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Comment Re:The Bottom Line (Score 1) 19

Why bother?

Most Americans have no idea of what's in the constitution anyway.

We are daily trading in our old rights for new ones, and nobody is writing it down.

We'll end up with nothing, and deserve it.

Comment Some points (Score 1) 19

I won't defend those who run the "big 3" automakers. Unless something "changes" (I think twice whenever I use the word these days) I don't know why auto-making should have any better chances of success in this country as have other forms of manufacturing. I think there is a lot of blame to go around. Inequities in pay for US workers vs everywhere else is a big factor, maybe even the biggest.

My main reason for buying US cars was always the thought (no longer applicable I suspect) that parts were easier to find for the US cars. If my Chevy broke down in the middle of nowhere chances are any local gas station could fix it. When I had an Audi (long time ago) that would not have been the case and I probably would have to have been towed to the nearest Audi dealership (few and far between in some areas) for an always expensive repair.

Anyway, if you google something like "government intervenes to settle gm uaw strike" you will note that in many cases the car companies hands are tied, particularly after having to shut down for two months due to a strike (and note the current news paints planned one month cost savings shutdowns as a disaster all by themselves).

So when the UAW leaders decide it's been long enough since they flexed their muscles to make new demands, they are almost guaranteed to get some comprised version of what they ask for, even if it takes the Feds coming in to force the issue (the threat of federal action usually has the desired effect).

OK, so a strike happens, and is settled, and the UAW gets half of what they asked for. Then what?

Well, first of all they have typically just struck GM, not all three, because GM was the biggest. This is a great system for Ford and Chrysler of course.

BUT, after the GM strike, Ford and Chrysler make similar deals with the UAW without a strike. Government willingness to step in and establish a "going rate" for UAW workers (in both dollars and benefits) pretty much makes the Chrysler and Ford negotiations with the UAW "done deals".

The End?

No. If you work at any company with both union and non-union workers, the non-union workers can almost be guaranteed to get all the benefits that result from a strike of unionized workers, possibly with some adjustments for the advantages of not being in a union (paying union dues, not being forced to strike to support some other workers grievance, etc.). So whatever deal is made with the UAW is soon replicated all over the industry. While there are non-union plants in the US, I don't buy that their level of compensation ends up drastically lower than the level for the union shops.

So. While I'm sure the heads of the big three are nincompoops in many respects, stupidly giving in to the unions isn't one of them. That decision is pretty much forced on them. What happens with the unions, can pretty much be laid at the feet of the unions, both members and leadership, and the press who continually portray union members as victims even when they are over compensated, and to government officials that end up caving into to public pressure genned up by the press. (Not to mention "special interest" campaign funding from union lobbyists.)

At the same time when near slave labor is available in parts of the world, the car companies stand out in offering higher compensation to domestic workers in both good times and bad. This has been a disaster in the making for years.

Bottom line is, if we want to be part of a world economy, with access to all the cheap services and labor that is out there, then things have to change here domestically. The benefit of being part of the world economy for the majority of Americans will be (has been) cheaper goods and services, particularly of certain kinds (clothes, electronics, and other "Wallmart stuff"). The downside will have to be concessions that some people here have to make in their compensation.

The alternative is that we take a knee-jerk reaction of going back to isolationism (economically). Maybe it would do us good for some of us to go back to making our own clothes and building "Heathkits" because we can't afford the alternatives.

In the same way that last weeks top Rap artists are compared with The Beatles, I'm quite sure the press will end up calling these days a depression, even if mathematically they don't measure up. But maybe the advantage of having a few years of hard times, regardless of what they are called will be having another generation of "depression era survivors" that can remind everyone else of the value of savings, and conservation at the family level.

I used to make fun of my aunt and uncle who would tear napkins in half before passing them around to guests. These days I do a bit of my own napkin tearing. It no longer seems so silly at all.

Comment Re:Observations (Score 1) 13

I know people that call themselves "conservative" because they believe in raising taxes however much it takes to eliminate deficit spending. Such people I gather don't know much about how the government's budget process works nor how the funds allocated get sub-allocated within departments.

Conservatives, here there and everywhere increase deficits because it simply isn't possible (politically) for them to go to every department (or even a single one in most cases) and say "Fire half the staff, and auction off their office contents." Oh sweet Jesus if such a thing were only possible! It's called "starve the beast", and it helps to slow down increases in government spending (which we absurdly consider "inevitable").

During the Clinton administration the government was closed down for part of a month so that he could engage in a pissing contest with the Republican Congress. Go read up on all the disastrous consequences of that shutdown...

