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Comment: Re:Duverger's law (Score 1) 648

by stoploss (#46769225) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

I think the strongest argument for the applicability of Duverger's law to the US, as opposed to the cited counterexample democracies, is that the US Presidency is winner take all.

In these other countries' examples, the executive is derived from the government formed from the Parliament. This allows viable third parties, as strange bedfellows can unite to form a coalition government (e.g. the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition). That simply cannot happen with the US Presidency, as it is a direct election of a simple majority of the electoral college.

Perhaps control of Congress could deviate from Duverger's law, but I can imagine its Duverger stability benefits from the Duverger lock on the executive branch.

No supporting citations, just thinking out loud...

Comment: Duverger's law (Score 1) 648

by stoploss (#46765313) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

You can have a meaningful election. In almost all cases there are more than two boxes to check. For a change do not check the first two. Changing America can be quite simple, the first step is to get out of the current gridlock by introducing more parties and actual politics. I america the entire political spectrum is concentrated in two parties. For example the Tea Party, that is not a party they are Republicans! Why?! I don't agree with them, fine but they could do the first step and found an actual party that would fracture the political spectrum. But alas, the average American is to narrow minded fore more than two parties.

I vote third party too, but you need to be aware of Duverger's law. Unless this country changes its voting system, there will always be two (and only two) viable political parties.

Note that this does *not* mean that these two parties will always be the same (e.g. there are no Whigs anymore); rather, it means that if a third party begins to attract a significant portion of the votes it will fracture one or both of the two main parties. After a short period of metastability, the system will stabilize with two main parties once again.

Comment: Re:The fossil fuel "subsidies" are a lie. (Score 2) 336

The IMF opinion is indeed nonsensical, but fossil fuels are subsidized.

Fair enough; I will revise my statements in the future. I noticed that your initial examples seem to have an "energy independence" or "green" (carbon capture?) flavor, but whatever. Notwithstanding that, these do appear to represent substantial direct subsidies for fossil fuels.

The problem is that trying to find the real stats on direct subsidies for fossil fuels is difficult because opponents are willfully misrepresenting the situation. I gave up trying to find real stats (as yours seem to be) after finding site after site talking about "fossil fuel subsidies" using the nonsensical definitions of "subsidy" as in the IMF report.

Furthermore, it makes no sense for the hugely profitable fossil fuel companies to be receiving direct subsidies. I guess I wasn't cynical enough about governmental politics to realize that simply because something is making tons of money doesn't necessarily mean that the pork trough gets closed.

I am against direct subsidies in all their forms; however, I will not countenance any argument that "failure to tax punitively" is a subsidy. So, based on what you posted I would be against those "real"/direct subsidies. I am, however, in *favor* of allowing fossil fuel companies to deduct depletion (as that is their industry's equivalent accounting mechanism for what any other business would deduct as "depreciation"). So, that's my nuanced stance: no special treatment for any industry (insofar as realistically achievable).

So either stop claiming Solyndra received a subsidy or stop claiming fossil fuel industries don't receive any. You can't have it both ways.

Uh, okay? I haven't discussed Solyndra before, but since you brought it up... yes, I'm against that.

In fact, the hardest part of my consistent anti-subsidy stance is that it necessarily implies that I am also against subsidies for nuclear reactor construction. That one is the hardest for me, because I *really* want to see new, advanced design nuclear reactor construction in this country. Oh well.

Comment: Re:i know how to cool the planet off (Score 1) 336

set off a few nuclear bombs deep underground at a supervolcano and that should cause it to throw enough debris in to the atmosphere blocking enough sunlight to cool the planet off and possibly cause a mass extinction event

wheres my Nobel Prize? if obama can get one for making stupid comments then so can I

...it was seized in a judgement against you after you got sued by Scientology for copyright infringement, Xenu

Comment: The fossil fuel "subsidies" are a lie. (Score 3, Informative) 336

First, what tax subsidies are you talking about? There is no way Coal is subsidized, nor is oil and gas..

The fossil fuel "subsidies" they speak of are nothing but specious reasoning. Seriously: all but an irrelevant fraction of the "subsidies" amount to "we don't believe fossil fuels are being taxed punitively enough, therefore the absence of those punitive taxes means they are receiving a subsidy".

It's a basic begging the question fallacy.

Look at this link: Global fossil fuel subsidies amount to $1.9 trillion – IMF

Today, in advanced economies, fossil fuels do not get much the way of direct subsidies – although they do still exist, for example Germany spends 0.07% of its GDP supporting coal and the US spends 0.05% of its GDP on petroleum. But fossil fuels do continue to benefit from subsidies in those economies in the form of mispriced taxation levels.

In advanced economies, “subsidies often take the form of taxes that are too low to capture the true costs to society of energy use, including pollution and road congestion,” the IMF said. “Taxes imposed on energy are not high enough to account for all the adverse effects of excessive energy consumption, including on the environment,” says the David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF."

Even the Iraq war is literally a fossil fuel tax subsidy in their mind. Don't debate these people: either their logic is broken so there's no point in trying to use reason, or they are being deliberately disingenuous so there is no way to engage in an honest debate.

Either way, it's a good idea to know where their talking points are coming from.

Comment: Re:NIMBY rules (Score 1) 423

by stoploss (#46750951) Attached to: UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

I'm not concerned about the safety of the existing plant. I wished for its replacement with a larger, updated design because I imagine it is impossible for a new reactor plant site to be approved anywhere in the US.

If we could have two commercially viable plants in my area, then that would be even better. Perhaps we could mothball the coal plant then.

Comment: Re:Talk is cheap (Score 2, Insightful) 312

by stoploss (#46742913) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

I expect that given many tens of billions of dollars, and a few decades, the Russians could manage to do most of these proposals, but there is no intent to actually do any of them aside from a neat-looking study.

Okay, let's say you're correct and that the Russian space program is a sham with overly inflated goals. Where does that leave the US space program, given that we have no way to even get to LEO without begging for a ride from the Russians?

I have given up on NASA and their "designed by committee, for maximum pork" launch systems that cost $1+ billion per launch. Maybe SpaceX will make something man-rated soon and then our country's space program won't be such a joke anymore.

tl;dr: I'd rather we had the Russian program than NASA because at least the Russians can get people into space. We're back to where we were in the 1950's...

Comment: Re:NIMBY rules (Score 3, Interesting) 423

by stoploss (#46742709) Attached to: UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

Most people will agree that Nuclear is a very cost effective and efficient means of power generations but mention building it anywhere near their zip code and they go ballistic.

I live 15 miles from a nuclear plant. I am pleased about this, but I wish they would tear it down and build a replacement plant with at least twice the generating capacity and a Gen 3.5 (or Gen 4, since I'm wishing) design.

But, barring that, yay... I have locally-produced nuclear power at home!

Comment: Re:Pre-Existing vs. Post-Existing (Score 1) 720

by stoploss (#46735101) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

Companies would simply be inclined to have you checked out before they sign a policy with you.

In case you missed it, one of the most contentious aspects of Obamacare is the fact that companies cannot decline you for preexisting conditions anymore. Based on what I'm reading here, you are suggesting allowing companies to once again decline people based on preexisting conditions. "Sorry, based on our actuarial formulas it seems likely you may have undiagnosed, microscopic cancer (or are at high risk for developing it). Declined."

Presumably you wouldn't cancel your old insurance before getting new insurance

You cannot presume that at all.

People lose insurance all the time. Have you seen how expensive COBRA insurance is if you get laid off? Regardless, for myriad reasons people can't pay their premiums and lose their insurance. It seems you advocate allowing insurance companies to exclude preexisting conditions; what happens when you show up to apply for insurance (having no current insurance) and your screen shows cancer that wasn't diagnosed before you lost your previous coverage?

Indeed, the more thorough the checkup, the more profitable the insurance company, and so switching insurance policies might become the best thing you can do for your health.

Yes, you can get a whole body CT to search for cancer, which will expose you to the equivalent of (literally) several hundred chest X-rays worth of ionizing radiation. May not find cancer this time, but do it often enough and eventually you will (it's a self-fulfilling prophecy that way). All CT scans are incredibly high radiation...

Or maybe your PSA comes back positive and the insurance company requires you to have your prostate destroyed as a precautionary measure to prevent prostate cancer, even though the study data doesn't back that up anymore. You lose the ability to achieve an erection for the rest of your life but hey, got new insurance!

Comment: Re:Automation (Score 1) 324

by stoploss (#46731919) Attached to: Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

This is what speed cameras are for.

And that is what the license plate for the Benevolent Order of Speed Cameras is for. To raise money for fallen speed cameras and to get out of speed camera tickets.

Yes, it's tragic. See the violence documented here (Warning: the site contains images of graphic violence against speed cameras. Viewer discretion advised)

Comment: Re:Pre-Existing vs. Post-Existing (Score 1) 720

by stoploss (#46720647) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

so once the illness occurs, the insurance company should pay up, even if you decide to switch to a different insurer during your treatment. ...and, naturally, the new insurer then wouldn't care about your pre-existing condition because your previous insurer, the one you were paying when you acquired the illness, would be the one paying for its treatment

Many of these cancers (and other disorders) require years or even decades to fulminate to the point a diagnosis is made. Let's say I switch insurance companies and the next day I'm diagnosed with cancer for the first time. Did I get cancer while covered by the new, one day old policy? Clearly not. So, should we go after the previous insurer then?

