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Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 165

Did NASA let this happen, or did Congress force it on NASA?

I believe both are true. A key point IMHO was in the wake of the massive downsizing from the Saturn V. NASA could no longer maintain the huge infrastructure of the Saturn period in the mid 70s. But rather than resize their ambitions for the budget they were getting, they overbuilt launch infrastructure (the Space Shuttle) in a gamble to get more funding for actual space exploration and development down the road. The Challenger accident ended that gamble.

At that point in 1986, the Shuttle had failed as a tool to gain more funding and enable more space activities. But they continued it for another quarter century, finally ending the program in 2010. We've since 1986 have had a vastly overpriced space station, at least two Shuttle predecessors, and two Saturn V-scale rockets developed without a point by NASA.

If NASA wanted a coherent, productive space strategy, they had numerous times where they could have changed their ways to get that, even in the face of congressional meddling. It has long been more important to lock in funding than it is to actually do anything in space.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 165

Agreed. This report smells like sensationalized bullshit that makes light of what things really cost. The cost to essentially re-tool after decades out of the business of anything beyond low-earth orbit space travel has to be paid, and since NASA has to carry out the mission, they're the ones who first have to have everything in place. Measuring this against what contractors get is a head-fake; contractors should be specialists paid just for the piece of the puzzle required from them, so they should get paid less and later, after NASA has figured out to an excruciating degree of certainty what they need and how to get it done right so that contractors don't wind up making something useless.

Unless they had private industry do it. Then they wouldn't need to do all this stuff. It's worth noting that NASA actually did a study where they priced out how much a NASA contract for SpaceX's development of the Falcon 9 would cost. It turned out to be an order of magnitude greater than what SpaceX actually spent on development.

Besides, NASA is not for-profit like the private sector. Money doesn't disappear down a profit hole, CEO bonuses or golden parachutes.

Actually a lot of money does disappear exactly that way since NASA depends on private industry to actually build anything.

Unless there are examples of specific misappropriation

Like the existence of the Space Launch System? No reason for it aside from cash flow to the appropriate congressional districts. It has some of the most terrible economics since Titan III with a very low launch frequency and no compelling need for the capabilities it provides.

except only for pork mandated by Congress, because a congressman wants something sweet in his state or district. In THAT case, don't blame NASA, blame the Congressman (and the people who voted for him).

It's NASA's job to do NASA's job. They let this political rent seeking get way out of hand over the decades.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 165

Yep. Turns out NASA doesn't get to say "oops" as often as SpaceX does, which makes things more expensive.

NASA does a lot of stuff which makes things more expensive. In addition to their skewed risk perception, they also reuse the Space Shuttle lineage despite no compelling reason to do so (particularly, the solid rocket motors which generate a variety of costs and risks), employ cost plus contracts (which should be the exclusive realm of gouging law firms), and make some of the worst economic decisions in the federal government.

Comment Re:Netflix outspends HBO more than 2:1? (Score 1) 310

Netflix Marvel: First season of Daredevil...great! Second season...still pretty good. Both were soooooo much better than the original movie. Luke Cage...unique style, excellent. Jessica Jones...not bad. Ironfist...didn't really like.

ABC Marvel: Agents of Shield...couldn't get into it, despite Joss Whedon. I don't know, there was something about the writing, the casting that did not work for me. The production values just felt cheap, like any other boring network TV series. Netflix Marvel series feel more like movies. The cinematography, the fight scenes on Netflix were often very well done. Their series have a sense of atmosphere that is lacking in the big network's shows.

I cut my cable TV a while ago, and I will never go back. Commercials seem like a slap in the face now. I hate them hate them hate them! As far as I'm concerned, the big three networks can just die.

Comment Re:what's the next plan? (Score 1) 269

Half of Bangladesh being under water is a "first world cause"?

It's not that hard to move a hundred million people. The US, for example, does it every few years.

If anybody will survive catastrophic climate change it will be the "first world".

Come up with evidence first for this alleged "catastrophic" nature. You clearly haven't been reading actual research.

Plus, most of the "first world" is in a temperate climate zone which means it will be warmer, but livable, unlike say the tropics in such a scenario.

Most of the warming won't be in the tropics. And once again, if that really is a problem at some point in the distant future, then move the people. It's not that hard a problem.

