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Comment: Re:How about (Score 1) 374

How about you stop posting talking points you can't even back up with a single fact?

need facts? the net tax intake from fossil fuels is quite high, here in Italy it's over 80% of the final price. substituting recipients of subsidies only impacts the industrial price, while switching fuel sources in a revenue neutral way means imposing taxes on renewables equals to 80% of their final industrial price.
, Now who's volunteering to tell goverments that they shall rely on 10% less overall revenues to"redistribute"? the government here in Italy is already sweating a diminished tax take in the order of 5% from fossil fuels, obtained through a mix of the economic crisis impacting on family expenses, including car travel, and drivers being more careful fo fuel consumption when they drive.



anybody spot the error yet? OK, I'll show you.

to make it revenue neutral, taxes on renewable energy should be 400% of the final industrial price. that comes by dividing 80% by 20%, which is the correct answer, since given 100 as the final price of fuel, 80 is taxes and 20 is the oil industry revenue. That's taxed as well on earnings, but that's another story, and most probably covered by subsidies.

Comment: Do they know that? (Score 1) 305

by gadget junkie (#47357757) Attached to: How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct?
As a professional in finance,I've had to wrestle with economists. To a large extent, the profession itself is a fake: the ultimate employer is the Sovereign, who will look askance on anybody saying that it either goofed or that he must get smaller.
start with this in your mind 30 years back, fast forward, and you'll see that macroscopic events in the Economy dept. get ignored, simply because they are in opposition to the academic thought.
I can give you an example: it made the papers in Italy that the European powers that be are starting a study of Abenomics, with a view to applying it here. While as an Italian I can understand the politicians' liking of a mix of runaway deficits, easy money and public investment, this disregards a number of problems:

1.most of the Abenomics tenets are already in place, to no perceived improvement;
2.public spending as a percentage of GDP is way above 50% in most places here, so the actual tax base is shrunk;
3. and last, there's an example that worked that the politicians are emphatically ignoring.

the example is Canada. it exited the 2008 crisis better than Europe, in part because of his proximity to the USA and the free trade it has with that nation, but also because it embraced a reduction in the public sector, and a control/reduction of tax pressure.
Do you believe in that causality? after 25 years tallking with these shamans who are called economist, my opinion is "insufficient data": economy is a dismal science. BUT, it worked. and Europe is studying a failing policy simply because it is similar to what they want to do.

Comment: Re:Sounds about right... (Score 4, Interesting) 441

except, that are at least 4 types of energy ... coal, oil, gas, wood,gravity

there, fixed it for you. otherwise dams would generate no electricity at all, would they?
whenever I see discussions like this, I think:" is this an IRS convention or what?!?!". all these modelling is heavily dependent on transferring tax money from other things to Renewable energy subsidies. In no paper, or law, the requirement is for the plan to provide continous, on demand generation. Do that and every analyst will become far more honest.
one of the reasons? if like in Italy a renewable energy producer gets paid a multiple of the marginal price when he produces, all projections should be made with the same producer installing continous capacity on his own, with the attandant environmental impact statesments, pollution control, etc, or buying the availability from someone else, at twice the same price. the obligation on the grid operator to retire and pay produced energy would have a limit at the continous capacity declared by the operator.

Comment: Re:Mmhmm (Score 1) 382

by gadget junkie (#47175649) Attached to: High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

Depends on how you define 'most trading'.

Most of the HFT is set up to make a market. Some large companies even set it up to HFT internally, in dark pools for rather esoteric reasons -some not so honest.

