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Comment: Re:Mars has no magnetosphere (Score 1) 505

by bigpat (#48037105) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity
I basically agree with you, but I think this is a case of the technology and experience of making extreme earth environments more habitable eventually being applicable to Mars when we are prosperous and have the robotic construction technology for it to make sense. If we can bring greater sustainable habitability to our oceans, deserts and Antarctica or even underground cities on Earth, then I think that would be a good starting point and proof of concept for the even more extreme environments on other planets. Another Moon-shot scenario where we go to Mars as some sort of competition at unsustainable expense won't lead to sustainable colonization. Reducing the cost of Earth based construction and mining with more practical automation would be a good way to develop the types of technology that are needed for colonization or asteroid mining. And being able to build and rebuild housing at lower cost would raise people's standard of living here at home.

Comment: Re:Here's the bill: public notice key (Score 2) 111

by bigpat (#48027397) Attached to: California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance
I think that is an important point. Unmanned drones certainly can give additional capabilities at potentially lower costs. But the privacy consideration should be in what the police are allowed to do without a warrant regardless of whether it is a manned helicopter or an unmanned one or a person up on a hill or a tower that has a good vantage point. Restrictions such as not peering in through windows into a house or using different wavelengths of light to determine heat signatures in a house or using a laser/radar to ease-drop on the conversations of occupants of a house or building without a warrant or a bona fide emergency situation are all appropriate restrictions that should equally apply to all technology rather than single out any one particular technology. This could be a case where the more specific a law protecting privacy is, then the more loop holes for using other technology in the same way are created.

Comment: Re:"stashes its cash" (Score 1) 363

by bigpat (#47993905) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway
This is the most important point being lost in the arguments against Corporate "Inversions" and other ways profits made overseas are "stashed" overseas. The taxes that discourage bringing profits earned overseas back to the US are the problem. Let companies bring the money back to the US tax free and the capital will get invested here resulting in taxable wages and salaries that help grow the US economy. No, this tax free arrangement wouldn't work for individual income taxes because it would be an easy tax dodge for those getting income from outside the country and still actually residing in the US. But companies ARE different than individuals in that even a cursory audit would demonstrate where the sales and revenue were actually coming from. Large companies should be taxed where they are doing business regardless of where their headquarters are.

Comment: Re:The pot calling the kettle black (Score 1) 260

by bigpat (#47983151) Attached to: Obama Presses China On Global Warming
Much of the developing countries and China's pollution is a result of export focused industry. Exports that go to the US and other countries. Maybe the overall effects will eventually be positive if those developing countries can adopt cleaner technologies, but at this point it appears that many of the environmental efforts over the last 50 years.have just shifted the problems of pollution and habitat loss overseas. As if we just said to China, send us a bunch of batteries to power our society and we don't care how you charge them. Unless we go ahead and block imports, then the supply chain matters. I am not disagreeing with the assessment of complete jack-assery and hypocrisy of many Global leaders. But if we are going to solve the problem, then it can no longer be about shifting pollution to other countries.

Comment: Re:The people (Score 1) 132

by bigpat (#47964955) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Yes, unfortunately we have two political parties in the US who believe they represent their faction and not the people. They have made undermining the majority preferences of the people that live in their districts into something noble that they can sell to their supporters to raise money. Parties which were formed claiming to protect American values of Liberty and democracy now undermine our institutions.

Except for protecting and defending the constitutional rights enshrined in the constitution, a Congressman's ONLY job should be trying to understand what the majority of people in their district want and vote accordingly.