Comment what's the next plan? (Score 2) 269

The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade.

And if we don't do that, say because developing world countries have better things to do than turn their economies upside down for First World causes? What's plan B? Sooner or later we're going to have to deal with the real world strategy of adaptation not the imaginary ones of radical greenhouse gases emission reduction.

Comment Re: Don't worry we won't miss it (Score 1) 297

Funny how, when the CBO contained a clause you could spin as a bad thing - republicans loved it, now they pretend it's meaningless because it's dissing trumpkill.

The CBO is an adversarial source. You can only take seriously the things that they admit which harm their side - the congresscritters who requested the CBO study and placed the operating assumptions that the CBO is required to operate under..

And yet EVERY SINGLE ONE of those corruption cases I cited happened in a state with a private prison to pay the bribes. In fact you're just plain wrong - a public prison has every incentive to make their fixed budget stretch as far as possible, that means as few people inside as possible.

Ok, I looked through every post you made in this discussion. What was the number of corruption cases you cited? ZERO. It's very easy for EVERY SINGLE ONE of your ZERO cited cases to be whatever you want them to be. But even if you had cited a few cases, it's still trivial to cherry pick.

Corruption goes beyond your, ehem, limited selection. For example, we have this public jail example of corruption (and more, here) from New York City. And some of the supposed private corporation bribery was actually done by prison guard labor unions.

The growth of Californiaâ(TM)s incarceration system, and the decline of its quality, tracks the accession to power of the stateâ(TM)s prison guards union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (âoeCCPOAâ). The CCPOA has played a significant role in advocating pro-incarceration policies and opposing pro-rehabilitative policies in California. In 1980, CCPOAâ(TM)s 5,600 members earned about $21,000 a year and paid dues of about $35 a month. After the rapid expansion of the prison population beginning in the 1980s, CCPOAâ(TM)s 33,000 members today earn approximately $73,000 and pay monthly dues of about $80. These dues raise approximately $23 million each year, of which the CCPOA allocates approximately $8 million to lobbying. As Ms. Petersilia explains, âoeThe formula is simple: more prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.â

And you simply don't understand the conflicts of interest that face jails private or public. They only get funded, if there is a need for the jail and the funding tends to be proportional to the number of prisoners either way.

Comment Re:VAT (Score 1) 448

NZers paid GST (VAT) of 15% on top of the price that Apple charged.

Exactly. Did I not say that New Zealanders paid taxes?

Sounds like you're not prepared to understand what that means, so I'm probably wasting the max keystroke my keyboard can perform here...

Back at you on that. Apple's profits will be reduced due to this VAT (else they could just charge more in the first place). Thus, it is irrelevant that the tax is treated as being paid solely by customers for this tax is also paid for by Apple.

Comment Re: Don't worry we won't miss it (Score 1) 297

Firstly basic research is practically non-existent in the private sector and always has been

Not true. For example, about a quarter of US college students go to a private sector college. And any listing of top research universities will have a heavy private sector presence (such as here, here, and here).

Similarly, let's see who actually is funding R&D in the US:

In 2006 the total expenditure for R&D conducted in the U.S. was about $340B in current dollars. Of this total, basic research accounts for about 18% ($62B), applied research about 22% ($75B), and development about 60% ($204B).[8] Over the past decades the U.S. institutions contributing to the output of basic research have shifted dramatically.[9] Although industrial contributions to national R&D now far outpace Federal R&D support, only about 3.8% of industry-performed R&D can be classified as 'basic', with the remainder devoted to applied R&D. For industry-funded and performed R&D, the basic percentage is about the same for 2006, 3.7%. This percentage of basic research performed by industry has hovered slightly below 4% of all industry-performed R&D for most years since the late 1990s.[10] In 2006, industry funded 17% of U.S. basic research, and performed 15% of it.

The Federal Government is the second largest source of R&D funding (28%) following industry. Federal expenditures vary greatly from agency to agency in terms of amounts, directions, and objectives, depending upon the mission of the particular agency.[11] Federal funding is the primary source of basic research support in the U.S. (over 59% in 2006[12]), of which about 56% is carried out by academic institutions. U.S. basic research is also funded by foundations (about 10%), universities and colleges (about 10%), and state and local governments (about 3.5% through funding of academic basic research).[13] Federal obligations for academic research (both basic and applied) and especially in the current support for National Institutes of Health (NIH) (whose budget had previously doubled between the years 1998 to 2003) declined in real terms between 2004 and 2005 and are expected to decline further in 2006 and 2007. This is the first multiyear decline in Federal obligations for academic research since 1982.[14] The intent of Federal policy is to increase support for physical sciences research in future years.[15]

Right there, we see that 17% of basic science funding in 2006 was paid directly by private industry with additional amounts by foundations and private universities and colleges. So claiming that the private sector in basic science research is non-existent is outright wrong. Even when you narrowly consider only the funding from private businesses!

We then need to consider that public funding has crowded out private funding - after all, what's the point, for example, of a billionaire donating money to a new particle accelerator, or a body of researchers to solicit private funds when public funding can easily outspend the private funding by an order of magnitude or more? Before that happened, private funding was a huge source of basic research. For example, most US professional astronomical telescopes from before the Second World War were privately funded. So private funding has been artificially suppressed by the plentiful public funding.

Finally, there's the matter of efficiency. Private research efforts tend to be a lot more productive for the money spent than public ones (which are often more about where the money is spent and by who, that was is done with it).

Now, let's consider your other assertions.

Same goes for pretty much any public service. At BEST the outcome is that a lot fewer people have access to the service - after all private industry has no reason to make it available to people who cannot pay. This can, by itself, lead to disastrous outcomes - one house without water means a whole city is at risk of a cholera outbreak. One person without access to adequate healthcare puts EVERYBODY at risk of pandemic outbreaks. And that's the BEST case scenario. The more likely scenario is that companies use access to the service to extort and control people and force them to do other things they do NOT want to do.

So we have numerous claims made in this small patch. First, let us note that pandemics aren't relevant to health care spending. You aren't going to be a significantly lesser Ebola or influenza threat just because you're getting more plush end of life care (which to my understanding is where most such money goes).

And nobody gives out free water, sewer, electricity. Someone always pays for that.

Then of course, there's the problem of ignoring the effectiveness of the service. A huge factor in the development of cell phones, for example, was the break up of the AT&T monopoly in the US (which led to aggressive competition in the cell phone market) with similar regulatory break ups in Europe. If those hadn't happened, then what would be the incentive for state-sanctioned monopolies to roll out a cell phone network? How many decades would we be behind? In the US, most people didn't even own a phone till the mid 80s.

I see once again the emphasis on universal coverage at the expense of the quality of coverage.

The republcans made a big deal about a clause in the CBO report on Obamacare which said it would lead to a million lost jobs. "Proof" they said that "Obamacare kills jobs". Except they were lying to you about what the report actually said. That million lost jobs were all VOLUNTARY. What that report ACTUALLY predicted was that lots of people who are held hostage in a job they don't want ONLY for healthcare access would be free to QUIT that job to go get a job that pays more, to go study so they can get better qualifications, to go start a small business - because employers would no longer be able to use healthcare access to blackmail people into staying in shitty jobs. In other words - a pure good thing. Just a slight decrease in how privatised healthcare was made people, over-all, far more free than they were before.

The CBO has published a lot of terrible shit with respect to Obamacare. Its role is throw out propaganda studies at a time when no one else has studied the problem.

A job you cannot quit without dying is not a job at all - it's slavery with better disguised chains.

Not even remotely a problem.

Public prisons have every incentive to rehabilitate and reduce recidivism. But private prisons have every incentive to maximise the prison population - and so the very goal of having prisons is not part of their incentives. More-over, since the advent of private prisons there have been numerous scandals where private prison companies were found bribing judges to impose excessively harsh sentences for minor infractions - because it's to their advantage to get as many people in there as possible and the less deserving the inmates are the cheaper they are to manage.

I saved the best for last. You clearly don't understand the conflicts of interest here. Public jails have most of the same conflicts of interest as private jails. Politicians have incentive to look "tough on crime". The staff at jails have the profit motive, even those at public jails. A prison guards labor union has very similar conflicts of interest as owners of a prison.

That's why we don't see significant differences IMHO between states with private prisons and those without. It's not just the private businesses that profit from a high incarceration rate.

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