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Comment Commuciation doesn't solve the logistics (Score 4, Interesting) 202

we don't want to use it because you don't want to be out in the boondocks if you don't have people to work and play with. That's already changing now that we have some level of virtual communication..."

People don't just live in the cities because they want to be around other people for work and play, cities are also handy in that all sorts of crucial services are nearby. There's a reason cities developed as trade hubs to begin with: people are lazy and would rather walk a couple hundred meters and take a subway to go fetch their laptop from the shop rather than driving long distances for it. Likewise, being close to emergency services is something that only cities can offer. Here in Finland the average response time of an ambulance in cities is about 8-10 minutes in emergencies, whereas up north in Lapland it can easily be an hour even with a helicopter. Libraries, schools, hospitals, post offices, drug stores, etc, all of these and much more are something you can find in nearly every part of any larger city but you might have to travel a couple hundred miles to out in the countryside.

I'm not saying Ray's wrong overall: it's true that living out of cities has become more viable with technology, but it's a bit shortsighted to assume that the only reason people are concentrated into cities are social reasons and entirely ignore the benefits provided by the kind of service infrastructure that cities offer and sparsely populated areas do not.

Comment Re:It would be affordable if taxes were paid (Score 1) 1140

I understand perfectly well how investment works, I was merely referring to the fact that the guy in question does not have to personally do much work at all for his wealth to increase.

My argument was not that investments are useless for the economy, just that accumulated wealth generated by investing and passed down is taxed in a way that makes little sense if you want to try and keep the gap between the rich and the poor sensible.

Comment It would be affordable if taxes were paid (Score 1) 1140

So I glanced through the article and it seems to me that they're making a few bad assumptions about UBI to arrive to their conclusion. One is that they're saying it's bad because it's not tied to working like most existing social programs and there's little experience from social systems that are not tied to work. However the very reason the western world will need UBI or something like it in the close future is that across the board the western countries are facing a situation were automation is making many, many jobs obsolote and the rate at which these technologies create new jobs do not match that. It is pretty much agreed by economists at this point that a 100 % or close to a 100 % employment is an impossibility when you start seeing jobs such as driving and data-entry etc. disappear in the coming decades.

Secondly about the cost: they're saying that the cost of 219 billion would be too much, but really, it's not if you actually started making sure the companies and super-rich paid what they're supposed to. Look at the corporate tax revenue for example, in 2014 you got around 320 billion dollars out of it. However, we know that the effective tax-rates of corporations are far below the nominal 35 %, at 27,1 % because many corporations pay nothing or close to nothing in taxes.

Just by making sure corporations actually paid the required 35 % instead of the 27,1, you'd get an extra 95,5 billion. And we're not even talking about raising the taxes, this is the amount you're currently missing by allowing corporations dodge taxes. and that alone would fund nearly half of the program.

Then if you look at the state of the estate tax:

A simple calculation shows that our estate tax system is broken. Assets that are passed to relatives or other personal relations are often badly misvalued relative to what they cost on an open market. The total wealth of American households is estimated at more than $60 trillion. It is heavily concentrated in very few hands. A conservative estimate given the lifespans of Americans would be that 2 percent ($1.2 trillion) is passed down each year, mostly from the very rich. Yet estate and gift taxes raise less than $12 billion, or just 1 percent of this figure each year.

So you're essentially taxing 1 % of the 1,2 trillion dollars that gets passed down from generation to generation every year. This is insane. The whole point of the estate tax is to try and prevent income inequality from exploding since wealth once accumulated can create more wealth for its holder without the holder having to do any work for it. As an example say someone who is 35 inherits say 6 million today. Let's suppose he's not some financial genius but simply puts it to some safe index fund to sit and generate profit, let's assume 5 % PA, and let's also assume the guy in question pays his taxes, which for long therm investments at that size would be 20 % if I've read the US tax code correctly (and do correct me if I'm wrong), and after that spends half the profit he makes on living, buying things etc... so the total profit he'd be making every year after taxes and living expenses is 5 % * 0,8 * 0,5 = 2 %.

The average life expectancy in the US is about 79 years, so let's assume a period of 44 years from 35 to death. At 2 % a year, this comes down to 11,72 million dollars that's left in the fund, and this figure obviously does not include all the assets and mansions the guy has bought with the yearly ever increasing half of his profits I've assumed above, so in reality the wealth to be inherited is even greater than 11,72 million, that's just the cash.

This is the reason the estate/inheritance taxes are important when you have as much super-concentrated wealth as you do in the states and many western countries.

