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Comment Re:I can't fault them for doing so.. (Score 4, Insightful) 1040

> Democrats want less government spending as a percentage of GDP [1]. The TEA Party wants to destroy government [2], unions [3], and the US economy [4].

FTFY.

Sources: [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_President.jpg
[2] http://www.contractfromamerica.com/Idea.aspx
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Wisconsin_protests
[4] http://www.standardandpoors.com/ratings/us-rating-action/en/us/

Comment Re:And some people still wonder why... (Score 1) 673

While human deaths are clearly bad, they are not the only metric with which we need to judge the scale of a catastrophe. There is the economic cost, directly due to the loss of electricity generation, and indirectly due to other countries recommending against visiting Japan. There is the continued risk management (read: people risking their lives to mitigate the disaster and the enormous expense of containment). There is the as yet unknown impact on the environment. Thousands of people may be permanently displaced (though sadly they have nothing to return to anyway). The effect on the rest of the world is real, many important Japanese products are in short supply or out of production.

Libya, in contrast, is a dusty outpost bombing themselves from the 9th century to the 8th century and has little effect on the world other than a slight disruption in oil supply. (Apologies to all free Libyans).

Fukushima will be a disaster for years to come. This is what the media is talking about.

Comment Re:And some people still wonder why... (Score 1) 673

The whole thing is a caution-outrage spiral; public concern creates the need for immensely cautious evacuation, which creates more public concern.

No. The concern is not over what has happened. It's over what might happen.... IF pumps to cool the core and spent rods fail, which they did, multiple times. IF containment fails, which it did. IF highly radioactive water leaks into the ocean, which we now learn did happen. All of these things were not supposed to happen, yet they did. People are risking their lives and improvising 24/7 to fix problems that were never anticipated. If any of those efforts fail, the disaster, already bad, gets much worse. And the plants are actually pretty close to major population centers. What's next? Nobody actually knows. Your precious safety record is preserved only by incredible effort applied to contain "problems" when they occur. What's the cost to clean all this up, in relation to the amount of benefit gained from the plants? How many years will Fukushima be a ghost town because of this incident?

One wonders, how safe would fossil fuels be if we spent real money to ensure their safety (as much regulation as nuclear, for example)? Requiring scrubbers, retiring dirty plants, etc.

Your previous post stated "Statistically, major incidents included, nuclear remains the safest form of electricity production known". You are drawing an incorrect conclusion from a statistically small sample. There aren't that many nuclear plants and they're relatively new. Most plants are well regulated, but there have been many near disasters in the past; we've been lucky. And your rosy outlook doesn't include a future where proliferation allows bad people to get ahold of nuclear material (Iran). Fast forward a few hundred years, and statistics shows there will be many more disasters, whose effects we cannot know because the failure modes will all be new. Fast forward a couple hundred thousand years, when the waste from existing plants still needs to be sequestered, at enormous cost. From that vantage point, nuclear doesn't look so good.

Engineering can only cope with the known. Airplanes are safe because we investigate and learn from past crashes. We cannot afford to go through this process with nuclear. If a nuclear plant is subjected to a natural disaster outside of its engineered ability to withstand the stress, what happens next? Experts in the field don't know, or their warnings are overridden by executives who don't want to pay the bills to mitigate "improbable" risks. Then when the disaster happens, they start by covering it up and minimizing the bad news. And that is what prompts evacuations, and concern about the use of nuclear power in general.

Comment Re:Welcome to the real truth (Score 4, Insightful) 290

Since WWII, Federal revenue has been 18-19% of GDP, no matter what the tax rates were. This suggests that increasing taxes will not significantly increase the amount of money that the federal government collects. If increasing taxes will not increase the percentage of GDP that the federal government collects in revenue (which historical figures suggest is indeed the case), I do not see how increasing taxes will help reduce the deficit.

You are not being factual here. This shows federal revenue varying from 14.4% to 20.4% over that period. That's quite a bit different than 18-19%, which sounds flat. It was not flat.

The highest personal marginal tax rates did vary significantly, from 94% in 1945 to 35% today, but this does not shed light on the subject as it's only one of a large number of contributing variables.

Of particular note, the revenue as a % of gdp dropped from 20.6 in 2000 to 14.9 in 2009. That's quite a significant drop. Combine that with increased apparent spending, which went from 18% of gdp in 2000 to 24% of gdp in 2010 (primarily because of large drop in gdp in 2008-9 due to the recession), and you have a problem.

Back to your point. You were implying that there is a causal relationship between federal receipts and GDP, but your data was faulty. If no such link exists, then increasing taxes will indeed reduce the deficit. In fact, this is strongly suggested by the opposite case in the last decade: we have been cutting taxes, and federal revenue has fallen. Therefore, increasing taxes (within reason) will increase federal revenues, and won't affect GDP.

Comment Re:astroturf in action (Score 1) 369

> Its average fatality rate has bee 0.04 deaths per TWh. Please elaborate with facts. Unless otherwise proven, I would tend to assume that you are using statistics for the operational cycle of a reactor. This probably does not include the extensive amount of fossil fuel used to excavate and process nuclear fuel, build the actual plants, nor to deal with the resulting waste. It also does not account for what happens when the current set of extremely old 35 year+ reactors need to be shut down permanently.

Comment Re:astroturf in action (Score 1) 369

Dear Sir or Madam, I am afraid you are tilting at windmills and to some extent burying your head in the sand. A dam failure half a world away away from me does not have a significant probability of harming me or the ecosystem I depend upon. A major radioactive release half a world away from me does. At this point it is possible, though hopefully improbable, that I will be required to leave my home at some point in the future, even though I live thousands of miles away (you may dispute the chance of this, but the news remains ominous and certainties are hard to come by). All of this because of poor decisions made by corporate bureaucrats from a completely different country (over which my fellow citizens have absolutely no influence through voting) a couple decades ago. Perhaps you can see why I am extremely concerned. Holding the world to a standard set by a totalitarian government cutting enormous corners without benefit of oversight or design standards, in comparison with one of the most technologically and knowledgeable advanced countries and corporations supposedly under extremely strict regulations, is completely unfair. Obviously a bunch of idiots will harm far more people than those who make at least a civilized attempt at preventing catastrophe. The question is simply, did those in charge take adequate precautions, and what lasting effects will the lack of planning will have now and in future generations. Let us place the blame squarely for both items in question upon the source: insufficient engineering on points of failure whose catastrophic degradations outside of design parameters due to unforeseen natural disasters caused enormous unforeseen consequences. Let us also recognize that the effects of these have spheres of influence. The dam failure killed a lot of people and nobody will argue that. However, a level 7 nuclear catastrophe will have international effects that far exceed local and natural ones for perhaps hundreds of years. You may deplore those responsible for the massive dam failure, and I concur, and we can debate who should be held accountable, although that is pretty clear. This should not in any way diminish your admonition of those responsible for today's failures by people who supposedly have superior know how, and due to a democratic government as well as historical situational fact, the serious *obligation* to not completely cock it up while involving extremely dangerous and incredibly toxic nuclear materials that have multiple generational consequences. And if the worst were to happen, say, right next to the Pacific Ocean, what exactly would those extremely long term effects be.... we just don't know yet, and I sincerely hope we both agree those will not come to pass.

Comment Re:Shutting down nuke plants is a bit foolish (Score 1) 369

There are 600 coal plants in the US, generating about 2000TW. A few recent projects for large scale solar range from 50MW to 700MW. It would only take a few hundred of these to make a significant dent in the need for US coal and nuclear generating capacity. What is lacking is determination, and money. The fossil fuel subsidy per year is about $70B and roughly $13B per Nuclear plant. That should pay for a whole lot of alternatives including solar.

Comment Re:Photoshop Elements (Score 2) 429

Some start-up's simple photo editor isn't going to drive down the price of Photoshop (anymore than GIMP or any of a hundred other free photo editors did on the PC).

Without NeoPaint, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, and other second-string image editors, Adobe likely wouldn't have made Photoshop Elements. Likewise, startups trying to compete with Final Cut Pro (to take your example) may encourage Apple to add features to iMovie.

You're speculating. Elements, and now Photoshop Express, are not designed to compete with other products, but to extend the brand to the masses. More brand awareness leads to more sales of Photoshop.

Comment Re:Yeah (Score 1) 186

High birth rate != overpopulation. The most overpopulated countries (China, India) have low birth rates, and due to their growing economies have high CO2 emissions, growing rapidly as they ramp up their economies.

Comment Re:Yeah (Score 2, Insightful) 186

This is nothing new. People have been stupid en masse for thousands of years, it's just now we have managed to invent tools to harm ourselves much more effectively. We nearly did ourselves in a few decades ago with nuclear weapons, and to prove our stupidity we still keep them around as a kind of very expensive monument to dumb. As to a worldwide plague, it's only a matter of time -- dense concentrations of people, crop monocultures, breeding better diseases by liberal use of antibacterials.... When it does happen, it will affect everyone without regard to their diplomas, and you can blame those who didn't bother doing something about it, which is 99.9% of the population.

Intelligence is not something you can breed out of humanity. If only high IQ people could make high IQ people, then we wouldn't have any high IQ people. So maybe the current crop of brainy people aren't really so smart as they think they are, and we ought to evolve a different kind of intelligence.

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