a glide path that seemed to make sense, in reaching a goal of separating the purchase of health-insurance policies from the employer you happen to be working for at the time, when that connection no longer makes any sense.

Comment: Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (Score 1) 292

by Steve Hamlin (#46551225) Attached to: Back To the Moon — In Four Years

MightyYar writes "But that shouldn't matter to those of us on the ground, since we have the atmosphere to protect us."

But: "The magnetosphere protect[s] the Earth from cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation." (Source: Wikipedia)

Comment: Re:[OT] beta.slashdot.org (Score 1) 94

by Steve Hamlin (#46166837) Attached to: Silk Road Founder Indicted In New York

"You're only directed to the Beta site if you're not logged in."

Incorrect.

When logged in, on several occasions, including this afternoon, I have opened-in-new-tab a number of Slashdot articles, and about 1 out of 10 open in the beta site (and logged in at the beta URL, to boot). I can delete the 'beta.' in the URL, and get the classic site.

I guess I'm not smart enough also?

Comment: Re:Stock price (Score 1) 390

by Steve Hamlin (#46115749) Attached to: IE Drops To Single-Digit Market Share

Total Return (annualized %), over the past 5,10,15 years:

MSFT: 18.8, 5.0, 0.25
SP500: 18.5, 6.8, 4.1

Slightly lower performance that the standard benchmark, and with higher volatility to boot (as a tech/software company during 1998-2001, the starting date matters A LOT). Yes, the law of large numbers applies, but still, not a great reflection on Ballmer.

Source: http://performance.morningstar...

Comment: Re:Labor laws need to be changed (Score 1) 397

by Steve Hamlin (#45991677) Attached to: Electrical Engineering Lost 35,000 Jobs Last Year In the US

IANAEconomist, but I think the main way to distinguish structural from other forms on unemployment is to observe what happens to the labor market when the economy heads back toward a full-cycle peak, and not just to observe labor conditions near a business-cycle trough after a deep recession with continuing significant aggregate demand shortfalls of over $1 trillion in GDP.

Only then can you try to tweeze out structural vs. cyclical unemployment rates, and if see if the NAIRU has risen.

Comment: Re:This is how the media controls you (Score 2) 770

by Steve Hamlin (#45991133) Attached to: Creationism In Texas Public Schools

"Why look at trillion dollar deficits that are destroying the economy"

That is truly begging the question. Assumes facts not in evidence. Actually, assumes facts that are contrary to a lot of evidence:

- FY2014 deficit will be $300-500bn, and forecasted to be in the higher end of that range for the next 4 years.
- That's 3% of GDP and falling.
- Evidence shows that advanced nations are in a macro-economic liquidity trap.
- Evidence shows that governmental deficit spending in a liquidity trap has a positive multiplier to GDP.
- Evidence shows that "Expansionary austerity" is not a thing, in that austere economic policies have not caused economic expansion in the countries that have tried them. Even former cheerleaders of austerity have admitted those policies have not worked.
---
Sources:
http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44715-OptionsForReducingDeficit-2_1.pdf
http://useconomy.about.com/od/fiscalpolicy/tp/US_Federal_Budget.htm)

Comment: it DOES matter! (Score 1) 137

by Steve Hamlin (#45990775) Attached to: Target Credit Card Data Was Sent To a Server In Russia

That's not how fraud works, economically. You've just described a number of costs, borne by various parties in a fairly-competitive economic market place, including "that's what your double digit interest rate is paying for." And the conclude that "the consumer doesn't eat the fraud."

Economic losses from fraud are first borne by the directly-impacted party, and then those economic losses are passed around the economy according to various factors like pricing power and elasticities of supply and demand. Since 70% of the economy is consumer spending, then I posit that approximately 70% of all economic losses due to fraud are borne by consumers. Might be more or less, but just because Target's 100+ million affected customers are not directly impacted financially in a first-order way does not mean that they, or all consumers, don't ever see the financial impact of this fraud. They just absorb the financial impact in a thousand minor and unseen ways, as the fraud loss is absorbed into the macro-economy and attenuates down to imperceptible levels like the CMB.

Fraud is sand in the gears of the economy, and the resulting inefficiency ultimately affects every participant in or user of that machine.

Comment: Re:Labor laws need to be changed (Score 1) 397

by Steve Hamlin (#45990449) Attached to: Electrical Engineering Lost 35,000 Jobs Last Year In the US

your wrote: "if we'd rather keep the laws as they are and accept high levels of permanent structural unemployment"

False dilemma, and assumes facts not in evidence.

Actually, assumes facts that are contrary to current evidence, which is that there does not appear to have been a permanent rise in the level of structural unemployment in the U.S. Pray tell, where in the U.S. are wages rapidly rising to meet the structurally-insufficient supply of a particular workforce or skillset? (and localized wage inflation as a result of the temporary inability for a workforce to quickly relocate to an area of new demand does not count as structurally-insufficient workforce supply: it's not structural)

Comment: Re:Hypothetical questions - In the military too (Score 1) 397

by Steve Hamlin (#45990287) Attached to: Electrical Engineering Lost 35,000 Jobs Last Year In the US

What makes you think the human desire for more will ever cease? By the standards of 300-500 years ago, 99% of the modern world is thriving. So why is everyone working as hard as they are? Because humans want. And unless everyone becomes ascetic Buddhists, or advanced AI coupled with nanotech replicators removes virtually all resource and technical constraints, that will continue for a long time yet.

An interesting question, to be sure. Another interesting question: the sociological and economic effects of drastically-extended lifespans.

Comment: Re:Payment in advance not unusual (Score 1) 149

by Steve Hamlin (#43861355) Attached to: Casting a Harsh Light On Chinese Solar Panels

"People don't even do escrow when they buy a house. But they should. But I guess the real estate lobby wouldn't like that at all."

You are entirely incorrect: Every house purchased using a bank loan (i.e 95+%) is transacted through an escrow company with title insurance, and the entities involved in the escrow process are, in fact, the real estate industry.

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