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Comment: Re: what is interesting is not that it won (Score 1) 588 588

by Loki_1929 (#49991207) Attached to: Supreme Court Upholds Key Obamacare Subsidies

I think your parenthetical expression is a bit more than just word-fluff entered by a founding father in a flurry of poetic inspiration. It clearly describes the intent of the amendment. People need to be armed to defend the state.

Actually, it says "being necessary to the security of a free state. You see, the guys who wrote this had just risen up against their government and created another in its place. "A free state" doesn't mean "The United States of America"; it refers to a fundamental concept. That concept is one of a place free of tyranny. The men who wrote the Second Amendment would have gladly overthrown the government established by the US Constitution had it become sufficiently oppressive and tyrannical. They would have done so in order to ensure the security of a free state and they would have done so with their own guns.

The US didn't have a big standing army at the time, and it was clear that to keep free, they would need to be able to call up their citizens if they were attacked, and those citizens better be armed. Given that the US currently has a larger army than the rest of the world combined, I don't think that calling up their citizens is very relevant at this point.

We're covered for foreign enemies. We aren't covered from domestic ones. Tell me, what good would your argument have done if terrorists had attacked again before the 2004 elections and President Bush had called off those elections and simply declared martial law coast-to-coast, then stated that he would remain as commander-in-chief until the threat of terrorism was over? Assuming the army stood with him, what's your plan B for year-10 of the George W. Bush presidency? For year 20? For year 30? Oh right, you don't have one. Just "let's all hope that doesn't happen (because I'd be screwed!)".

Same with the electoral college. In the good old days, the state would have a vote in November, and would select the person(s) that would get up on a horse and ride to Washington DC to represent the state in electing the president. There was simply no other way. The electoral college became obsolete with the telegraph, but it's still around.

No it isn't. Abolish the Electoral College and watch as "flyover country" becomes exactly that. The top 20 cities would get 95% of every candidate's attention and promises. Anyone living outside a metro area may as well not bother showing up on election day.

The stated reasons for the second amendment are no longer relevant, yet the amendment stays. Maybe the amendment should be updated to: "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, for no reason whatsoever, shall not be infringed".

The amendment remains relevant because it - like most of the US Constitution - is less a practical guide and more a statement of principles. Principles like the government not dictating what religion we should follow or what opinions can be expressed. The Second Amendment is a statement of the principle that when all else fails, no matter what, responsibility for establishing and maintaining freedom ultimately falls on the people, and that as such, they must always have access to the tools necessary to fulfill that responsibility.

It doesn't matter whether the tyrant comes from halfway across the globe or from just down the street; the people - all of us - have the responsibility to ensure that no tyrant lords over us. The people having the convincing capability to beat any challenge to their freedom ensures no such challenge is made. Despite all the dire predictions of fringe leftists in this country, there was never a chance President Bush would crown himself king; if for no other reason than even he would have to know it would end very poorly for him. Tyrants don't come to our country because of the US military. Tyrants don't come from our country because of the Second Amendment. The idea that we don't need the Second Amendment because we have the military is as foolish as the idea that we don't need the First Amendment because we have the Internet. Modern inventions don't negate principles; they reinforce the need for them.

Comment: Re: what is interesting is not that it won (Score 1) 588 588

by Loki_1929 (#49991009) Attached to: Supreme Court Upholds Key Obamacare Subsidies

What bothers me about current rulings is that the mention of a militia obviously means a potential military force, and therefore the right of the people to keep and bear military weapons shall not be infringed.

More specifically, the weapons protected must be of a capability reasonably expected to be useful in fighting and winning against a foreign or domestic aggressor with state sponsorship. In other words, weapons equal to those possessed by any government around the world - including our own - which can be used effectively to win a war. Hence, full-auto machine guns, artillery, Apache gunships, and F-16s are fully in scope for the Second Amendment. What's more, there's an interesting argument to be made about even the classified stuff being available to the American people for study, purchase, building, etc.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 1) 380 380

by Loki_1929 (#49990829) Attached to: Who Owns Your Overtime?

A lot of these "failing schools" are located in poor neighborhoods and the poor performance can be directly traced back to kids worried about issues like whether they'll have a home to go back to, whether mom/dad will keep their job, whether they'll have dinner tonight, etc. When kids are worried about basic life issues like this, their grades suffer

The lack of parental involvement is also often pointed to in these situations, and I don't disagree that all of those things influence - but do not control - the outcomes. However, none of this explains why some charter schools can operate successfully in some of the worst areas with some of the poorest students around. I think what you're describing are just additional obstacles for kids in bad areas, but I also think great teachers in great schools can overcome those obstacles just as they would any other.

