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Comment Re:I'll make sure to let me sister know (Score 1) 164

The European countries with lower overall population densities than the US are few: Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Russia, and Iceland.

In Finland for example according to the coverage maps I'm seeing the northern third of the country has spotty coverage if any from all the carriers. The middle third has 3G along highways and 2G elsewhere. The southern third has 4G most places, but some more rural areas are 3G. The whole country is slightly smaller than Montana. The vast majority of Finland's people live near the Baltic and its gulfs, with 20% living in Helsinki alone. The whole country has fewer than 100 towns and cities and a population density overall of about 18 people per square kilometer over a total land area of 338,424 square kilometers with a total population of under 5,500,000 people.

In 1990 about half of US states were lower than Finland in density, and half were higher. Now only 13 states are of lower density. This is because Finland's population is relatively stable. The US birth and immigration rates are higher. The total density of the US is 35 people per square kilometer.

The twenty-fifth most dense US state is Washington, with about 40.5 people per square kilometer, but in 1990 the 25th most dense was Alabama with only 30.7 people per. Alaska has 0.5 people per square kilometer. New Jersey has 467.2 per. Only 13 states have double the density of Finland or more. Fifteen have less than half.

My current state, Texas, is 696,241 square kilometers holding about 28,000,000 people. 40.8 people live per square kilometer, up from just 25 in 1990. Texas has 254 counties. There are 1,216 incorporated cities, only 246 of which are home to more than 10,000 people. Thirty-five cities are home to more than 100,000, with just six cities over half a million in population. Still, nearly one quarter of the population lives in the Houston metro area. Another quarter lives in the Dallas/Forth Worth metro area. Another quarter live in the San Antonio, El Paso, Laredo, Amarillo, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Austin metro areas. That means that one quarter or so of the population is spread sporadically throughout an area twice the size of Finland, with fewer in the deserts in the far west of the state. Like Finland, huge population centers are especially well served by a variety of carriers. Some are as cheap as $30 or $35 a month, like Boost Mobile. The most reliable national carriers that don't drop signal driving across the state on highways among the cattle ranches, forests, farm fields, and such are $50 or more.

When I visit friends and family in more rural areas in Missouri and Illinois, where the largest city or town in any direction for a hundred miles is about 50,000 people and my parents live 7 miles from the closest town (of 900 people) and 8 miles from a town of 16,000, I get consistent 4G at their house. I pay $50 a month. I'm okay with that.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2007) counted 39,044 general purpose local governments, which includes 19,492 municipal governments, 16,519 township governments and 3,033 county governments. It has a total land area around 9,600,000 square kilometers. Yes, it costs money to build and operate in this kind of environment.


India's Worrying Draft Encryption Policy 114

knwny writes: The government of India is working on a new National Encryption Policy the contents of which have raised a few alarms.Among other things, the policy states that citizens and businesses must save all encrypted messages (including personal or unofficial ones) and their plaintext copies for 90 days and make them available to law enforcement agencies as and when demanded. The policy also specifies that only the government of India shall define the algorithms and key sizes for encryption in India. The policy is posted on this website.

Comment Re:How is this paid for? (Score 1) 1291

Practically everyone holds some currency. Inflation is also a tax on people holding many types of contracts, including and especially people who have lent money. Lenders are especially taxed by inflation when they have lent at a fixed interest rate.

Non-cash capital is affected when there are other currencies available for exchange. A national economy is not entirely a closed loop.

People get taxed at different rates based on how much they hold in currency and what their contractual obligations are. It still impacts the economy as a whole, since it encourages spending early rather than saving fixed currency at interest that may not keep pace with the inflation.

Mild inflation for someone who owes a large debt at a low fixed rate (like a 4% or 5% mortgage) can be a good thing. The value in inflated dollars goes up, but the amount owed is in pre-inflation dollars. The bank, however, gets less money out of their interest and loses money if the inflation rate outpaces the interest rate. The only consolation is that the asset acting as collateral has appreciated according to inflation in addition to any market appreciation in uninflated dollars.

Too rapid of inflation is bad for everyone, because wage increases tend to fall well behind the inflation rate for consumer goods. People eventually catch up if they make it through, but often experience hardship in the meantime.

