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Comment: Texas Has Fewer Homeless, California More (Score 1) 161

Compared to when The Great Recession Started.

"California, with just under 12% of the nation's population, has 22.43% of the nation's homeless population, giving it a homelessness quotient of 0.88. Quite high, in other words. Almost double the number of homeless people one would predict, given its population."

"Texas, which has roughly 8.2% of the nation's population, only has 4.85% of the nation's homeless population (meaning: Texas has a quite low homelessness quotient of -0.41)."

Growing economy = less homeless, contracting economy = more homeless.

Go look at the statistics if you doubt it.

Comment: Re:Spare Change (Score 1) 161

Yeah, but looking a homeless person in the eye and then giving them spare change is worse for them than donating to a charity on your computer since the spare change just goes to alcohol and drugs.

And the Charity has a lot of expenses that dilute the hell out of your "donation". I'll bet you get pissed off at the homeless people outside the McDonald's near me, and people buy them a meal. The ignorant bastards! That money could have gone to the CEO of the United Way!

Bite me, if I feel like giving the homeless dude some money, and they get their drink on, that's not what I wish, but it's their money then, not the CEO of your charity.

Comment: Re:perception (Score 1) 161

Shanty towns were made illegal, the homeless would not be all over the streets if we allowed shantytowns down near the river or elsewhere.

I suppose concentration camps or snipers might fit your "I don't want to see the poor ppl." That would be kind of evil though.

Shantytowns are symbolic of failure,

Comment: Re:Not so fast, Thermodynamic laws are pesky thing (Score 1) 108

by DerekLyons (#46774759) Attached to: 'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars

Any energy you manage to get, will be lost someplace else because you put these devices in the heat flow.

You sir, are ignorant as fuck. It's a sad comment on the state of affairs that a clueless bullshit comment like your could be moderated informative.

We've been extracting energy from waste heat, without incurring extra losses, for over a century now - it's been a standard practice in steam engineering since the 1800's. In the same way, if you put these devices in an IC engine's exhaust you can recover energy that would otherwise simply be vented into the atmosphere without incurring any losses "someplace else".

Don't let them fool you with all this "waste heat" garbage, at least until you understand the Thermodynamic laws that govern all this and can explain what a heat engine is.

Before cautioning others to educate themselves, first pull your head out of your own ass and educate yourself.

Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1248

by dywolf (#46768871) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

hah. you called slashdot conservative (and im not one generally speaking).

on topic:
I'm all for rephrasing it to make it clearer.
i believe there are two possible interpretations:

the assumption of a militia as a band of men/volunteers as seperate from a standing army and as a potential counter to that army. this militia is essential to the security of a free state by providing the means with which to resist an overpowering government. thus, its essential this militia be able to arm itself.

problems with this is the Militia of the United States is now called the National Gaurd and fall under the command of the US Army, even though the governors can call them out for various states of emergency. specifically part of the Army Reserves. National Guard members are thus both part of hte Army and comprise the legally defined US militia (the us militia also includes "all able bodied men ages suchandsuch", part of which was the basic for conscriptiona nd the draft, etc etc....deeper than this is intended to go). some states also have state militias, but that's also deeper than this is inteded to go. The effective difference in the National Guard and the Army is essentially nil, since they are now essentially just hte Army Reserve (or part of it), and thus fully capable of being delpoyed overseas to augment or relieve regular army units, as we've seen in the past decade and a half.

To sum up, the problem here: If the militia is intended in the USC as the counter to the government's standing army, then we now have created a conflict of interest as the counter to the standing army is now considered part of it.

this is also the primary problem with the book authors addition, as his rephrasing implicitly assumes this interpretation, while ignoring the present status of the National Guard.

the other interpretation swaps the role of the militia, and equates the militia with the concept of an official military force, regardless of form (standing army or volunteer militia). This interpretation says that "while a militia, or standing army, or national defense force, or whatever you want to call it, is neccesary to the security of a free state from outside forces, this is a neccessary evil. we distrust standing armies, and thus every citizen shall have the right to be armed in potential defense against such a force being used against its own people".

this is the concept i hew to, as it seems to most accurately reflect the founder's pholisophies and experiences with standing armies. it also creates many potential problems. for one, Disparity of Force. We have guns, the military has tanks and bombers and battleships. its basically impossible to achieve its stated goal of resistance if push actually came to shove.

another, is some people simply shouldnt be allowed to have guns. societally we have solved this one by basically saying, well, reasonable gun controls are OK. And I support that notion. of course, the devil is in the details of what constitutes "reasonable". for some anything and everything is unreasonable, and for others a blanket ban is totally reasonable.

me, i say background checks and short waiting period are essential, reasonable, and common sense, plus they give a dealer/seller peace of mind that he isnt inadvertantly aiding a criminal act (though admittedly there are some dealers who wouldnt care). even if the individual still obtains a weapon illegally, at the least it wasnt made too easy for him to do so.

and there are the additional problems of the times and society and its attitudes have changed. in this hyper partisan atmosphere we recently had "militias" ready to shoot and kill BLM agents simply for enforcing the governments property rights against a rancher in nevada who decided he can use land that isnt his for free. (abject hypocrisy and stupidity by these individuals, but what else is new?)

Comment: Re:What the tax form should look like (Score 1) 406

by dywolf (#46767775) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

The flat tax is still regressive and disproportionately affects poor and low income folks.
It sounds good, but you must remember that while you can scale a tax as a flat percentage of income, you can't scale the minimum cost of living (MCOL). Its the flip side of the "decreasing value of money" theory.

This is generally handled by the marginal tax bracket system, which is what we use: splitting your income into portions, and then say from 0-20k, you pay 0% on that portion of income (first 20k free), then from >20k to 40K, pay say 10% on that portion, and then 12% on the next portion, on up the line.

ideally, the result is more effective and efficient at acounting for the MCOL of low incomes while still providing sufficient revenue and fairly evenly distributing the tax burden across a population, such that folks all pay roughly the same % as a function of their purchasing power not just income. but the devil is in the details, and this is where the special inerest come in, such as the GOP cutitng the top marginal rates (ie, the infamous tax cuts for the rich).

you can handle it in a flat tax system by simply exempting the first 10k (or whatever) dollars, but now youve created the basis of a marginal tax bracket system, albeit one with a single sharp inflection instead of a smooth curve, so might as well go full monty with the thing.

United States

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment 1248

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the invest-in-crossbows dept.
CanHasDIY (1672858) writes "In his yet-to-be-released book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, John Paul Stevens, who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court for 35 years, believes he has the key to stopping the seeming recent spate of mass killings — amend the Constitution to exclude private citizens from armament ownership. Specifically, he recommends adding 5 words to the 2nd Amendment, so that it would read as follows: 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.'

What I find interesting is how Stevens maintains that the Amendment only protects armament ownership for those actively serving in a state or federal military unit, in spite of the fact that the Amendment specifically names 'the People' as a benefactor (just like the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth) and of course, ignoring the traditional definition of the term militia. I'm personally curious about his other 5 suggested changes, but I guess we'll have to wait until the end of April to find out."

Comment: Re:Government jobs (Score 1) 406

by dywolf (#46767619) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

The problem is that the government doesn't generally have a good way to prune back services that are no longer required and doesn't tend to be exposed to market forces forcing it to be efficient.

Not true at all. You propogated several myths.

Myth 1: Government programs never die.
Reality: Government programs die all the time. Some fade away never to be heard from again, others are explicitly killed once they're run their course and achieved their purposes. An average of 38 programs die every year. Since the mid 90s nearly 650 government programs have been put out to pasture.

Myth 2: Government programs inherently inefficient, less so than market forces.
Reality: Government specifically tackles those issues which the market either can't and hasn't, or are specifically and inherently inefficient for the market to handle. IE, market failures. Public utilities, public infrastructure, and other public goods are the perfect examples. Social programs, particulary the safety nets also. Healthcare is the defacto best example: the governement programs (medicare/medicaid) are the single most efficient and effective segments of our healthcare industry, far far more so than the private insurance segments. As a whole our entire industry costs far more (200-300%) on average than any other country while providing far less...but split into segments and the government programs are only about 40% above countries, while the private segments are >400% above.

There have been many empirical studies examining the efficiency of government bureaucracies versus business in a variety of areas, including refuse collection, electrical utilities, public transportation, water supply systems, and hospital administration. The findings have been mixed. Some studies of electric utilities have found that publicly owned ones were more efficient and charged lower prices than privately owned utilities. Several other studies found the opposite, and yet others found no significant differences.6 Studies of other services produced similar kinds of mixed results. Charles Goodsell is a professor of Public Administration and Public Affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who has spent much of his life studying bureaucracy. After examining these efficiency studies, he concluded: “In short, there is much evidence that is ambivalent. The assumption that business always does better than government is not upheld. When you add up all these study results, the basis for the mantra that business is always better evaporates.”