As far as attracting students goes, right now we tend to place students in schools based on neighborhoods. It sounds like you're advocating more of a private school philosophy of "you apply to school X and hope you get in." The problem with this is that schools in poor neighborhoods aren't going to attract anybody. So they will get the people that the other schools don't want - the kids with the most issues and problems. Meanwhile, the wealthier neighborhood schools will be able to pick and choose who they accept which means they'll get the higher performing students. So the rich schools do better and the poor schools do worse.

I think you're misunderstanding something fundamental about what I'm advocating. In the system I'm describing, the schools who aren't taking very many kids don't have much funding. Now they may still do well, but since the money is attached to the student, they aren't going to get rich by selecting a small handful of lucky/talented kids. I'm also not claiming that every single kid is going to suddenly turn into a college grad because there's a choice in schooling. Rather, I'm saying a lot more kids will get a lot more chances precisely because we aren't pushing all the poor kids into the school in the poor neighborhood where property taxes amount to almost nothing. When $x follow every kid, from whatever neighborhood, from whatever family, to whatever school, the location of the school no longer matters as to the quality of its education. If all the inner city kids end up going to one school, that school will have a river of cash flowing through it and should (all things being equal and all people being competent) be able to bring in the best teachers and provide the best atmosphere for learning.

With simple numbers, let's assume $5,000 follows each child. The exclusive high school that only lets in 50 kids a year? They're going to end up with a grand total of $1 Million to run an entire high school. Now if they can make that all work, good for them (but I doubt it). That school getting "the people that the other schools don't want"? Let's say they've got a total student population of 10,000 kids. They've got a $50 Million budget. If they spend 2/3 of that on teachers, they can spend around $130,000 for each teacher. If they only spend half of it on teachers, well then they can spend $100,000 on each.

What kinds of people do you think you'll get when you start throwing that kind of money around? This should work really well in any school that decides to invest in teachers and students rather than the unions and the administrators. For those still doing business the old way? Well, they won't be in business much longer, so that's fine.

Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 937 937

by Loki_1929 (#49984291) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

This is precisely the main problem: there's a blank check being given to the demand side of the housing market. I'll disagree on one point however, and that's that the banks are indeed culpable to some extent (though only due to increasing pressure from HUD). This goes back to the amendments added to the Community Reinvestment Act in the early 90s which removed the protections against banks being pressed into making bad loans by the Feds. Once those protections were lifted and public policy shifted to pushing toward every man, woman, and child owning their own home regardless of their ability to pay for it, the banks had to come up with a way to move those loans off their books. Once somebody came up with the brilliant idea to bundle the loans into something they could dump into the investment markets (CDOs), the banks essentially became loan factories pushing out home loans every bit as quickly as the government wanted them to.

Without having to keep those loans on the books, the banks no longer had an interest in ensuring the loans made any sense. Hence, an effectively blank check handed out to anyone who asked (and a lot of people who didn't) regardless of qualifications or the reasonableness of the house prices. That's when basic economics took hold and we watched the housing market explode with a demand-driven boom fueled by unbridled credit and piloted by the Federal government,

In my opinion, the immediate answer should be to stop subsidizing the demand side of the market. And if we want to help correct the imbalance and really start driving sustainable home ownership increases, we should be - as a matter of public policy - working to increase the supply. Swell supply while no longer inflating demand and watch prices drop. Speculators and investors drop out of the market. First-time home buyers have an opportunity to get in at a reasonable rate. No more home equity piggy bank spending. It's just a win all around. Otherwise, the next generation is largely going to be left to renting their entire lives because nobody who doesn't already have their hands on a ridiculously price-inflated house is going to be able to afford so much as a down payment.

Comment: Subsidize the supply side (Score 5, Interesting) 937 937

by Loki_1929 (#49981295) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

The problem is that we spent so long subsidizing the demand side that the supply for housing is hopelessly outpaced. The prices have skyrocketed over the past 15 years to the point where first-time buyers are largely priced out of the market. Want to drive home ownership in a sustainable way? Drive it at the supply side. That means subsidizing the whole supply chain, from land to materials to labor. Drive a massive swell of building to bring supply well above demand and watch as homeownership rates rise quickly but sustainably even as market speculators (who really just drive up prices further) get crushed under the weight of falling home prices.

