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Comment: Re:Can he win? (Score 2) 343

by schnell (#49603661) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

You're damn right this country was great back when we had strong union jobs and a family could live comfortably on a single income. There were strong regulations and the top tax bracket was near 90%. Things weren't great for everyone but at least we weren't fucked like we are now.

Unfortunately, the period you're referring to was an inherently unsustainable one caused by the fact that the US emerged as a victor from a World War, and coincidentally the only one of the major powers in that war whose population and infrastructure were not seriously ravaged by it. Even among the victors - Britain, China, France, let's not even mention the Soviets - all paid a heavy price on their home territory. The losers received economic support from the magnanimous Western powers, but that was cold comfort to a populace largely bombed into ruins.

So the US got to live in a bubble for a decade or two where the rest of the world didn't have the technology or the infrastructure to compete with us in any meaningful economic area. (They either were rebuilding it, never had it in the first place, or were too busy tearing themselves apart in postcolonial revolutions.) As a result, we had near-autarky in an industrial economy buoyed by barely sustainable Cold War military and aerospace spending. Times were good.

But you do get that it was never going to stay that way, right? Eventually the US was going to have to compete with the rest of the world for things. And lo and behold, they could make transistors cheaper in Japan, then they could make automobiles cheaper (and noticeably better!) there, too. Textiles disappeared to Southeast Asia, and steel and other raw materials manufactures moved to Asia as well. By the time the '90s and NAFTA rolled around, it was pretty clear that American consumers would much rather pay a quarter for a can of Coke made in Mexico than 50 cents of one bottled in Virginia. Unless it shut itself off from the world completely - thereby hosing its own exports market - the US could not sustain living wages in low skill jobs forever. The modern equivalent of $55/hour for high school graduates in Detroit who welded three car doors together an hour between smoke breaks was never, ever going to last.

Comment: Re:Can he win? (Score 2) 343

by schnell (#49603567) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Contrary to popular belief, the president has no power at all to deal with the national debt.

Technically true but not in practice. The President does propose a budget to Congress each year, which the House and Senate are free to embroider upon as they wish. Others have mentioned the fact that the President can veto the budget approved by Congress until they have the 2/3 majority for an override.

But most importantly, the President can commit the US to unwarranted, falsely justified conflicts overseas that eat up $2 trillion in budget over 10 years and duly expect a rubber stamping from Congress. (Because who is going to vote to not pay for the US soldiers you have already committed there to buy the bullets they now require?) So, yeah, in practice they can have a lot of impact, usually for the worse when neocons get involved in any way.

Comment: Re:Sanders amazes me (Score 2, Interesting) 343

by schnell (#49603457) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Paying for them is a simple matter of raising taxes on wealthy people.

That's a brave thing for a wealthy person like yourself to say and I commend it. Wait, what? You aren't actually wealthy, and instead you just think that somebody who is "not you" should pay for it? Oh, that seems a little more convenient.

While marginal tax rates in the US are not nearly as high as those in many parts of Europe, our income tax system is progressive (i.e. rich pay more) and the lower tax burden is disporportionately structured to benefit the less wealthy. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, "taxpayers with income over $100,000 a year earn 60 percent of the nation's income and pay 95.2 percent of the income taxes in the United States." Additionally, according to that same source, "Those making over $200,000 comprise just over 5 percent of the nation's taxpayers, earn 32.3 percent of the income, but pay 46.7 percent of total federal taxes and 70 percent of federal income taxes." European systems are actually more "fair" in the sense that larger portions of their incomes are collected in regressive taxes (i.e. everyone pays the same so poor feel it more) like the VAT.

Let's be grown-ups and admit that where we stand depends on where we sit. You probably are not "wealthy," whatever that means to you, and taxing those smug bastards sure sounds good to you, right? Conversely, I am not a "one percenter" (at least not in my state or region), but am part of a family with two working spouses with tech management jobs, and my family's Federal tax bill this year before adjustments and deductions closely approached six figures, or just slightly less than double the median income of the United States.

To someone who is certainly comfortable but by no means rolling in it - child care is ludicrously expensive, and we save as much as is feasible for retirement, taking a lot off our topline income - "oh let's just throw more taxes on people with money" does not sound nearly as good to me as it apparently does to you.

Comment: Re:Try again... 4? (Score 2) 222

by schnell (#49594261) Attached to: Grooveshark Shuts Down

Maybe RADIO had something to do with it......You know getting free music for almost a CENTURY...

Radio isn't "free." The radio stations had to pay the record labels, songwriters and artists for the music they played. In turn, they charged businesses money for - horrors - "unskippable" ads that you had to listen to. Or in the case of public radio stations, asking you for money directly to keep them on the air.

There is no free lunch.

Comment: Re:/.er bitcoin comments are the best! (Score 1) 249

by schnell (#49591025) Attached to: Bitcoin Is Disrupting the Argentine Economy

The Data from payment processors reflects spikes in spending with bitcoin when it goes through disinflationary bubbles however. Perhaps your Econ101 professor didn't understand everything?

Or perhaps he understood more than you, and those spending spikes reflect idiot speculators trying to unload bitcoins before they fall too far? Kind of like the spike in unloading any speculated currency or commodity when it starts to crash?

Also - honest question - you keep referring to "disinflationary." That's not a term I have heard before, can you explain where this term came from and how it differs from deflation?

+ - Who Are The One Percent of the One Percent of US Political Donors?

Submitted by schnell
schnell writes: "In 2014, one out of every five dollars that was contributed to political candidates came from a group of about 32,000 donors — one-one-hundredth of one-one-hundredth of the population of the country," according to the Washington Post and two political watchdog groups. They have mapped (by party and by population) where this money comes from, and their potentially unsurprising conclusion: financiers in New York, oilmen in Texas and techies in the Bay Area are the biggest individual spenders. But is it the other 80% of money donated — from the Bible Belt, rural America and other places — that is heard more loudly?

Comment: Re:Twisted perception (Score 1) 180

by schnell (#49585571) Attached to: How One Tweet Wiped $8bn Off Twitter's Value

Fair enough point. But the rationale for the gold standard I have heard from most proponents was that paper money "isn't real" and only has value as a more convenient way of, in effect, carrying gold around since it has "real value." (I also find more than a little irony in having met a few of these folks who are also major proponents of BitCoin and manage to swallow the cognitive dissonance nicely.)

If your rationale for supporting a return to the gold standard is keeping governments honest about their spending, then I find that much more rational. It just seems from historical example to be incompatible with promoting real economic growth, or dealing with expediencies (for example, financing World War I was the reason most countries got off the gold standard in the first place).

Comment: Re:Twisted perception (Score 2) 180

by schnell (#49582357) Attached to: How One Tweet Wiped $8bn Off Twitter's Value

Nothing says you can't have inflation in a commodity currency (gold from the new world famously did so after all) or deflation. Nothing says the "value" is constant or not arbitrary or anything different from the perceived value.

That's not how it's supposed to work under the old "gold standard" that tinfoil hatters worldwide espouse a return to. Under the old method, you would peg your currency at "$4.75 = 1 ounce of gold" and that was expected to never change. Ever. Otherwise, what's the point if I can say a dollar is worth .00075 oz of gold today and .0008 oz. of gold tomorrow? Because that's pretty much how it works in the open exchange market today. Currency values fluctuate, the price of gold fluctuates - who cares if you can't force the government to give you gold for that dollar bill when you can always find someone to sell some gold to you in exchange for those dollars at the market price?

And the thing that caused everyone to get off the darn gold standard in the first place was not only that you could have inflation or deflation, but if you had deflation or inflation, there was nothing your country could do about it. And if you are deflating and you can't do anything to stop it, your economy is f$%&*ed.

Aside: For those wondering why economists are so scared of deflation, it's because it destroys the rationale for people to save and invest. If it costs $1 to buy a Big Mac today and will cost $1.10 next year, instead of just sitting on my leftover lunch money I should put it in a bank or invest it so that it makes money and I have enough cash for next year's Big Mac. If next year's Big Mac only costs $0.90, then why risk investing it? I will just keep it under my mattress and I have "made" money (more purchasing power) by doing so. Money in mattresses = banks have no money to lend to people who want to buy houses or start businesses = fewer jobs = vicious cycle of economic misery. This, by the way, was what clobbered the world economy during the Great Depression (along with all the banks that collapsed and ate everyone's savings account, making everyone very nervous about putting their money in the bank).

And there's no such thing as "not enough gold". If you moved the world to a gold standard overnight and we pretend that the world economy doesn't collapse then there's enough gold - the value of gold relative to everything else sky rockets of course. And you use a use a representative currency not actual gold coins of course.

Even that doesn't really work though. In Rand Paul's Good Old Days of the Gold Standard, when the world economy was probably 1/50th(?) of today's size but the supply of gold wasn't all that much smaller, you could walk into a Federal Reserve Bank with a non-ridiculous amount of bank notes and walk out with enough US-minted gold coins that you could trade it or do something meaningful with it. If we tied the world economy back to the gold standard at its current size, it might cost you $10,000 to get a big enough slice of gold that it wouldn't just disappear if you sneezed. And if gold is only useful in gigantic transactions far above the amount of cash most people can afford, what's the point?

Comment: Re:Cool world (Score 1) 216

by schnell (#49574057) Attached to: US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets

They can shoot around corners

So we can be shot around corners but we won't be shooting around them now or ever.

Uh, who is the they and the we in your statements? Are you actually planning on having firefights against the US military, and if so, is this the thing that makes you think you might be unfairly outgunned? As in, you thought things were a fair fight when you were just going up against the railguns and the stealth bombers and the carrier battle groups and whatnot, but the fact you can't get a fully automatic belt feed large caliber gun and a guided bullet means the US military has an unfair advantage against you?

And, by the way, WTF do you need a "fully automatic belt feed large caliber gun" for other than really awesome G.I. Joe cosplay or slaughtering whole deer herds in under sixty seconds?

Comment: Re:Is this all about spectrum? (Score 1) 82

by schnell (#49570015) Attached to: ATT, DirecTV Mega-Merger May Go Through

Does Direct TV own some piece of the wireless spectrum that AT&T could make use of, or vice versa?

Not really. DirecTV uses the same Ku band (12-18 GHz) and Ka band (26-40 GHz) spectrum as other satellite TV broadcasters and Internet services do. At such a high frequency, it's great for delivering lots of data/HD video but has such weak propagation that you need line of sight to the satellite + a big honkin' dish to use it. So it's more or less useless for mobile phones or anything that's not fixed in location. Unless you'd like your next phone to have a .75m dish hanging off it and stand still, pointed up at the sky while you're using it.

Comment: Re:truly an inspiration. (Score 1) 493

by schnell (#49557485) Attached to: Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead

Watching a show like that (unless it's just to be horrified) absolutely says something about your intellectual capacity and your leanings.

Your leanings? Absolutely. Your intellectual capacity? Not in the least.

While I personally think homophobia is abhorrent, I acknowledge that there are lots of people who are objectively intelligent (in the sense of having high IQ scores) who nonetheless disagree about the politics. I may think these people lack critical thinking skills, but more likely their cultural background has not prepared them to think critically about the issue. I also, for example, believe that there are extremely intelligent people on both sides who radically disagree about one simple fucking sentence - the Second Amendment to the US constitution. I think it's pretty clear (why else specifically mention a well regulated militia?), but lots of other smart people don't, so I don't say they're stupid because they disagree.

Consider, for example, that - had you asked them in their historical period - almost certainly Gandhi, G.W.F. Hegel, Martin Luther King Jr., Isaac Newton or John F. Kennedy would not have supported gay rights. It's not because they weren't smart, it's because they came from a background where they just weren't prepared to consider it in the same set of assumptions and contexts as many of us do today. For example, I can call Israeli settlers on the West Bank of the Jordan stupid because I believe they are "on the wrong side of history" and are harming their nation's cause in the eyes of the world; but I acknowledge that some of them may be very intelligent and - had I been through the same things as them or brought up in the same environment - I might feel the same way.

So while it's easy to say anyone who watches a show whose protagonists disagree with your views must be stupid, I counter that it's just that type of generalization which is stupid.