Okay. Let's say I have switched insurance three times, once per year. Now I'm diagnosed with cancer for the first time, despite never having any other health complaints. Each one of those companies will refuse to pay because no one can prove the first microscopic cancerous cell happened while I was covered by their policy. In fact, no such medical test exists (obviously not, because if it did, cancer would be 100% curable by killing that first mutant cell).

"Sorry, not our problem. Good luck!"

Comment: Re:Lies, damned lies, and statistics... (Score 1) 720

by stoploss (#46718917) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

The retort is that if you look at the PPP per capita expenditures it indicates that even if the UK were to DOUBLE their spending on NHS it would still be LESS than we currently pay in the USA. We also spend close to twice as much per capita as Canada does (not quite, though).

I am advocating a public/private two-tier system. The public system is ubiquitously available, but if you are dissatisfied then you can explore other options. You can still buy health insurance in the UK to gain access to the private healthcare system (or pay out of pocket). This is much the same as when people are dissatisfied with public schools in the US they can opt for the private school instead. However, their kids can always obtain a taxpayer-funded education in the public school.

I will reiterate that a huge percentage of the US population is already on socialized medicine and the Overton window is such that this will never change (think we will ever get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Tricare...? do you even want to do that?).

This isn't a choice between socialized medicine or not—this is a choice between saving vast amounts of money or not.

Comment: Re:Lies, damned lies, and statistics... (Score 5, Insightful) 720

by stoploss (#46717745) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

Apparently the possibility that people might take advantage of the "no pre-existing condition" clause of the ACA to get insurance when something catastrophic happens disturbs the insurance companies' bottom line deeply.

This is precisely what's happening...it's called "adverse selection".

I personally know someone who switched plans during open enrollment to get a different carrier who would pay the $100k for her experimental treatment. She has to pay slightly higher premiums than the first plan she was on, but it's not a bad tradeoff when you're "buying" $100k of value for a few hundred a month. She can't be declined and her preexisting condition must be covered.

Everyone understands why you can't buy auto insurance coverage for a collision that already has happened. The same holds for health insurance—it's absolutely untenable otherwise. Not that there is any love lost between me and the scumbag health insurance industry. I'm just pointing out it literally actuarially/mathematically cannot work the way some people want it to. You simply can't let people wait until they have, say, cancer to sign up for insurance and then demand that insurance pay for the treatment.

What's the solution? Well, since we as a society have decided we do not want a free market in health care (a free market would necessarily entail leaving those who cannot pay to die outside the doors of the ER), then our next optimization is to save money. We spend more per capita and in total than every other nation, and we get worse average outcomes for our population.

To put it more plainly: a socialized medicine system like they have in the UK would COST LESS than what we have now.

Furthermore, the NHS public healthcare system in the UK works alongside a private, more "free market" type of healthcare system. We could mirror that here if we wanted to encourage the private industry innovation that appeals to our cultural sensibilities. We already have that in other realms: the USPS and FedEx operate side by side, there are private schools that operate alongside public schools, etc.

Finally, we need to realize that a huge percentage of the US population is ALREADY on socialized medicine (ie. governmental health care programs paid for by taxes): everyone who is over 65 (Medicare), the poor (Medicaid), the veterans (the VA), the Armed Forces (Tricare), all federal, state and local governmental employees (taxes pay their premiums). Does anyone believe we will ever elimated those programs, barring universal healthcare in this country? The "free market for healthcare" ship sailed a long time ago.

Let's just try to save some money and get better health for our population instead of trying to pretend a mathematically-broken insurance approach is ever going to be a good idea.

Comment: Re:In most of the world... (Score 2) 139

That's called business. In many places such bribes, and expenditures are just simply part of business. Those in government get paid low wages. The take is considered acceptable as long as its within reason.

And many places like Eastern Europe, Asia, S. America. You're not building an office building without bribes.

Right, as far as I understand it, you will not get business without bribes. However, thanks to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act this is illegal for US companies. Wat do?

From what I hear, it's ideal to partner with a local firm to place the bid. Said local partner firm will charge you various "consulting fees" and you don't ask questions when you pay these invoices to your partner firm. I mean, who knows what they are doing? You are relying on them for local expertise, after all.

Surprise, you win contracts without having bribed anyone. Must have been the technical merits of your bid package.

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.

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