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Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 1) 848

Exactly how is requiring groups who engage in lobbying and who presume to weigh in on scientific debate to reveal their actual sources of funding censoring speech in any meaningful sense of the phrase?

Because putting "conditions" on speech is changing it from a fundamental freedom that governments should recognize, into a privilege that governments may (or may not) grant.

they're trying to hide the fact that they're paid whores of the fossil fuel industry.

Whores have rights too.

What's being questioned is their integrity

You have a right to question their integrity. You do not have a right to silence them. Integrity is not, and should not be, a pre-condition for Constitutional rights to apply. Scumbags have rights too.

Comment Re:Of course it protects the small investor (Score 5, Informative) 267

The question here is incorrect.

The question is also misapplied. Trevor Baylis is not a good poster child for "ripped-off" inventors. First of all, he did not invent the wind up radio. He just invented a more practical way of storing the energy (using a constant force spring). But his business partners decided his spring was too expensive, and replaced it with a conventional crank and used batteries to even out the power (the article calls this a "tweak"). In other words they did not use his invention. To suggest he is being "ripped off" because he is not receiving royalties from someone not using his patent is pretty silly.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 2) 848

Exactly how is requiring groups who engage in lobbying and who presume to weigh in on scientific debate to reveal their actual sources of funding censoring speech in any meaningful sense of the phrase?

Many people believe that the right to speak anonymously is fundamentally important. This right has been defended by the EFF and ACLU. You might also want to read the American Civil Liberties Union's viewpoint on Citizen's United. It is tempting to reach for a censor's pen, rather than rebutting an argument. But remember, once our rights are gone, they are gone for all of us.

The overwhelming majority ...

The right to express an opinion should not be based on the popularity of that opinion. It is all the more important to defend the expression of dissenting opinions when they are unpopular or go against the consensus.

Comment Re:Place names (Score 2) 642

You are pretty much talking about abolishing the notion of "state" and the "federal" government does everything.

Not necessarily. You could still have states that are geographical areas, it is just that the state borders would no longer be electoral borders for electing congressional representatives.

Good luck convincing people to make a new constitution.

I think everyone recognizes that we are engaging in fantasy here. Amending the constitution requires approval from 75% of the state legislatures. Since most states are small and rural and benefit from the current system, there is no way that this is going to happen.

Comment Re:Place names (Score 1) 642

Your geographical location matters quite a bit to your local economy.

But my local economy matters very little to me. I work from home, my co-workers telecommute, and our customers are distributed world-wide.

My neighbors may be dependent on the local economy, but I don't see why they should be entitled to political favoritism that is denied to someone more distant from me. Our current system of geography based patronage and subsides is really just a form of the prisoner's dilemma. Everybody does it, because everybody else does it, but we would all be better off if nobody did it, and we could avoid the inefficiencies.


Comment Re:Place names (Score 5, Insightful) 642

That's a guaranteed recipe for fragmentation and Balkanization.

Is that a bad thing? With our current system, large blocks of representatives behold to their parties obstruct everything. Anything that weakens the power of political parties, and enables representatives to vote their conscience, should be good thing.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 1) 848

pardon for the nitpicking but are you aware of any laws that prohibit the action BEFORE you do it ?

Yes. There are numerous laws that make it illegal to even attempt to commit specific crimes. There are other laws that make it illegal to conspire or plan to commit a serious crime. More broadly, the police are empowered to intervene if they think a crime is about to be committed. None of these apply to libel or slander. They are only illegal after the fact.

Comment Re:Try to make sense (Score 1) 848

This doesn't make sense. Laws forbid you to utter slanderous statements. Other laws forbid you to utter "fire" in a theatre. In both cases, I can commit the offense.

No you can't. If the police know you are going to yell fire in a crowded theater, they can restrain you and prevent you from doing so. They can also charge you with attempted murder.

Libel and slander are different. There is no such thing as attempted slander. If the police know that a newspaper contains libelous statements, they cannot use "prior restraint" to prevent its distribution.

Comment Re:Place names (Score 4, Interesting) 642

Geography is beautiful. I made this my wallpaper yesterday.

