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Comment Re: Cabbies. (Score 1) 314

Wow. No wonder driving for ride companies like UberX, Lyft, Sidecar, Summon and Wingz is increasingly popular. Also not surprising why the city is acting so heavy handed towards said ride companies- can't have their drivers (*cough*indentured servants*cough) working for the competition, after all.

Comment But do the benefits outweigh the costs? (Score 1) 314

While researching your point, I came across this pro-driving is a right not privilege article which seems to set out the history of drivers licences. One part struck me though :-

Although there appear to have been no legal challenges to the constitutionality of requiring drivers licenses, there were a number of test cases in several states which challenged the legitimacy of the registration laws. Invariably these laws were upheld on the basis that they were a proper exercise of the police power of the state to provide for the health, safety, and comfort of the citizenry. The earliest registration laws were justified by state authorities, as well as vehicle owners, by referring to "the need of identifying a vehicle with its owner as a protection against theft."

Doesn't licensing make sense in this context?
- to ensure that the majority of drivers on the road have at least demonstrated minimal competency in driving by passing a mandatory test
- to ensure that drivers are covered by insurance (which i think is a pre-req to getting a licence in most places)
- to link vehicles with their drivers for the purposes of identification, for liability settlement in case there is an accident, theft etc

It doesn't seem that unreasonable in light of the amount of damage already caused by licensed drivers every year. Completely doing away with licensing and thereby allowing even those who have failed their driving tests to drive would seem counter productive.
 

Comment Not sure what you are getting at (Score 1) 519

I don't get your point, to be honest. Your links show that there are some teachers who are scum who take advantage of their students, which sadly is neither surprising nor new.

If your argument is that Mark Berndt should have been sacked, they had already started the procedure to sack him but he quit before he could be sacked.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy — then the No. 2 in command — said he acted to remove Berndt from class the same day he saw the photos and felt there was justification for immediate dismissal. Records indicate that Berndt was pulled from the school on Jan. 6, 2011. And, then-L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who has since retired, said he ordered Berndt to be fired when he heard about the photos.

The district’s legal staff warned Cortines that there might be complications for acting so quickly. Standard practice in L.A. Unified and elsewhere has been to “house” teachers in a district office, away from students, until a legal issue is resolved. But Cortines said he told senior staff that he didn’t want to wait, an account that was confirmed by a former Cortines aide.

By Feb. 15, the paperwork was ready for the elected Board of Education to dismiss Berndt formally and the school board ratified Cortines’ decision. As of Feb. 16, the district stopped paying Berndt, said Vivian Ekchian, chief human resources officer for L.A. Unified.

But the matter didn't end there. Berndt had 30 days to challenge his dismissal, which he did with the help of Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad, a firm known for representing the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. In this case, Berndt hired the firm privately; its specialties include defending teachers facing dismissal.

Berndt’s case was then set to go before an administrative hearing panel, a process that would take months. While awaiting a hearing, Berndt resigned from the school system in June 2011, six months after Deasy and Cortines determined to fire him.

If you're arguing they should have the power to sack him immediately, I disagree- everyone should be entitled to due process and be given an opportunity to defend himself. Giving him 30 days would not matter as long as he is kept away from students, which he was.

If you're arguing he should not be entitled to any benefits, I agree - that is a loophole that should be closed.

Because Berndt never was officially fired, he retains lifetime health benefits that he earned through decades of service in L.A. Unified. Ekchian said the district is researching its options for trying to rescind those benefits should Berndt be convicted.

If you're arguing that LAUSD screwed up, then perhaps- I'll leave it to the pending lawsuit to decide the matter and punish LAUSD (or not) appropriately.

Whats all this got to do with strict government control over education anyway? This looks like a criminal matter to me.

Comment Re:Strict government control is not good (Score 1) 519

When you say "loose government control", some people hear, "anarchy". Just like when you say, "lower taxes", they hear, "elimination of all taxation". No intermediate states are contemplated, or even considered possible.

I agree, which is why that disclaimer is the very first line of my comment =)

Moderation is an oft forgotten virtue in our turbulent times.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 519

At the end of the day these are high school teachers, they are not really qualified to make judgement calls on what the truth is.

If what you are saying is true, I am actually kind of appalled that persons of this caliber are allowed to warp the minds of the young and the impressionable. And it seems to point to a bigger underlying problem than mere tenure laws.

Comment Strict government control is not good (Score 4, Insightful) 519

Seems to me that strict government control over government funded education (i.e. public schools) is legitimate. I await your argument as to why it's not.

Bear in mind, I'm advocating loose government control instead of strict and not complete lack of control.

1. Strict controls increase the administrative costs of having to comply with the rules and regulations. For every requirement dreamed of by bureaucrats, someone has to see to it that the requirement is met. This will unnecessarily inflate the budgets of schools, some of which are already operating on a shoestring.

2. Strict controls distract the teachers from doing what they should be doing- educating students. I'd rather the teachers concentrate on how to improve their students' understanding of their lessons rather than be fixated on whether or not they have fulfilled their quota of hours spent teaching, etc.

