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Comment Re:The takeaway is that Tesla is right (Score 1) 417

The manufacturers don't want to sell you "any cars that are very novel or that require substantially less maintenance". Hell, they don't have to be all that novel. Just try some manufacturer's "build to order" site for a car. "Oh, you want a manual transmission and a normal spare tire on that Chevy Colorado?...Too bad, you need to upgrade to the V6 and get the automatic." WTF?!?! A few of Fiat-Chrysler's vehicles are built in Europe and have more powertrain options than what they will sell you in the US. For some reason, they insist on you getting the 9 speed automatic shitbox for damn near everything if you're a US customer. Everyone else has more choices.

Comment Re:Have in-house gov't developers (Score 1) 305

Do it in-house. Have a federal agency that does in-house software development for the other agencies. For big agencies or departments, give them their own in-house development team. When you need something developed, give it to them. But crucially, don't treat it as a contractor. Run it like a lab. Fill the agency with talented people who are permanent employees--when they finish a project they move on to a new one.

Some government contractors already are considered "in-house" developers like what you are describing. They go to work in the same building as the Federal employees who are often are the managers for those projects. They also have contractor managers who handle all the HR and resource allocation stuff (Jim the DB is working on project Y, Laurie the coder is on project X, etc). Once a phase of a project is complete, they go to work on the next phase or a new project all together. This is nothing new.

Comment Re:government (Score 1) 305

That depends on the agency and facility in question. The Federal installation where I worked, most of all the managers were Federal Govt. employees, but the staff scientists, software developers, and other workers were employees of whatever contractor won the bid. When it came time for the bid to up for competition again, if some other company won it, most if not all those people would be terminated by the old company and hired by the new contractor. For the most part, things stayed the same except for the contractor management, the benefits plan, and any misc forms the contractors' HR departments used.

Comment Re:Subsidies (Score 1) 154

There are lots of factors that make up the spending received vs tax paid. Not all rural states are getting more than what they pay in Federal taxes. Nebraska, Iowa, and Arkansas are certainly rural states, but receive less than what they pay in taxes. Off the top of my head, what contributes to this spending can be broken down to:

  • Military bases
  • Other Federal government installations/managed land
  • Locations of Federal Contractors (why VA and MD are high on the list)
  • Farm Subsidies
  • Federally paid retirement income
  • Federally paid health care.
  • Entitlements / anti-poverty spending
  • Indian Reservations
  • Disaster aid
  • Transportation funding

A large part of the "reduced cost of living" is due to a) cost of housing, b) insurance and c) state & local taxes. Since housing is largely due to supply and demand, some of this spending is actually going to drive that up. Manufactured goods and non-local food costs can be higher due to transportation costs and low sales requiring more markup for retailers to stay in business. Many rural areas have declining and aging populations, so there is a lot of spending for retirement and health care relative to others, but it also drives housing costs down. On the flip side, since there aren't as many kids as there used to be in the 60s/70s in these communities, the demand for newer schools and more teachers is not very high, so local taxes can be low. There is often not a lot of crime, so insurance rates can be lower than more urbanized areas. But this isn't always the case either. There are many communities in the South with a significant portion of the population on public assistance. There isn't a lot of jobs and for some reason instead of moving where there are jobs, these individuals stay put just like their parents and grandparents did.

If some of that spending were to disappear, what you have is more people moving to areas where they could find employment, driving housing prices down even further, some municipalities ceasing to provide services, the cost of some other privately provided services going up, and people who continue to live in those areas driving further to access some services. Depending on what was cut, that may be welcomed by the local governments.

Comment Re:Political bullshit that has nothing to do with (Score 1) 369

Not the real price. No idea what it really represents, but by no means what the average citizen pays which is what the parent post was referring to. I mean, I looked at my country, and the real price is twice as high.

Then either the stations near you are gouging you (ex: some stations in US metro areas hike the price significantly) and/or your local levels of government are levying even more taxes than the rest of the country.

The differences in prices across countries are due to the various taxes and subsidies for gasoline.

All countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets but then decide to impose different taxes. As a result, the retail price of gasoline is different. In some cases, like Venezuela, the government even subsidizes gasoline and therefore people there pay close to nothing to drive their cars.

Comment Re:Every single point made is incorrect (Score 1) 369

A frequently cited study prepared for the United States State Department’s review of the Keystone XL pipeline estimated that many oil sands projects become unprofitable at prices of $65 to $75 a barrel. Prices are now below $50.

If that's the case, then every company involved in oil sands production would be moving on to something else, unless they wanted to lose a lot of money or were being propped up by a government entity.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle