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Comment Re:Price caps cause market distortions. (Score 2) 256

As a business owner I could not possibly care less how much your life decisions cost you. My only concern is whether the cost of employing a person is justified by the value they will provide, either now or eventually.

I'm not saying that as a business owner you should do otherwise. I am, however, suggesting that if your business model doesn't support everyone involved, it would be reasonable for such a grossly exploitative business plan to be forbidden by law. I'm a capitalist, not a libertarian.

Is it not obvious I am talking about a worker's output and not their value as a human being?

No, it is not obvious, and in discussions about minimum wage laws, it rarely is.

Please take note of all the restaurants in California that have closed in the last few months that found out what happened when they tried to raise prices to accommodate the increased minimum wage.

Perhaps, then, their business was not actually sustainable, and it's right for them to close. Why is a business closing such a horrible thing, but an employee starving isn't? There is an argument that the employee now doesn't even have their minimal income, but they do now have time to find a higher-paying job or relocate.

See above.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to see. You haven't argued against marketing at all. If, for example, a restaurant can't afford to pay their wait staff living wages, then why is it unreasonable to expect the restaurant owner to start an ad campaign promoting their "premium" sandwiches that conveniently carry a 600% profit margin, rather than their cheaper items at a 10% profit?

How about the machines that replace workers altogether so their wage goes to the true minimum wage of zero?

Ah, yes... The weavers and buggy-whip makers will be destitute. Historically, though, this argument has never held true. Rather, new technology has brought an increase in jobs, as the technology opens markets making previously-unsustainable businesses profitable. In time, advances in food-handling technology might very well make those California restaurants viable again.

Who says they are locked in? Right to work goes both ways.

In theory, yes, but the reality is that changing jobs is expensive (as I mentioned earlier in the thread), and it's very common for low-earning employees to find themselves in a situation where they can't afford to get a better job. The first major expense is time. It takes time to prepare a resume, apply, and interview. If someone is already working all of their available hours just to meet expenses, they can't take the time out to find a better-paying job. There are also financial expenses in job-hunting. There are plenty of emotional appeals involving giving a homeless person a haircut and a suit, and seeing them get a good-paying job... but there aren't enough suit giveaways for everyone. If an employee is barely (or not) meeting expenses, finding the money to get a suit, pay a babysitter, or even take a bus or taxi to an interview can be a significant hardship.

As social services exist today, there is some assistance available for these difficulties, but they often don't apply if you quit your job, no matter how bad it was.

Whoever said society is supposed to benefit from anything a business owner does?

Nobody. Society is supposed to benefit from its laws, which is how this whole conversation started. My complaint is that whenever there is such a conversation, somebody (the AC first, then you) always brings up the argument that minimum wages stop new businesses and raise costs on existing businesses. The unspoken assumption is that it's good to have new businesses start and for existing businesses to make more money, but there's never any evidence of that.

Comment Re:Price caps cause market distortions. (Score 2) 256

Please define "underpay."

Let's go with a nice capitalist version: A worker is underpaid when his or her regular expenses are higher than what they make in net income during the same average period. Note that the definition isn't a particular dollar amount, but rather depends heavily on one's expenses, which in turn are defined mostly by societal and local norms. An intended side effect of this definition is that someone with high expenses can still be underpaid if those expenses aren't covered.

A worker is worth less than the value he or she creates, period.

A worker is a human life whose value is independent of what they are able to produce, period.

If the work a person does only generates $5.00 an hour in value, are you making the case that the worker should be paid more anyway?


How long do [you] expect that employer to continue employing that worker when the revenue generated doesn't cover said employee's cost?

No time at all.

Is it okay to "screw over" the employer by making that person pay more to the employee than he/she generates in profit?


If the worker's output is not profitable for the company, the business should raise its prices so it can be profitable while still supporting its workers for their time. If the market does not support such prices, the business model should not be considered viable.

Rather than say "this worker produces $5/hour of output", let's phrase it as "this worker produces output for which the market now pays $5/hour". That leaves open the options to increase the rate the market will pay (marketing), increase the worker's output (automation), or to accept that the business as it exists now is not viable (reorganization). In the latter case, it may be as simple as firing the worker and hiring one who can produce more, or it may involve restructuring the whole company to produce a different product, for which the market will pay more.

I have yet to see an argument for why "business" is a good reason to lock people into a job that doesn't cover their expenses. Bearing in mind that changing jobs is an expense in itself (for time spent applying, interviewing, a clean suit, etc.), I fail to see how it is beneficial to society to essentially enslave people so an entrepreneur can pitch a product to a market that won't sustain it.

Comment Re:Price caps cause market distortions. (Score 4, Insightful) 256

You know... you make a coherent enough argument that I don't actually think you're trolling. Unfortunately, it's a weak argument.

Let's take rent control as a simple example. Imposing these distortions removes the incentive for landlords to maintain and improve their properties. When this happens, the wealthier people eventually move away to better properties, leaving only the impoverished who can't move.

That's half of the problem, but what about the alternative? If rent prices rise, the impoverished still can't move to more affordable places (who also would be removing rent control, and thus becoming less affordable every year). Instead, they get evicted and become homeless, in the process usually losing most investments (furniture, clothes, and other personal items) they've managed to accumulate. Once homeless, they are extremely vulnerable, and crime against the homeless typically runs rampant. The end result is that your low-income community has turned into a high-rent development that looks shiny, but sits vacant because of the crime and housing problem... and in turn, the landlords still don't get paid.

Another example is minimum wage floors. These make it prohibitive for businesses to start, and make it harder for existing businesses to continue remaining viable.

What makes starting a business such a special event that it requires employees to live in poverty? If your business model is so bad and your business so unsuccessful that you have to underpay your workforce, perhaps you shouldn't be starting a business. I know it's the Great American Dream to own a business, but perhaps we should ensure nobody else gets screwed over in the process?

Comment Re: Release it with source code unde GPL (Score 1, Informative) 237

The GPL enforces freedom, while MIT/BSD licenses do not.

I've often used the term "careless licenses" to describe MIT and BSD, because the authors of software under such licenses don't care how it's used. With the GPL, in contrast, they are requiring that you keep derivatives open-source as well.

That is the main freedom the GPL is concerned about: the freedom to view, modify, and use the source code for the software you run. Not only does the GPL require the author to release source code, but it requires redistributors to do the same, ensuring that that very specific freedom endures. On the other hand, MIT/BSD licenses are little more than a disclaimer of warranty, allowing unscrupulous enterprises to rebuild the software and sell it as a commercial product, effectively taking credit for the original author's work - which the SCOTUS has found to be of significant economic value.

In short, it's a matter of perspective. The GPL protects the users and original author by adding restrictions, while the MIT/BSD licenses protect nothing while requiring nothing. To an author, it is a matter of preference what they care about most.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 152

There isn't a hard limit in physics for an EMP, but the inverse-square law and easy hardening techniques will make the required power (and thus the cost) get out of hand pretty quickly, unless you start deploying mankind's most compact and inexpensive power sources: nukes. Those will get you an EMP, but being the first nation in 50 years to use them in warfare will bring a new kind of political hell that you really don't want to defend against.

Comment Re: Open letter to the so-called texan: STF up (Score 1) 230

Eh... not necessarily.

In a past professional life, I maintained an Emergency Broadcast System transmitter. EBS works by cutting into radio transmissions if a neighboring station transmits the right signal, repeating the broadcast on the local station. Essentially, if one station reported an emergency, the whole region would repeat it automatically. If the sirens work similarly, hijacking one would trigger the whole system.

The whole point is moot, anyway. Ability doesn't need to be shown.

Comment Re:No up to date firewall? (Score 1) 230

I'm very curious about the basis for your analysis. The only price tag mentioned in TFAs is a half-million-dollar contract to "maintain and repair" the system over the next 6 years. Roughly speaking, that's two salaried ($47,000/year) employees working full-time.

Per TFS, there are 156 alarm systems. At the low end, you're estimating a cost of $5 per system. That's not enough funding for a security consultant to sneeze at a system, let alone actually fix anything. Even if the $800 covers a centralized fix for all of the alarms, that would barely cover the time for a consultant to perform a mediocre security audit, or the price tag for a low-end hardware device, but not both. Of course, being a government panic-driven project, you can safely expect that the expensive-but-fast solution will be chosen, probably driving the cost upwards of $10K per instance.

However, $800 does buy a decent amount of consumable art supplies (paint, paper, wire, plaster), and if someone covers the consumable cost, it's actually pretty easy to find local artists and studios willing to donate time and nonconsumable supplies (work space, tools). Considering your analysis at the high end at $800 per alarm, the total price tag is $124,800... which is sufficient to hire an art teacher and rent space, as well.

Regarding the effectivity of the alarms... that's not really how it works, at all. If we get into a political situation where the sirens are likely to be necessary, you can expect a public-education campaign reminding people what they're for. No, it won't be as effective as keeping people in a persistent state of panic, but it's overall the safer route, compared to having the population on a hair-trigger to go rushing into shelters.

Comment Re:No up to date firewall? (Score 4, Insightful) 230

On the one hand, you have a low-damage attack that has happened once in a few decades. On the other, you have the real cost of continually upgrading and hardening (and re-hardening) a system over those few decades, taking funding away from other public programs.

As a taxpayer, I'm okay with risking an unscheduled wakeup, if it means my local high school gets an arts program. As a security expert, I'm still okay with the low risk of leaving such vulnerabilities open, as long as they aren't able to be used as staging for other attacks.

Comment Re:CIA dating service (Score 1) 87

Yes, they can.

The CIA has the capability to spy on you, find what you like, and match it with someone who can win your affection, and appear to return affection as well. In fact, that capability is entirely within their mandate as an espionage and intelligence organization, as you might be a foreign agent on whom a honey trap may work well.

However, unless they have a good reason to interfere with your romantic escapades, they won't do anything. Mostly, they won't because you're not important enough to justify jumping through the legal hoops. If you're not a US citizen, a lot of those hoops fall away automatically, but not all.

Comment Re:Most coders (Score 1) 548

This is also not mathematically true. You are assuming an even and symmetrical distribution of "better than average" and "worse than average" programmers, but the term "average" doesn't necessarily equal the median.

If you have a number of exceptionally-good programmers, but few exceptionally-bad programmers, the average will be raised to where over 50% of your programmer population is actually qualified as "below average", regardless of their opinions about their skill.

However, we must consider the dynamics of the programming industry. If someone is indeed a terrible programmer, they are likely to be driven out of the industry, either by their own choice or by management. On the other hand, the good programmers will usually be encouraged to stay. That puts a bias on the distribution, raising the average quality of programmers beyond the median quality of programmers.

Comment Re:Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (ID (Score 1) 337

In which case, I assume any student can go to the appropriate university services department and get the video transcribed accordingly, like any other educational material.

The difference would be that it's an on-demand transcription, which would presumably cost a lot less than mandated transcription of all the videos regardless of demand, just because they're public.

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