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Comment: No, it wasn't. (Score 5, Insightful) 463

by raehl (#47802209) Attached to: Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

The problem is, this death was a result of systemic problems between the police and society at large, specifically the police thinking - correctly, it appears - that they're above the law.

The lack of prosecution in this case is NOT because the police are "above the law". The lack of prosecution in this case is because the law specifically allows the police to use electronic devices in the course of their duties while operating their vehicles. The same way the law allows the police to exceed the speed limit in certain cases, or allows them to park pretty much anywhere, or allows them to pull you over, or allows them to do any number of other things that a normal citizen can't do.

You may argue that it's a bad practice, but keep in mind that one person dying because officers are allowed to use electronic devices while driving doesn't necessarily mean that's bad practice any more than officers sometimes causing accidents because they can speed or run red lights in the course of their duties means those are overall bad practices either. We'd need to know how many people are hurt as a result of officers operating electronic devices while driving and compare that to how many people would be hurt if officers had to use the radio or pull over every time they needed to use electronic devices.

Regardless, there was no legal basis for criminal charges in this incident.

Comment: Re:Misleading summary (Score 4, Informative) 435

by raehl (#44438503) Attached to: Obama Praises Amazon At One of Its Controversial Warehouses

It may have the same effect as a subsidy

If it looks like a duck....

If the government agreed to send oil companies a check for $10 for every barrel of oil produced, we'd all agree that that's a subsidy, right?

If the government instead says, "We'll credit your tax bill $10 for every barrel of oil you produce, reducing the amount on the tax check you send us", it's THE SAME DAMNED THING.

Oh and calling tax write-offs that oil companies take over employee benefits and such a "subsidy", when every other type of company can use those same write-offs is being disingenuous.

No one is calling those tax write-offs available to all businesses subsidies. The subsidies are the tax write-offs available ONLY to oil production companies. One example is the ability to write off the "declining value" of oil wells.

So, if you're an oil company, you spend $20 billion looking for oil reserves, and deduct those expenses. Then, you find a reserve, worth say, $100 billion. Then, you spend $20 billion getting that oil out of the ground, and deduct those expenses, and then you sell the oil for $100 billion. This is all the normal way a business would run. For example, someone might spend $20 million researching a new product, $20 million making the products, and then sell the products for $100 million, making $60 million in profits they are taxed on.

But on top of the normal deductions for ACTUAL COSTS, the oil companies ALSO deduct the "declining value of the wells". You know, since the oil in the ground was worth $100 billion, as they pump the oil out of the ground and the "value" of the oil in the ground declines, THEY DEDUCT THE DECLINING VALUE OF THE WELLS TOO!

And that's a subsidy. It's a tax deduction no normal business gets.

Comment: You're wrong on all counts. (Score 3, Interesting) 353

by raehl (#44420397) Attached to: Apple Retailer Facing Class Action Suit Over Employee Bag Checks

As an airline pilot, you've (well, your union, on your behalf) negotiated a contract with the airline where your pay is based on getting the plane where it needs to go, and you are paid for all activities necessary to accomplish the task for which you are paid for.


I am sure that, once you add up all the time you spend on all of your job-related activities, your wage + time and a half for hours over 40 per week, greatly exceeds the minimum wage.

Just like every other salaried employee who doesn't make any more money when it's crunch time and you have to pull 10-12 hour days to get shit done. It's called a job description, and being paid for the job (get plane from A to B) instead of the time (you were in airports/planes from 9 AM to 8 PM.)

If you don't like the terms of your contract, either renegotiate it so you are paid by the hour instead of by the trip (or flight hour), or work somewhere else. I hear Apple stores are hiring.

Note that Apple stores probably don't have benefits like medical, dental, or free flights on any domestic carrier on a space-available basis, and your hourly wage will plummet vs. your flight-hour wage, but at least you'll get a slight increase on your paycheck if customs takes a little longer to clear!

Comment: It depends. (Score 5, Interesting) 303

by raehl (#44203679) Attached to: Why Protesters In Cairo Use Laser Pointers

Is that not the textbook definition of a coup d'etat?

Just because a government is democratically elected doesn't mean it's a democracy. History is full of democratically elected governments that then turn into totalitarian regimes.

If Obama woke up tomorrow and ordered that all Tea Party members be arrested, I would expect our military to essentially remove him from office - in the immediate case by ignoring him, and in the longer case by Congress impeaching him and removing him from office - which would still require the cooperation of the military (they'd have to decide to listen to Congress and not the President.)

