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Comment Re:They can't afford it (Score 2) 412

It's not the political will that is missing. The problem is that a basic income has opponents on both the left and the right.

The left would hate it because it would mean an end to many many state jobs. The kind of jobs such as assessing whether people ought to be on benefit or not. They would also hate the idea that rich people would also get this income, and would demand that it be means tested, thereby negating a large proportion of its benefits. (This is not just theoretical - here in the UK, there is always a consistent demand that certain benefits that are universal (such as the winter fuel allowance and the concessionary bus passes) be restricted so that those who have means do not get them. Never mind that a billionaire such Bernie Ecclestone likely wouldn't use a bus pas anyway, let alone notice the winter fuel allowance they receive).

The right hate it because they have to play to a base that hates the idea of people getting money for nothing. Can you imagine the collective frothing at the mouths if a government implemented a policy to give the work-shy money for doing absolute FA?

The crazy things is, a universal benefit should be something that unites the right and the left for their own reasons. The right tend to want smaller government. Universal income solves that by just crediting the account of every citizen who is alive with the amount, without requiring whole departments to do this. This could even be outsourced to banks. Additionally, such a system should almost certainly remove disincentive to work with some benefit systems.

The left should love it because it guarantees that no one is without, while leaving them free to partake of any activity that please, and as their creativity allows. This would also put pressure on companies to pay their workers well as workers would realistically be able to tell them to go to hell if they don't provide decent salaries and benefits.

Liberals should love this because it restores people's dignity. No one needs to beg for their food in this day and age, and no one needs to be a serf to either private companies or the government.

The problem if that the left hates the rich and the right distrusts the poor. So won't happen. Even though it absolutely makes sense.

Comment Re:Penny (Score 1) 702

I don't mind disagreement- so tell me why the US mint stamps coins, other than having the authority given them by the constitution.

Coins are minted because they are useful as convenience money. Without coins (and in the absence of electronic money), everything would need to cost whole dollars.

Small denomination notes could be created, but notes don't last as long and so would end up more expensive to maintain than coins.

Comment Re:Penny (Score 1) 702

Ideally, the coins ought to cost more to make than their face value (to discourage counterfeiting), but the value of the metal ought to be less than their face value (to discourage people melting them down for the metal).

If the value of the coin is exactly the value of the materials in it there is no benefit from melting it and the cost to make it is more.
The point of having it in coin form would be that you wouldn't need to measure each "coin" to determine the value since the amount of materials is known.

This doesn't discourage counterfeiting since one could use a cheaper material that appears to be the real deal.

This doesn't contradict my post at all. What you are saying is that it might be possible for someone to make fake coins for less than their face value, which is what makes counterfeit coins profitable. In an ideal scenario, you wouldn't want that, because counterfeit coins can be a lot harder to detect once they are in circulation.

As an aside, one of the ways counterfeit coins are detected is by their weight. Coins made of similar looking but not quite identical alloys tend to be the wrong weight.

Comment Re:Penny (Score 4, Insightful) 702

The value of currency is not just it's face value. The value of a currency is that it allows people to exchange goods and services.

Ideally, the coins ought to cost more to make than their face value (to discourage counterfeiting), but the value of the metal ought to be less than their face value (to discourage people melting them down for the metal).

Obviously, for notes, it is unlikely that the cost of printing will exceed the face value, but it is a lot harder to forge notes, and we can rely more on counterfeit detection technology. If, on the other hand, someone makes counterfeit coins, those would be much harder to detect (unless we start making some sort of smart coins with built-in counterfeiting technology).

Comment Re:illogical summary (Score 2) 360

How exactly are FAX machines making your costs higher?


Probably because electronic form filling allows you to skip the steps of printing, handwriting, and then scanning each document, in addition to the dial and handshake, and the transmit time, and remember, time is money. Furthermore it reduces material waste and reduces the need for data entry and/or transcription.

And then of course, since fax machines involve moving parts and in most cases ink/toner, there's added time and cost involved in routine maintenance tasks.

Or maybe it discourages them from sending pointless and avoidable communications, such as emails!

Comment Re:SO when you pay people... (Score 1) 500

The problem isn't that he will stop making money _now_. The problem will surface when he starts losing his most senior staff, or when he wants some of his current staff to do more, take more responsibilities. At that point they might refuse and ask what is in it for them. If you are currently paid 80k and you are asked to do more, or take a more demanding role, you will ask for a raise. if you are a janitor, you can't demand a raise unless he asks you to do more hours.

He will also have trouble recruiting proven talent who will want to out-earn his janitors.

Comment Re:Out of the box idea (Score 1) 444

I think this sentiment can be utterly counterproductive.

By virtue of being rich, the rich can sow the seeds for their societies future wealth in many ways. One of the big ways they do this is by spending on things that seem frivolous to most, but slowly become things that everyone takes for granted. This is what progress is.

I could give endless example, but here are a few:
  - Passenger air travel used to be the preserve of the wealthy - now this is something that is so cheap that air travel is now completely de-glamourised. i
  - ABS brakes were once only in expensive and powerful cars that only the rich could afford. Now they are not only standard fare, they are mandatory in many jurisdictions.
  - The first plasma TVs cost in the region of $10,000 and were definitely out of reach for the average person. Now you can get much better TVs for a 50th of that.

While that top end Mercedes is the definition of a true luxury, you should consider that the reason that the car you likely drive today contains features that were first bought by the rich, and their frivolity actually led to useful innovation that are now available in pretty much any car you can think of today.

A more appropriate example for Slashdot is the amount of money many here would be prepared to spend on high end computer gear, particularly back in the day when high end PC gear was incredibly expensive. This wealth effectively "trickled down" to most people who can now afford computers that once were the preserve of the frivolously rich (or of geeks).

So don't knock the spending habits of the wealthy. We need them to continue to spend on the things that we cannot yet afford because one day, all of us will be able to afford them once whoever makes them is all tooled up and wants to recoup their investment (and make a bit of money for themselves while they are at it).

Comment Re:Autonomous "Driving" needs to be truly driverle (Score 1) 247

Or maybe you have completely missed the point!

The point wasn't about whether or not the AF447 pilots could have saved the plane (I am sure they could have), the point was that they at least had some time to figure out why the autopilot had failed, and therefore to try and come up with a solution.

I am very aware that the plane still crashed, so ultimately, them having 3 minutes and 30 seconds didn't save them.

In contrast, on a busy highway, this is unlikely to be the case. And even if the highway were not busy, to give an example, if a tyre blows out, the effects are likely to be immediate and require an instant response from the driver if that is the failure mode for the "auto-driver". The driver will not have seconds to respond, and therefore the computer ought to assume that he would not be able to respond in time, and take the appropriate course of action such as stopping safely.

Unlike a plane, a car should ordinarily have the option of stopping and a computer can figure out how to do that. A plane will need to keep going in the event of trouble, and that is why the challenge is very different.

Comment Re:Autonomous "Driving" needs to be truly driverle (Score 4, Insightful) 247

The airliner scenario is only superficially similar.

At cruising altitude, a plane typically has minutes before it crashes to the ground. For example, from the time its problem began, to the point in hit the ocean, Air France flight AF447's pilots had 3 minutes and 30 seconds to try and save the plane. There are typically few, if any other planes in its airspace to worry about, so pilots can do things like take our their operating manuals and run through operating prodecures to attempt to rescue the situation without worrying about hitting the kerb, another plane, etc. If my self driving car is going to give me 3 minutes before the actual crash, then fine. Otherwise, it is less than useless to give the control to a driver who likely doesn't have the correct situational awareness (who might even have fallen asleep).

Even if the driver had not been sleeping, a driver's awareness is reduced because he doesn't have to process what is happening around him all the time like one does when they are driving. So, for example, if the problem is that he is about to crash, unless he was hyper vigilant, he is the worst person in the world to drop into the driving seat so to speak.

Comment Re:New Top Gear (Score 1) 294

Netflix are also producing Clarkson, May and Hamond's new show. It won't be called Top Gear of course, the BBC still own the name, but it's being made by the original production crew and the same cast of course.

Personally I'm looking forward to the three way super-hybrid showdown (McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and Ferrari La Ferrari) which I've been informed will be filmed next month...

Disclosure: I don't work for Netflix but am friends with one of the ex Top Gear staff.

The Clarkson, Hammond and May show is actually on Amazon!

Comment Re:Stats (Score 1) 294

So are you saying that Netflix should pay real money to have titles that people don't actually watch but like to see that they are available in the library?

At the end of the day, people will renew their subscriptions if they always have something to watch when they fire up Netflix, and they will cancel their subscriptions if they can't find anything to watch on Netflix.

I certainly don't look for Citizen Kane in the library to let me know if the library is any good or not. I look for the stuff I want to watch, watch that stuff, then lok for more stuff.

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