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Comment Re:Can't America get its acts together ? (Score 5, Informative) 1059

America can, and hopefully will again.

Balancing the checkbook is good, but there are times when it might be a good idea to grit your teeth and take out a loan. Imagine waking up one Monday morning in a muddy ditch with a missing front tooth and a vague recollection of your wife clearing out your joint accounts and running off with some musclebound thug, in your car. You painfully make your way home to realize that she's burned down the house. What are you going to do? Not balance the checkbook. Not get all high and mighty and track them down in South America either. (OT, ever read Dog of the South? Great book.) No, you're going to say good riddance and get on with your life. You're going to find a phone, call in sick, get your damn tooth fixed, buy a cheap suit, rent a car, get a hotel room, and get back to work as soon as possible. And you're going to do it all on credit. If you're not willing to go into debt here, you'll be severely impacting your future earning potential, ie, you'll be a filthy toothless bum forever.

This is a pretty good metaphor for the shape the country was in when Obama took over, btw. It's even got a car in it. I'm not about to go blaming it all on Bush, either; there's plenty of blame to go around. Anyway: We're in an emergency. Balancing the budget through spending cuts, as righteous as some of those cuts may sound, is likely to decrease economic activity and make things worse. It's important for us to realize that deficit spending should be a last resort, and the goal should be to stop it ASAP. But it's not time yet.

Comment Re:Just another cautionary tale (Score 5, Informative) 164

For perspective, the tax breaks given to oil companies amounts to about $2.4 billion/year (in the form tax breaks which are similar to the same tax breaks that every other industry gets for investing in expansion). Loan guarantees like the one A123 got totalled $90 billion in the "stimulus" bill passed in 2009.

Where's this $90 billion number from? $88 billion over ten years was the total for titles II, IV, V, and VIII of the ARRA bill. Loan guarantees are only part of this.

Wikipedia puts the total green-energy loan guarantees at $6 billion. There might be some other loan guarantees hiding in other categories, but your total is suspect, and comparing an annual number to a ten-year number is deceptive regardless.

Comment Re:What about Bloomberg? (Score 1) 458

Actually, I think it was the private race organizers that had the generators.

Yes it was, until they were shamed by the New York Post. They suggested that they be donated or at least lent to the recovery effort in some way. Even though the race was cancelled, the generators still just sat there in the park. Bloomberg, as a mayor and billionaire, is the kind of person who probably could have arranged for the generators to be commandeered, but he didn't, and neither did anyone else. (I'm not judging, especially because there's probably more to the story.)

Do you just let residents run extension cords out their windows?

Sure, why not? They would also be handy for running elevators, powering the pumps for the plumbing in buildings big enough that higher floors have no water pressure, lighting and heating for the lobby at least...

Comment Re:Practical? (Score 1) 331

And because there's real-life lively competition among technologies here, with a lot of attention to R&D, all the numbers will hopefully keep going down as better models are developed. The real story here is how the entire industry is changing; the race to be the best at the moment is a fun and fascinating sideshow.

Comment Pre-planning for Identity Theft (Score 4, Informative) 244

My first clue was a collection agency notice for outstanding bills, a couple of credit cards and an account with Gateway computers. I'd never received the original bills, of course, because they went to the phony address where the goods had been shipped, six months before, in a different state.

The collection agency managed to find the real me and demanded that I pay up. They wouldn't let up unless I had police report documenting that I'd been identity-thefted. My local precinct refused, saying I had to file in the state where the crime had actually been committed. I was considering calling up the FBI, but then I remembered that I had a copy of an old police report from getting my wallet lifted -- including my Social Security Card (Do they still say "Keep on your person at all times?" That was a dumb idea...) -- about 10 years before. Probably not actually related to the identity theft, but worth a try. I faxed the report to the collection agency, they closed the case, and my credit rating was cleared.

The moral of the story: Go to the police right now and report your wallet stolen, along with your Social Security card. Keep the paperwork on file. It may come in handy. If you want to cover your tracks, report a credit card or two missing and go to the Social Security office and get a new card. They won't give you a new SSN, though... not their fault that banks consider that number a secure way of verifying your identify.

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