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Comment Re:Is it that bad? (Score 1) 463

That's a very confused post.

"Liberty" does not equate to the right to have the government provide a course of study in any subject you desire. Of course, it does mean that you can pay to study whatever you want, provided there's someone willing to sell instruction in it.

"...we should...provide a basic income to everyone who wants one..." What you are saying here is that I should go to work such that part of my work day should go towards someone who does not go to work, because unless you have people who go to work and then forcibly take some of the money those people earn from them, there will be no money to give away for free. In case you aren't aware (and it seems you aren't), there is no such thing as "government money", except by way of expropriating money from people who work. In short, the solution to "provide a basic income" is to get a fucking job.

"...hold challenges to stimulate innovation..." These challenges are already held: you win a prize if you come up with useful innovation, and the value of the prize is determined by how useful people find your innovation. Contests are held all day, every day, and you can participate at your will or whim. These contests are lumped together under the banner of the "free market", and you can find examples of past winners in the iStuff you have and the flat screen TV you own and the refrigerator you use and many more things in your world.

Comment Equals 1 billion flights (Score 0) 709

A tenth of a trillion dollars to build this?!? A round trip flight from LA to SF costs about $100, which means you could provide just under one billion round trip flights between LA and SF for the same price (and reduce travel time to 1.5 hours).

Let's say for the sake of argument (and because I don't know the real figure) there are 10,000 people who travel between LA and SF each day. For that same tenth of a trillion, you could fly each of these people return, every day of the year, for almost 274 years.

Like all things managed by government, the economics come from bizarro land. It's like reading articles that a government is "investing" $300,000,000 in order to fulfil "short term housing needs" by providing 1,500 "permanent beds" for homeless people - make you wonder why they don't just give these 1,500 people $200,000 each (except that $290,000,000 ends up spent on the bureaucracy to "support" the exercise).

Comment It's about the customer (Score 2) 466

This guy has identified exactly the issue, which seems to elude almost every software company, and music and video publishers too (and an astonishing amount of executives in other fields too): it is all about putting the customer first. When companies put DRM on their product, and other impediments to product satisfaction, they are putting their customer last. The problem is fundamentally one of mistaken priorities at an executive level: sometimes that manifests itself as DRM, sometimes it manifests itself as not putting a superior product out for fear of "cannibalizing" an existing product, sometimes it shows itself in hidden fees and misleading terms. These are all symptoms of the same mistaken priorities.

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

Been a long day and perhaps my brain just ain't so sharp at the moment, but I don't get your point about "...keep the units straight": on average, in any arbitrary set of 100,000 Americans, about 1 will be killed by a drunk driver, 4 will be murdered and 11 will commit suicide (and somewhere around 146 will die as a result of tobacco smoking). In only one of those scenarios do police attempt to pre-emptively prevent the outcome by arbitrarily stopping people at police check points absent any probable cause. I'm also regularly shocked by the lack of relative attention suicide gets.

You're right: meth is very insidious - I too have a friend who is a "husk" - he went completely nuts on it, coke and ecstacy and ended up in the mental ward of the hospital and he never came back to normal. I visited him every day for the first 30 days he was in there and your description of "husk" is spot on: the guy I knew just didn't live there anymore.

However, there are lots and lots of things which are not particularly good for humans. My point is pragmatic, not Darwinian: prohibition has worse consequences and outcomes than non-prohibition. Are there still horrible outcomes? Yup. But fewer. And adults ought to be free to do what they want, including things which are demonstrably sub-optimal.

Comment Re:saved! (Score 1) 413

"...there's only 40 years of oil left" is a ridiculous statement, because it presupposes numerous things:

- that the price of oil will not increase as it becomes more scarce (if oil prices were increased to $1000/barrel today, would you still say there are 40 years left?), which in turn would impact consumption, increase the economic viability of alternatives and spur investment in innovation to develop so far unknown alternatives; and

- that the quantity of all the oil in existence in known (hint: it's not - exploration and finds continue)

among other things...

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

Drunk driving is one of the most over-hyped causes, just behind "terrorism" (which you rightly point out doesn't kill many people either). In the US, the percentage of the population which died from drunk driving in 2009 is around 0.0036%. Of those, 67% were the drunk drivers themselves. So your odds of being killed by a drunk driver are somewhere around 1 in 100,000. You have 4 times greater chance of being murdered and about 11 times greater chance of committing suicide.

Of course, it serves as a serviceable excuse for arbitrary police check points and routine 4th amendment violations, so at least there's something coming out of it...

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

Way off topic, but this is precisely why countries like Pakistan will never seriously make efforts to kill the people the US wants them to kill: as long as they get billions of dollars to "fight terrorism", there is very little incentive to stop "terrorism" and every incentive to make it appear they are occasionally helpful but never actually particularly effective. It's like anything whereby payment is made based on intentions or actions, rather than results.

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

The reason your meth head friend commits crime to support his habit is because the drugs are expensive. The reason they are expensive is because they are prohibited. The reason people kill to stake out territory in the drug trade is because the margins are fucking enormous, and every time ridiculous ideas like minimum sentencing get enacted, the margins just go higher, and the bar is raised so that you get more and more harder core people involved.

Compare this to alcohol: some subset of the population becomes addicted to it (incidentally, a rather substantial subset, compared to the illicit drug subset), but it is legal, there is quality control, the price is reasonable and there are very few people who commit crimes to obtain it (altho an enormous percentage of prison inmates were under the influence of it when their crimes were committed, again, a far, far larger subset than those who were under the influence of other, prohibited drugs when they committed their crimes).

Alcohol prohibition in the US should have taught law makers the results of prohibiting substances - hell, there remain, many generations later, crime families who got their start because of prohibition (no, I'm not talking about the Kennedys). But as others have pointed out, there are an awful lot of people who profit legally from its prohibition, like the DEA and the ATF and the FBI and the rest of the state apparatus, which never, ever gets smaller or goes away.

An ordinary person would look at a few decades of the "war on drugs", examine the costs (both financial and to liberties) and then examine the results: did the problem go away? Was it reduced? Or did it get worse, and more violent? Does having the largest prison population on the planet, about 2 million of whom are imprisoned for rather trivial drug offenses, make the country safer, or do they learn to become criminals while in prison? What's harder for a school-aged kid to get: heroin or alcohol? Anyone who sees those results and thinks it's money and effort and freedom well spent should get their head examined - prohibition is hurting an awful lot of people for no discernible upside.

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

The third point I'd add is that it eliminates any hope of quality control and dosage control. I used to live in Vancouver, which has a pretty damn hard core junkie area at Main and Hastings (and if I recall, the highest concentration of AIDS patients in North America, primarily due to needle sharing - that stretch was also just bloody nuts on welfare day, which was known as "Mardi Gras", and it's the same stretch where Pickton trolled for prostitutes, over the years taking 49 or so back to his pig farm for parties that ended with him killing them, which the police generally ignored because they were "just" hookers and junkies). Every now and then some ultra pure heroin would flood the market and a whole bunch of people would die.

Virtually every single problem associated with drugs like heroin is a function of its illegal status.

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 757

I think it's time people realize that humans like to alter their experience of reality in various ways, and that it is not possible to eliminate this human urge: some people like roller coasters; some people like meditation; some people like alcohol; some people like caffeine and some people like crack or heroin. A lot of people like to make arbitrary distinctions between these: some are "good" (like amusement parks and meditation), some are "acceptable" (like caffeine and alcohol) and some are "evil" (like marijuana or heroin). But these distinctions are exactly that: arbitrary. And more importantly: if someone wants to spend their day in their living room doing crack, why should that be anyone else's concern whatsoever? There are orders of magnitude more harm done by making substances illegal and then calling them "evil" and declaring a demonstrably failed, $1 trillion "war" on them.

Comment Re:The Law of Unintended Consequences... (Score 1) 611

You're right: she lost just $0.20 per cupcake at a 75% discount. So if the normal price of her cupcakes is $1/each, her gross margin is 55%, and if the normal price is $2/each, it's 65%. But I don't think anyone's getting rich making cupcakes - haven't heard of any "cupcake billionaires".

Fuck. Now I have a craving for a cupcake...anyone have a groupon handy?

Comment Terrible Idea (Score 1) 427

While I'm profoundly opposed to internet regulation via SOPA (and via so-called "net neutrality" as well, which actually means "net regulation" except that it is regulated in a way some people find favorable), this proposal is a particularly poor idea.

As some others have pointed out, the US Constitution is not a place to enumerate people's rights - people have rights regardless of the Constitution. The Constitution exists to limit the government's rights. As soon as you start enumerating people's rights in that fine document, you've turned it on its head (and will open a line of attack on other, unenumerated, rights). Really, the onus should be on the government to prove it is acting within the limited confines of the Constitution, rather than the people having to prove it is not (with mixed results).

It is astonishing to me that a great many people think they only have rights because the government has deigned to give them those rights. That is not the case.

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