On the other hand, for Google's integrated stuff for Android to work properly, ie, contacts list, mail, documents/drive, calendar, etc, one has to have a Google account. Before Plus, that Google account was essentially private. Plus felt like an unwelcome intrusion that was one messed up privacy setting away from publishing stuff that wasn't meant for more than my own personal interoperability.
Fact of the matter is, most people that want a social network for personal communication have signed up for one already, and they've probably gone with Facebook because it's the biggest, and being the biggest makes it easiest to justify choosing it. Google's attempts to foist Plus on us felt a lot like how Microsoft forced Internet Explorer on us by bundling it with Windows 95 OSR2 and later versions of Windows.
You think there's only one alternative? I think there are several. First, forget about pensions; 401k plans are much better and have replaced them for most workers.
How are defined-contribution plans better than defined-benefit plans?
If the 401k plan wasn't tied to the specific company I might be able to see your argument, but given that it's tied to the employer and all of the things that employer could do (ie, ride the company off the rails) I don't see how it could be considered better.
The most insidious was when we went to an Ethan Allen store several years ago to buy some bedroom furniture. We had been looking at a particular set for a few months and finally decided to spend the many thousands of dollars to get everything. We were literally filling-out the triplicate form when I asked the saleslady, on a lark, about country-of-origin. They were imported. She backpedalled about how they'd trained the production staff (Vietnam if I remember right) and how the quality was just as good as the furniture coming out of their American plants. Tore the form in half and walked out. Part of what pissed me off so much was that they were charging the same as they charge for furniture made in the USA, so they were simply doing it for profit. No benefit to the consumer even in the form of lower prices, just profit.
Sears has stopped buying Craftsman-branded tools from American tool forges and is now making them in China and Taiwan. I'm wondering if the introduction of the "Evolv" line a few years ago was to test the waters with the manufacturer that they went with before migrating the bulk of the tool line to them. Either way, if I want a lifetime warranty hand tool made overseas I can get one a lot cheaper at Harbor Freight than at Sears, and with identical warranties, why would I continue to buy from Sears?
If imported products were inspected as thoroughly as they should be they would be a lot more expensive, possibly to the point that some manufacturing would return.
I've noticed a trend- conferences that are paid-for by third-parties that sponsor the attendees, be they employers or charities or governments, are usually held in places where people want to go, while conferences that are paid for by the attendees themselves are usually held in less-desirable places or times (ie, winter in Minneapolis or summer in Phoenix). If the attendees are sponsored they go whole-hog, and if they pay themselves the venue tends to be the cheapest possible.
I wonder which Berlin is in November? I've never been there myself.
It's probably good that the executive and legislative branches do not have direct control of monetary policy as it reduces the chances of fads from disrupting the economy. As for problems with the banks that plug-in to the Federal Reserve System, those have jumped the shark because conventional commercial banks are allowed to commingle too many of their risky business ventures and are allowed to overleverage against their deposits, so of course they end up begging for more money when they inevitably screw up. Laws that have changed over the last 30-40 years have given the banks too much freedom, that's not a function of the Fed but of Congress and of the Presidency. Restrict banks into having be banks first and foremost again and my guess is that a lot of these problems would be reduced.
Of course, one has to be careful. A car that I bought for $12,000 in 1979 was just appraised at $484,000. Not quite a Fiat. Just a Cousin with eight more than the customary number of cylinders.
Definitely not a Fiat then... *grin*