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Comment: Re: Montana used to have no speed limit at all... (Score 3, Interesting) 525

by j-turkey (#48498461) Attached to: Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates
I'd heard stories about that $5 fine, and if I remember correctly, it was an energy consumption fee. State police would give a receipt to people driving through the state and tell violators to hang onto it if they were stopped again, it was valid all day long.

Comment: Re:So it's like Colorado (Score 1) 398

by j-turkey (#48196299) Attached to: Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected
What increase in crime? What loss in productivity? You also fail to recognize the elimination of major cost centers involved with prohibition: namely enforcement, judicial, and incarceration costs. Not only is your post flatly off topic, but it is also incredibly short sighted, based upon both flawed logic and ridiculous reefer madness-esque misunderstandings.

Comment: Re:Go Ross, Go! (Score 1) 208

by j-turkey (#48122569) Attached to: Ross Ulbricht's Lawyer Says FBI's Hack of Silk Road Was "Criminal"

OK. Let's look at the articles that you linked me. The CCPOA (the California Guard's Union) has nothing to do with private prisons (not private prisons). CCPOA is a very powerful union, and they are guards of state run prisons. CCPOA is against the concept of private prisons (they state in the link that they "Successfully defended the basic incarceration function from privatization (contracting out)"). These are public employees doing what you're accusing private organizations of doing! It's no surprise that a powerful state correctional officer union doesn't like private prisons, the private prisons are a threat to the correctional officers' jobs.

In the third link, it discusses contracts where CCA requires states to have minimal occupancy rates or pay rebates. I can see how that might be objectionable, but that is not an example of using lobbyists to campaign stronger sentencing. The agreements essentially say: "We've invested dollars for infrastructure to build this prison under agreement with you guys. If we're going to continue to operate this facility, you need to fill our facility to x percent capacity". If private prison firms are getting paid at a capitated rate, there is no money in operating an empty prison...just like flying a plane with empty seats will lose an airline money. The only article of substance in your post basically says "see, those evil bastards are trying to make money from prisons!' Well duh, of course they are. That does not, in any way, point to their lobbyists pressuring lawmakers for harder sentencing. Further, none of these states are entirely privatized, believe me - the states don't need to incarcerate more people to fill prisons. California, in particular, really doesn't need more inmates - they were among the first to enact (what I believe are unreasonable) 3-strikes laws (which existed before private prisons).

Look, I have already said that it is in their best interests that incarceration rates are high. CCA said it themselves in the (mandated by law) risk profile of their SEC filing ("The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction ..."). But I've worked for a mental health company who had to put into our risk profile filing that if all mental illness were somehow cured tomorrow, the demand for our service would be adversely affected. It does not, in any way, suggest that this company would fight against a cure for mental health, if it existed.

You also complain that they exist solely because of lobbying. What public-private partnership does not exist (in-part) because of lobbying? Does that make the entire privatized government service industry shady, or just private prisons? Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, SpaceX, Boeing...these all helped America build our space program with help from lobbying (among other things). I am not suggesting that the space program is the same as private prisons, or even remotely in the same ball ballpark, but these are private agencies who served the government with serious help from lobbying efforts, on the same level as companies like CCA.

I've said a number of times, I understand how higher incarceration rates are in the best interest of private prisons. I also understand how the idea of private prisons can be objectionable to many. However, my post effectively asked a simple question: Is there actual evidence to demonstrate that the private prison is actively lobbying to increase prison sentencing? Your 5 second trip to google did not provide any answers to the question that was implicitly asked. You provided links to more of the same conjecture. Conjecture does not equal evidence.

I also understand why many have a problem with private prisons on a fundamental ideological level. I am not a fan of the industry myself. I don't like the concept. But I'm not going to make up facts to support my fundamental problems with the industry. We both might really dislike Nazis, but if I made a blanket false statement like "all Nazis are child molesters", I'd like to think that you would call me out on it too. You're making an assumption due to the direction that the incentives run, but have yet to offer anything other than conjecture. If you have evidence, please share it.

Comment: Re:Go Ross, Go! (Score 1) 208

by j-turkey (#48103667) Attached to: Ross Ulbricht's Lawyer Says FBI's Hack of Silk Road Was "Criminal"

there's profits to be made in those private prisons... guess who does the lobbying to keep those drugs criminalised...

