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Comment Re:Pennies and Dollars are different problems (Score 1) 943

Replacing dollar bills with dollar coins doesn't change transaction prices, just the tokens used for the transaction. Junking the penny does change prices.

I'm not convinced of this. MIlitary stationed overseas frequently find themselves penny-less... base exchanges, stores, restaurants, etc. just don't find pennies worth carrying. Instead, prices are rounded up or down to the nearest $0.05. I spent a lot of time overseas, and I never heard anyone complain that they missed pennies. Personally, I'm ready to eliminate pennies, nickels, and dimes... going straight to the quarter. A nickel doesn't even buy more than a couple minutes at a parking meter these days.

Currently, nearly every jurisdiction has a sales tax. Tax calculations inevitably produce transactions at the sub-penny level: 7.25% sales tax means a $1 purchase requires 7 + 1/4 pennies. We obviously don't have sub-penny units, so we just round down to 7 pennies. Other transactions round up, I'm sure. In the end, someone could game the system by using advanced models to ensure more purchase combinations result in rounding up, but really... at a penny per transaction? I doubt many businesses would risk the bad publicity... and even if they did, it's probably a lot cheaper for consumers than paying for all that change to be lugged around, counted, and transacted.

In short: This week, I spent several minutes in a grocery store checkout... behind an old woman counting change and looking in her purse for more.

Comment Re:Not yet... (Score 1) 943

Honest question... are you color blind? The gold vs. silver contrast is glaring to me... I think the dollar coin is the easiest to pick out from a stack.

I assume you are referring to the sacagawea dollar? From "$1.25 snack", it's unlike to be the Susan B. Anthony, and I don't think the silver eagle is in general circulation.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 241

In the UK, the "government" refers to the majority party in power. So at the moment the government is made up of a Tory/LibDem coalition, there is a Tory prime minister, and so on. You wouldn't say that Labour MPs are part of the government. Organisations like the police or military or social services are part of the state, but not really controlled by the government in any direct way.

Maybe the usage is different in the US.

No, it's the same. People just get really confused because the US has states in addition to "the state", and the Head of State is also the Head of Government. In my experience, the average educated professional has no clue on the distinction.

But then we do have the, what are they called? Sovereign individuals? They're the whackjobs who think all government above the county level is illegitimate, and they tend to be closely aligned with libertarians. To them, everything and everyone is "the government"... and that's a bad, scary thing. They also tend to be very concerned that the UN, as part of a zionist New World Order conspiracy, has an army that is planning to invade the US and steal all their guns in the near future. Also, something about Sharia Law and Communism.

Comment Re:Let them go. (Score 1) 1163

Yeah, I had a decent time in Texas, too. It was nice to be called "Slim" by people who actually meant it :). But if I mentioned my views on politics or religion, or told people I was from CA, I got a different version of southern hospitality. I suspect it would have been a very different experience if I was homosexual or dark-skinned.

I actually remember you telling the cowboy story in a previous post, maybe a year or two ago. It's hard to forget events like that...

Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 1) 473

So you think UPS would come to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, everywhere else... and pick up our letters for pennies? And then reliably deliver them to their recipients? Or that we should have multiple, competing carriers doing this?

"Mail call! Oh, I know your girlfriend just died, Jimmy, but this is UPS mail call. Your family uses FedEx, right? Maybe next week"

I don't know how they do it legally, but ShipItAPO does package and mail forwarding to APO addresses. I don't see how FedEx or UPS couldn't do the same thing. Hell, when it comes to private enterprise supporting our troops, I'd be happy with all web forms accepting APO/FPO addresses without erroring out.

Since you focused on just this one point, I'm going to assume that you agree with all my others.

Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 1) 473

...when the end comes, congress should let the post office sink... Private industry can and will step in.

As someone who has lived in rural areas and served overseas, let me be the first to say: Fuck that shit.

Does UPS or FedEx deliver letters from loved ones to APO/FPO addresses? No.
Would the private sector guarantee that every single person, even the poor, had regular mail pickup and delivery? No.
Will private companies find a way to rip us off? Absolutely.

There's a certain group of people who like to wave the flag, brag about conservatism and strict adherence to the constitution. Why are they the same ones trying to kill off a vital function explicitly tasked to the federal government by our founding fathers?

Few things are more important to a society than access to communications. If we're so strapped for cash that we want to sell the USPS to the highest bidder, let's end subsidies to oil companies and give that money to the USPS instead.

Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 1) 473

You're spot on to blame the legislative. I don't know all the details, but the MSNBC folks were saying that ~$10B of the "loss" is a new requirement that USPS pre-fund 75 years of pension benefits over 10 years. Thanks, Congress. The USPS thinks it can make up the rest of the gap with fairly standard cost-cutting measures.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks one of the political parties is trying to bankrupt the USPS so they can justify privatizing it. Otherwise, I suppose they're just that incompetent? Or they're trying to prove that "government can't do anything right"?

Comment Re:GO UNIONS! (Score 1) 674

Executive pay has gone fucking apeshit in comparison to worker pay. Its fucking pathetic. BUT...executive pay is NOT really a reason why companies fail. In the overall scheme of things, it amounts to dick/year in expenses.

While executive pay is often an insignificant expense, I do think "massive raises prior to bankruptcy filing" is an indicator of a) terrible management and b) imminent demise. I suspect management has their reasons for all of this, but it's starting to look pretty strongly like their primary goal was not to keep the company afloat.

The union...well, their blame is they ended up with 0% of their original pay instead of 80% of it. I can't say I blame the staff for not wanting to take a pay cut, but I'd also rather have a job.

I'm not familiar with the workers' salaries at Hostess, but this is a bit of a fallacy. Workers aren't always better off taking pay cuts instead of saying "ok, fuck you, close the business then". There are many other businesses in the area, and depending on the pension cuts they were talking about they might actually be better off (although I'm waiting to hear that the pension funds were criminally underfunded)...

In short, the company looks doomed anyway. I don't believe its current management is serious about turning it around, and there's a decent chance most of the workers will find other work.

Comment Re:Shut up and take my money (Score 1) 151

Cheaper than banging a known porn star is making your own porn. Check craigslist for the "porn star experience" which is a hooker and a video camera. (You keep the video afterwards.)

I've long wondered about the legality of this. IANAL, but it seems like a very strong legal case could be made that it's legal.

Comment Re:If there was a Bad at Math Map... (Score 1) 1163

I was going to give you a nice long, serious reply addressing all your points, but then you said this:

Bottom line is that the people who conducted this operation, apparently provided weapons used in hundreds of murders and many other crimes in both Mexico and the US.

Not only is that an unsubstantiated claim, it is the lie I was attempting to disprove. The people who conducted this operation failed to interdict the weapons and arrest the suspects in a timely manner. They did *not* provide any weapons. I know that seems like a "tiny detail" to some people, but it is quite significant.

If you won't acknowledge that difference, I don't see a point in trying to discuss anything else.

Comment Re:It's a sad sign of the times (Score 1) 467

Ahh, yeah, I knew I was missing something. I'm so used to people talking about corn or soy when they discuss biofuels... I completely forgot about algae.

Agreed on the double standards for coal vs. renewables. Leveling mountains is OK, but I've seen a few wind projects stalled over environmental concerns :|

Comment Re:If there was a Bad at Math Map... (Score 1) 1163

I *really* hate /. sometime. I had a nice writeup done for you, with bulleted lists and everything. I hit options to change something, hit save, and it refreshed the page and destroyed my writeup.

So instead, here's the ugly version: All that bullshit about F&F that Fox News was spewing has been thoroughly debunked. AG Holder was not aware or culpable. The Federal government did not sell, transfer, give, or transport weapons to anyone. The IG Report on Fast and Furious is available. Feel free to read it.

Agents from the Phoenix Field Division screwed up. They allowed guns to walk in favor of trying to build a case against the entire organization, including drug traffickers on the Mexican side. They failed. These procedures were a carryover from the Bush administration and have been ended.

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 421

California's K-12 has been gutted by repeated budget cuts

Spending can vary greatly by area. LAUSD spends $25,208 per student.

For CA Statewide K-12, "Total per-pupil expenditures from all sources are projected to be $10,610 in 2011-12 and $11,246 in 2012-13".

There are indeed huge variances by region. Districts with higher costs of living, high growth (necessitating new construction), and more special needs students will have higher per pupil costs.

But always be careful when citing CATO, they're not exactly...rigorous... in their methodology. See this EPIC review of CATO's per-pupil claims. And I quote: "The report presents large “real” costs per pupil. However, the spending numbers calculated for the report actually double count, adding in both capital construction and debt service. The use of flawed data renders the report to be of limited value in policymaking." (emphasis added).

I would provide my own analysis of the LAUSD claims, but the CATO report failed to properly cite its sources (it actually indicated an incorrect page number) and methodology. Per the review I am citing, another group was able to nearly replicate the CATO result by double-counting capital construction and debt services (which the author compares to adding the purchase price of a house plus the mortgage payments).

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