In Egypt, there isn't really a constitutional mechanism to get rid of a leader who, while democratically elected, isn't fulfilling his responsibilities as a democratic leader, so the best thing they have is the Army takes care of it.

So while this may technically be a coup in that the elected leader is being removed from office through a non-elective means, it's not necessarily undemocratic, if you believe the elected leader is abusing the freedoms of the people and the coup is to create the opportunity for someone who does respect the rights of the people to be elected.

Comment: Sorry.... (Score 1) 304

by raehl (#43953213) Attached to: Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

Just because the questions are assigned those values doesn't mean that the final result is the sum of the points. For example, somewhere here someone linked to a test where the total possible points was 110. So it's pretty obvious that final test score is NOT just the sum of the points earned on the questions, since no one gets a score higher than 100.

Comment: More importantly... (Score 5, Insightful) 171

by raehl (#43930625) Attached to: Amazon: Publishers Strong-Armed Us On E-Books

You don't set your price based on what it costs you to make/provide something. You set your price to maximize profits.

So it doesn't matter that eBooks are cheaper to make/distribute than hard copies. What matters is whether people are willing to pay the same price for an eBook as they are for a hard copy. eBooks are arguably better than hard copy books, so it stands to reason people will pay at least as much, if not more, for them.

Now, in a free market, you would expect a competitor to enter the market at lower pricing - but books are copywritten, so it's not exactly a free market. Even then, the justice department is examining whether competitors in the market illegally colluded to force the agency model on eBook retailers.

Comment: The Author is an Idiot (Score 5, Insightful) 304

by raehl (#43930489) Attached to: Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India


- There is a national cheating conspiracy ...or....

- The test score is not based on assigning a value to each question and adding up those values.

For example, the test could simply be scored as such:

All answers correct: Score 100
Miss one question: Score 99
Miss two questions: 98
Three questions: 97
Four: 96
Five: 94
Six: 92
etc etc
Miss 20 questions: 35
Miss 21 questions: 31
etc etc.

The author makes the ASSUMPTION that the score of the test must be the sum of the value of the questions answered correctly. There is no basis for that assumption. The fact that certain values are not present, and the values 34, 33 and 32 are not present, are likely by design (i.e. don't make people feel like they just missed passing.)

All the author has shown is that India is apparently doing a very poor job teaching critical thinking skills (as evidenced by the author's inability to exercise critical thinking skills.)

Comment: Re:Sequestration is a gimmick (Score 1) 720

by raehl (#43551331) Attached to: FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

That's because when most people suggest a flat tax, they only mean replacing the income tax with a flat tax and not including the payroll tax. A flat tax PLUS a payroll tax is tremendously unfair to the poor.

If your flat tax replaces both the federal income and federal payroll tax, and applies to all income, and maybe has an exemption for the first $X of income per adult, then you have an actual fair tax.

Comment: Re:Sequestration is a gimmick (Score 1) 720

by raehl (#43541983) Attached to: FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

The Republicans love the rich, that's why they try to make it easier to become rich.

Except that's not true. Republicans make it easier to *STAY* rich. They make it quite difficult to become rich, because if you're not already rich, you have to pay the federal government 43% of your income in taxes on the way to becoming rich, while the people who are already rich pay 15%.

If Republicans really wanted to make it easier to become rich, they would replace the income and payroll taxes with a flat 25% tax on all income. Maybe let everyone have their first $10k tax free.

Comment: You're making a common error. (Score 1) 720

by raehl (#43541963) Attached to: FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

and see that the higher income groups do, in fact, pay more in income taxes.

Except they don't. The problem here is that politicians are very sneaky, and it appears you've fallen for the trick: There is the Income Tax, and then there are taxes on income. They are not the same, but people (especially republican politicians) like to use them interchangeably. Most of the time, when a politician says "income tax", they are excluding the payroll tax, which is a big federal tax on all income... from wages, i.e. actually working.

To get an idea of the net effect of federal taxes, below are marginal tax rates for different types of income:

Income from wages: 25.6 to 43.6% (income tax plus payroll tax)
Interest: 10% to 35%
Short term capital gains: Same as interest.
Dividends and Long Term Capital Gains: 15%
Carried Interest: 15%
Tax-exempt municipal bonds: 0%

So while SOME of the "rich" (like doctors) pay a pretty high tax rate, most of the filthy rich ("investors") pay a very low 15% rate on their income. That's why Romney's rate is so low.

Again, many of the rich pay a much, much lower federal tax rate on their income than most of the middle class.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.