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Comment: Wolves and coyotes in Yellowstone (Score 1) 282

by overshoot (#48230487) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Nothing really new here.

Wolves, then seen as unreservedly undesirable, were eradicated from the Yellowstone region by the early 20th century. Between then and the end of the century, coyotes got larger and started hunting in packs, taking the ecological niche that wolves had filled and pursuing larger prey.

Then (1994) we reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone.

Even in the short time since, observed coyotes have gotten smaller and started acting less like apex predators and more like the sneak and scavengers that they are in other habitats where they're threatened by the apex predators.

That's a lot fewer generations than the reported adaptation of lizards in the islands.

Comment: Re:Why South Korea and Japan can do it and USA can (Score 1) 291

by overshoot (#48212227) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?
The population density of the USA is low in large part because huge portions have no people at all. Yes, the internet access there sucks, but the bears and elk don't really seem to care. On the other hand, some parts of the USA do have very low population density but still have fat pipes.

Comment: Re:No. (Score 1) 291

by overshoot (#48211681) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

Around 25 to 35Mbps depending on the encryption method and how much load that crypt takes.

You say that like it's slow. It's an order of magnitude greater than most Americans can afford. Fiber vs. copper isn't the bottleneck, and neither is encryption bandwidth. The rates providers charge is, and when they switch to fiber the rates per Mbps increase, not decrease.

Of course, the rates per megabit increase regardless.

Comment: It's not that it's not available (Score 1) 291

by overshoot (#48211647) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?
At least in large parts of the USA, it's that "broadband" isn't affordable. "Basic" DSL or cable, with download rates of less than 5 Mbps, cost upwards of $50/month. Higher speeds are proportionally faster -- and very, very few people even in the USA are willing to pay hundreds of dollars a month for download speeds far less than those taken for granted in other developed countries.

Comment: Re:Inequality isn't harmful (Score 1) 839

by overshoot (#48167423) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

The correlation is not just in the USA, not just the past six years, for another.

And FWIW, the past thirty years have constant-dollar wages in the USA flat while productivity increased. (Household income increased due to increasing hours worked, mostly women.) The exception was during the 90s, when (despite predictions to the contrary) wages actually increased.

Facts on the US part readily available from the lovely search and visualization tools at the St. Lous Federal Reserve.

Comment: Re:Progressive Consumption Tax (Score 1) 839

by overshoot (#48161007) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

The government spends 13.68% of all income across the country on welfare alone.

Total 2014 per-capita spending on welfare, all sources, in the United States is $1538.40

Total 2013 per-capita income in the United States is $53,960 (Google, including World Bank)

$1538.40/$53,960 = 2.85%

Comment: Re:Self-serving -- meh! (Score 1) 839

by overshoot (#48160877) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

I have the impression that income taxes are comparatively low in the US whereas the corporate taxes are exceptionally high. Anyone who can comment meaningfully on this?

The statutory tax rate is 35%, which is the highest in the G20. However, there are so many exemptions, deductions, credits, and of course outright avoidance that the actual rate is close to zero.

Unfortunately, that "average corporate tax rate" includes some companies that actually get reamed and others (think General Electric) which are actually net recipients of money thanks to credits.

Comment: Re:Three things you can tax, and consumption is ba (Score 1) 839

by overshoot (#48160773) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

You forgot a simple head tax. One head tax based on your place of residence (or split among localities if you have more than one residence over the tax period based on time spent at each). There'd be one of these for city, county, state, and federal paid once a year.

Have you run the numbers on this?

US government spending, per capita, is $12,101, so the canonical family of four would start off owing $48,400. Roughly half of the population would pay more in taxes than they earn.

Which, aside from value judgments, is going to make it necessary to increase the tax rate since those "takers" won't be paying much. Of course, increasing the tax rate will put more of them in the street, etc.

Comment: Re:Inequality isn't harmful (Score 5, Insightful) 839

by overshoot (#48160613) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Inequality in itself is not harmful.

It does seem to be negatively correlated with economic growth.

What difference does it make to me that someone in Ohio is driving a Rolls Royce while all I have is a Nissan?

That depends, doesn't it, on whether the shift in income from wages to capital kept your income from growing over your working lifetime. If inequality has a net positive sum great enough for "trickle down" to lift all boats rather than just the yachts, well and good. If it's a negative sum (the top gets increases, the bottom loses money) then the picture changes.

This isn't an ideological question, but an empiracal one.

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