Further evidence that business is not always superior to government bureaucracy can be found in the area of health care. This is a critical issue today and it is well worth examining in some detail the question of whether market-based health care is superior to government run programs. Conservatives constantly warn us that adopting “socialized” medicine would put health care in the hands of government bureaucracies, which would be a recipe for incredible waste and inferior care. But is this really the case? We can answer this question by comparing the performance of public versus private health care systems. Every other developed country has some form of universal health care with a substantial amount of public funding and administration. In contrast, while the U.S. has a few programs like Medicare and Medicaid, most of our health care system is privately funded and administered. According to conservative mythology, this market-based system should produce better health care and do so more cheaply. But neither of these claims hold up when we look at studies of the actual performance of public and private approaches to providing health care.

First, studies have found that the U.S. health care system is by far the most expensive in the world. We spend 13.6% of our gross domestic product on health care – the highest in the world. The average for the other 13 industrialized countries in the OECD is 8.2%.8 We also rank number one in terms of health care expenditures per capita, with U.S. spending $4,090 a year for every citizen. The highest figures for other industrialized nations are $2,547 per year for Switzerland, $2,339 for Germany, $2,340 for Luxembourg, and $2,095 for Canada.9 But while we clearly have the most expensive health care system in the world, it does not always deliver the best health care nor does it provide health care in the most efficient way.

Another example is space, and the article touches on that as well. Then there's R&D, science, education. The list goes on and on.

The short of it is this: goverment is NOT inherently sheilded from the market, unless specifically designed to be such. It can and usually is very active in the market and has direct effects on it. Public options in the market have long, LONG, been known to have the effect of keeping prices downa nd forcing innovation and further efficiency in the market by the private actors just by virtue of the need to compete with and attract customers away from the public options.

Comment: Re:Gentrification? (Score 2) 334

by argStyopa (#46765835) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

I'll use Thomas Sowell's example: People like to live by water, on a shore.
There is only X shoreline.
There are two ways to apportion that shoreline.
1) money: let people buy and sell it, or
2) you can divide it up, and give a piece to everyone; of course, this results in uselessly small pieces (and you have to forbid transfers or you end up with #1), complications with inheritance (is it heritable? How do you deal with death? Marriage?)

The problem with #1 is that as the resource is finite, the prices will become very, very high.

San Francisco is a wonderful location but is extraordinarily geographically constrained. Which do you want: a dictatorship that controls everything and allocates places to people according to what they think is fair today, or a "free" market where prices skyrocket to their value and prevent any but the super-wealthy from living there?
You can't have both, as I suspect that the inefficiencies of trying to chart a middle course make it the worst possible choice.

Comment: Hypocrisy abounds (Score 1) 695

by argStyopa (#46765771) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

What's so hilarious is that to most of the commenters here, the Koch Brothers exemplify the absolute evil in the system whilst (and simultaneously) George Soros is merely 'doing the right thing' and 'helping people speak truth to power'.

One party is clearly the party of business, and business wields a lot of money. Hell, one whole tv network is dedicated to pushing their views.

The other party has draped themselves in the flag of victimhood, somehow managing to portray themselves as the oppressed when they a) are the majority, b) spent 57%(!) more in the last presidential election. They have a much smaller media network overtly supporting them, but 8-9/10 of general journalists sympathize and vote with this party.

In my view, BOTH parties are corrupt, nepotistic heads of the same beast. The idea that you support one side or the other is a Hobson's choice that keeps us running around the wheel, generating funds.

Next time someone from "the other party" pisses you off, think for a second if they weren't prompted to it by rabble rousers on their side SPECIFICALLY to make you angry. Ask any stage magician or pickpocket: controlling your attention is 90% of the trick.

Comment: San Francisco is just an extreme example... (Score 0, Flamebait) 334

by Nova Express (#46762691) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

...of California's high tax, high cost, high regulation, anti-growth, and radical environmental environment. It's a great place to live if you're rich, and virtually impossible to live if you're middle class or poor.

Critics have been noting these problems for at least two decades, and California becoming a single-party Democratic state with outsized input from public employee unions has only accelerated the trend...

Comment: Re:Open source was never safer (Score 2) 526

by Ol Olsoc (#46762527) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

Closed source was always safer.

One word for you: Microsoft. Maybe two: Adobe.

THIS! It's funny how Microsoft has all the issues that they do, and yet when a problem shows up in anything else, the fanbois instantly ejaculate LOOK!! SEE???

Sorry kids, Windows has a many year legacy of needing constant security updates, way too many for you to be braying about this, as proof of the bankruptcy of FOSS.We get it, But Redmond products have a lead that will never be equaled.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.