[Citation needed]. I know that it is in the best interests of private prison businesses to have more people in prison. I know that these companies also have lobbyists. Having spent over a decade in a government services company (who has also provided services to state prison systems), I know that most of us need to have lobbyists just to get business, and for things like helping state legislature write RFP's that will allow us to do business together (e.g. coming up with measurable and competitive proposals). However, I have yet to see any real evidence that these private prison companies are actually lobbying for stiffer penalties/drug criminalization, etc. Again, I know that the incentives run in that direction as most of these are run at a capitated rate, and I know that they lobby lawmakers, but these two things do no mean (in and of themselves) what you are suggesting. They've been accused of it, and have gone on record saying that they don't do this. Of course, just denying the charge does absolve them of the charge, but I've still not actually seen any proof of this. Not trying to start a nerd-flame-war with you, just asking if you can cite any evidence other than supposition.

PS, I love the Blues Brothers quote in your sig

Comment: Re:when the president does it (Score 1) 208

by j-turkey (#48103501) Attached to: Ross Ulbricht's Lawyer Says FBI's Hack of Silk Road Was "Criminal"

I'm sorry you do not like the constitution or the US founding but that does not give you license to imagine crap and pretend it is true.

I was under the impression that an internet connection and a means to enter data grants a license to imagine crap and pretend it is true. It would appear that NicBenjamin has both, and has no problem using this license to imagine crap and pretend it is true. :)

Comment: Re:Translation-"eh, can we talk this over...?" (Score 1) 243

by j-turkey (#47921141) Attached to: AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

That is a very astute summary of the issues.

I would love to see residential ISP's make an honest case explaining why the existing system is broken. (Where end-users purchase internet service from their residential ISP and online businesses purchase internet service from their ISP's - both with the understanding that packets will flow between the two, unrestricted. When demand exceeds capacity at peering points, each end will make a reasonable effort to add capacity at peering points providing customers at each end what they have paid for).

I'm not against the idea of residential ISP's turning an honest buck. After all, they really did invest significant dollars in infrastructure, including negotiation for rights-of-way in municipalities. Further, they need to maintain that network, and upgrade the network as demand increases. I think that they deserve a fair chance for an honest return on their investments. However, the idea that residential ISP's should be allowed to double-dip on selling access seems quite insane to me, and is counter to the open principles employed since the foundation of the internet. We can thank Ed Whitacre Jr, former CEO of SBC for coming up with the idea in 2005/2006 (as far as I can tell) that the residential ISP's customers are both customers and products to be resold to content providers. The Internet doesn't work that way, and never has. The idea that content providers are getting some sort of free lunch on the residential ISP's dime is laughable; it's just a shameful distortion of the facts. The residential ISP's bandwidth has already been paid for by their customers, and the content providers have already paid for their own bandwidth. I have yet to hear a compelling argument from any ISP's about how the existing system is broken (other than, to paraphrase, "because we can").

As a freedom junkie and pseudo-Libertarian - part of me believes that government regulation of the internet opens up a can of worms. However, residential ISP's demonstrating their willingness to distort facts and abuse monopoly powers that they have in many markets. Is there any reason why residential ISP's should not be regulated accordingly?

Comment: Re:A solution in search of a problem... (Score 1) 326

by j-turkey (#47903741) Attached to: Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

We have them to generate income for the government, specifically local and state government, to the tune of $6.2 billion last year.

While some towns and small municipalities are notorious speed traps, who abuse the law to generate revenue - applying this to all speed enforcement is an outright over generalization.

The fact of the matter is that speed limit enforcement costs our governments more than it takes in. Your assertion only accounts for revenues, and does not take into account the cost of enforcement; such as police, equipment, court costs, collections, and incarceration (states like Virginia criminalize speeding and actually mandate jail time for exceeding the speed limit by greater than 20 MPH).

I posted this reply in another forum in response to a similar claim where I did some quick back-of-a-napkin math in my own county where traffic laws are very aggressively enforced. I'm not trying to pass my post off as especially scientific and of course my statements aren't universal. However, what I wrote does include sources, and I did the same math in another county deeper in the thread. But it does shed significant doubt on the broad generalization that speed enforcement is motivated (either partially or entirely) by governmental revenue enhancement. Here are a few excerpts if you don't feel like reading the whole thread:

Let's take this out of the theoretical and use my own county as a case-study, just to put things in to perspective. (Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert, just a geek who can type things into Google.) Here is my county's revenue's report from 2011. See page 2. Fines and forfeitures came in at $16M in 2011 compared to $2B in real estate taxes. That $16M is a drop in the bucket for state revenues (0.8%). Not a lot of money made, but how does this stack up against what we spend on it?

