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Comment Re:Hammerheads in Vermont (Score 1) 557

There is no good solution to this, and I think it's good that you've thought about this (sincerely), we need more people to be looking at these problems and thinking about them without ideological blinkers. My view is that I don't think it would work quite as well as you think. The arguments I've heard against this is that for government "employer of last resort" type work you:

1) get rid of any current low paid work covered by government - for example street cleaning and rubbish collection, since you don't need to employ people to do that work any more since you're getting the unemployed to do it - unfortunately probably the people who were until recently doing the street cleaning and rubbish collection, but now are unemployed. Worse they are taking home less money than they were before, are more dependent on welfare programmes and additionally are stigmatised for being unemployed.

2) (most of) the work they would do is useless - otherwise it would have been being done before. The people doing these "make work" are likely unskilled, so you can't get them to do anything requiring skills, and they probably don't want to do it (they are essentially being coerced to do the job) and will do the minimum they can get away with - for example look at community service sentences for offenders who have to pick up litter to "pay back to their community", they do an extremely poor job of it and need constant attention from an supervisor (who could do all the work on their own more quickly and more effectively).

It's not as simple as just being unproductive though, not only do you need someone to supervise that the unemployed person is actually doing something to "earn" their $10/hour, you need to keep records. So it results in a net loss of productivity - you are taking a productive person and now putting them on an unproductive task and you are employing bureaucrats to administer the system. If the cost of the bureaucracy is more than the worth of the work then it's a net loss - you might as well just pay people to sit at home and it would cost less no matter how galling it feels to pay someone for doing nothing.

3) Finally, there is the issue that if companies can get away will paying less per hour then they will do. It will mean that more people end up needing welfare support and overall it just ends up costing the government more in welfare and companies giving more profit to their shareholders - who if it was all fair and equitable would end up being the ones who pay the additional taxes so that the government has the additional money to pay for the additional welfare. We all know that that is not how the tax burden would be distributed though, it will be the middle classes who suffer under that additional burden. Ultimately, the cost of the bureaucracy of the welfare programmes can be more than the that of administering the minimum wage and the loss of potential increase in productivity through having those additional jobs from work that is currently unproductive at the minimum wage level and so ends up as a net loss to the nations wealth.

It's a fine balancing act and as I said originally there is no good solution that can solve all the issues. We just have to try and find the best balanced solution - some level of minimum wage and some safety net programmes - without allowing ideology cloud our judgement (on either side).

Comment Re:Re-what? (Score 1) 139

I would have thought that a system of address verification between merchant and credit card issuer is they way to go. Merchant will only ship to addresses approved by the card holder via their card issuer. Then merchants won't ship to a random re-shipper address unless it's approved by the card holder. However we already have AVS which is a great start and I'm surprised that any merchants are willing will to take the hit of not doing it. All e-commerce systems I've worked on used AVS to verify shipping location, at least for the first few purchases for an account.

Comment Re:Oh boy, here we go... (Score 1) 413

What GP meant was overall it's revenue neutral, but for those who emit large amounts of CO2, it represents a big tax increase. For those who emit no CO2 they get a large tax decrease. Overall the same amount of tax is collected as today. This provides a massive incentive to for big emitters to reduce their emissions. Over time, as the emissions reduce, the tax system will need to adjust to ensure that the total amount collected is the same, so when everyone is a low emitter their tax share will slowly get higher.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 904

Or you know you could order the car with the child seats already fitted? Then you don't need to own child seats either. When I go on holiday I don't take my towels, I'm happy for the hotel to supply them, similarly sheets. Why wouldn't I be happy with a car service company providing a car with child seats and "kid kit" containing blankets and other supplies. You'll pay a premium over the "standard" commuter vehicle, but that might still be ultimately cheaper than owning your own car. Ultimately it will be a decision you can make yourself. No-one is saying that no-one will be able to own a car just that it looks like the service model might work well. If it doesn't for you then fine, maybe it won't actually work well for anyone and it won't take off.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 507

Which is often better than getting to the end of the client's budget and having an unfinished product that can't be delivered and the client being in the invidious position of having to decide whether to can the project with literally nothing to show for it or to continue to spend money in the hope that one day it will reach a point where it is acceptable enough to put live.

Comment Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 486

I think we'll see the 'ownership' issue disappear over time.

In the aircraft market, airlines no-longer own their engines, they buy 'thrust' through programmes such as Rolls-Royce's 'power by the hour'. I see this type of model moving into the consumer area increasingly. Why own a battery when you can pay a small monthly fee for provision of energy?

I'm not sure about US, but in UK we're already seeing people essentially give up ownership of their cars and move to a constant finance model with Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) payments. They pretty much never own the car, instead they have it for 3 years and hand it back in return for a new car and new PCP. This is changing the way that many people think about car ownership, it's only a small leap to move to a system where you pay for your car through usage and the service company ensures that you have a vehicle with a charged battery when you need it.

We're already seeing it in the music market, people are happy to pay for a music service rather than own CDs.

Comment Re:FOE is in favor: Yeah, right! (Score 1) 197

The plan is to build six of these lagoons. They expect to gets these built and operational *before* the new nuclear power station is completed. When the six are built they will generate a similar amount of power to that nuclear power station at a similar price per MWh. The lagoons have an expected life of 120 years, whereas the nuclear power station has a significantly shorter one, plus there are no major decommissioning costs.

By building both nuclear and tidal (and other forms of generator), we spread our risks.

Not to mention the nuclear plant is a joint Chinese and French operation with the profits flowing out of the country. The tidal power station is a British one, meaning that the profits stay in the UK economy.

Comment Re:GRRM shouldve hired coauthors (Score 1) 180

I would agree with you if each book was a stand alone. However, he's writing the story as a series of books. A writer who doesn't finish the story is not a good writer. I think ultimately we'll be able to decide whether the series as a whole is good is only when the series is finished.

Looking at the individual books, the first few we excellent and why the series has the good reputation that it has, but they had something in common, they each had a beginning, middle and end within the context of the overall arc. Where I think things have gone downhill is that he hasn't yet finished the book that started in Feast and continued in Dance. Originally this was intended as one book. First he split it into into Feast and Dance, and then when the TV series was launched, he had to deliver Dance so that it could be published that summer. He hadn't finished it in time, so had to leave off the ending deferring it to The Winds of Winter. So one could argue that he's not actually published a finished book in the series for fifteen years and counting.

Comment Re:Yay! (Score 1) 942

Actually the last polls showed a majority for staying in the EU. However, it's only the really vocal "get us out now!" people that you generally hear about because they are the ones making a noise. No-one really shouts "Let's keep the status quo because it's working reasonably well!". You can compare this with the Scottish Independence referendum where plenty of noise was generated by the Yes campaign but in the end the silent majority for No won the day.

Comment Re:Here's the interesting paragraph (Score 1) 375

It's a ruse by Salmond. He is goading the UK into saying "no" to a shared currency so that Scotland can't, by law, pick up a share of the national debt.

Instead what is likely to happen is that Sterling will be split into two: A British Pound and a Scottish Pound. Scotland will get its share of the Bank of England assets and the rest of the UK will get its share. Similarly the debt will be split so that Scotland takes their share of the debt and rest of UK takes its share. Currently the UK government is saying that it will back up all the debt to prevent the threat of independence causing a down rating of debt. It's highly likely that if independence goes ahead then they'll back track on that saying that the situation has changed and that borrowers will have their debt split between the two new nations. That or if Scotland say they don't want any of the debt then they won't get any of the assets either.

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