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Comment: Re:These laws are not anti-Tesla, most predate Tes (Score 1) 141

by mpercy (#48626345) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

A terrific point from that journal article...

The net result of all these laws is to raise profits for car dealers. State legislatures may be willing to do this because dealers represent an identifiable source of state employment and tax revenue (Canis and Platzer, 2009, pp. 4–12), while even large manufacturers can site manufacturing plants only in a limited number of states. The result is that new car dealers have an advantage over auto manufacturers when it comes to political leverage in state legislatures, and thus states enact laws that extract rent from manufacturers and redistribute it to franchise dealers.

Comment: Glad we're in agreement... (Score 2) 141

by mpercy (#48625741) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered on his promise to billionaire Michael Bloomberg this week. The Democrat proposed the restoration of the state’s limitation on handgun sales to one a month, plus mandatory background checks on buyers — enforced by a police presence.

Of course, Michael Bloomberg, corporate mogul and billionaire, funded Mr. McAuliffe to the tune of millions. Nothing liek a bought-and-paid-for politician to do your bidding.

Comment: Really? The FCC is a "rethuglican" creation? (Score 5, Informative) 141

by mpercy (#48625617) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

The FCC was formed by the Communications Act of 1934 to replace the radio regulation functions of the Federal Radio Commission.

The Communications Act of 1934 is a United States federal law, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934. I believe FDR was a Democrat. The law was passed by the 73rd Congress. Both chambers had a Democratic majority. Dems in the Senate enjoyed a 60-35 majority, while over in the House thing were even rosier with Dems holding about 312 seats to Republicans 115 or so (counts varied slightly over time).

Comment: These laws are not anti-Tesla, most predate Tesla (Score 4, Insightful) 141

by mpercy (#48625511) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

by 50 years or more, and reflect the situations surrounding the time in which they were passed. One can hardly expect an existing dealership system to use legal means, especially those existing laws, to protect their interests. This ought to be obvious even if one disagrees with the premise of the laws. And by the way, these laws were passed in all states over decades of time, usually in response to some bad action by the manufacturers (such as forcing dealerships to accept cars they did order, so manufactures could offload dead inventory, or not reimbursing dealerships for warranty repairs).

You cannot simply point at today's lackey Republicans as the source for these laws, nor claim them to be "anti-Tesla" anymore than 50-year-old telecom laws are "anti-Google".

A far better resource than the source in the original posting is

This is an analysis predating Tesla's trouble by a bit, focusing on the government-sanctioned decimation of dealerships through the TARP process, circa 2010, and includes a nice history of franchise protection laws.

For example:

The regulation of auto franchises arose as a response to car manufacturer he regulation of auto franchises arose as a response to car manufacturer
opportunism early in the twentieth century. According to Surowiecki (2006), in 1920, Henry Ford took advantage of its established dealer network by forcing
dealers to buy inventories of new cars that they were unlikely to sell. The reason that the company could “force” dealers to take the cars was that they had all made important investments in their facilities and reputation. Thus they had sunk costs that could be expropriated. Ford and General Motors used the same strategy again during the Great Depression. These episodes demonstrated to policymakers that the franchisor, with its greater information and financial resources, might exploit investments made by the franchisees. Federal regulation followed these periods.

The starting point for auto franchise regulation is the 1956 federal act generally known as the Automobile Dealer’s Day in Court Act (ADDICA), which
provides that a car dealer may recover damages if its manufacturer fails to act in good faith in complying with the terms of the franchise agreement, including on
issues of allocation of vehicles to dealers, or matters of termination, cancellation, or transfer of the franchise. However, by the time the ADDICA was enacted, 20 states had already passed auto franchise laws. Today, every state has a law governing car manufacturer/dealer auto franchise laws. Today, every state has a law governing car manufacturer/dealer relationships.

All states require that car dealers be licensed. Even 30 years ago, 44 states had such a requirement. This regulation prevents the manufacturer from retailing cars through other means. In particular, this regulation has been a major impediment to the development of Internet distribution of new cars.

Comment: I used to think they were a group of idiots (Score 2) 465

by mpercy (#48589057) Attached to: Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

bent on keeping the world in a Stone Age sort of existence. And then they blew up those ancient Buddha statues. The Taliban, that is.

Pretty much felt the same way about Greenpeace, and now they've defiled the Nazca lines. I'm for the same treatment for them that we gave the Taliban.

Comment: Stop putting toolbars at the top (Score 1) 567

by mpercy (#48573331) Attached to: The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

How hard is it to make toolbars dockable on the side? My monitors are just about tall enough to display 8.5x11" sheet in 1:1 (not quite, with about 10.75" of vertical display area). But using Word means giving up nearly 1.75" at the top and nearly 0.5" at the bottom. I know I can make the ribbon hideable.

Chrome, Adobe Reader eat up top & bottom space too.

Let me move all that stuff off to one side!

Comment: Once was one a jury in this circumstance (Score 1) 262

by mpercy (#48509449) Attached to: Obama Offers Funding For 50,000 Police Body Cameras

In a DUI case, the prosecution withheld the video evidence. Since a suite of other charges (something like 12 additional charges) had been added to the DUI--resisting, assault on officer, ...--the video was possibly exculpatory. When the defense lawyer pointed out that prosecution had not turned over the dash cam video as requested, the judge stopped proceedings and ordered the prosecution to produce the tape. He was mad, too, you could tell. IIRC, he said 24 hours or you'll be in contempt and we'll have a mistrial. Jury was dismissed until the tape was located.

When we came back, the tape was played. *Somehow* the tape showed the cops driving up to the scene, then 20 minutes of snow, then magically cleared back to normal video showing the tow truck removing the accused's car.

Because of that tape being withheld and then magically showing nothing for the duration of the event in question (erased? disconnected?), when we deliberated, the first thing we did was ignore all the tacked on charges. We considered and convicted on the DUI based only on the fact that the wreck happened and the BAC test was positive. Because of the prosecution and police actions with the tape, we basically ignored every word of testimony from officers on the scene and never considered a single charge except the original DUI.

As it turned out, we found out in sentencing that it was the 8th DUI for the guy, and the judge expressed his opinion that we had done exactly right in finding as we did for the other charges. He had words for the prosecution that were probably pretty damning for a judge not on a TV show.

Comment: Re:Ok, they got ONE right... (Score 1) 257

by mpercy (#48372577) Attached to: Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

Also, on creating a "level playing field"...

What this law would have done is to make online retailers subject to *different* rules than a physical store.

It would make an online retailer demand information about the buyer so that the online retailer can act as a remote proxy tax collector based on where the items are shipped, not where the seller is physically located.

A B&M one in another state is not going to be forced to do the same thing when visitors from some other state make a purchase (which they might take home and might evade their local use taxes).

Comment: Re:Ok, they got ONE right... (Score 1) 257

by mpercy (#48372521) Attached to: Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

The issue boils down to: Can a state force a retailer based in another state, with no point-of-presence in the taxing state, to act as a proxy tax collector?

Imagine for one moment a shopping mall full of retailers. These stores sit just across the border from you in another state, but since your house is only a few minutes drive, easily accessible. Further, the neighboring state has a *much* lower sales tax than yours--let's even say they have zero sales tax (as a few states do).

Your state is frustrated that so many of its border-dwelling residents chose to make all their purchases across the border, thus avoiding sales taxes my state perceives as being owed to my state and depriving local retailers of business. Your state has instituted a "use tax," equivalent to the sales tax, that taxpayers are supposed to report and pay for any items imported into the state. But it seems almost no one is paying it!

Your state goes to retailers across the border and *demands* that they collect and remit sales taxes to your state. The stores, recognizing the problems they will face, such as now requiring all purchasers to submit ID and proof of residence and question them as to where the goods they are buying will end up--not to mention additional operating expense and liability for any incorrect tax filings that might occur--wisely tell your state to take a flying leap. Your state has no jurisdictional authority to impose its force on these retailers.

The problem here is simply that states cannot get their own citizens to pay taxes due (use taxes) and are trying to force out-of-state businesses to act as tax collectors for them. Think about it, is your state entitled to force a Wal-Mart or a mom-n-pop store lying just across the border in another state to collect your state's sales taxes? No way! Why should they get to force some other out-of-state business to do so?

Comment: Only because you're a tax cheat (Score 1) 257

by mpercy (#48372473) Attached to: Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

Chances are if your state has a sales tax, it has an equivalent use tax. You are supposed to pay the use tax on goods purchased from out-of-state and imported into your state. So if you didn't cheat on your taxes, the local stores would not be at a disadvantage.

Imagine a store in a state with 0% sales-tax, say, Delaware. Further assume it is close to the border with a state that has a high sales tax, like, hmm, Maryland which is considering a 7% rate. By reputation and the lure of 0% sales tax (by virtue of evading their own local use tax), people from the neighboring state make the short trip to buy their wares. Being a brick-and-mortar store, they charge all their customers the local sales tax rate (0%). They do not care nor ask where their customers are from, there is no question *at all* where the transaction takes place.

The store decides to create a website to allow their loyal customers (and hopefully new customers) to buy things online and have them mailed to them. Under this proposed rule, the store not only have to treat their online customers differently from their in-store customers, but have to comply with 10,000 different tax regimes?

The issue here is that Maryland would and should have zero chance of enforcing its will on Delaware business to force them to act as proxy tax collectors for Maryland's use taxes--the taxes being evaded by Marylanders--even if hoards of Marylanders rolled into Delaware every day to stock up. It is the Marylanders who are violating Maryland's use tax laws. Why is it the responsibility of a store in Delaware to enforce Maryland's use tax laws?

There's no practical difference between Marylanders driving to Delaware to shop compared to Marylanders ordering from a store in Delaware and having the loot delivered.

How is it fair to force a store in Delaware to be a tax collector for a California municipality? And without *any* compensation for the favor, not to mention the overhead of tallying and remitting taxes to all those difference jurisdictions, *plus* the inherent liability should they god forbid make a mistake in their forced servitude as proxy tax collector. I'm sure California would have no problem shutting down a Delaware store for failure to comply with California's tax code.

Comment: They could reasonably get enough votes to (Score 1) 257

by mpercy (#48372293) Attached to: Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

overturn a veto. It would obviously take a few Democrats who have come to come to believe they fucked up when they first voted for it. Republicans will not hold enough seats to overturn a veto by themselves, that's true enough. Depending on how the La. runoff (and Ak...did they declare a winner yet?), GOP could have 54 seats. There are 2 "independents" who are Democrats in all but name. It is very unlikely but not totally unthinkable that 6 Dems or independents could support overturning a veto on at least some parts of Obamacare.

Comment: Re:Ok, so we've spend about $20T++ and 50 years (Score 1) 262

by mpercy (#48280961) Attached to: Power and Free Broadband To the People

One thing first. "I find your boogeyman treatment of art and artists to be highly distasteful. Whatever caricature you've dreamt up is not representative of the majority of people receiving food stamps." I have no problem with art and artists, I have a problem with the particular people documented in the Salon article "Hipsters on food stamps: They're young, they're broke, and they pay for organic salmon with government subsidies. Got a problem with that?" and people like them. They are an example of exactly the kind of people who paint the program with an ugly brush--I think pretty much everyone is down with the idea that we need to be sure no one starves and that the foodstamp program has worthy aspects--with their unmitigated sense of entitlement display when they host gourmet dinner parties (with wine tasting) paid for by their foodstamps.

On the other hand, if you're a graduate student in poetry, you had to know going in that the chances of you making a living off your poetry are slim. You chose a singularly unpractical major, spent years and probably 10's of thousands of taxpayer subsidized dollars going to school and essentially planned to depend on welfare. And I'm supposed to respect you for that?