If you gathered the proper amount of corporate taxes, and you taxed inherited wealth at say 20 % instead of the effective 1 that you're doing now, you'd easily afford the kind of universal basic income discussed in the argument, and as a result the kids of the guy above would inherit 'only' 9,4 million instead of the 11,64 million they'd be getting going by the effective 1 % real rate. Note that the actual estate tax they're supposed to pay is 40 % (again, if I've interpreted the tax-code correctly) so you could in fact lower the estate tax to half and still be able to fund UBI just so long as you make sure people actually pay it.

This is of course all very generalized, but my point is: the US could afford a lot of things if you started to pay attention to the way your taxes are collected. You're currently allowing for wealth to keep concentrating on the hands of ever fewer and fewer people and corporations and quite openly allowing them to dodge taxes. These instances can more than afford to pay for a basic income model without it significantly affecting their profits, and I think they should. You're the richest country per capita on the planet, of course you can afford these systems and the only people who will be affected will be the people who may not be able to buy their 6th mansion because they had to pay slightly more taxes on their insane fortunes.

Comment Re:Why "smart" IDs are a bad idea (Score 1) 135

Completely agreed. I don't get why anyone would do it the way they did to begin with?

I mean, it's not being actually used for anything during testing other than testing, so why can't they just create the number of test transactions they need, and then wipe the history after testing is done and it moves to production? That's what we're doing here (working on building an ERP for hospital/patient logistics): the test-environment is a sandbox in which we just create any types of orders we need, and prior to launch all of these mockup orders will be nuked,

Hell, the usual answer tends to be laziness, but even that can't be the case here, as they had to spent more effort doing it the way they did rather than in a way which would be sensible.

Comment Re:Tesla is a sinking ship (Score 2) 297

can think of nothing better to do with capital than return it to investors.

Also known as 'making a profit for its stockholders' which is the primary purpose of any for-profit corporation.

There are different types of companies and different types of investors for sure, and many don't seem to mind holding stock that pays no dividends but saying that paying dividends is the same as 'running out of ideas' is just frankly silly; it's entirely possible to come up with new ideas and start developing them and still have enough money to pay dividends. Tesla is obviously a company with rather heavy R & D and manufacturing costs so it's understandable that at this stage of their existence they're not doing it.

But the point the shareholders ARE the company. so if they want the corporation to pay them a share of its profits then that's what the company will do and it doesn't automatically equate to 'we're out of ideas'; any new idea carries a risk, so it's a decision between 'pay out X now' or 'Invest Y in this idea at a risk to possibly pay out more later, or lose the money'.

Comment Re:Shills =/= trolls (Score 5, Interesting) 244

This isn't a problem coming out of Russia or China, it's a problem coming out of every authority group or special interest.

Agreed.

However, at the same time this rhetoric itself is at the core of the Russian propaganda: essentially the message is 'since the US does it, we can too"

As a Finn I've engaged in a lot of discussions with both Russians and my fellow countrymen about the situation in Russia ever since Crimea, and this comes up quite frequently from the pro-Russian side. If you try to talk about the annexation of Crimea and how it's worrysome they throw 'Iraq'-card in your face. Nevermind that we had nothing to do with Iraq, and that despite the fuck-up and unjustified nature of the war in Iraq and for all their incompetence, the US still did not add Iraq as a new state.

From this, it's not a long way to the idea presented by some in the Kremlin that countries simply cannot want to be in NATO for the sake of their own security. Like, if an unallied country at the border of Russia looks at the recent actions of Russia towards other unallied border states (first Georgia in 2008, then later in Ukraine/Crimea) and concludes that it's safer by allying itself with someone other than Russia, then it obviously must because of Washington and the corporate illuminati controlling the popular opinion and seeking to threaten Russia, despite the fact that the risen interest in military co-operation is a direct result of their own actions. This is of course intentional. All authoritarian regimes need enemies, and to Russia it's 'western values' (ie. gays and sexual deviance primarily) from within and NATO from without. To help achieve this they treat the whole of Europe as a unified block ('the west') that's nothing but an extension of the US when it suits them, basically telling us Finns (and Ukrainians) here that we cannot have an opinion of our own, unless we agree with them.

They want to keep and even increase the tension because that's a convenient trick to distract people from the failings of their domestic policies and the rather dismal state of their economy, pretty much fascism 101 stuff. And the fact that in some sense the US is doing the same with the war on terror, war on drugs etc does not make it okay, or justifiable.

Comment Re:Biased (Score 4, Interesting) 157

Unfortunately that's not right. The left does actually NOT say "mind your own fucking business". It says "I tell you what fucking business you should mind!" and more important "I also tell you what business you MUST NOT mind".

And that's where I had to detach myself from being "left". I do not feel that I have the right to tell people what they are allowed to fucking THINK.

This is a perfect example of why a one dimensional left/right -divide is utterly useless. I live in a globally very heavily to the left country (Finland) and adhere to many leftist ideas such as the universal health care and education systems we have here, as well as progressive taxation etc...

However, I do not buy into, nor support, any of the SJW crap about forcing people to feel/think/speak a certain way, and I say this as a part of one of the minorities (disabled since birth) that this crowd so often claims to be defending. There are loads of us. If you look at popular anti-SJW youtube chnalles such as Sargon of Akkad who has over 300 000 subscribers and over 74 000 000 views with numerous videos critizing and debunking this SJW thoughtcrime BS, and you take a look at the channel demographics, you'll note that the vast majority (55 %) of his viewership falls into the same category as the man himself (and me as well): a left-leaning libertarian. Ie. people who do not believe in letting the free markets decide over anything and everything, and believe the state serves as an important factor in making sure people's basic needs are met etc, but still at the same time maintain that individuals are free to say what they want, enjoy whatever substances they want etc... The authoritarian left of which you speak of is not just opposed by the right, but by a large quantity of us leftists ourselves, as one of the Sargon videos I linked above well puts it, the modern day SJW crowd has become very similar to the authoritarian right.

So no, there is no one 'The Left' anymore than there is one "The Right". The political field is much wider than that and we should all know that at this point. The political compass is a good tarting point to rid yourself of the tubelike vision that all members of left/right think alike or uniformly, I recommend checking it out if you haven't already,

Comment Re:Let me be the first to say (Score 1) 566

Norway is cowardly. Claiming your term limit is 21 years, then codifying in law that it can be de facto extended indefinitely, would not pass muster under the US Constitution.

I'm not Norwegian so I don't know the details of how it works exactly, but I think such a system is still superior to 'life without the possibility of parole'.

The way we have it set up in here (Finland) is that we have a life sentence (which one can only get for murder, or treason/war crimes/crime against humanity etc), but as per law everyone has the right to apply for parole after 12 years, no matter the crime. The median sentence length IIRC is something like 16 years, and it seems to be working for the most part as only about 15 % of released lifers ever end up back in jail.

Comment Re:Let me be the first to say (Score 4, Insightful) 566

No. It is there so that they can visibly be penalized for their crimes, to the benefit of society as a whole. They serve as negative examples.

That as well, but also the point is to try and make sure they do not do those things again. If you're going to say it doesn't make a difference whether the reconvition rate is 15 % or 99 % then I don't really understand how you deem society benefits from high reconviction. It's obviously better the lower the re-conviction rates are, both for the inmate as well as for the socíety, so to argue that rehabilitation is not an important function of the system makes no sense to me.

Perhaps people who are given longer penalties are more prone to commit crimes, thus deserving those longer penalties. In other words: it's the person who causes their own recidivism, and not the length of time they spend in prison on prior convictions.

The numbers you supplied do not account for that.

They do not account for that yes, that's one thing that surely factors into it as well, I should have pointed this out in my post, my bad.

Still point being: prisoners released from the US system have significantly worse outlook than their western counterparts as the felony conviction pretty much makes it impossible to get employment, and in some states even blocks access to housing etc. If you keep people who're already violent/dangerous when they come in in rather inhumane conditions, then you release them with even less of a chance of making a living legally than before they went in, it should not come as a surprise that most of these people turn back to crime. Ex-inmates are societal outcasts, which make them a ripe target for organized crime tor recruit.

Comment Re:Let me be the first to say (Score 4, Insightful) 566

The penal system is not enacting it's penalties with an aim to rehabilitate e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer, it's enacting its penalties to stop the next Jeffrey Dahmer from eating his first victim.

This is a giant strawman. The vast majority of criminals are not Jeffrey Dahlmer and are not serving a life sentence. This means that for MOST inmates the prison system is there to rehabilitate them to society.

No-one's arguing that there aren't mentally unstable individuals who cannot be released and so on, but tehabilitation and making sure the inmates, once released, do not commit crimes again is the primary focus of any sane penal system. If you look at actual data and charts on reconviction rates you'll note they go up as the length of the sentence goes up. This means the more time the inmate spends in jail, the higher the chance of them committing a crime again is. The US is not the only country where this happens, but if time spent in jail increases instead of decreases the chances of a re-conviction, it ought to be clear that the system is faulty.

Compare that to something like Norway which has one of the 'softest' prison systems and has no life imprisonment (technically, although with people like Brevik it's unlikely he will ever be let free, as they have to pass an assessment before release or the sentence can be continued, and even if he's ever released he'll probably be released into a mental institution) and has incredibly humane conditions (that is it allows for the inmates to live fairly normal lives within controlled conditions), the re-conviction rates are far lower because it turns out if you treat prisoners as people instead of cattle to be kept in small boxes and the released after several years with limited rights and next to no employment options, they actually for the most part turn out to become productive members of society.

Comment Re:Facing facts (Score 1) 247

The difference between the Finnish and the US system isn't profits.

Yes, yes it is. It's not the only difference between the 2 systems but it's a major one.

even significantly higher than private insurance in the US.

This is simply not true. Source

As younger baby boomers join Medicare, the average amount that the program spends per beneficiary will be slightly reduced over the next decade. Overall, however, it appears that public programs control per capita spending somewhat more effectively than private coverage does. That may be just the opposite of what many would presume in a country where the private market is generally expected to outperform the public sector.

Here’s another way to think about it: While Medicare and Medicaid are far from perfect, the purchasing power and policy levers available to large public programs appear to give them an edge over our fragmented private insurance system when it comes to controlling spending.

The problem with trying to have his discussion with you is that you're misinformed about facts, and make claims that are not consistent with reality.

Comment Re:Facing facts (Score 1) 247

And that public system is horrifically expensive.

If you look at the numbers spent per patient, both Medicare and Medicaid are cheaper than private alternatives already. So your point is wrong: the costs of the system to the state have increased as people enrolled in these programs have increased, but the cost per member when compared to private insurers is still cheaper.

Point being, if you replaced medicare and medicaid with some type of single public insurance that would still be free/cheap for people of low income, but open for everyone (at a cost for those making above a certain amount if you wish to avoid tax-funding it), it would be cheaper. The point about public insurance -. even if it's not a single payer model - is that as its funded by a public entity and is non-profit, obviously it's going to be cheaper than an insurance ran by a company for profit. If you then further either ran more hospitals with public funds, or alternatively had more control over the pricing of the hospitals, you would further cut the costs.

None of this even requires the elimination of private clinics and insurers. Models such as this are in pretty widespread use in places like Germany,

Comment Re:Facing facts (Score 1) 247

has it occurred to you that you're incapable of being objective

Yes and I'm very aware that obviously I have certain biases, as do most people, I try my best to control them, albeit not always successfully.

The US system isn't nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

Oh I know, and I wasn't saying that it's bad. It's quite good, even top class in many ways, my gripe is just that from my perspective as someone who knows something about the cost-structure of health care the system is just inefficient at producing health. Simply put, it works great for those that have access to it, but it does so at a greater cost than any other system per capita, which in turn makes achieving functional universal coverage difficult, This is largely why the US is distinct from all other western nations. But again this doesn't make the system bad per se, just cost-heavy.

Yeah, it's great that you're involved and that you're really happy about your system (I notice there are some huge tonal differences between your first post and your replies - and it's okay - we're all nationalistic but eager to accuse others of it and refuse to see it in ourselves) but that actually means you're probably not really going to give an objective and accurate portrayal of your system. Note, really, the differences between your first comment and then the tone of your replies when called out by it by a fellow citizen.

Well my replies are my attempt in trying to be more objective. The first post was meant to highlight the problems with the out of hand costs in the US, not as an in-depth analysis of the issues with the system here. Obviously our system is not perfect either, but by all standard measures it achieves results very much comparable to the results in the american model, not better (for the most part), but pretty much on par in most metrics. So I stand behind the point in the original message. I understand it may come across as overly nationalistic but that wasn't exactly my point, as I'm not suggesting the US directly copies its system from here or anywhere else for that matter. I'm just trying to say that I firmly believe based on the figures I've seen from here and from other countries, that you can get the american system to perform better and achieve better coverage without increasing spending. The problem is this requires meddling with the business of insurance companies and private hospitals, which for political reasons is obviously much more of a difficult thing to pull off in the US than in many other places.

It's okay... In all my travels I've learned one important thing. We're pretty much all just humans underneath.

Yup, 100 % agreed. I do apologize if the tone came off as arrogant, that wasn't intended.

Comment Re:Facing facts (Score 1) 247

Just curious ... do you realize the awesome R & D is because of the profit motivation?

Yes, but I wasn't talking about eliminating profit motives from manufacturers of medical tech. We still buy and use american medical tech here, and the companies manufacturing those make profit on them.

The point is, if you install something like a pacer on someone of course the pacer has a margin on it and is sold for profit. In the US however, on top of this the hospital then adds its own margin and finally after the insurance companies pay the bills they take their own margin on top of that. Eliminating the latter 2 will not effect the capabilities of R&D companies and tech companies to make business.

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