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Comment Re:Ah, America! (Score 1) 562

Are you retarded? You really think the merchant doesn't raise the price accordingly if he has to pay transaction fees?

As someone who actually deals with this stuff every day, no, most merchants will try to avoid raising their prices if they can help it, because this isn't an across-the-board raise. What you had for a while was a completely variable transaction fee depending on the type of card used -- a regular, no-frills credit card might be 1% while a rewards card might be 3%. While there is a point at which a merchant will pass a fee increase on to a customer, it's naive to think that it's a simple cause-and-effect. Price increases are very difficult in some industries, particularly if the competition is larger (and can therefore negotiate lower rates).

As a general rule, businesses will of course try to pass increased cost of operation on to their customers, but to assume this happens in every industry or that it happens automatically would be 'retarded.' But then I work with merchants who are regular people and not evil millionaires as you (and others) seem to feel that somebody who busts their ass far beyond a 40 hour work week and doesn't have any unemployment protection -- most every small business owner -- are somehow evil vultures trying to rob you.

If credit cards were 'useless crap' then it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry.

Comment Re:Ah, America! (Score 1) 562

You do realize that the awards you get is less then what your paying in fees?

This is simply not the case (or if it is, ditch your annual fee card). The merchant pays the transaction fees on rewards cards, not the cardholder. Some banks do issue annual fee cards withe ven higher rewards, and there you have to do the math to make sure you're coming out ahead.

Comment There's a huge amount of just wrong information (Score 1) 562

This is about credit card interchange and transaction fees, which have recently gone up as a result of congressional price controls on debit card (but not credit card) fees and other regulations that closed a few avenues banks used to have for making money. Another cause is the rise of 'rewards' cards over the last decade -- if you get 1-2% back on your transactions, whether via 'points' or cash back, almost all of that is coming from the merchants who pay these fees and not your credit card bank. Predictably, they raised rates on other things to try and make up the difference. Transaction fees on credit cards have skyrocketed over the last 5-6 years, especially for Internet 'card not present' transactions. I handle ecommerce for a non-profit that does about 1.5 mil a year through us, and only after a lot of haggling were we able to get something like 2.29% + 21 cents per charge, which on your average Verizon wireless bill is right around or even over $2. Some places will hit you for closer to 3%, though a company as big as Verizon undoubtedly has a lower rate.

These fees don't apply to ACH/bank transfers, so Verizon wants you to use those. If my business accepted credit cards for payment, we'd probably want to do the same thing, but Verizon is a big bad phone company and so it's easy to pile on them. I'm glad I'm an AT&T customer in this case (since they don't have anything like this ... yet).

The story is being spun a bit as 'Verizon wants you to mail in a check and why are they charging me to do their work for them.' Verizon doesn't want you to mail in a check. Verizon wants you to pay from your bank account, as tons of people do in Europe. It's a perk for me to be able to pay most of my bills - business and personal - via credit card (which I pay off every month) because I get 1-2% back and because the credit card companies will go to bat for me if there is a problem with a charge, whereas once an ACH is complete there is not an easy mechanism to reverse it. Right now, AT&T is paying about $4/month (of my $150 bill) for me to have those perks. Since AT&T is a huge company and most of its customers are 'the little guy,' you could argue that we're entitled to those perks and AT&T should pay for it - to which my response (were I AT&T) would be that we have no problem paying something for it, but rates are now high enough that it's worth considering the big PR hit of adding a fee like this.

Most of us wouldn't switch carriers over a $2/mo fee. Most of us would set up the automatic bank transfer and grumble about it, and Verizon knows that.

Comment Re:A B1 visa is not easy to get... (Score 1) 332

I'm not interested in mandating the draft at all. I'm interested in you having to do your part to retain the status of United States Citizen that every other United States Citizen is required to do. You know, one of those '99%/1%' things.

You think that, because you also hold UK citizenship, that somehow this makes it impossible for you to comply with US law. It doesn't. Maybe there are cases where it would, bu this isn't one of them. You fill out a selective service card when you're 18, mail it in, and forget about it. You didn't do this and now you're blaming 'the system' for being unfair. You think you're a special case. You aren't.

In fact, you have extra rights and privileges as a dual citizen. You can work in the Euro zone very easily. I can't. You can work in the US (even if only the private sector) far more easily than a UK citizen. I don't see you rejecting any of the perks of your situation, and yet you have the audacity to reject the grave responsibility of mailing in an index card?

You are a self-important twit with a tremendous sense of entitlement and no corresponding sense of justice or the law.