3. Strict controls in the form of standardized curricula, teaching methods and tests stifle creativity and innovation. If we accept that all humans are unique and different, why do we apply a one-size-fits-all approach to educating students? And if we search our memories of our most highly regarded teachers, it is often the case that said teacher went above and beyond the standard teaching methods to teach the students.

4. Strict controls disempower the teachers from exercising their discretion and choosing the most effective means to educate their students. There is obviously a big difference between how you would teach a class of students from a privileged background as compared to say students from a ghetto neighbourhood who may be distrustful of authority.

These are some points just off the top of my head. I will grant you that there are many horror stories of lazy teachers, corrupt school administrators etc in the education system, but the better approach would be to remove these people rather than introduce more rules and regulations to try and control their behaviour.

Comment Treat the disease, not the symptom (Score 2) 519

Uhhh most states have 'fire at will' laws that mean you can get rid of a person for any reason or no reason whatsoever.

The long history of public employment abuse definitely shows some sort protection is needed.

So instead of having excessively permissive state legislation permitting abusive "fire at will" scenarios, coupled with excessively restrictive tenure laws carving out a special exception for educators, doesn't it make more sense to just deal with the source and amend the problematic state legislation on employment itself?

This is like quibbling over how much painkillers cancer patients should legally be prescribed instead of treating the cancer itself.

Comment Re:On the heels of the recent eBay data breach... (Score 1) 76

It exists. It's called a credit card, underwritten by a real bank, which will adhere to actual banking laws instead of "whatever we decide we want to do", and actually have some stake in fraud prevention.

I am sure banks are all law abiding entities who respect the letter and spirit of the law and do not try to subvert existing rules to pass on costs to their customers.

I'll give you that banks want to prevent fraud though.

Comment Re:whose money was spent? (Score 1) 220

Don't see that as a valid complaint. It's the same maths politicians do with your tax money ?.

When politicians spend public funds so that they receive money from third parties for themselves, its called receiving bribes. Most people would complain about it, and it can lead to criminal convictions.

The problem is catching them with their hand in the cookie jar. Its hard to use the law to catch these guys when they have the power to change the law.

Comment Proportionality and criminal intent (Score 1) 220

And why shouldn't an office worker embezzling from an employer be subject to criminal penalties? What is your distinction between a civil and criminal matter?

Proportionality and criminal intent. In the case of the bitcoin miner, he stole the use of $150,000 worth of computer resources to make $8,000-$10,000 for himself. Most people will agree that these are not small sums and should be treated seriously, hence criminal penalties are due. In the example of the parent post of an office worker making long duration international calls to family paid by his employer, the sums are likely in the small hundreds at most and there was no intention to make money for himself.

You seem to be advocating a strict interpretation of the law, where all crimes are judged by the book. Most people would have a problem with that and instinctively understand that criminality is not a black or white matter. A child who steals a piece of gum should be treated differently from a hobo who steals bread to fill his stomach from a billionaire who steals from his employees' retirement fund, although technically all three acts are theft.

Comment Blame the cops. How convenient. (Score 1) 220

Politicians are the lowest of the low who misuse taxpayer funds. They should be barred from life. But they get away with it because the police are cowards when it comes to prosecuting them.

Bit convenient ain't it, pushing all the blame to the police? It's their job to keep politicians clean, not your problem? What about the voters who keep electing the same dirty officials into office term after term? Not their fault, I'm sure.

Politicians elect their buddies to become police commissioners who then control the pay, promotions and advancement prospects of cops on the force. Cops are regular joes who have families to feed, mortgages to pay, retirement funds to worry about.

Do you know what happens to clean cops who try to expose corruption? They get shot at. Watch the movie "Serpico" for the gory details. Think about what you are asking them to sacrifice, and what you have done before you mouth off about cowardice.

Comment Why pick and choose? (Score 2) 220

when the US criminal justice system punishes the 2008 financial crisis and LIBOR perpetrators I'll entertain teh notion of this being a serious crime, even though I don't see it that way

I agree that the perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis and LIBOR scandal ought to be severely punished for all the human misery they caused, and personally I would be comfortable with sentences including capital punishment.

But that is that, and this is this. Are you seriously advocating that lesser crimes should be forgiven if there are bigger fish to fry? That people who misuse $150,000 of public funds to line their own pockets with $8,000-10,000 should get away with it because others have stolen millions/billions?

Quite frankly I don't see why it should be an either or proposition. Why not go after all of them?

I will also add that from the report, the miner doesn't sound like an angel worth defending at all :-

The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer
        usage at two universities to generate bitcoins valued between $8,000
        and $10,000. Both universities determined that this was an unauthorized
        use of their IT systems. The researcher asserted that he was conducting
        tests on the computers, but neither university had authorized him to
        conduct such tests -- both university reports noted that the researcher
        accessed the computer systems remotely and may have taken steps to
        conceal his activities, including accessing one supercomputer through a
        mirror site in Europe.

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