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Comment: Re:Why is this a problem? (Score 1) 376

by rovolo (#35130022) Attached to: Wikipedia Works To Close Gender Gap
It used to be that very few girls joined sports teams in high school, but that was because they were discouraged from doing so. Now they are vastly more girls on sports teams, because of encouragement to do whatever they wished to do. Just because things are the way they are right now, doesn't mean that this is the way things ought to be.

Comment: Re:Economic Collapse due to Class War (Score 1) 386

by rovolo (#35036678) Attached to: Official — Economic Crash Not Computers' Fault

Google for Geni Coefficient before you assume that wealth disparity is historically more disproportionate today than it's ever been...

Just a cursory look at the Gini Coefficient on Wikipedia shows that income disparity is rising in the U.S.:

  • 1929: 45.0 (estimated)
  • 1947: 37.6 (estimated)
  • 1967: 39.7 (first year reported)
  • 1968: 38.6 (lowest index reported)
  • 1970: 39.4
  • 1980: 40.3
  • 1990: 42.8
  • 2000: 46.2
  • 2005: 46.9
  • 2006: 47.0 (highest index reported)
  • 2007: 46.3
  • 2008: 46.69
  • 2009: 46.8

While it is not the highest that it has ever been right now, it was highest in 2006, and the long term trend is still more disparity.

... or that the gap is any wider in the US than it is anywhere else.

Same source, we are not the most disparate, but we are on the same ground as China, and more equal than Mexico and Brazil. Practically all of Europe is more equal than we are. link

Comment: Re:Wow! Delusional much? (Score 1) 509

by rovolo (#34976658) Attached to: IRS Nails CPA For Copying Steve Jobs, Google Execs

So if you added corporate taxes to the top 5% then you are talking 71.7% of revenues in 2009. It would 67.7% of revenues in 2010. So it would appear to me that the "rich" in this country are paying significantly more than half of the cash needed/used for the government to run.

Corporate Taxes

First off, simply adding corporate taxes to the top 5% is disingenuous. Corporations are taxed as separate entities because legally they are. Corporations give benefits to their shareholders, such as limited liability. If the owners of a company wanted to bypass the corporate income tax, they could by making it into a partnership, but then they would be liable for the company's debt. Corporate taxation is not strictly a tax, at least part of it is like paying for a better product. My dentist's practice is a corporation even though it is entirely owned by his family. He could easily have paid less in taxes by being sole proprietor, but he preferred to pay more so that he would not have to declare bankruptcy if his business went under.

Tax Share

Secondly, when discussing taxation you need to include earnings distribution. A country could get 90% of its tax revenue from the top 1% and it would seem very unfair on the surface, but if it was a banana republic and the top 1% earned over 90% of income, the tax structure wouldn't seem very fair at all. Since I couldn't find the share of earnings for 2009, here are some data points for the top 5% in the last decade:

  • 2001 - 27.5% of earnings, 38.5% of tax share (full chart)
  • 2006 - 31.9% of earnings, 44.7% of tax share (cbo report).

Furthermore, State and Local taxes are more regressive than Federal taxes (second chart), so the share for top earners is even less. The Tax Foundation didn't have break it down for the top 5%, but the top 20% had 41.5% income share, and 41.4% tax share for state and local taxes.

Please explain to me how this is suppose to work where the "rich" supposedly are not paying their fair share. I am not saying the distribution of earnings in the US is a good/perfect thing.

Unequal distribution is essential to our current tax structure. Very few would argue that the rich pay a smaller percentage of their income than other citizens. If we were only concerned about a tax rate as a percentage of income, we wouldn't have a progressive income tax structure in the first place. When people argue about paying "your fair share", they are not talking about pure income (which would give us your 'share'), but rather 'disposable income' (which would give us your 'fair share'). As a society, we feel that 20% of a poor person's income is more valuable to them than 20% of a rich person's income. 20% of income for poor people could cut into food or housing: necessities; 20% of income for rich people could be things like larger housing, better cars, or a fancier vacation: luxuries. This is why while we could tax everybody at 21.5% of income, we think that taxing the top 20% at 22.5% and the bottom 80% at 20.5% would be better. We still argue about making the rich pay more because people have different ideas of what would be your 'fair share'. Indeed, I think that if the bottom 20%, all of whom make less than $20,000 a year did not have to pay any taxes that would be a nice boon for them. They make only 4.2% of earnings, and pay 1% of total federal taxes, so the burden on you or me would be minimal.

Your 'fair share' for taxes is not the same as your 'share'.

I do think everyone still has a chance to make more money and own their own business today, if they are willing to work hard and take the risks required.

Addendum: starting a business requires capital, even if it is just collateral for a loan. Especially if you are already in debt, it is hard to make more money if you don't have much money to start out with. Starting a business requires knowing accounting, which requires money to go to school so you can learn accounting. Even though some people have risen out of poverty, I think that most people underestimate the difficulty required in doing so.