Handing everyone a blank check to buy whatever they like (regardless of whether they can afford it) is the same thing we've done in the education market. The results are the same: prices soar and anyone who isn't willing to mortgage their immortal soul has little chance of getting what they're after (but on the bright side, we've made the immortal soul mortgaging a quick and simple process!) Having a higher supply than demand ensures prices drop to the point where someone other than the top 10% of the country can actually afford to live here. Steady or slightly falling prices encourages people who actually want to own a home (rather than simply investing in real estate for the sake of cashing in on a boom) to take that next step to do so. We need house prices to drop by 50 - 75% in most major markets. It'll create a much healthier, robust framework in the long run, regardless of how much hand-wringing takes place in the short to mid term.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 1) 380 380

by Loki_1929 (#49978471) Attached to: Who Owns Your Overtime?

don't be surprised if - in 5 years - we have no more public schools and only have business-run, for-profit charter schools.

Don't tease me.

Seriously though, it doesn't need to be aimed at just pervy teachers. It needs to be aimed at all teachers who shouldn't be in a classroom either because they're incompetent, apathetic, or downright dangerous to students. I understand that the politics involved is not at all pure in any state or school district, but the sooner we can get around to real accountability for bad and mediocre teachers, the better. And honestly, I think for-profit schools are a part of that solution.

I'm a big proponent of the way a lot of Europeans do early education (and you cannot imagine how much it pains me to say that) wherein the funding for schools is attached to each student and their parents are free to send them wherever they choose. Want lots of funding? Attract lots of students. How? Just as any business would attract customers: provide the best product available. No more free rides and extra bonus cash for failing schools; rather, failing schools fail and get replaced by better ones. Creating those better schools invariably must require shifting a good chunk of the funding away from administrators, bureaucrats, and unions and into the pockets of teachers. After all, how will you attract the best and the brightest except by providing them a highly competitive salary and great working conditions?

And who loses out in all of that? Bad teachers. Teachers who are just terrible at their jobs (either because they don't know any better or just plain don't care) will be tossed aside. Unions will also lose quite a lot of power, but not at the expense of good teachers (somewhat at the expense of mediocre teachers). Suddenly schools will be able to reward excellence, punish incompetence, and push toward student success. The worst thing we've ever done to our education system is remove all incentive to teach students well. Many motivated individuals need no such incentive, but their minority voices die on the vine as the administrative bureaucracy grows into a strangling weed gripping funding and control so tightly and completely that little light finds its way through.

The politics of how we get there don't need to be pure; they just need to get us to a point where bad schools fail (and actually go away) and good schools succeed. Once that's in place, the rest of the problems start to unravel.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 0) 380 380

by Loki_1929 (#49975081) Attached to: Who Owns Your Overtime?

Teachers' unions have been under brutal attack for over 30 years now and there are today very few teachers with "strong" union protection left.

Well no, most teachers in public schools still have absurdly strong union protection. Take New York City, for example, where teachers who were negligent, physically abusive, even sexually harassing students were placed in what came to be known as "rubber rooms" for months or years on end where they were paid their full salaries to literally do nothing. They couldn't be disciplined, let alone fired, because the contracts negotiated by the unions called for an impossibly long process to take any action against any teacher. The unions' response? "There are no bad teachers." Yeah...

Some - although not a large percentage - of K-12 school districts have a concept called 'tenure' which is often confused with elite university tenure but in the K-12 world generally means "can't be fired without the firing party following HR procedures and going through an appeal process". Which doesn't mean much in the end either.

May be true in Wisconsin, but in most of the country, that process has been extended and amended to the point where it's all but impossible to get rid of someone who isn't a convicted felon sent to prison. In NYC, you can confess to sexually harassing young girls and then spend the next decade collecting $85,000 a year (with automatic timed raises) all while sitting around doing literally nothing. And it isn't just NYC (though they've gotten the most press coverage). Places like California, New Jersey, and others have similar issues. The pendulum swung too far in the unions' direction and it's started swinging back the other way. And not a moment too soon!

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score -1, Troll) 380 380

by Loki_1929 (#49975057) Attached to: Who Owns Your Overtime?

In New York (City), you had teachers sitting in office rooms ("rubber rooms") for years on end because the paperwork and process to actually fire a teacher was so long and arduous that they couldn't bother even trying to rid themselves of physically abusive, sexually harassing, threatening, or otherwise unsafe-to-have-around-kids teachers. They had teachers perving out on young girls in their classrooms that they couldn't fire because the union wouldn't allow it. This is to say nothing of teachers who just did a terrible job. The unions' response? "There are no bad teachers."

You want to know why teacher protections have been under attack? Because the pendulum swung so far in one direction that we're protecting the jobs of perverts and the incompetent. So yeah, it's coming back the other way.

Comment: Re:Whats wrong with US society (Score 1) 609 609

Yeah, I'm sure that the right to bear arms really means the right to own a tank, assault helicopter or nuclear weapon.

I don't think the nuclear weapon is covered for the simple fact that it isn't a weapon used to win a revolutionary war. Rather, it's a weapon designed to ensure everyone loses.

The tank and the helo? Absolutely it means that. How in the world could it not?

To claim otherwise is to claim that the First Amendment's freedom of speech doesn't cover speech on the Internet or that the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure doesn't extent to computers. The Bill of Rights isn't a listing of specific freedoms so much as it is a statement of principles.

The principle of the First Amendment's speech protection is not that you can literally vocalize ideas, but rather that you can communicate anything you want so long as it doesn't harm another person (fraud, liable) or create a major risk of serious bodily harm (inciting a riot, shouting fire in a crowded theater). The principle of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure is not that the government can't arbitrarily decide to come take products made from trees from you or look through those things; it's that the government must have a sound, rational, basis before it can search you or anything of yours whether it's a diary or a laptop. .

Likewise, the principle of the Second Amendment is not that citizens may own muskets, but rather that if a fight breaks out between the people and the government, everyone's on equal footing. Why? Because the guys who wrote the Bill of Rights had just gotten done warring with their own government and so they understood the value of being able to go toe-to-toe with a tyrant's military might.

So yes, if the military has those things and they're considered legitimate weapons for fighting and winning, then the people have the right to own those things as well. Restrictions to the contrary of that principle undermine the spirit of the Second Amendment by monopolizing force in the hands of the government at the expense of the people. Nothing would have frightened the Founding Fathers more considering what they'd just experienced.

Comment: Re:Whats wrong with US society (Score 1) 609 609

However, when you consider that today a person in an apache helicoptor flying over 2 miles away can put a half dozen 30 millimeter shells in your chest, center of mass, at night, modern weapons civilians can own don't stand a chance against the government.

Really? Are you certain about that? Because we've put a whole lot of money, time, and technology to use against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc and they all seem to be doing just fine against that Apache helicopter and its 30mm shells. And those Apaches have places they can safely land and be maintained and they aren't at risk for mass defecting soldier, mechanics, etc. (see how much of that happens if you turn the American military on its own people). And they're up against people who are poor, uneducated, and starving. If the War on Terrorism has proven anything, it's that this logic about "oh well you can't stand up to your own military in modern times because ... uh technology and air power and stuff" holds about as much water as a fishing net.

So then you have to ask, have we reached a point where the cost in blood of our citizens killing themselves is worth it.

The Bundy Ranch standoff demonstrated that at least some people are fed up enough to start taking a stand, but are not fed up enough to start taking potshots from water towers en masse. I think if you were to ask a whole bunch of people who would ever consider open rebellion given sufficiently dire circumstances (understanding that some people never would no matter what because of cowardice or because they're benefiting from the power structure while others would happily open fire the moment they thought they could get away with it because they have an irrational hatred of all government - but that the vast majority of people fall somewhere in between there), you would find that they'd much prefer to fight in the courts, at the polls, and at political protests until every other option is exhausted.

And this is where anti-gun folks get confused: they look at the situation in the US today and they can't imagine why anyone would take up arms against the government, let alone be successful in doing so. What they're not understanding is that (almost) nobody is saying otherwise. You have to mentally fast-forward to a future situation where things have become so intolerably awful, so entrenched, so soul-crushingly bad that your average person has reached a point where they'd rather put their life on the line to try and force a major change for the better than continue even at the status quo. If things ever reach that point - where even average everyday people can no longer tolerate the situation - then open rebellion becomes a real possibility. It's at that point (and I sincerely hope I don't ever see anything close to that in my lifetime) that the Second Amendment's value becomes clear to all but the most willfully obtuse.

And it won't be a handful of private citizens with howitzers and tanks that make successful revolution possible (even likely). Rather, it'll be millions upon millions with semi-auto rifles and handguns who present constant, relentless, inescapable, unavoidable pressure from all sides. You cannot end a force like that. You cannot control a force like that. You cannot manage a force like that. All you can do is kill everyone and then you've nothing left to rule.

Comment: Re: Whats wrong with US society (Score 1) 609 609

We do care about social consequences. For example, we care about the social consequences of granting our government so much power that it can rule or end our lives with impunity.

The people hold the power, but only so long as they decide to keep it. Once it's surrendered, it's a long, bloody struggle to get it back.

Comment: Re:Whats wrong with US society (Score 1) 609 609

And what about those of us who are intelligent, say that sort of thing, and actually mean it?

Look, I get that it frightens you that we have that right here in the US, but we've had that right forever. We still have that right. Want some artillery? NICS check, tax stamp, and some paperwork to file. (same process for the ammunition, actually) And yet you don't hear about people robbing banks with them or going after the ex-wife with them. Gee, I wonder why that is...

The fact is, most people are simply surprised/shocked to learn that Americans can own the big stuff privately. Most get over that pretty quickly when they do even a little research into the communities around buying and keeping that sort of thing, to say nothing of the history of private ownership of those items (and lack of problems created). Some people maintain the same position they do about all guns: "why does anyone really need that?!" The truth is, they don't. Just like nobody really needs a copy of the US Constitution, or a flag, or a right to vote, or a Bible, or privacy, or an abortion, or running water, or the right to trial by jury. Those are all just trappings of a decent, modern society.

If we start defining what rights people have by what they "really need", we're going to have a mighty short list. What a bunch of old guys came up with hundreds of years ago in the American colonies is that it works a lot better if you ask a different question: what do we "really need" a government to do?

Comment: Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 2) 1032 1032

by Loki_1929 (#49869095) Attached to: Writer: "Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans"

You mean the government? The government did the bailouts after the government drove up the price of housing by pushing for unsustainable loans. It's been HUD's policy since the early 90's that every man, woman, and child should own their own home and it's a fantasy turned nightmare. It began slowly under Clinton wherein the undermining of mortgage underwriting standards began, then rapidly picked up pace under Bush when a solution to the problem was found (getting the bad loans off the books and into the hands of VCs).

The original problem was created by the Federal government's absurd idea that everyone should own their own home (impossible, ridiculous to even consider otherwise). When the market found a way to solve that problem (as it invariably will), we were off to the races in prices as demand went through the roof and supply was left hopelessly far behind. When the whole thing crashed, the government bailed everybody out who mattered.

Why doesn't he deserve a bailout? Because at some point we should stop perpetuating the ridiculous policies that got us into this mess.

Comment: Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032 1032

by Loki_1929 (#49869039) Attached to: Writer: "Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans"

Are you suggesting that the art history professors should work for substantially less? That the classes should be taught in substantially cheaper (both to build and to maintain) classrooms? That heating, air conditioning, electricity, and possibly running water should be cut from those classrooms? That art history students not have access to other campus classes or facilities or resources?

Because if you aren't, then what you're suggesting is that students in other majors should pay extra to subsidize the art history students and others whose major isn't worth the cost of a university education.

On a fundamental level, I agree that higher education shouldn't cost so much, but you'll have to speak to the government about that. By pushing every single person toward getting a college degree and providing them what is essentially a blank check to make it happen, we've massively spiked the demand side of the equation. What happens when demand goes through the roof and supply is left hopelessly far behind? What's worse, normally the market for education could correct by pricing some people out of it, but in order to further the goal, the government has provided a means by which anyone can get virtually any level of funding for any sort of educational goal (whether or not it has any chance of ever paying for itself in the lifetime of the student). Thus, an art history major can get loans exceeding that of most home mortgages with no income and little income potential.

Want to fix the costs behind higher education? Pull all government subsidies for students and redirect that money to colleges and universities with a history of successfully educating students (e.g. job placement percentages, 5/10/20-year outcomes for alumni, etc). Further, erase the legal absurdity making student loans the hardest of all loans to kill. That's the other half of the problem. Finally (and this is the hard part for most people), accept that quite a number of low-income students will find some or all higher education out of their reach. This can be partially offset by directing some of the aforementioned subsidies toward apprenticeship based learning (e.g. pairing young adults up with electricians, plumbers, etc).

And what does that do? It spikes the supply side of the education/training equation. Suddenly there's more supply and it's cheaper to do it than it would be with no forces acting within the market. That brings down the prices while incentivizing higher performance for the institutions (who have zero incentive now beyond whatever sense of benevolence exists at each college or university among the staff). It doesn't bring down prices to the point where everyone can do anything they want, but that's a fantasy anyway (as some are starting to grasp). Sure, you can push everything through higher education and they can do whatever type of studies they want, but many if not most will end up in crushing debt for decades unless they've chosen something with extremely high earning potential. And if (as you state) the purpose of higher learning is not simply to make more money, then we're doing it wrong.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.