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Comment: Re:Damn, nannies are hypocritical idiots (Score 1) 88

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48915253) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015
That's an OK rant, I'd give it a C+, or maybe a nice solid B, because of the pernicious influence of the 'self esteem' movement and grade inflation; but you need to remember 'elasticity'. It's a fairly important property of both supply and demand.

It is undoubtedly true that many political policies(across the spectrum, or whatever the geometry of your preferred political metaphor is) are incoherent, largely because many individuals' own desires are internally inconsistent and, even where they aren't, they usually have to do some amount of compromising with competing goals in order to actually get something passed into law.

However, elasticity of supply and demand are major factors in considering the policies you mention:

'Sin taxes', on booze, cigs, hookers, etc. are designed to exploit elasticity in two ways: because kids tend to be fairly poor, since their labor force participation and share of capital gains are both low, they usually have very high elasticity of demand; their demand for a good will generally drop sharply, sometimes to zero, with even relatively modest price increases. Here, the 'sin tax' is basically a flavor of Pigouvian taxation, aimed at discouraging voters' children from doing things they don't want them doing. Among adult consumers(especially addicts, what great customers!), demand for sin goods tends to be inelastic, which makes taxing those goods a pragmatic revenue source, since the low elasticity of demand reduces deadweight losses from taxation and means that you won't reduce the number of sales you get to take a cut of by too much in taking your cut. So (while you aren't supposed to say it this cynically in public) 'sin taxes' are actually a pretty sweet deal: they are an easy sell, by tax standards; because they promise to curtail activity that voters dislike(thanks to the high elasticity side of the sin market); but they are also far better at revenue generation than standard Pigouvian taxation, thanks to the low elasticity side of the sin market, who will keep right on buying. It actually works pretty well.

In the case of minimum wage (aside from pure moralizing of the 'living standards below X are unacceptable per se' flavor), the assumption being made(exactly how accurately it is being made is arguable) is that what demand remains for low-skilled workers is actually fairly inelastic(which is less crazy than it might sound, since so much has already been offshored or automated, with the remaining demand mostly coming from people who need warm bodies on site in the US, or idiomatic native English proficiency, or the like); but that the bargaining power of low-skilled workers is approximately fuck-all, since the demand has plummeted from historical highs, and organized labor is nearly dead. If such assumptions are accurate(the second is definitely true, I don't really want to get into an argument about the first, merely to note that it is the assumption being made by those in favor of minimum wage increases), then it should actually be possible to increase the minimum wage without markedly reducing demand for minimum wage workers, since the employers who could make do with fewer(either through robots or China) have mostly already done so. Whether or not it is accurate, it is the operating assumption.

As for 'wage and price controls', I'm not certain what you are referring to. Nixon tried them, back in '71, as a counterinflationary strategy(outcome: unsuccessful) and more far-reaching measures were taking during the world wars; but the various regulations(local, state, national) that are wage or price controls of some flavor are rarely talked about in aggregate like that; and are a giant hodgepodge of various things.

Comment: Re:only trying to help? (Score 1) 88

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48914589) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015
Few companies have ever done that(probably not zero, I'm sure at least a few charities have been structured such that they count as 'companies' in legal terms); but any company with a PR budget has wished to appear (at least in part) to be doing that. Given the number and size of the world's PR budgets, I can only assume that a great many companies have wished to appear to do that.

I don't know how much Uber HQ values good PR, though given their zillion-odd entanglements in markets where they are dubiously legal, they probably should consider it; but if they do value it, the case to be made is pretty obvious:

Whatever Team Econ has to say about the wonders of equilibrium pricing and the joyous intersection of the supply and demand curves, it's pretty obvious that 'surge pricing' is not people's favorite aspect of Uber, especially during events that are seen as exceptional in some way(they scored some very acidic headlines during the Sydney hostage incident, as I recall). Even among people who reject economic moralizing, the existence of options markets is a convincing demonstration that people assign value to predictable prices.

On the other hand, it's also fairly evident that Uber's service will be less popular if it is seen as unreliable and more popular if people think of it as always delivering a ride on request.

