Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Good (Score 1, Insightful) 459 459

The most dangerous thing that could come out of that part of the world is a united empire run by religious fanatics or whose government is influenced enough by fanaticism that it looks away while people within the empire use its resources to cause inflame hatred and commit terrorism. Allowing ISIS to gain control of Iraq and Syria would be less dangerous to America than allowing Iran to gain control of Iraq and Syria because in the first case you have two nations who balance each other instead of one much larger nation trying to unify itself behind a shared hatred.

Iran is already making war against America both directly and by proxy. Does this deal do anything to end that state of war? Does this deal do anything to prevent Iran from gaining domination in Iraq and Syria? Or does it just prevent America and allies from stopping them?

Comment Re:TNSTAAFL (Score 1) 272 272

I can see how a government run utility that provides a basic commodity that doesn't ever change could be well run. The technology is well understood and doesn't need to change much. It either works or it doesn't and when it doesn't everyone complains to their government reps.

is broadband like that? If we turn it over to the government will we be happy if it is exactly the same 40 years from now (well perhaps a little less down time)?

Cars are provided by several different companies. In the last 40 years there have been tremendous improvements in safety, efficiency, and comfort. Roads on the other hand are supply by the government. Any improvements there?

I'm old enough to remember the explosion of new services that suddenly became available when Bell was split up.

A private company in a competitive environment has to constantly improve to stay in the market. A monopoly doesn't. A nationalized industry doesn't. A government agency or industry may happen to get good leaders and do well, but if they don't there isn't much pressure to change.

Consider electricity. The uses for electricity have exploded over the last 30 years. The ways it is used, the types of devices, the electronics, the cars, etc. etc. But most places are supplied with electricity by a monopoly or some sort of government run group. Have you seen any modifications in the electricity industry to better supply the new uses of electricity? Any innovations or new ideas for how electricity is delivered to the home to make it more useful and convenient?

If an industry by it's nature is going to be a monopoly then it may make sense to nationalize it. But doing so carries a heavy price in stagnation that must be considered. For the moment most people do have choices. There are cable, fios, cell-tower and/or satellite available to many people. I suspect most people have at least two of those options in their area. A lot of local towns need to figure out how to get out of local monopolies they foolishly (or corruptly) granted, but there is no need to nationalize this stuff and end innovation.

Comment Re:Schools that ban game consoles see better resul (Score 3, Insightful) 113 113

When I was a kid we weren't allowed to bring basketballs to school. Nor were we allowed to bring walkie-talkies. We couldn't bring treadmills to use during class. A distraction is a distraction. How can anyone be surprised that banning them improves academic performance. The only thing surprising is that they weren't banned a decade ago.

Comment Re:Reproducing should not get special tax treatmen (Score 1) 616 616

Exactly, and if the government is going to require everyone to get something, they should fund it either by providing it or by reimbursing the cost.

In fact I actually went to a private school for good parts of my education and I can assure you that my parents did not get a tax break.

I'm all for school choice vounchers. I my ideal world your parents wouldn't have gotten a tax break; they would have been given a voucher for purchasing an education, and that voucher would have only been used at places that don't charge a penny more (i.e. schools couldn't charge the voucher prices +$1000 per semester).

Comment Re:No special priviledge for dangerous behavior (Score 1) 616 616

He's not asking for special tax treatment. He'll still pay the same amount of taxes. He's asking that the government spend the same amount of money on his kids' educations. He's not asking for a penny more than that, nor is he asking for money for himself.

Comment Re:...and adults too. (Score 0) 616 616

Then it's not the community's job to allow these people to live in our cities, hold claims to land, conduct trade, or access or public roads or other venues.

You're right, it isn't the community's job because it is no job at all. Property rights, living rights, trading rights, and travel rights are all pretty fundamental and it requires no effort to not interfere in them. Where effort is required is when you decide to take away people's fundamental rights. When you claim that interfering in people's rights is a "job" then you turn reality on its head. Protecting a healthy society may require interfering in people's rights - for example we enslaved several million Americans to protect our society during WWII - but don't pretend that you're not doing what you're doing.

Comment Re:I think we just need to get burned. (Score 1) 332 332

You misunderstand. I was speaking metaphorically about the situation in Iraq, not about the American economy.

I don't say much about specific items in the economy because I realize I don't know enough and am probably not smart enough to understand things like why the economy crashed in the final year of Bush the Younger. Instead, when voting, I look at the things I believe I do understand - that certain rules always win out in the long run. Supply and Demand, there's no free lunch, tragedy of the commons, etc..

I believe deficit stimulus spending is like an addictive drug. It creates a temporary high but the crash that follows leaves us worse off than before, which causes the government to use more stimulus with each attempt requiring more money but achieving less effect. The Bush/Obama stimulus may have prevented a depression but it didn't create a recovery. What does seem to have create a slow recovery - like an addict who starts giving up a drug faces - is the sequester.

It's not that deficit spending can't be good. When used to build a road or a port to allow increased economic activity it can be very good. But it can also be used to build an unneeded road or port and simply be a waste of money. It is the thing that gets built that matters, not the fact that the government is the one spending the money. If the money is going to be poorly spent by the government it would be better not to spend it at all than to spend it simply for the sake of stimulus.

Why? Because every time the government spends money, whether borrowed or not, it sucks money from the rest of the economy and prevents growth of other economic activity. The government hired 50 programmers to build a pretty website that does nothing? Some would call it a stimulus; I would call it 50 programmers who aren't available to build a app to make a factory more efficient.

Comment Re:I think we just need to get burned. (Score 1) 332 332

I wasn't very impressed with either Bush the Younger or Obama the Unready. The last president I thought was qualified for the job both mentally and morally was Bush the Elder. And although Clinton had his moral problems, nothing he did is as bad as the combination of Bush and Obama. Bush invaded thinking we would have an easy victory and was horribly wrong. But he made the best of it by sticking it out and finding a way to get the country mostly stabilized and with a bit of support still needed. Then Obama came along and through the hard won results away.

It's like a family where one spouse buys a house with a 30 year mortgage for $50,000 and after signing all the papers finds he misread and the actual amount is $500,000, far more than the house is work. So the guy slaves and sacrifices for 29 years and 8 months to pay off the mortgage, in part to get the house and in part to maintain the family credit rating. Then with 4 months to go he dies, so his heir look at the house, sees there is still $10,000 left of the mortgage, stops payments and burns the house down, simultaneously destroying both the family reputation and the house that was almost paid off.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce