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Comment: Enforcement = Serious Revenue = Civil Forfeiture (Score 1) 759

Just think how many officers will be directed solely to traffic enforcement. Here in Arizona on the freeways the traffic flow is routinely (outside of rush hours) 10-15 over the posted speed limit. Think how many cops will be on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale. Think how many beater-mobiles will zoom past before the Jaguar or Mercedes is ticketed for 5 over. The small fish aren't worth catching. The big fish will become big game trophies.

If the big money goes to the local law enforcement this would become as corrupt as the civil forfeiture laws where old ladies get handcuffed and the homes pretty much destroyed because of an anonymous tip on the wrong address and payoff is too great to pass up.

Real constitutional issue with equal protection under the law, too. "You did the exact same 'crime', but since you're an Evil Rich Dude you pay a $50,000 fine instead of $100." What business is it of Law Enforcement how much someone makes?

Comment: Re:Clinton followed a Presidential trend... (Score 1) 609

by wallsg (#49242567) Attached to: Clinton Regrets, But Defends, Use of Family Email Server

So the defense now is "Bush did bad things, too?"

Statement: Anything a Democrat does that a Republican has done is OK.

Given: The "OKness" or "wrongness" of an event is fixed regardless of who does it.

Assertion: Anything a Republican does is OK.

Assume that a Republican has done something and a Democrat then does it. The Democrat did nothing wrong because a Republican did it. The Republican did nothing wrong because if it were wrong when the Republican did it it would also be wrong when the Democrat did it.

Assume that a Republican has done something and no Democrat has yet done it. The Republican still did nothing wrong because it is possible for a Democrat to do it in the future and if it were wrong before the Democrat did it then it would continue to be wrong after the Democrat did it. Even if no Democrat were to later take the same action the action cannot be wrong because if it were then we would know that no Democrat will ever take that action (because then the Democrat would be wrong) and that would give us information about the future which is not possible.

Therefore, anything that a Republican does is OK.


A corollary of this is that everything a Democrat does is OK because a Republican could later do it and we have already proven that everything a Republican does is OK.

Additional corollary: since Democrats and Republicans can do no wrong, only Independents and Third Party people will go to hell.

Comment: The Real Problem is Fixed Costs (Score 1) 374

by wallsg (#49138461) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

The real problem with net metering is how Fixed Costs are billed. To be "fair" to the poor, some of the costs that should be the same on every residential bill (the cost of the delivery infrastructure) or at least in very broad low-use/high-use category are instead billed as part of the electricity used. When someone sells electricity back to the grid they're getting paid back part of the fixed costs that the should still owe so it's a double negative.

Everyone connected to the power grid should pay a fixed part of the fixed costs regardless of electricity used. Then there would be no real argument not to allow net metering.

Comment: Re:Another silly decision (Score 1) 480

by wallsg (#49050785) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

So who do you blame? Everyone to some extent. The CRA is responsible for getting this journey started, but the banks did knowingly enable truly absurd purchasing activity. The home buyers knew (or should have known) that they couldn't afford half million dollar homes on $30k salaries, regardless of what anyone might have told them. Common sense, for Christ sake. The investment firms connected eager sellers with willing buyers, but they knew they were helping push good money into bad assets. Investors, regulators, and ratings agencies ought to have taken the time and effort to get the whole picture into focus considering the amount of capital flying through this great machine. In retrospect, each was willfully ignorant so long as the machine kept running.

When I was in high school (graduated in 1981) the rule of thumb taught in both my Small Business and Home Economics for Bachelors classes was that a person should buy a home that was no more than 2-1/2 times their annual income. Interest rates were a wee bit higher back then. So were down payment requirements.

While the lower interest rates now allow far more leverage then the high rates back then, the risk of ruin if you lose your income stream is no less. People seem to forget that.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 468

by wallsg (#48925895) Attached to: Ubisoft Revokes Digital Keys For Games Purchased Via Unauthorised Retailers

Publishers should be required to sell their digital download licences at the same wholesale cost as the physical copy and then digital stores retail can compete on their margins.

(The real problem is the BS that you "license" the game instead of "buying" it so if the "license" terms are violated then the "license" is revoke. THAT's the bullshit that requires government action.)

Who would "require" this? Only one entity can: the government (at some level). Why in the world does the difference in the price of a computer game between different distribution channels require government price controls?

If you don't like the price then don't buy the damn game. If the price really is too high then they won't sell many and they won't profit. If they sell the games and profit then you're just WRONG that the price is too high. It's just too high for you. You're just farther down the demand curve.

People on the demand curve above where it intersects with the supply curve think it's a bargain and buy. Those at the intersection think it's fairly priced and probably buy. Those below it think it's too expensive and don't buy. That's how markets work, especially with non-essentials.

There are people who think it's worth paying full MSRP of $60 for a game on release day. There are others who won't buy it until it's on sale somewhere someday at $14.99 or even $4.99. Which ones are "right" about the price? Actually, all of them.

