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Comment: Re:I do not understand (Score 1) 538

That is not the problem. The problem is that we become INVESTED in a given party and vote for the party over the person.

It's actually a bit more complicated than that. We have a winner-take-all election system (and first-to-the-finish electoral college). There has been analysis which shows this tends to hit an stable equilibrium with two major parties. Once it becomes clear one of two parties is the only one with a viable chance of winning, people rationally don't pay attention to (or vote for) the minor party candidates.

There are many other voting systems which yield much better results. The problem is, they are much harder to explain and they don't "feel" as right. Americans are just never exposed to anything other than "you vote for one person, the creep who gets the most votes wins".

I'd love to see us try proportional representation, instant run offs, preference voting, or pretty much any other system. I just don't expect it to happen in any sort of scale in my lifetime. I certainly don't expect our elected officials to try changing it--they like the current system because they won using it.

Comment: Re:They should go (Score 1) 198

I remember listening to an EconTalk podcast about when this was tried somewhere in Latin America. There was a bustling trade in fake license plates so you could swap them out and the number of cars people owned spiked up. In the end it was not very effective.

Obviously,the Paris experiment might have a different outcome but I suspect the Parisians will find ways to drive on the prohibited days. Uber/Lyft/Sidecar have to be giggling in glee. (I can't remember, did Paris ban ride sharing?)

Comment: Re:Sounds good (Score 1) 599

by smoot123 (#49131733) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

in fact, regulation almost NEVER impacts on liberty.

Wait, I'll be at liberty to get ISP service from a provider who guarantees Netflix streams don't hiccup and preload at blazing speeds?

I'm at liberty to accept a job for $3 an hour if I value the experience?

Regulation, pretty much by definition, must constrain liberty. It prevents people (working in corporation and without) from behaving in the way they would prefer. I think what you believe is it doesn't impact liberty in a way you think is valuable. Problem is, I might not agree.

Business aren't people and don't HAVE freedoms...

This again? Businesses have rights because from a legal perspective, a business is a group of people and people don't give up their rights by joining a group. So a business has a right to free speech because the people constituting the business each have an individual right to free speech. Legally treating a business as a person is just shorthand to make things easier.

Comment: What is fair competition? (Score 1) 280

by smoot123 (#48556277) Attached to: Court Orders Uber To Shut Down In Spain
I've always wondered what makes some competition fair and other not fair. Bribing officials and fraud seem unfair (although "illegal" seems more accurate). You could claim Uber, Lyft, and the like evade problematic laws and that is unfair to law abiding competitors. If, for example, ride-sharing rides don't pay a tax on commercial rides, well that doesn't seem right. I might not like the tax but that's a different story, you still need to pay it until the law changes. Just offering lower prices, even loss-leading prices, would be tough for the guy on the receiving end but that's not unfair.

Comment: Re:No (Score 3, Informative) 545

by smoot123 (#48536627) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

Salary has not inflated with work hours so they really would be willing to pay you that same $150,000 without the extra work if they had to pay the overtime and do staffing properly since reduced unemployment drives wages up.

Then by all means, ask for it. Better yet, start your own software firm offering that deal and poach all the good programmers. If the money is just sitting on the table, why aren't you out grabbing it?

The answer is, of course, that salaries are generally at equilibrium. Employees negotiate for as much as they can (I certainly do each time I change jobs), employers push back equally hard. Everyone arrives at the best deal they can. It's extremely unlikely there's a ton of extra salary just sitting there because IT pros forgot to ask for it or were all such pushovers they didn't get it.

Comment: Re:Holy Biased Presentation Batman! (Score 1) 466

by smoot123 (#45654113) Attached to: US Issues 30-Year Eagle-Killing Permits To Wind Industry

There are hundreds of genuine cases of flammable water as a result of fracking. And lots of cases of illness.

I don't have any reliable evidence one way or the other. It's hard to pin down what causes illnesses and I don't trust the sob stories you see in the news or documentaries. From what I understand about fracking, it seems implausible it's causing much more damage than other forms of gas drilling. It definitely seems more benign than coal mining and, joule for joule, better than wind. But it's such a hot button issue I'm always worried about bias and hidden agendas.

Here's my bias. I'm really happy to have cheaper natural gas and electricity than without fracking. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of people living in shale basins are happier having the fracking industry than not having it. The environmental cost is localized to those areas. Who am I to tell them they are wrong?

Comment: Re:Holy Biased Presentation Batman! (Score 1) 466

by smoot123 (#45653851) Attached to: US Issues 30-Year Eagle-Killing Permits To Wind Industry

Are these really equivalent?

Danged if I know, they're really hard to compare, especially if you don't accurately account for both the costs and benefits. It's going to come down to a judgement call which ones you think are worth it. But that's not my point. It seems we vigorously enforce environmental laws until they inconvenience some pet project of progressives (e.g. wind power or high speed rail in California), then suddenly we can just issue a waiver. If you truly cares about the environment and believe environmental protection laws are a good thing, you must uniformly apply them, even when that makes it difficult to achieve some end you desire. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Comment: Re:Holy Biased Presentation Batman! (Score 1) 466

by smoot123 (#45631309) Attached to: US Issues 30-Year Eagle-Killing Permits To Wind Industry

What cheeses me off is wind farms get a federal exemption from their provable environmental damage while fracking (which has cut carbon emissions way more than wind farms) has to prove it's 110% safe.

As others have observed, there's no totally benign energy source. Maybe killing birds and tortoises is the least damaging thing we can do. Fine. But how about we have a comprehensive, reasoned discussion of the costs and benefits of wind, coal, fracked natural gas, nuclear, oil, etc.?

Comment: Re:Sorry, you lost me on the first sentence (Score 1) 1216

by smoot123 (#45505509) Attached to: Should the US Copy Switzerland and Consider a 'Maximum Wage' Ratio?

This is patent nonsense, once you understand that a "mutually beneficial contract" is a fiction that already needs intervention to enforce. Contracts are pieces of paper with no value.

You really lost me at that. A contract is an agreement between two parties. The paper is just documentation, it's not the actual "contract". We grant governments the right to use force to enforce contract agreements because our society works much, much better when people can trust contractual agreements. I don't know anyone who thinks this is a bad thing, it's one of the most important reasons we institute governments (others being protecting property rights and personal safety).

Without a mechanism to force people to hold up their agreements, then contracts are worth no more than the paper they're written on. And that's why I prefer our society to the one of The Empire Strikes Back ("I am changing our agreement. Pray I don't change it again.").

BASIC is the Computer Science equivalent of `Scientific Creationism'.