Your argument for foodstamps supporting the very foundation of our economy can be made for military spending as well (even when we're not fighting a war). When we spend $700B annually on defense spending, we're paying wages to military personnel (about $150B), and many enlisted personnel learn a viable trade for life after the military (e.g. motor pool, so it's a jobs training program too) and those wages get spent in the economy to buy food and other stuff. We create high-paying engineering jobs to develop technologies that reduce the risk to our personnel in a fire-fight, developments in aircraft, radar systems, communications networks (ever heard of DARPA?), the folks who really invented the internet), etc. all flow down in the civilian world--and many of those jobs are restricted to US citizens (can't be outsourced to China!). Those engineers and their managers and the investors who receive dividends from their shares all buy stuff in the economy too. The military spends about $3B annually just on family housing and about $70B on military construction. The $135B spent on procurement of aircraft, tanks, guns, ... are all providing good, high-paying manufacturing jobs too. The military spends about $200B in operations, buying stuff like fuel, electricity, food, materials and materiel. All that flows back into the economy too.

It's a fair question to ask: are we getting what we need from that military spending? Could we spend less and get the same results? Do we need everything we're spending on? Should some military programs be cut? Are the secondary and nth-order effects worth what we're spending for directly?

Why should I be excoriated for wondering the same things about the $1T of anti-poverty spending in general and foodstamp program in particular?

Comment: Re:Ok, so we've spend about $20T++ and 50 years (Score 1) 262

by mpercy (#48274777) Attached to: Power and Free Broadband To the People

Rabbit is about $7-9/lb, rabbit tenderloin is about $16/lb (beef tenderloin is about $10/lb). You can buy rabbit at upscale stores like Whole Foods.

It's not the cost of rabbit versus something else, it's the sense of entitlement "I'm a foodie and not going do the 'living on ramen noodles' thing". There are plenty of people working hard to get ahead and living on ramen noodles, but this guy turns his nose up as if such a thing is simply beneath him and he is entitled to his rabbit, raw honey, fresh-squeezed juices, gourmet ice cream, Japanese eggplant, mint chutney and fresh turmeric and all at someone else's expense!

Ever loaned money to a friend or relative and have that person not pay you back? You start to notice that they always seem to be able to buy a new car, or a new TV, or go on a vacation, but can't manage to pay you back and will tell you at length every excuse why they can't? That resentment tends to build.

If you've temporarily fallen on hard times and cannot afford food, I'm happy to fund basic nutrition so you don't starve. If you want gourmet ice cream and fresh-squeezed juice with your rabbit and mint chutney, get a job where you can buy it yourself. When I'm clipping coupons and frequenting Costco and you're dropping your EBT card at Whole Foods for fresh meat, it's kinda like that deadbeat relative.

The key word in your statement is "practical". The unemployment rate for computer scientists is about 4.5% (i.e. below the normal "full employment line of 5%). The unemployment rate for Art & Design is about 12.5%, Interior Design is over 14%, Social Work is nearly 12% and the among the various "Culture" majors unemployment is over 21%. One of my Swiftian solutions for the student loan "crisis" is setting the interest rate for your loan so that it matches the unemployment rate for your major. Why subsidize more Gender Studies majors who will be wholly unable to get a job when they graduate? Go to community college and get a welding or plumbing certificate. P.S. one study estimates that by 2020 the welding trade will be about 300,000 workers short. Welders can go to school for 9 months and be virtually guaranteed of getting a job with starting pay of about $40K, and some welders in certain industries make 6 figures. Think any of those Baltimore kitschy, sketchy, artsy hipsters will take up welding when they can get by on foodstamps and a part-time blogging career?

Also, you can in fact use foodstamps at restaurants, at least in some states. In Arizona, California, Michigan and Florida foostamps can be used at restaraunts. In California, for example, you can use your SNAP card at Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dominos, Subway, El Pollo Loco, Wendy's, Denny's, Carl's Junior, Del Taco, and a host of smaller chains and local establishments.

What programs did we have the dropped the poverty rate from over 30% down to about 18% in the 15 years before the war on poverty? In the 5 years after the war on poverty started, when we started the big social programs, that rate fell a bit further, down from 18% to about 15%. Since then it has wobbled between about 13% and about 15%.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"