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Comment Re:Washing & reusing Ziploc baggies (Score 2) 55

I'm one of those thrifty bastards...almost.

I have a Sanyo Katana LX, purchased in January 2009. It still makes phone calls, it still sends and receives texts, and its battery lasts a week with the light use I give it.

I avoid upgrading for four reasons: 1) It's no longer subsidized by the major players. 2) Even a new flip phone costs a minimum of $100. 3) Both my wife and my brother-in-law gave me their old phones, so if mine is lost or broken, I have spares. and 4) I dislike the disposable culture of today, given that we cannot infinitely replace old electronics with a finite supply of building materials.

Comment Makes me curious to know... (Score 1) 348

I wonder what other contracts the government has with Google...

This lawsuit lists only one, the GSA's "Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions Contract", number GS07F227BA. Since it gives a contract number, we can actually reference it on a few different websites. I guess we can use the FPDS website to search for more contracts awarded to Google. ...

There's a million dollar contract for Google AdWords for the FDA, $250K awarded by the State Department for marketing its "Programs and Products", A lot of contracts by the BBG (who administers the "Voice of America" program)...Neat stuff!

Granted, I know that Google is the digital nexus of advertising online, but it still just feels a little disappointing how much of our tax money is going directly to them. (I suppose it pails in comparison, though, to other contractors like Lockheed Martin. Doing some more Googling (how ironic) seems to indicate that Google isn't even in the top 100. So I guess it's water under the bridge.

I wonder if I can find any contracts by the NSA...

Comment And this is why (Score 2) 295

I'm a fan of the USPS.

They make sure the package gets in your hands. If you're not home, they leave a ticket in your mailbox to pickup the package at the office, which is far less inconvenient then having a package stolen.

And if it's small enough to fit in a mailbox, sure, someone might take it. But it's a federal offense. And it's far less likely to happen when potential thieves can't see what's inside, as opposed to an inviting box sitting on one's doorstep.

Seriously, why did this even become a thing? Twenty years ago, I remember when a package that came by UPS or Fedex always had to be signed for and was never left on a doorstep.

Comment I understand your argument (Score 1) 533

You're saying that the value of a job isn't as important of the purchasing power created from its wages. And as I said, I generally agree that we have more purchasing power. You don't need to justify that point any further or defend it with an Economics 101 lesson. (While I'm not an economist, I am a mathematician, who, as such, is inclined to tell you that "you and ten people" is eleven people total, though your math indicates a labor pool of ten. Try not to fail mathematics when you argue mathematics.) Arguing about purchasing power being up when median income isn't is like a patient telling his doctor that he's not worried about his cholesterol levels because he exercises everyday and feels fit. In both cases, there are indications that things aren't as healthy as they seem.

I disagree that purchasing power alone, apart from job value, is the only metric worth evaluating. And you already gave the reason why: The existence of capital induces demand for products, which induces a demand for labor. Median income measures the strength salaries have to pay for products and services, which induces job creation. It matters significantly. So when lower-wage jobs replace higher-pay jobs*, when existing jobs producing the same product pay less to laborers, and when jobs move to overseas markets where labor is cheaper, less demand for labor is induced. Less demand for labor creates less demand for work, restricting access to capital among laborers, which restricts their access to goods and services, decreasing quality of life. All this happens, even if our purchasing power has risen relative to median income.

Also, I found your labor force statistics fascinating. Honestly. Though I'd like to know their source.

Finally, I don't disagree people want security, but they want it through a job. People find value in work. If you don't believe me, visit with some blue-collar workers, and listen to Mike Rowe's take on it.

* For example, manufacturing jobs are down, while Leisure and Hospitality jobs are up. It doesn't take an economist to tell you that they don't pay the same. And this is happening in labor pools across the country.

Comment Had been enjoying your perspective... (Score 1) 533

I was enjoying your perspective and your argument, up to the insult at the end. Too bad you had to discredit yourself with it.

Yes, many goods and services have gotten cheaper, though you omit the fact that others, including post-secondary education and health care costs, have risen sharply relative to inflation. And I generally accept your argument that purchasing power has steadily increased. Your summary of my argument was partially incorrect; I never said purchasing power has gone down.

I also don't understand why you think the clause "Someone else has told me" is important enough to bold it. These are economic figures from established agencies for which I have reasoned a valid point: If the value of production goes up this country, why doesn't median income? What people are able to do with the money they earn is irrelevant to the discussion, and only distracts from it.

You are just one drop of water in the ocean of our economy, and using yourself as an example to assert the strength of our national economy is not a valid metric. While you and I* may be doing well enough financially, many people aren't. It's those people that elected Trump to the presidency, and it's those people that currently have the strongest and most determined voice in our country. They're not earning $75,000. They're begging for jobs that would earn them even half that, but those jobs are disappearing. They don't want handouts. They just want a good day's salary for a hard day's labor. There are many reasons for why that's unobtainable, though one of them is that consumers like you and me have demanded with our dollars that prices for goods and services get cheaper, which have driven many of these production jobs overseas to cheaper labor markers.

* Congratulations on your good fortune. I'm earning $65,000 a year and also diverting a lot of money to debt elimination, including student loans, hospital bills for a child, and car payments. No "hot tubs and hookers", as you put it. I don't actually recall complaining in my post that I'm spending all my money and wishing I had more. I'm rather comfortable where I'm at; more would allow me to pay debts faster, save more, and enjoy more, but it's nothing that I envy.

Comment I appreciate using the correct Unemployment metric (Score 1) 533

But I also think it's important to include the value of the jobs that have been created. And for that, I turn to these metrics:

Median household income, which tells us that Americans have not been earning any more money than they had been earning a decade ago.

GDP per capita, which tells us that the value of what the average American has been producing has been rising steadily (adjusted for inflation) since 2009.

So, unemployment is nearly half what it was when Obama took office, but people aren't earning any more, despite them producing more. Begs the question...who's pocketing all that extra money?

Comment 100% Correct (Score 4, Informative) 278

And to add to the money side, there's banking, human resources (many farms use hired hands), filing and redeeming crop insurance...

The parent post best describes what farms currently are. My mom and dad can both talk about what it used to be like growing up on a farm; waking up at 5am, feeding livestock, cleaning pens, milking cows, their dads fixing the tractor and equipment, tilling, plowing, seeding, fertilizing, spraying, harvesting...and lots and lots of praying for good weather and a good harvest. But most of all, it was always a roller-coaster ride of two or three really good years, maybe including a boom year, followed by some break-even years, maybe including a few bust years, with never a guarantee that any year could make them money.

Those "family farm" days are disappearing. Farm sizes are growing, and the number of farmers are shrinking. But that's not to say that families still don't own their farms. Crops aren't rotated nearly as frequently. Livestock aren't kept on the side and graze the fields. Machines and automation have evolved, and farms now focus on one or two crops (or livestock) with greater efficiency. Farms have changed from labor-intensive diversified endeavors to an efficient, business-intensive farm.

My grandpa managed a 120-acre farm. Farmers around where I live talk about how they manage their 1,000+ acre farms. Automated machinery will just make these farms grow even larger and make it easier for farmers to own and farm more land.

Comment Yes, we do need regulation (Score 1) 333

Criminal litigation or civil lawsuits alone don't solve the problem. There are lots of criminals looking to capitalize on short-term opportunity, then close up shop before Lady Justice brings the pain. We need regulators who can actively sniff out fraudulent activity.

Otherwise, any fly-by-night company looking to make a quick profit will be happy to sell counterfeit Copper Clad Aluminum data cables, which can easily catch and spread fire, or cheap batteries that are also more fire prone, or toys with lead paint, or counterfeit medicines, and so on. It's like the snake oil salesmen of the time the townsmen realize they were sold an empty promise, the salesman has already packed the wagon and moved onto the next town.

Lawsuits only work on the Walmarts, business who aren't going away anytime soon.

Comment Wow (Score 3, Insightful) 50

I'm genuinely disappointed.

I've seen numerous internet articles showing the wide array and quality of Samsung campuses in South Korea, and I've always told my friends and coworkers to buy Samsung, because you're buying Korean, and you're voting for a company with a good track record of clean production facilities and high wages for workers.

I guess Samsung is just as bad as Apple. Or Nike. Or that company that built the Burj Khalifa. I wonder who built it... Khalifa...

Oh, wait...

Well, that just ruined my day.

Comment I wish it was obvious (Score 4, Insightful) 143

Unfortunately, it is not obvious to the majority of Americans. Most still believe the old wives tale that fat makes you fat, and sugar is healthy in moderation. Just as bad are those that think that HFCS is bad, but sugar is OK, because sugar is natural. There's also the naturalists, that shun HFCS and sugar, but are fine with honey, agave nectar, and fruit juices. The truth: it's all bad.

I myself drank a can of pop a day eight years ago. Then, after watching Dr. Lustig's Sugar: The Bitter Truth on YouTube, someone finally explained to me the science, and I understood. But, I must admit, I still like my soda. I'm down to three cans a week, though I wish I had more self control to make it only one a week.

Yes, we all die. But how do you want to get there, and how soon?

Comment There will always be distortion (Score 2) 1081

If we do a flat popular vote, then the will of the voters will be distorted to urban areas with greater concentrations of individuals who are easier to appeal to in large masses. If we maintain the status quo, we distort the will of the voters to swing states with statistically divided political opinions (most which are located in the Eastern US), and, to a lesser extent, rural areas. Since our government is a democratic republic, and our federal government was crafted to be the government of -these- united states, an election by the states seems a more fitting choice.

In addition, concentrating voting power within districts offers a mathematical advantage to the power of a single vote over a flat voting method. (Good examples: Florida with the 2000 election, or Wisconsin and Pennsylvania with this 2016 election.)

Now, I'd love to see an amendment that changes every state's electoral vote tally to Maine and Nebraska's method of 2 electors for the state winner, plus 1 elector per winner of each congressional district. It would need to be accompanied with subdivisions that 1) prevent gerrymandering, and 2) removal the actual electoral college, changing to a basic point system, to eliminate faithless electors.

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