Amen to that.
I've been a professional in the market for 25 years. The hypothesis that " [...]those fractions of cents would otherwise most likely be accruing to the big banks instead of these new, smaller HFT firms. As long as people have been trading stocks, there have been middlemen taking a cut; HFTs just mean that the cut is now captured by those with the fastest computers." is true and false. the evolution into "dark pools", "hft" etc. was allowed and encouraged by the authorities, eager to bolster bankprofit and balance sheets.
Think about this. in olden days, the nyse used specialist firms to trade stocks. they acted as the ultimate middlemen, took in a very good profit, and in return they provided liquidity to stocks, so most of the trading volume was concentrated there. with the passage of time and the evolution of technology, there has been a spawning of trading venues, who DO NOT have the obligation to make their trades public in real time, in any shape or form.
Go back centuries, and the concept of a single trading venue, in which all trades of a particular goods were done, was strictly enforced. Public official checked scales, and reputation was the most important good traded. that did not mean a profitless economy, but it was more transparent then. Would you really want to trade with a company that originated an IPO, traded it for its own account, acted as prime broker for an ungodly number of hedge funds, many of whom used it both as a depositor and as prime broker, and also managed both hedge funds and mutual funds? this scheme is legal. that the so called "chinese walls" between the various pieces would ever work, it's open to scrutiny.

Comment: Re:Great job David! (Score 1) 86

by gadget junkie (#47134789) Attached to: A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

Well you are driving around in a massively dangerous thing that destroys the lives of so many people, that's why you should pay when you hit a person. Because when cars are driven too fast, anything above 30 km/h, they kill people.

Lol ! you are the perfect example. in what universe one race can flout all existing laws, an as a consequence the other race is stuck with more laws, and it had many more to comply to begin with?
where I live, there are bike only lanes physically separate from car lanes. I am more likely to spot Godzilla reading a sport magazine at my cocktail bar than a cyclist using them.
for a start, all those who use a racing cycle will never use a cycle lane. it's not as clean a car lane, where the traffic gets rid of pebbles, leaves and other residue on the lane. As purists, they are loathe to mount any front lights, back lights and so forth. the rest, the "recreational cyclists", are even worse.
I can on a humane level understand your instinct to protect the weak, but when there are laws for that, everybody is expected to follow them, especially if they make sense: Being visible in the dark, when you are a cyclist, it's not something people should be reminded of. So I am interested in your opinion:if I hit a cyclist who is dressed to be invisible, in a dark road with a separate cycle lane, and he's going in the wrong direction, at what speed society thinks that morons like that should pay my car instead of the other way around? that's why I use an onboard camera. People have been hardwired that provided that they are perceived as doing the "right thing", it's always someone else's fault.

Comment: Re:Great job David! (Score 1) 86

by gadget junkie (#47133067) Attached to: A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

It was a bit hard to see in the video... and I think it needs to be a little bit brighter in any case, even in daylight a good bike light is clearly visible. Note to cyclists: as a motorist who often drives down poorly lit country roads with lots of bicycle and car traffic, I see many cyclists with poor illumination, namely those poxy blinky LED lights. The blinking red ones are hard to see and the blinky front ones usually are *way* short on power, and hard to see during dusk or dawn. Please get one that doesn't blink and puts out a good amount of light. I'd hate to damage my car again... (and in NL, the motorist pretty much always pays)

lucky you. I live in Italy, where usage is low, but authorities have an hardon to increase bike usage. Pity that in their enthusiastic laissez faire attitude they do not enforce any kind of behaviour on cyclists, so in the dark you simply try to avoid dark shapes against a darkish background. Tonight, out of about twenty bikers, 1 (one) had a working light set but he was cycling on the wrong side, the rest were practically invisible, without even reflectors, and two were cycling in the dark side by side. some were handling their cell phones at the same time of course.
I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

Comment: Re:Buggy whips? (Score 1) 769

by gadget junkie (#46858465) Attached to: The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy

Seems like it is only a matter of time until coal power goes away. It will be a long time, granted, but in the next decade or two solar will get so cheap that the impact on traditional centralized generation will be quite severe. I guess they are watching what is happening in Germany with horror and realizing that is their future too.

Actually, the Germans seem to be looking at Germany with horror: Der Spiegel, before the new energy law was passed, published a statistics in which it showed that Solar, one of the sacred cows of sustainable energy, had produced next to zero in a six month period including the winter. Moreover, no one has published a viable estimate of the costs of upgrading the energy trasmission network to cope with the high volatility/low energy production density of a system overwhelmingly based on renewables.
anyway, in the meantime German industry is talking with its shoes: new chemical plants are based in the USA, not Germany. of course, plaudits to the Germans for being more ecological, but I cannot but remember that the lowest energy footprint if you look at Earth from space is North Korea, not actually a place attracting droves of ecologically minded citizens from all over the world.