Back yet? The only thing that was a disaster was the the Republicans gave in. Government workers who I spoke with were at first enjoying their free time off. They lost no vacation time and eventually got paid for staying home. But some of them worried that things were going a bit TOO well without them, and indeed it was. "Critical services" were exempt from this political farce, but the building I worked in was near emptied nonetheless. The group I worked in were not on the "critical services" list, but we contractors didn't want to go without pay for the duration (got that?: government workers were paid for staying home, contractors were not) so one of our bosses found a loophole regarding how we were funded (not taxpayers money as it turned out) that allowed us to continue working. In fact we probably got more work done in those few weeks than ever before or since without all the babbling interruptions from our government taskmasters.

Obama claimed during his campaign that he would approach government waste with a scalpel rather than a hatchet. I'm not going to let anyone forget that.

Clinton claims to have balanced the budget not only be increasing taxes again, but by cutting government. What he means by that is that he didn't reverse course on a military base closings plan that was set into motion by his predecessor. God bless him for that. As far as I know that was the last foreign policy decision that Clinton made before launching some cruise missiles somewhere far far away from Monica Lewinski.

Obama will receive a windfall in the form of (once again) savings on our military budget as we withdraw troops from, well pretty much everywhere I hope, and not because I'm an isolationist, or anti-military. I think the world needs to grow up and stop waiting for us to come in and save the day all the time. Let Germany and France become yet again fearful of what Russia might do to them if they get into a bad mood. In the process we will learn that former military people don't necessarily make good social workers, there are no farm or factory jobs for them to go back to and our police forces are already well supplied with people who think they are occupying a foreign country (hey did you read about that?!).

I'm just dying to see that Obama scalpel at work. I think he'll wish he had promised to use a hatchet after all.

Thomas Sowell in his book Basic Economics starts out with this definition of the term:

"Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses."

Every ten or fifteen years we apparently need a refresher course (or at least some people do).

I hear the school bell ringing now.

iPhone Root Password Hacked in Three Days 311

unPlugged-2.0 writes "An Australian developer blog writes that the iPhone root password has already been cracked. The story outlines the procedure but doesn't give the actual password. According to the story: 'The information came from an an official Apple iPhone restore image. The archive contains two .dmg disk images: a password encrypted system image and an unencrypted user image. By delving into the unencrypted image inquisitive hackers were able to discover that all iPhones ship with predefined passwords to the accounts 'mobile' and 'root', the last of which being the name of the privileged administration account on UNIX based systems.' Though interesting, it doesn't seem as though the password is good for anything. The article theorizes it may be left over from development work, or could have been included to create a 'false trail' for hackers."
GNU is Not Unix

FSF Rattles Tivo Saber At Apple 571

Ohreally_factor takes us back to Friday when both the iPhone and the GPLv3 were released. "This article at Tectonic suggests that Apple's iPhone might run afoul of the GPL. Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF is quoted as saying: 'Today, Steve Jobs and Apple release a product crippled with proprietary software and digital restrictions: crippled, because a device that isn't under the control of its owner works against the interests of its owner. We know that Apple has built its operating system, OS X, and its web browser Safari, using GPL-covered work — it will be interesting to see to what extent the iPhone uses GPLed software.' Might there really be GPLed code in the iPhone? It's well known that OS X built on BSD, which of course uses the BSD license. Webkit is based on KHTML which uses the LGPL."
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft's Love Letter to IBM

Andy Updegrove writes: "Microsoft decided to escalate the OOXML/ODF air wars yesterday by sending IBM a "valentine," posted as an open letter at the Microsoft Interoperability Web page. In that letter, Microsoft recalls its passive role during the adoption by ISO/IEC of ODF forcefully accuses IBM of waging a global, hypocritical campaign to thwart the approval of OOXML in JTC 1. The action is hardly surprising, and from a strategic point of view even overdue. Till now, Microsoft has taken the position that many of the comments offered in JTC1 during the contradictions phase will prove to be neutral, or even positive, but soon they will become public. If they turn out to be strongly negative, Microsoft will need to revert to a Plan B, such as a plot by IBM "to limit customer choice," which is exactly what Microsoft appears to have decided to do."
Microsoft

Submission + - What is Microsoft's appeal?

beerdini writes: "It seems like most people I talk to in the IT industry have a sour impression of Microsoft. How is it that if 90% of the world uses their products, many of the business IT administrators always talk about it with disgust and frustration? If superior, better cost effective alternatives exist, what was the reason for implementing a Microsoft solution over that alternative. I know many companies have one major piece of software that most likely runs on a MS system, but if a complete overhaul of the network is being implemented more companies are migrating from their current systems (Novell, Mac, etc) to Microsoft than the other way. Are the people that are expected to maintain the system (IT dept.) even a part of the decision making process to migrate or is a management decision that falls to brand name familiarity? Why is it administrators allow the implementation of a product that they know will provide endless frustration and "what do you expect, its Windows/Microsoft" types of support issues, and probably subject themselves to an intense product training (probably out of their own pocket) just to keep their job?"

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