I'm glad that you asked - here are some more recent examples: In 2014, my county government estimated fines and forfeitures at $14.8M or 0.4% of annual revenues. However, when you look at where the money goes - judicial administration is 0.9% ($33.2M) of the budget and public safety is 12.3% ($442.8M) of the budget...a combined 13.2% of our annual fiscal budget. If you do the math, it simply doesn't add up to a money-making racket for the state. The facts seem to point to a different conclusion - and I don't claim to have the answer as to why and how (although I could probably google for this).

Anyway, hopefully this will shed a bit of doubt on the blanket assumption about speed enforcement for revenue enhancement. That's not to say that speed limits are always correct, or that speed enforcement is usually done with the best of intentions (e.g. to prove that the police are actually doing something - or perhaps for entirely political reasons)...but it should shed reasonable doubt.

Comment: Re:cram lots of people in a confined space (Score 4, Interesting) 819

by j-turkey (#47846079) Attached to: 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room
Why should everyone else pay more so that all other seats are larger to accomodate your height? I fit in the seats alright. Others do, too. Obesity isn't always the fault of an obese person, and I dont hear you suggesting that all seats accomodate them (in fact, they have to pay for two seats). Should small cars for small people be banned just because you don't fit in them? How about mandating that all clothing manufacturers make clothes that fit small people (at your expense) so that short people don't have to pay more for clothes that fit. I'm not trying to be mean about this, but what you wrote sounded ridiculously self-entitled. You are not entitled to special accomodations just because you're tall. You already get them. Tall people tend to make significantly more money than short people. Use that money to buy bigger seats rather than asking the rest of the world to pay more for their seats to accomodate your needs.

Comment: Re:I am skeptical (Score 1) 174

Very astute. One of the aspects of the issue that has bothered me is that politics have solidly collided with science. It's not just the obvious issue of denial that bothers me. The issue is solidly sandwiched between denial and the environmentalist activists who suffer from confirmation bias and outright alarmism; who seem to have a worldview is centers around humans being inherently bad and can only serve to damage the world. Not only that, but that the world is pristine and unchanging, like they want to reunite Pangea (to borrow the bumper sticker phrase). They want everything, and they want it yesterday. There is so often resistance of moving to less harmful energy sources as an intermediary step (e.g. from coal to natural gas or nuclear power generation) because it's not exactly what they want right now (which seems to be a world powered only by solar & wind). Taking it a step further, for those people, it seems like even the subject of geoengineering as one of possibly many ways to mitigate or manage climate change is just plain distasteful...not to mention academic research. I guess that what I'm saying is that the science behind the issue is a small fraction of the whole issue as a social and political beast.

With regard to the throwing a bunch of water (or sulfuric acid) into clouds to fix everything, you are right. When we face complex problems involving deeply complex systems, it's nice to believe in simple solutions. However, I have a bridge to sell those who believe that we can fix this if we just do X.

While much of the IPCC is on-point, that is more on the academic end of the spectrum than where most of the discussion (and action) lies. The cultural change (and change of discussion into something more like what you're suggesting) is what leads to political and even industrial action. It's not just this issue where academia is so far ahead of the rest of the world. Asking anyone to be patient about this issue seems silly, because it's so emotional for many people (and challenges others' world view). In general, as humans, we're better at adapting to a changing world than planning for a changing world - especially when we consider the time-frames. What I'm saying is that we will have to change, whether we like it or not, but it will be in response to the world changing around us...not in response to experts telling us that it's going to change.

Comment: Re:I am skeptical (Score 1) 174

Geoengineering has effectively caused this problem, even though it wasn't necessarily planned geoengineering. Simply burning less fossil fuels isn't going to fix the problem. The ship of climate change has already sailed. Completely halting the release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere today will not turn the problem back in anything less than geologic time.

I like that you mentioned that we won't know if we don't do the research. However, the question that seems to elude many is "what if we don't?". So far, much of the discourse revolves around reducing carbon output...which isn't entirely unhelpful. It's just not entirely practical. Questions about "how do we deal with the projected changes" are pretty practical. And again, when discussing geoengineering, it's not so much what happens if we do...it's what happens if we don't.

Of course, I've always had this sense that there is an attitude from those who consider themselves environmental activists of this dogma that everything that humans do is inherently evil. I don't share this worldview...but this sense will certainly bring any efforts (or perhaps even discussion) of geoengineering to a halt.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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