Comment Re:A B1 visa is not easy to get... (Score 3, Informative) 332

I didn't sign up for "Selective Service".

You seem to be under the impression that Selective Service is optional. It isn't. You were required by law to register for it within 30 days of turning 18. Being abroad doesn't exempt you from this requirement.

Your attitude of blowing off selective service has probably got to do with the fact that nobody has been drafted in decades, but if they instituted a draft tomorrow, they can't just start collecting the information they need then - they have to maintain a database of eligible conscriptees. It sucks but that's the way of the world. If the worst that happened to you is that you can't get a federal loan or a government job, I'd say you got off pretty easy compared to, I don't know, going to Vietnam.

That you so lightly prefer 'gulags' to the 'bigotry' you have received tells me that you have never seen a real gulag, and also that you've probably never experienced real bigotry. May you be reincarnated as a Tsarist after the Bolshevik revolution or a Japanese American during the internment camps. You'll probably bitch less about gulags and bigotry in 2011.

Comment Re:Portfolio (Score 1) 523

As the guy who hires people like you for his small business, this is the biggest thing I care about. Show me what you've done. A college degree is nice but these days everybody has one and so it's difficult to assign a lot of meaning to the degree itself rather than the stuff that was accomplished while pursuing one.

Other big things (for me, anyway, YMMV): Show me you can write well, communicate with normal (non-technical) humans politely and professionally (references would be great), and that you have an active interest in improving yourself and your skillset. I hardly ever hire anybody because they know the language or languages I need right then. I try to hire smart people who have proven that they can learn on the job.

(Shameless plug: Go to recruiterbox and search for 'inLeague' if this is you!)

Comment Re:They aren't supposed to evaluate only on merits (Score 1) 186

The problem is that the Constitution doesn't actually tell you the answer in 99% of cases.

Nor is it supposed to. It is merely an agreed-upon basis for resolving questions like your GPS example. It isn't an answer key.

My point was just that there's going to be a huge difference both in outcome and in reasoning if you had 9 people whose job it was to decide whether shit was fair versus having the same 9 people decide the same cases based entirely on what the Constitution says. There's still a lot of interpretation and reasoning going on, but it's a lot less arbitrary.

Comment They aren't supposed to evaluate only on merits. (Score 1) 186

They are supposed to evaluate based on the Constitution of the United States.

'On the merits' is arbitrary because whomever is evaluating will do so according to their own ideas of good and bad, of what works and what doesn't. In some cases, this kind of freedom to decide on whatever basis you like can be interesting or liberating, but it's not the point of SCOTUS.

Obviously there will still be their own ideas on good and bad even with an agreed-upon standard, but having to explain your legal reasoning relative to the Constitution versus just having to explain your reasoning are two very different tasks. Writing a good dissent is just as challenging as writing a good ruling.

Comment Grants program is understaffed (Score 1) 141

I have worked with two large nonprofits that rely on Google Maps to varying degrees, in some cases for mission-critical purposes and in other cases for ancillary tasks.

From my developer's POV, Maps API is easy to use and the terms of service are more than fair, given that they're providing a tremendous service. Google Maps is one of those life-changing technologies (which Google did not invent, of course, but which they have perfected more than their competitors, IMO) and I wouldn't take it for granted.

Both applied for (and one has received) the 'Premier' grants. Both dealt with the same single Google employee, who was very helpful, but who would sometimes take months to reply to an email. My sense is (and this isn't surprising) that Google is so overwhelmed with these applications from non-profits that they just don't have the people to process them all. I'm sure they're doing something about this but it was a little surprising to see such a popular program (the Nonprofits premier grants) run by a handful of people.

I'm glad they're moving to this model, though. I'd rather build in the Maps API to a client application and start getting alerted when we're going over limits than just have it shut down or refuse a request.

Comment Re:Reply To Business Owner (Score 1) 967

As a class, business owners, small, medium, or large, are the most conservative people in the US. Ergo, as a class, "you" tend to support the status quo, other than a tweak here or there to advance "your" perceived interests. Hence, that's how I interpreted your cynicism and your carrot rather than stick approach.

The only avenue in which my politics enter into this equation at all is that I'm not going to sign off on anything that means I have to lay people off unless somebody can make a strong case for it without insinuating that, simply because I'm responsible for people other than myself, I'm somehow too shortsighted to come around to your enlightened viewpoint.

'm not really interested in selling you on the economics of climate change in this forum. If you don't see it, or are tired of sorting out the evidence from the baloney, that's fine.

I'm not tired of it in the least. Other replies to my OP have offered some insightful remarks and cited some interesting studies. I'm just tired of internet jerks who think that ad hominem attacks are a substitute for argument. You aren't being asked to do much -- recycle, don't buy an SUV, stuff anyone with an ounce of responsibility has been doing for a decade - but you have no problem asking me (or 'me' in the 'class' sense) to make drastic changes to how we do business that will unquestionably result in people who rely on us for their well being to lose their jobs. And you can't even be bothered to do anything other than act self-righteous about the fact that, yeah, I have some questions about this doomsday scenario on whose account you're asking me to make these sacrifices.

Seems to me that you're more interested in congratulating yourself on how much better you are than conservatives (which I must be, because there are no liberal business owners...? huh?) than in dialogue. You can take that attitude and fuck right off with it.

Comment Re:It seems like there are three major questions. (Score 1) 967

2% of GDP is about two million jobs. That's a tremendous sacrifice, and a very tough case to make - but if that's what has to be done, then that's what has to be done, right?

I don't see a lot of politicians who favor things like cap and trade talking about that, though (unsurprisingly). I see them making the claim that we can make the necessary adjustments without anybody actually having to pay a price except for 'big business' and 'billionaires,' but those two million jobs won't be CEOs - it'll be middle class workers in industries most affected by the regulations required to pull off what you're talking about.

Even if you accept the Stern Review, though (and thank you for that link), you're still left with the problem that it's no good if just the UK, or even just the UK, the US, Canada, and Western Europe commit to the necessary changes. You need every industrialized country in the world to sign on, and honestly sign on, because otherwise the countries that don't play nice will be able to undercut the whole rest of the world in output and cost of doing business.

I can certainly accept the possibility that the Stern review is correct (though it seems to have its share of detractors) but even then, I agree with another response to my OP that we're much better at solving problems like 'we need an energy source that doesn't belch xyz emissions, pronto' than we are at making huge, collective sacrifices. We've already got high unemployment in Europe and in the US - you would need to be a dictator to be able to get away with laying off two million more in the US alone. So what do we do?

Comment Re:Reply To Business Owner (Score 1) 967

You'd like climate mitigation that doesn't require much of anything from you, and that's not going to be possible, whichever way it goes.

It isn't going to hurt me. My business is a service business and the worst we'll feel from cap and trade is increased energy costs, and we can afford those. I thought I distanced myself from a big personal investment in the outcome here by pointing this out earlier, but I guess you saw 'business owner' and assumed 'greedy corporate pig.'

What massive, pervasive governmental intervention are you talking about? The only massive, pervasive governmental intervention I'm aware of is the Clean Air act, which was done for smog and health reasons and not climate change reasons, and fuel efficiency standards, which I will freely admit did spur more fuel efficient vehicles than the free market would have, because in an unregulated market you wouldn't see that kind of investment in fuel efficiency until it became far more cost-prohibitive to get fossil fuels out of the ground.

I'm not an expert on this stuff, so I'm not accusing you of fabricating governmental intervention - I'm honestly curious what it is you're talking about when you give the government credit for the 'status quo.'

I also have yet to see any convincing evidence that climate change is going to 'hit like a hurricane' except for the UN studies a while back talking about millions of climate refugees that a) never happened and b) got scrubbed from the UN's web site as it was an embarrassing prediction. There is a political and industrial agenda behind the notion that we absolutely must do something right now just as there is a political and industrial agenda behind the notion that the whole thing is overblown and what we're doing now is working just fine. My point is that it's very, very difficult to separate fact and legitimate science (on both sides) from people who either just grew up thinking that all industry is evil and raping the Earth -- that is to say, most people my own age who went to liberal arts universities, as I did -- or people who are so bitter and jaded and accustomed to hearing people from the first group shrieking about whatever it is they're doing that they overlook the very real possibility that something major may really need to be done about this problem ASAP.

You have said nothing insightful and cited nothing of use. You've made an ad hominem attack on me and my motives about which you could not be more mistaken. If cap and trade were enacted tomorrow, it won't be me who suffers, because web services aren't going to bear the brunt of it. It will be two million jobs in the part of our economy that actually still create products. That is the cost of the massive, pervasive change you are talking about, and it's foolish to pretend otherwise. So if you want to make your case, then the case to be made is 'this is such an important problem, and the consequences of doing nothing so severe, that a 2% reduction in GDP (which comes out to about two million jobs) is really the least worst course.'

Possibly the case for AGW would be working out better if it had more adherents who could patiently explain to people like me what the terms of the discussion are and what our options are, and fewer people whose entire social network consists of people who agree with them and whose only means of dealing with anyone who questions their dogma is to personally attack them.

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