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Comment Re:Also (Score 1) 165

I think that dirty bomb scenarios assume it is being exploded in places like center of Manhattan (or in specially constructed dispersion device in the air). Nuclear power plants are NOT in the very center of densely populated cities, but at least few km away. There might be some light infrastructure around, but probably no huge condominiums 500-1000m from reactor core.
Irradiating few km^2 of manhattan or few km^2 near highway in middle of nowhere is bound to produce different death toll.

Comment Re:A way to compete: Post a sign, "Photos Allowed. (Score 1) 280

The idea that an insurance only can be voluntary and not be mandatory, otherwise it would be a tax, is completely retarded. Look at your car insurance.

If you would need to pay for car insurance 5% of your salary, regardless of how many cars you have (including none), yes, I would call it a tax.

Anyway, discussion was about how much of your salary is taken by government compared to what your employer has to spend. It really doesn't matter if we call it tax, insurance, mandatory payment, protection racket, or whatever.

And BTW, I'm European as well and I'm not saying that government taking percentage of salary (as oppose to lump sum) for public health service is bad thing. I'm just calling it a tax, because there is no way to opt out and it meets all definition of word tax.
If you think that health insurance etc is not tax, be sure to correct wikipedia entry

Comment Re:A way to compete: Post a sign, "Photos Allowed. (Score 2) 280

I do not live in Germany currently, used to live there.
Regarding difference between tax and insurance - as long as it is mandatory, enforced by government and percentage your income, it is a tax in my book, regardless of how government might want to call it. If it would be medical 'insurance' then it would be a lump sum depending on what service you are getting, not percentage of your salary.
As for the rest, please see here
Please remember I'm talking about salary taxes as seen from the side of employer. Not showing them on employee payroll does not mean they do not exist. Otherwise you can just look at net salary and pretend taxes do not exist.

You are right about is possibility of getting out of church tax. Same way, in US you can probably move to state without a VAT/sales tax/whatever. I was comparing worst case scenario (this is why I took example of Lohnsteurklasse I instead of for example unemployed single mother of three).

Comment Re:A way to compete: Post a sign, "Photos Allowed. (Score 1) 280

Can you give some specific numbers? I have paid taxes in Germany and I really doubt you are right. We should count:
- net pay compared to total employer gross cost for employee (Germany, like many other countries, define gross salary as some random number and then require employer to pay taxes on top of it, so they are invisible to employee); this includes not only income tax, but pension tax, church tax, let's help poor east Germans tax, medical tax, accidents tax, job protection tax, sick pay tax, maternity tak, insolvency tax (these are all taxes, no things you 'buy' from your salary)
- then take goods taxes in account (VAT, sales tax, alcohol tax, gasoline tax etc) to find out what percent of the money reaches seller of goods

Not sure about exact net pay - but I think it ends up being around 50% of employer cost after you take everything into account (I'm talking about IT-level salaries, not McDonalds pay, single person, no children). So, from 5000 EUR spent by employer, you end up with 2500 EUR cash.

Then you got to the shop and you pay 19% VAT on everything. This ends up being 16% tax if you count it right way. So, from your 2500 EUR spent in shops, 400 ends up being immediately taxed. Rest is more complicated, we can assume it is already purchasing power.

So, it is roughly 2100 EUR out of 5000 EUR spent by employer. This comes to around 58% effective tax for private people, earning reasonable (but not extravagant) salaries. It will be probably in range of 55% for average salary.

Can you now do similar computation for your 'free' country?

Comment Local CO2 (Score 1) 73

Does it really make sense to measure CO2 locally? Is it different between different areas of same city by magnitude bigger than measurement error? Won't transient sources (like large old truck driving in front of you while you take measurements) have a lot larger impact than other differences (middle of forest versus middle of non-congested road)?

I have seen arguments that it is ok to have CO2 measurement station on top of vulcano, because CO2 mixes so well, it won't be affected by vulcano emissions. But now we want to measure it on completely local level?

Comment Re:Policy should be based on facts (Score 2) 295

What about labeling food with 'black people were involved in production of this food (not in Soylent Green meaning)' to give informed choice to KKK people to not buy such products? But at same time we are fine to have notifications of 'rabbi was involved in production of this food', to given informed choice to some other people to not buy other food.

It is has nothing to do with religion or common sense. It is just that some groups/religions had enough power to make their arbitrary requirements ok, while others are shunned upon. What most people (including me) are advocating is that we should make GMO distinction same shameful as my first example, because it hurts human progress. Other people are advocating their irrational beliefs in GMO-devil and that they should be given choice of worshipping God of Natural Food.

This is old war between religion and enlightenment.

Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 2) 313

How many times psychopathic tyrants were toppled because of moral rebellion within own forces? Hitler? Stalin? Saddam? Current-North-Kimchi-incarnation?
I think that benevolent/democratic governments are risking a lot bigger chance of unrest, because of giving too long leash.

I suppose that what is really your point is not that psychopatic regimes will be easier to rule (they already are), but rather than countries currently democratic to some extend might turn into psychopatic regimes because of not having to care about their democracy-spoiled citizens. So it is AI-drone-wielding Obama which is a nightmare, not AI-drone-wielding Al Kaida. But, aren't there enough 'morally flexible' drone operators available that it doesn't really matter?

Comment Re:Dangerous power (Score 1) 265

Please read back to wikipedia article I have quoted about how it worked in Soviet Union.
If a bit of shock theraphy would make you abandon suicidal tendencies, renounce crazy terrorist faith and open yourself to confess other people which might need immediate psychiatric help... I could easily imagine doctors who would believe that they are doing it for the good of 'patient' and that they are doing 'no harm'. And there would be enough who would not care at all.

This is why I said 2025. Assuming that things go into wrong direction. More terror-scare-mongering, more power for psychiatry, etc etc.

Maybe I'm emotionally scarred by watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Sucker Punch"...

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"