If you think that games never go on sale, check here.

Ubisoft is flat out wrong to cancel these keys and they should hit with a Class Action lawsuit, IMO. But there is absolutely NO reason for them to be forced to sell the game at ANY price, let alone at the same price for all distribution channels. They could spend a few million to develop a game and then bury it in a landfill if they want. They have NO OBLIGATION to offer it for sale* ** and you have NO RIGHT to buy it.

* - unless specified in the contract signed with the developers of the game, likely due to a deal based on profits or revenues and not a fixed price.

** - and the fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders to prudently manage and invest the company's (and therefore the shareholders') money.

Comment: Re:The average human being (Score 1) 291

by wallsg (#48850511) Attached to: Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

Along with that, jurors should be allowed to directly question attorneys and witnesses.

In Arizona at least jurors can submit questions to the judge. The judge determines if the question is reasonable and if so asks the witness. I asked a question in a check kiting case that was being prosecuted under RICO many years ago.

Comment: Re:Obama: please stop helping us! (Score 1) 417

by wallsg (#48821771) Attached to: Obama Unveils Plan To Bring About Faster Internet In the US

TL;DR: some businesses will just be monopolies, and that's why there are either city services or regulated monopolies.

Some things are considered "natural monopolies": "an industry in which it is most efficient (involving the lowest long-run average cost) for production to be permanently concentrated in a single firm rather than contested competitively." (wikipedia) You will find traditional "utility" companies in this category. Since the market would trend toward a monopoly, local governments either chose to take on that role (city sanitation, city water, etc), or chose to create a "regulated monopoly" (like Arizona Public Service, Cox Cable, etc).

Where the real problem occurs is when an industry changes and it should no longer be considered a natural monopoly but the out-of-date regulations block competition. For example, if Google wants to lay fiber there are some places where it would legally be unable to do so because it would be competing with the regulated monopoly, which is only regulated and de facto protected (at a supposedly lower profit than it would make if unregulated) because there is no competition.

Oldsters will remember when there literally was The Phone Company, which was American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), a subsidiary of Bell Telephone Company. This company was literally The Phone System. At one time they owned EVERYTHING, including the phone wires in your house, and NOTHING could be attached to those wires except equipment owned by Bell Telephone and rented by the consumer. They also were THE Long Distance provider.

Eventually the telephone industry advanced to the point that it was no longer a natural monopoly and the regulations got in the way. AT&T was broken up and only the hard wires to the house are considered a monopoly item. And now, with VOIP, even those aren't always necessary.

Electricity has started down this route where you have to pay the APS portion of your bill relating to the physical transport medium for the electricity, but you can select a third-party from which to buy the actual electricity. (Throw in solar and you've raised a little issue as to how that transport medium is billed, which is a topic for another time.)

With ISPs we're in that painful period where out-dated regulations are holding things back instead of protecting consumers by capping prices. ISPs should be divorced from from the physical medium and you should be able to chose which ISP that you want to connect to over your Cox Cable (for example). There are, obviously, many technical details that would need to be worked through, but the coax or fiber optic cable running into my house should not lock me into that company's ISP service.

Note that this does NOT solve the problem of how to get a high-speed connection to everyone. In some cases there is just no business case that can be made to run a high-speed line to service three houses in a five-mile radius twenty miles down a dirt road in the Arizona desert. And yes, those places do exist. These are why "essential services" have must-serve provisions in their government-monopoly agreements and why these consumers pay the same rate as everyone else. (Also note that when people chose to build in places like this they are charged SUBSTANTIAL fees for laying power cables, for instance, if they are more than a certain distance from an existing line. This is why the really isolated places like generate all of their own power.)

Comment: What this usually boils down to (Score 1) 235

by wallsg (#48719367) Attached to: The Billionaires' Space Club

Didn't read the article, but what this usually boils down to is that the author is pissed that the money is being spent on something that he doesn't find important, and that if only HE had that kind of money he'd know how to spend it better than the morons who somehow were "lucky" enough to get it when he wasn't.

Comment: Re:No group "owns" any day on the calendar. (Score 1) 681

by wallsg (#48698233) Attached to: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

It is also offensive that people think that they have a "right" to throw a fit on a plane because a flight attendant (note: NOT a government employee so there's no "separation of church and state" issue) DARES to wish people a Merry Christmas. Their "right" to not hear the ugly words "Merry Christmas" is actually taking away the free-speech and freedom of religion rights of another to say it.

"I don't care if you're offended that I burn a piece of red, white, and blue patterned fabric. I have a right to do so." "You can't say Merry Christmas because it offends me." The First Amendment allows both. Get over it.

There's an entire generation of people who think that they and their "rights" are the center of the universe and that they can tell everyone else (who evidently have no rights) what they can and can't do as to please them.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)