Comment: Re:diminished placebo effect (Score 4, Informative) 408

But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect? What would maximize the placebo effect? Is using the placebo effect always bad practice?

My father was a village MD, and we talked at lenght about this, so here goes:

1. yes, and that's why the Placebo effect is largely ineffective on the medical professionals;
2.Sadly, increasing price is one of the things that correlates with placebo effects;
3. Emphatically no, but there is not a real need for specific "placebo"medicaments: lots of active principles help lower the symptoms, all the while not doing anything much, and they are mostly cheaper than "alternative" medicine.

P.S.: as to point 2, there is a solution: putting a reasonably big price tag on the box and telling the patient that 90% of it is borne by the insurance, since it's so effective.

Comment: Re:Solution: two license plates (Score 1) 405

by gadget junkie (#46509961) Attached to: Paris Bans Half of All Cars On the Road
Actually, this has been tried in Italy, and it works at 50%

The 50% not working: reducing pollution. statistics in the city where I live showed that the reduction was way below targets. people organized, and most of the people commuting had already organized before, using trains, metro and the like (they were pissed at the limitation nonetheless)

The 50% working: the powers that be decided that it was a huge success, and that it was a matter of scale (i.e., too few days of alternate plates), and anyway it was a symbolic gesture. Even this way, the measure was scrapped here for good two years ago.

Comment: Re:Not Obsolete At All (Score 1) 365

by gadget junkie (#46188635) Attached to: Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete?
Hypersonic missiles are mostly different from conventional, high mach number missiles for their operating height. they are the ultimate bombers or recon planes , not the ultimate missiles, since things like the SSN 22 sunburn are operational now, and can go mach3+ at low altitudes.
remember that in the last phases of the operational life of the SR 71 Blackbird, their payload was a high mach number drone.

Comment: It's not a tax to promote french content (Score 1) 314

by gadget junkie (#45807519) Attached to: France's 'Culture Tax' Could Hit YouTube and Facebook
This is not a tax to promote French content. If anything, over the world youtube has done more to promote local content than any government institution, simply by being there.
BUT, it is a convenient tax to promote government institutions, stuffed with well paid bureaucrats, that as an hobby and with no prospect of return on capital, spend money on politically approved content.
One convenient riposte could be "sure, we'll pay this tax. But let's do it this way. first year, you get the money you want. The year after, promoted content should gross on the open market at least the institution funding. if it does not reach the objective, all salaries will be capped at the median wage. if that's not enough to reach parity with gross sales,wages at the institution would be proportionally cut."

Italy has both government approved TV channels, and a similar institution promoting Italian film productions. This content gets rave reviews, especially by involved parties, and it never produced anything that any foreigner (or Italian, for that matter) would remember. BUT, If I whistle some Sergio Leone soundtrack in Tibet, anyone would recall the film.

Comment: Re:taxed as asset? (Score 2) 245

by gadget junkie (#45702875) Attached to: Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead

Real-estate is already taxed in most places in America. Most European countries also tax cars based on their engine's size.

Same as before:tax authorities do NOT tax the car. they tax the buyer on the transaction, and there's some form of "possession tax". that's not a tax on assets. If it were a tax on the car, a car owned for example by a deceased penniless owner would still pay tax, and above all, it would be economically capable of paying such tax. but it does not: even taxes related on car possession tax the owner, not a car.

Bear in mind that these kind of stamp duties bear no relation of the use of public resources that using a car entails: If I want to tax for that, I'd tax the fuels, and that's exactly what governments do. when they do anything else, like "taxing cars based on engine size", they are simply meddling in people choices unrelated to use of resources and so on. I think that it's "politically convenient" to set up a labor intensive organization to collect and check a taxation which could and is more efficiently collected in another way, and above all it is unrelated to usage, income of the owner, efficiency gains and so on.

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