Comment: Re:truly an inspiration. (Score 2) 493

by schnell (#49555803) Attached to: Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead

If they have interests such as following the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty, and you have interests which include baroque music and classical literature, then it's safe to say that you're more intelligent than them.

Ummm... no. There is no fundamental difference in the level of intellectual engagement required between enjoying "Duck Dynasty" and "Star Wars," and many Slashdotters (including myself) are raving fanboys when it comes to the latter. Your choice of lowbrow entertainment may be because you are dumb, or it may be because you are smart but looking for an escape that has oooh shiny and doesn't require deep thought. To draw inferences on intellectual capacity based on what TV shows someone watches is just snobbish.

Similarly, "highbrow" tastes don't indicate intellect, they indicate exposure to a different set of influences and pastimes. You probably think being an opera fan indicates higher intelligence than being a death metal fan. But 150 years ago every village idiot in Germany could hum along to Wagner, and Italian beggars could likely recite the works of Verdi. It didn't make you smart back then, and it doesn't make you smart now, it just means you've been exposed to opera while someone else was being exposed to Guns N' Roses or Lady Gaga. There is a strong argument to be made that the popular classical music or classic literature that has survived to this day is of uniformly high quality, and there is probably a good argument as well that appreciating these works properly requires an incisive intellect. But for every classic literature fan I have met with a trenchant insight into the contradictions of Proust, there is another who is just up his/her own ass and wants to make sure everyone knows they bothered to make it through "Dubliners."

So long story short - beware making intellectual judgements based on people's pastimes. Sixty seconds of hearing them talk will tell you far more about their intellect than whether, when you met them, they were holding a copy of Kierkegaard or "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Comment: Re:It's not about the cost, it's about convenience (Score 1) 368

by schnell (#49538737) Attached to: iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users

It's not about the cost. It's about the convenience.

So after you conveniently download it from TPB, how do you go about paying the people whose music you downloaded? I hate waiting in Best Buy checkout lines, it's very inconvenient. But I don't think it justifies just walking out of the store with my CD.

Comment: Re:Doublethink (Score 1) 685

by schnell (#49537817) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

"Change is coming" - sure it is

Significant change does in fact happen, all the time. I'm pretty sure that if you were a woman, queer or black in the United States you would find that your playing field (while still not level) is far better than it was one or two generations ago. While there is still much to be done, at least in the US care for the environment is a world away from where it was even as late as the Reagan years. Poor Americans who didn't previously have access to health care as little as two years ago now have it. Across the planet, life expectancies in the poorer parts of the world have rocketed up in the past 50 years. And, for those of us who remember the Cold War, we all no longer live in the fearful knowledge that our deaths were never more than a 35 minute ballistic trajectory away with potentially no warning.

There are plenty of things out there that are worse, too. But that is change as well.

It's easy to see that the world isn't in the state you would like and conclude that nothing ever changes, that involvement in causes or politics is futile, and that everyone should throw their hands up in frustration and walk away from caring. But things really do change - even if it is slow - and to dismiss the ability of people to change things for the better ... or for the worse if they fail to oppose it ... is lazy at best and unworthy of our better natures.

Comment: Re:No cuts are ever possible (Score 4, Interesting) 198

by schnell (#49533459) Attached to: House Bill Slashes Research Critical To Cybersecurity

Why don't we cut a couple hundred billion out of the multi-trillion dollar "war on everything" Militaryâ"industrial complex that's obviously going so well?

I gather that you don't like or see much benefit from the US military. I saw a commenter a few slots above you suggesting that the thing to cut is Obamacare, which provides health care to people who are probably not the commenter. Some poster who is 65 will inevitably suggest that the rotten Education department must go, while someone else who is 18 will invariably suggest it should be Medicare. I have no doubt someone who lives in Arizona will suggest that Federal subsidies for homeowners living in hurricane zones be cut, and someone else from Florida will suggest that it's that Gestapo border protection troop that needs to be slashed.

It's funny how everyone seems to know with great certainty exactly the things that are totally worthless and should be cut from the Federal budget with no ill effects - which, purely coincidentally happen to be the things that they disagree with or they don't benefit from directly.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel