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Comment Re:Hornby set? Maglev is "new"? (Score 1) 65

I'm of the opinion that Hyperloop is a bad idea, but the Chunnel costs, which are relatively reasonable, isn't one of them. The Chunnel was for three tunnels, two of which were designed to accommodate, with plenty of space around them for walking, air flow, etc, two 20' high freight trains with catenaries two feet above them. The tunnels in the Hyperloop case will be a small fraction of this size - uncomfortably small if you follow Musk's proposal, but hopefully at least 12' if created by a company that doesn't think humans are sardines.

Comment Re:It's your choice (Score 1) 607

Either we as a society make employers pay a wage that people in that situation can live on or we accept having vast numbers of people on state aid. Whichever one we opt for, the public end up paying for it.

The difference being that increasing the minimum wage to make it a basic income means you give money to everyone who works minimum wage, and having assistance for those who need more than the current minimum wage means giving money only to some. Which costs less -- giving money to everyone or giving money only to those who need it? And what do you do for those that even a new minimum wage won't provide enough? You're still running welfare because of them, so you don't even get the savings from eliminating that program.

The second difference is that increasing minimum wage increases the cost of labor for almost every business, especially those dealing in food (grocery stores, burger joints, etc). Unlike the common opinion here, grocery stores are NOT companies that are just rolling in profit that can afford to pay everyone twice what they make today. Grocery stores who hire high school and college students part time to stock shelves and such will wind up paying them a lot more when they aren't even trying to live on that wage -- a cost without an associated benefit.

do you really think anyone would do the sort of work that pays the minimum wage by choice?

Yes. Now here's one for you: do you really think that the only people who work a minimum wage job are those who are trying to support a wife, three kids, and pay off a mortgage?

Being paid piecemeal is the exception, not the rule.

Piecemeal is not relevant to the issue of how much value your work has. If you produce $10/hour in value, then a sudden raise to $15/hr is ridiculous.

if a salaried or hourly paid employee doesn't pull their weight you warn them, give them a reasonable chance to improve and then sack them if they don't.

You just don't understand. They can 'pull their weight' if they are paid $8/hr. It's when they are paid $15/hr that they are no longer doing so. "Pulling their weight" is a balance between cost and benefit. Make the costs too high and they can't "pull their weight" simply because the job they are doing can't produce enough benefit. It has nothing to do with the employee or how hard they are working, it has everything to do with the job itself.

Let's pretend. You run a food service that sells hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough. (Auntie Annie's, for example.) It costs 50 cents in hot dogs and dough and electricity for the oven per unit. You sell them for $3 each (two for $6, yum). You have an employee making $8/hr. Assume $16/hr for costs by the time you add all the extras in. He has to sell 16/2.5 dogs per hour to break even -- ignoring all the other costs of doing business. Your oven can keep up with that rate of production, and so can the employee. You actually sell 24/hr. You're ok.

Now double the minimum wage to $15/hr. That makes the employee costs $30/hr. Now you have to sell 30/2.5 dogs per hour to break even. But you're only selling 24 per hour, and that's all your oven can handle or the employee can prepare. The employee is "pulling his weight" at $8/hr wage; he's falling behind at $15/hr, and there's nothing you can do to fix it that doesn't cost you even more money. Your solution: "warn them, give them a reasonable chance to improve and then sack them". But there is no way they can improve. "The beatings will continue until the morale improves."

Oh, but you just raise the price to cover the difference. Now you sell fewer than 24 per hour and you're falling further behind. But you're a company that's rolling in profit, right, so you can absorb the costs. No problem.

There is a fact that you cannot get around: there are just some jobs that are worth the current minimum wage but not double that amount. (I use that number because minimum is about $7.50 and the new expectation is $15 -- double.) Some are pretty close to breaking even at minimum wage. And I would expect that some are even losing money there, but the employer wants to support the community and can subsidize the loss from the output of other workers. Make the minimum wage too high and that won't happen. Jobs lost. Which you admit will happen.

So, a rhetorical question for you: is it better to have a minimum wage job that won't fully support your family or no job and no money at all?

Maybe it would be better to accept that the function of minimum wage jobs truly is to be entry level, and maybe the money should be spent on producing more living wage jobs, instead of trying to force employers to pay living wages for jobs that just can't support it.

Comment Re:I don't even like Uber but (Score 1) 607

No. Any jobs worth $15 before a minimum wage hike will also increase in pay grade, because otherwise why would people bother when an ostensibly easier job pays the same?

No. Who said the lower wage job was easier? Dug any ditches recently? If the $15/hr job was only worth $15/hr before the minimum wage went up, it will still only be worth $15/hr after.

Prices go up, wages go up across the spectrum

You have a remarkably interesting view of how prices and wages interact. Prices going up does NOT mean wages go up. If only that were true, then the skyrocketing price of gas in the last decades would have meant Nirvana for all the employed folks whose wages went up with it.

Some jobs are also likely lost to automation because the cost-reward ratio changes,

Try "a lot of the entry level jobs" go away.

That's very clearly and obviously not how economics works,

Uhhh, right.

or there wouldn't be any people between minimum wage and $15/h in the first place.

Because clearly there are no jobs that are worth between "minumum wage" and "$15/hr" today, so clearly nobody pays anyone anything in between those two numbers. Except for all those jobs that are $10/hr, $12/hr, etc...

Comment Re:two things I use Google's assistant for (Score 1) 78

You're not using "Google Voice VoIP" because that doesn't exist. You're using Google Talk/Hangouts/whatever it's called today. The relationship between the two is that GV can route calls to Google Talk, and Google Talk will use your GV number when making outgoing calls.

So, as this is a story about Google Voice, not Google Talk (or Hangouts etc) you can safely assume your setup is not affected by this at all. That doesn't mean it'll continue to work, just that this doesn't impact it.

Comment Re:Basic income (Score 2) 607

You missed option 4) Accept a slightly lower profit margin on the things you sell.

If I lose sales, I start operating at a loss. If I pay more for employees I start operating at a loss. That puts me back in the first three options, all of which means fewer jobs.

This ridiculous idea that every company is making huge profits and can afford to pay double for labor needs to stop.

Comment Re:I don't even like Uber but (Score 3, Insightful) 607

Well, time matters, too.

No, not really. You can spend 80 hours per week doing a job that returns $1000 in value to the company you work for, but you can't expect them to just hand you $1500 for your time. You have to do something that results in the money you get paid, it truly does not grow on trees.

If it order to pay flip burgers a living wage they have to raise the price of the burgers then so be it.

And when do you expect to get the raise that will allow you go buy the now more expensive product? Someone making $15/hr already who gets no raise when the minimum goes to $15/hr will be in serious trouble as the prices for everything that come from current minimum wage workers goes up to cover your largesse. I'm glad you have lots of excess cash now that you can spend on the more expensive products, but most people do not.

Comment Re:Progress (Score 1) 607

Home repair is getting easier for untrained people, but the big money for building trades is in new housing and major remodels. The latter require building permits and code inspections, which will always remain the baliwick of the construction trades simply because housing codes won't allow amateurs to do major work.

When amateurs do undocumented major construction projects you wind up with issues like the homeowners who bought a property with a small cottage in the back yard who wanted to improve it. Turned out there were no permits and no code inspections, and the cottage was too close to the property line AND was build on top of the city sewer lines.

Comment Re:Progress (Score 1) 607

Poor people who believe they can make the same living as their parents and grandparents with the same skillset.

It's not even that. Children grow up today expecting the things they are used to having, ignoring the fact that their parents had to work a long time to get those things. They don't understand that their parents probably lived in an apartment, saving for the down payment on a house for years before the kids were born. And probably the kids being born was a driving factor in actually getting a house. The kids grow up, move out, and expect to be able to buy a house right away.

Some of that is due to the ridiculous notions of "a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage" and that owning a house is some natural right. This is what led to banking regulations that forced banks to make loans to people who had no way to pay them back, and we know how that turned out.

Comment Re:Basic income (Score 2) 607

How does higher minimum wage make jobs disappear?

Let's consider this. I'm an employer who is making a product that is priced at a point where people actually buy it. If I raise prices, I lose sales.

Employees are a cost which is offset by the value they bring to the job. Unfortunately, the value they bring is, in this example, $12/hr. I pay them current minimum wage because by the time you include the other costs of that employee, you're up to $10/hr or more.

Now increase the minimum wage to, say, $15/hr. Their cost is now already $3/hr higher than their value to the company, and that's ignoring the increased employment taxes to go with the increased wage. I can't increase my prices to cover the increased cost, I'll lose sales. I have several options. 1) add more automation, cutting jobs. 2) use fewer employees to do the same jobs, cutting jobs but paying the lucky few who get overtime more. 3) go out of business (your obvious choice considering the next statement you make), costing a lot of jobs. Notice the common thread in those options: fewer jobs. In no case would the answer be "hire more of the more expensive employees, creating jobs."

If a company cannot afford to pay its employees a living wage with health care, then that company should not survive.

What an awfully naive view of the world. It is a fact that some jobs are just not worth $15/hr because they don't return $30/hr in value to the employer. Some jobs truly are "entry level" jobs, providing work experience to inexperienced and untrained entrants to the workforce.

We as a country need to stop accepting this BS situation where companies make huge profits

We as a country need to stop accepting this BS assumption that all corporations make huge profits.

If we raise the minimum wage, more US citizens will take those jobs that formerly didn't pay enough, so the undocumented workers will have trouble finding work and be less likely to come here.

If you are employing illegal aliens to work for you, then you are already breaking the law and most likely not paying minimum wage now. Why do you think that those employers will start paying minimum wage when minimum wage goes to ridiculous levels? In fact, jumping minimum wage to the point that employers cannot make any profit at all were they to pay it means there will be a higher demand for an undocumented workforce, not lower.

Comment Re:How about running real Linux apps too (Score 1) 69

I wouldn't say they're simple steps, and Crouton suffers from trying to run both operating systems at once, which can only be done by heavily patching the "guest" operating system, which in turn means only supported revisions of specific distributions are supported - and the only in some configurations. Want to run Cinnamon? Don't even try.

(There's also very little reason to suppose this provides any real benefits to users either. Why would you want ChromeOS if you're already running Ubuntu? ChromeOS is bare bones GNU/Linux with Chrome as the UI, and Chrome runs fine under Ubuntu.)

Crouton exists mostly because it's awkward to install a "real" Ubuntu instance on a Chromebook, and so the authors figured that maybe getting bits to Ubuntu to work under the already running ChromeOS kernel might be "good enough". It's an illustration of the problems with Chromebooks, not indicative that Google has some kind of solution to "Linux on the desktop".

I'm not saying Chromebooks are bad, or even that you shouldn't buy one to run Ubuntu/etc (but use chrx, and be aware that the experience of installation is suboptimal, requiring BIOS patches and barely documented control key combinations at boot) - they can run more open distributions of GNU/Linux, and if you like the hardware, then go for it. But this "Crouton proves its awesome" stuff is overblown. Crouton is a smart, interesting, hack to workaround a problem, but it's probably not going to deliver what the average "I want to run Fedora/Ubuntu/Mint/Debian/CentOS" Slashdot GNU/Linux user wants.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 69

I'm generally finding little difference in price between Chromebooks and low end Windows laptops - compare HP's "Stream" series, for example.

It's also a lot simpler to install Ubuntu et al on a cheap laptop built for Windows than on a Chromebook. I've done the latter, and it's an, uh, interesting experience. Having to patch the BIOS was my favorite part I think. Also awesome was the fact it forgets there's a partition with a non-ChromeOS operating system on it if the battery runs out, so you have to boot into ChromeOS and set a flag to remind it its there.

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