Comment: Re:It's even worse than that (Score 1) 610

by rovolo (#34758196) Attached to: NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

So they started with a year based on 260 day years, the so called Tzolkin calendar. If now you went "wait, that can't be right, it would skip through the actual year like crazy", congrats, you'd be smarter than the Mayans.

The most obvious answer is that it was not used for a solar year, but had some other significance. 260 days is simply the time that it takes for two short cycles, the 13 day trecena and the 20 day veintena, to start on the same day again (the least common multiple of 20 and 13 is 260). The significance of the number 13 also forms the basis for the 2012 apocalypse calculation, because it is the end of the 13th baktun. [1]

All that happens in 2012 or 2013 is the end of a baktun. Yes, it's not even millennialism. The piktun (base-20 millenium) won't end for another couple thousand years or so.

Why do apocalypses have to happen at the end of millennia? A baktun is still almost 400 years, a good chunk of time. The length of this apocalyptic worry is also about on the same time scale as others. 13 baktuns is about 5126 years. Many christian apocalyptic predictions say that the Earth will end 6000-7000 years after its creation [2]. (Using Ussher's date of the start of the world at the 22nd of Oct. 4004 BCE, the world would have ended in 1996.) [3]

That scare isn't even like Y2K, it's more like being scared of the rollover from 699 AD to 700 AD. I mean, WTF, it's not even running out of digits or anything.

Y2K was the rollover from 1999 CE to 2000 CE, it only had rollover problems because of using two digits for dates, which would have been a problem for any century.

Comment: Re:Programming should begin with OO - yes really! (Score 1) 709

by rovolo (#34703860) Attached to: Why Teach Programming With BASIC?
I've found that beginners have a ton of trouble with "public static void main()". The only self evident keyword is 'main', and it takes them weeks of classes to understand how objects work, and thus the flow of the program. OO is complex for beginners because it requires days to get a handle on, and if you don't think that's true then you haven't actually tried to teach OO to absolute beginners.

Comment: Re:Doomed (Score 1) 987

by rovolo (#34554820) Attached to: Michael Moore Posts Julian Assange's Bail

You agree with him, but the way he says things makes you not want to agree? How does that work?

Someone who wanted the U.S. to invade Iraq because of the claimed WMDs wouldn't agree with someone who wanted to invade Iraq because it's full of muslims.

Someone who wanted the U.S. to not invade Iraq because weapons inspectors found no WMDs wouldn't agree with someone who thought there weren't any WMDs because muslims are such idiots that they can't build them.

For any opinion with a yes or no answer, there are bound to be people on your side who are either idiots or assholes that you won't agree with.

Comment: Re:Surprise move? (Score 1) 1505

by rovolo (#34551950) Attached to: Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional

If you still think your stance is reasonable, consider if the Congress started charging people $1000 extra per year if they failed to buy a solar roof. Or a Microsoft Operating System. Or a General Motors car.

They don't tell you which company to buy your insurance from. It'd be more like if they required everyone to buy a computer, or a car. Theoretically, it's a competitive market, even though practically every company is going to shaft you.

Comment: Re:Why I voted against WA state income tax (Score 1) 650

by rovolo (#34149248) Attached to: Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions

Sure, they can't adjust it for 2 years, but after that.. well, we'll just lower the threshold by 10%.

If that's why it failed, why doesn't it just include a provision that further tax hikes need to be on the ballot like this one? That would stop this stupid slippery slope argument.

Comment: Re:Not just Microsoft (Score 1) 650

by rovolo (#34149222) Attached to: Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions

FWIW, Microsoft and other large businesses in Seattle do have a legitimate interest in avoiding a personal state income tax, as for recruiting and keeping high-priced talent there is an advantage for them to come to Redmond and live in a state with no income tax vs. going to some other company - say, in California - and paying the tax rates there. An equivalent pay job offer in the Seattle area vs. many other states actually means more take-home pay here.

I know that people do like money, and I guess that I can't really fault them for that, but does it strike anyone else that moving just to avoid taxes is a little selfish? I'd rather live in a state with taxes that helps to educate people who can't afford a private education rather than one that was falling apart. I dunno, avoiding raising taxes on the people who are richer because they'll move and deprive the state of the income seems to just be giving into the demands of those richer than you.

Comment: Re:Luxury! (Score 1) 405

by rovolo (#34064798) Attached to: Time To Rethink the School Desk?

Why in the world should geography be taught indoors? Or English, for that matter?

Here in Alaska, because it's dark and cold for 5-6 months out of the year. We get about a month in the fall, and two in the spring. A number of my teachers did take advantage of the nice weather, but for most of the time it is unreasonable to teach outside.

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