If Uber wants to improve their image, they have the option of doing so by absorbing some or all of the conflict between these two aspects of their service in situations that would be likely to generate unpleasant attention otherwise. They don't have an obligation to do so(even if they did drop the facade of not being a taxi operation, taxi regulations largely focus on price not on obligating operators to operate at all times); but it is a fairly obvious way to buy more favorable opinion, which is something that profit-oriented companies routinely think is worth doing.

Comment: Re:A call for Write Protect (Score 1) 66

by drinkypoo (#48913871) Attached to: Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

For those old enough to remember them, changing a BIOS required an EPROM burner and UV eraser. Changing CMOS settings required setting the write protect jumper.

Well, I had an IBM PC-1, and yes and no respectively.

Clearing CMOS settings is still done with a jumper. I do wish that all flash BIOS devices had a write protect jumper, though, and it would cost little to add them.

Comment: Re:Saddest line ever (Score 2) 121

by drinkypoo (#48913827) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

You are *so* cool! I bet you have a neckbeard too!

I sure do, but any time I go visit a new contract or even just go on vacation, I shave it. It's not an attachment or an affectation, I just don't measure my value by the cleanliness of my neck. It's not my fault I was born hairier than the average bear.

But hey, thanks for recognizing how great I am. I could use the publicity.

Comment: Re:Cam-tastic (Score 4, Insightful) 105

by cayenne8 (#48913793) Attached to: DEA Cameras Tracking Hundreds of Millions of Car Journeys Across the US

Where in the Constitution it is not ok for them to do this? After all, you are on public roads, you still can go anywhere you want. I don't see where they are violating the Constitution here.

Remember, the Constitution doesn't grant YOU rights, those are natural. The Constitution is there to GRANT the federal govt very limited, enumerated rights. Basically it is supposed to be there to grant them rights and responsibilities, and anything NOT in the constitution is not something they are supposed to be able to do. This was the foundation for a limited, and minimally intrusive form of Federal Govt., which has been bastardized over the years, and many of us would prefer to have reigned in.

The govt is not supposed to be there to track me, nor put out a blanket dragnet of surveillance to try to find any wrongdoers out there. Especially at the Federal level. Possibly more able to at the state level, but at least on state and local level, you have a bit more recourse and influence over the local politicians than at a federal level.

Not to mention, if you don't like the rules of one state you are free to move to a more like minded state. If this is done federally and nationally, you lose that freedom.

But yes, the Constitution is there to grant very LIMITED and enumerated rights, roles and responsibilities for the federal govt. If it isn't in it the constitution, it should not be a power they have.

At least, that's the way and thought behind the construction and mandate of our govt. in the beginning.

Comment: Re:Who eats doughnuts with the doughnut men? (Score 2) 363

by cayenne8 (#48913737) Attached to: Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App
I looked into it...but man, after reading the TOS for Waze....I'm very hesitant to download it much less sign up for it...the amount of info they seem to get from you is pretty bad. It tracks you, and keeps all the data from your travels.

I'd be happy to use an app that didn't track me so much, but to give voluntary info on police speed trap warnings, and traffic incidents, but I don't want them keeping my travel data and tracking me in real time.

This thing looks like a privacy nightmare from the TOS.

I"ve used an older app called "Trapster" which was a bit more anonymous and allowed folks to report speed traps and traffic cameras, etc. I think it fell a bit into dis-use which makes these kind of apps useful or not, but man, I don't like all the tracking and all that Waze does and the information it collects and seems to keep. Otherwise I'd jump on board big time.

Would be nice to know where speed traps and DWI roadblocks are set up when driving.

I prefer to avoid the police while out no matter what the cause.

Comment: Re:There should be a law (Score 1) 156

The emblems would be sooooo small because there are so many you wouldn't be able to read them :-)

Only the top ten or so even get space.

Here's another way to handle it. Whenever they appear on television, block out x% of their face and words based on their campaign contributions. Whoever gets least comes through at 100%, whoever gets most is just a wall of ads, and everyone else falls somewhere in-between

Comment: Re:everybody getting lost in technical details (Score 1) 349

And not seeing the obvious. This is a move to close down the 2nd hand market.

No, no it isn't. Just having non-transferable activation codes was that. This is a stupid and ham-handed attempt both to fight actual crimes and to dissuade people from seeking bargains.

It is so obvious, a 5 year old could get it.

Next time, consult a five year old.

Comment: Re:First Sale (Score 1) 349

You buy a license to use a game. They revoke the license, which is their right, but by doing so, you are no longer bound by the license terms either, which includes the payment you made.

Well, no. The license is something you enter into after you make the payment, hence the assertion that shrinkwrap licenses should not have any weight: you're not getting anything for them, you already got it. This online activation bullshit is a way around that: You're getting online activation.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 349

Ubisoft aren't as dumb as you think. They know that when they ban these keys most of the people who bought them will blame the vendor for selling them a dodgy copy.

I'm not sure they will do that. I think the majority of the gaming press will flame them for doing this (and rightly so, you don't punish people who are trying to be your customers, even if they are seeking bargains) and I think the majority of customers will feel however they are told to feel. And I think most of the rest of them will be pissed off because they won't have been able to play the game they paid for.

There's often legitimate discounts on games, so there's no valid reason to penalize customers for seeking discount prices. Likely some of those users made their purchases in ill faith, but I'd bet they were in the minority.

Comment: Re:Cam-tastic (Score 1) 105

by cayenne8 (#48913339) Attached to: DEA Cameras Tracking Hundreds of Millions of Car Journeys Across the US
Man, I wish someone could come up with a viable method of obstructing electronic license plate reading while leaving it readable by humans.

I'm guessing that the old thought of using high intensity infrarad LEDs to blow out the cameras doesn't work or we'd have heard more about it by now.

I don't know of laws requiring plates be readable by electronic means, otherwise they'd just have bar codes on them, no?

I'm just getting fed up with the govt. (state/feds) going overboard wight he surveillance. I mean, where in the constitution is it ok for them to do this to citizens that are NOT under investigation, nor being involved in interstate commerce?

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 349

Jesus fuck. So I can't buy games while on holiday in another country? A big FUCK YOU goes to ubisoft.

First World Problem.

There's nothing more ironic than someone who has the luxury of having time to complain about someone complaining spending that time complaining about them.

Yes, I realize what this post entails. But I was just sitting here and noticed that instead of curing cancer or solving world hunger, you chose to spend your time trying to make someone feel bad about complaining by complaining about them, and thought maybe you could use a bit o' perspective.

Comment: Re:If by "some fucked up stuff" (Score 4, Insightful) 121

by drinkypoo (#48913307) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

This just goes to show how pathetic a lot of leftists are. But but Cuba has some great, free healthcare. Yeah? Cuba's also politically and economically FUBAR to the nth degree

Leftists including myself bring up Cuba's health care system to show that even a country which is totally busted politically and economically can manage a national health care system which provides outcomes as good as what we have now (which ain't that great, but bear with this argument) for pennies on the dollar. It's not that we should go commie, it's that even the commies can manage health care. Here in the allegedly greatest nation in the world, the only magnificent part of our health care system is the size of the bill.

Comment: Re:Saddest line ever (Score 5, Interesting) 121

by drinkypoo (#48913287) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

Let's see you try to overthrow your government and post about it on the internet. Let's see how long you keep your free internet access (and your freedom in general).

Right now, any dickwad in America is free to put up a website advocating abolishment of the American government. And indeed, many of them have. Further, there is in fact a completely legal process for elimination of the constitution; you could pass an Amendment replacing it with another document. Nothing prevents anyone from starting a political party on this basis. I bet if I were less lazy I could find some really batshit crazy examples right now, but I equally bet that some people out there in Slashdot-land already know of some. I hope they will help out and link them here.

GREAT MOMENTS IN HISTORY (#7): April 2, 1751 Issac Newton becomes discouraged when he falls up a flight of stairs.