It is pretty neat, but it still reflects 18th century thinking. If I look at my interests, beliefs, and the political issues that are important to me, my geographical location has little to do with it. Congresspeople shouldn't represent geographical regions, but specific groups of people, where ever they are. So every two years we hold an election, the top 435 get elected, and their constituents are the specific people that voted for them. Their vote in congress should be proportional to their number of constituents. What would be even better, is if an elected representative isn't keep promises, a voter should be able to go to a website, and switch to another.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 4, Insightful) 848

"No" doesn't mean "No" as the rather tired example of yelling fire in crowded theatres clearly establishes.

Perhaps you should research the history of that phrase. It was used by Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case of Schenck vs the United States. Charles Schenck was a draft protester during WWI. The government arrested him, and the case went to the Supreme Court. Holmes wrote the majority opinion, and ruled that since the government could banning shouting fire in the theater, then hey, it could ban other speech too! So Schenck went to prison. Using "shouting fire" as a justification for limiting speech is not only a slippery slope, it is a slope we have slid down before.

There are also libel/slander laws passed by congress that limit free speech

Libel/slander laws do not limit speech. They can only be applied after the fact. So you can be held responsible for what you say or write, but you cannot be restrained from saying it in the first place.

Comment Re:Secretly? (Score 1) 848

Petrochemical plutocrats were obviously behind this.

Never use a broad brush when a narrow brush is better. By far the biggest offender here is ExxonMobil. Blaming "petrochemical plutocrats" is not actionable, because people still have to buy gasoline. But if you name specific corporations as especially egregious offenders, then people can avoid buying from those companies, and buy their gas from someone more responsible.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 3, Insightful) 848

we as a society can demand accountability

Please don't use weasel words. You shouldn't say "we as a society" when you really mean "the government", and you shouldn't say "demand accountability" when you really mean "censor speech".

There are some of us who believe that "no" mean "no" in the following sentence: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If you feel otherwise, and think that freedom expression is not a fundamental right, but rather a privilege that can be withdrawn in some cases, then you are entitled to your opinion (for now), but you should be honest about what you are advocating.

Comment Re:Peculiarities? (Score 5, Interesting) 307

Try doing what the rich do to pay zero tax and you end up in jail.

Not true. If you work for a paycheck, and receive a W-2, you are screwed. But if you run your own business, or work as a contractor, most taxes are avoidable even for a "little guy."

I pay very little tax. My income is above the median, but I don't think many people would consider me rich. I own three domestic corporations (a Delaware C-corp, a California S-corp, and a Nevada S-corp), and an overseas Cayman Islands corporation. These cost just a few hundred bucks each to set up. Any middle class person could afford to do the same. I can report income through whichever jurisdiction and type of corp offers the best deductions for that particular type of income. I can move income between corps by selling "services" or paying license fees. I avoid paying personal taxes by living off non-taxable loans, rather than taxable income, from the corporations.

All of this is perfectly legal. I was audited by the IRS once, and had to pay a fine of $420 for a bookkeeping error, but otherwise they said everything was fine.

Of course these loopholes were set up for the rich, but there is nothing to stop the rest of us from using them too. If you think about it, we have a good system: people that don't mind paying taxes pay them, and those of us that prefer not to, don't.

Comment Re:Knee... (Score 2) 161

As long as the project is funded by Californians, I say go for it. They don't seem to mind dismal-looking cost/benefit analyses

One problem with California, is that many of the people that can do math have already left the state. When people vote for dumb policies, sensible people move elsewhere, leaving behind the dumb people to vote for even dumber dumber policies, causing even more sensible people to leave ....

Comment Re:Why lasers instead of mirrors? (Score 2) 161

if that is even possible - I assume the station could not be geostationary

A geostationary orbit would only be necessary if there was a single receiver on Earth. But MW receivers are far cheaper than satellites, so we could have many, all around the globe.

because of the extra propulsion required to launch so much mass to that higher orbit

Propulsion using standard rockets is expensive, but remember: this thing will have lots of electrical power available. So you could use that power to run an ion thruster. It will take a while to reach the higher orbit, but the cost will be far lower than a rocket.

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