Sure Congressmen can and should lead on issues and argue for policies they believe in, but when it comes time to vote on legislation their own unbiased polling of their constituents should be what is the deciding factor. Instead we have politicians pandering to special interests based on their level of activism or whether they can raise money for them. With thousands of pages in many legislation there are bound to be contradictions. Still a Congressman good at their job should be able to explain what parts of legislation they vote for or against they would have otherwise supported or opposed if it hadn't been included with legislation they don't support. It is complicated, in part to obfuscate and bury unpopular laws within popular ones or vice versa, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Comment: Re:A glorious victory for all (Score 2) 474

by bigpat (#47946035) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence
I think what you say is mostly true, but as an American I do wish the UK would drop the K part. I don't believe government and tax supported Kings and Queens have any place in the modern world. Fairy tales told to children sure, why not. But if you want to call yourself King, Queen or Princess or whatever, then go ahead, but don't prop them up with taxpayer money.

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 2) 474

by bigpat (#47945937) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence
The alternative you suggest is that once the oil runs out that the rest of the UK will be providing Scotland with more money in government services than the Scots pay in taxes. That doesn't seem to be a viable or sustainable alternative either. Either way the Scots need a sustainable economy in Scotland and shouldn't be dependent on the taxpayers of England and Wales to prop them up. That isn't a plan. Sustainable economic and political unions are about mutual benefits not dependency.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 494

by bigpat (#47931547) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

You could argue the same thing for Detroit... if only they could devalue the Detroit national currency and print their way out of debt then they wouldn't have needed to go into default/bankruptcy and technically ruin their credit rating.

Or they could just settle on a budget that is actually sustainable and not have to borrow at a rate that is outpacing the growth in tax revenue.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 1) 494

by bigpat (#47927259) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry
A smooth transition isn't a "handout", it would be in the best interest of both sides. Regardless of the outcome they still have to live side by side on the same island and will be a major trading partner. Amicable divorces are much better than pointlessly bitter ones.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 494

by bigpat (#47926309) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry
I think it is quite clearly scare mongering or worse, threatening. The UK government agreed to this vote and they should be making assurances that whichever the outcome that the UK government will do its best to facilitate a peaceful and mutually beneficial transition. Two independent states can share a currency... the EU proves that currency unions are possible. And if the EU were to exclude Scotland, then that would be the first time the EU will have contracted instead of expanding which would undermine confidence in the EU itself just as it was regaining it. Certainly there will be costs to establishing and negotiating a transition, but to assume a worst case scenario and that people will act in a destructive way against their mutual interests out of some sort of royal spite is not helpful.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 2) 494

by bigpat (#47926209) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry
I think it would be fairly cynical of the English side to allow a vote on independence and then screw over Scotland as an 'I told you so'. The best thing for everyone would be to facilitate a peaceful and mutually beneficial transition. That means cooperating with the Bank of Scotland to keep the Pound if they want to and doing nothing to make EU membership difficult. This isn't some sort of armed rebellion. The UK agreed to this vote. If the remaining UK screws over Scotland out of regret for allowing independence, then it would hurt the UK just as much as it would Scotland.

Comment: Re: This is why my hair always stands on end (Score 1) 324

by bigpat (#47923447) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance
The perfect example of this is the tax on dividends which should be exactly the same rate as other income, but it was argued that it was already being taxed as corporate profits so the rate was set lower. The perverse effect is that people that actually make a wage or salary would pay higher income tax rates compared to those who can shift their income to dividends.

Comment: Re: Most taxes are legalized theft (Score 2) 324

by bigpat (#47923351) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance
It is hard to convince people they are better off knowing how much is really being taken from them. But the worst things about indirect or obfuscated taxation are that it is harder to have an informed electorate when taxation is hidden so indirect taxes undermine Liberty and democratic systems and it is harder for even the most well informed to accurately judge whether the tax burden is equitable, progressive or regressive. As far as I can tell the tax system is primarily responsible for the erosion of the middle-class in the US because it is a regressive burden on the middle-class more so than the very wealthy. But try convincing a wealthy person that the higher tax bracket they see and combined taxation is actually less of a tax burden on them than the middle-class. Most people just don't understand how insideous and distorting indirect taxation can be to all our perceptions.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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