Comment Re:How is this paid for? (Score 5, Interesting) 1291

They wouldn't be able to pay for this purely out of tax revenues already collected. It would require printing money and sending checks against money that hadn't been in the economy yet. That influx of money would cause some level of price inflation. It would also, however, create more demand for goods and generate more sales of goods. That would create some jobs and encourage further automation. Eventually when there's nothing left to automate, the businesses selling everything will be the primary sources of taxes. Workers will be lightly taxed and most of all of them will have subsidized incomes. Those not working are subsidized to the baseline.

The whole idea is basically turning corporate subsidies on their heads. Companies used to get subsidies for creating jobs and keeping their product prices down. Now much of those go back to the stockholders or other owners since automation is cutting production costs and cutting some jobs. As the jobs go away, though, the demand for the products goes away. It's largely a consumer economy, so it needs consumers to spend money. Stop subsidizing the corporations who are automating away the means to consume. Start subsidizing the consumers who then buy the products.

It's not necessarily the best plan, but that's the part necessary to understand before praising it or dismissing it.

Another competing but potentially complementary option is that if fewer person hours are needed but we have so many people, lower the number of hours before overtime kicks in. If we cut everyone's hours by 20%, 20% more people might get hired. Still, though, people wouldn't want to give up 20% of their pay, so giving more people jobs at the same pay rate for fewer hours does -- guess what -- inflate prices.

Comment Re:Not Free Money (Score 5, Informative) 1291

Right now new capital enters the system via debt. Businesses and consumers borrow money the banks don't actually have. If it doesn't get to the consumers, it doesn't keep circulating. If it doesn't keep circulating, more businesses lay people off and there are fewer consumers spending less money.

The basic income idea is to put new money into circulation not from taxes necessarily, but probably from printing it into circulation. That creates some inflation, which is basically debt spread evenly across the entire economy. Then the economy keeps the money flowing, because there's a steady supply of it to people who aren't currently employed. It makes banks a secondary source of entry for currency rather than the primary one.

The government doesn't have to keep track of this program for rent, that program for health insurance, this other program for some other type of assistance, and then a complex tax code. The basic income subsidy and a simplified tax code makes the government much more streamlined so the tax rate can actually be lower or more of the money put into the subsidy.

It might not be an ideal solution, but it's not expected to be "free". It's actually a very profound macroeconomic idea for adjusting to booming per-worker productivity and a simultaneous lack of jobs. The problem it's trying to solve is that the reason the job market is so soft is that so few people need to work to produce the things that make everyone able to live comfortably. Demand for labor is down, which is causing demand for products to be down (via lack of means to pay). If more people could pay, more products could be sold. The corporations wouldn't need tax breaks as subsidies because nearly all products are subsidized on the buyer's side. Most of the tax burden could eventually be shifted onto the people owning the automation.

Comment Where's the rest of the platform? (Score 5, Interesting) 157

We understand where you stand on surveillance. Where do you stand on these issues?:

gay marriage
investing in prisons and drug stings vs. investing in job training and job creation
legalizing marijuana
keeping the FCC from preventing flashing of consumer electronics with new firmware
net neutrality
the Keystone XL pipeline
amnesty for illegal immigrants
streamlining guest worker visas for legal immigrants
HB-1 visa quotas
lowering the skyrocketing levels of student debt
making healthcare affordable or subsidizing paying for it
investing in our roads and bridges
making Internet a common utility like water and electricity

Hardware Hacking

9th-Grader May Face Charges After Homemade Clock Mistaken For Bomb 956

New submitter bengoerz writes: 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was led away from MacArthur High School in handcuffs and faces possible charges after teachers, school administrators, and police in Irving, Texas mistook his homemade clock for a bomb. The device — a circuit board, power supply, and digital display wired together inside a pencil box — was confiscated by a teacher after the alarm sounded in class. Despite telling everyone who would listen that his device was just a clock, Ahmed was confronted by four police officers, suspended for three days, and threatened with expulsion unless he made a written statement, before eventually being transported to a juvenile detention center to meet his parents.

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman