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Comment Re:The last thing anyone wants is their day in cou (Score 1) 96

Last time I was put under collection by a local newspaper, I went Willy Wonka on them.

"You REFUSED no less than four requests to cancel! You STOLE $20 off my credit card after repeated contacts to Support to cancel! You CEASED sending the paper after failure to bill the NEXT issue, and now you demand payment for services not rendered! You will remove the debt collection from my credit history, and you GET NOTHING! GOOD DAY, SIR!"

The performance was not your average court performance, but we weren't in court and they folded. I guess they realized I could legitimately get them into *real* court (not small claims) on damage to my credit history, and that I would *win* in less than six seconds, and that the court would have a four-page report regarding their conduct published as an opinion, and probably order them to pay me thousands of dollars in punitive damages for being bastards. It's ridiculous, but that happens when you engage in professional misconduct.

That was, however, several orders of magnitude less complex than any court case I've seen--probably because no sane lawyer would let their client take something like that to court. Jack Thompson might.

Comment Re: Read again - reality is fixed for transfer (Score 1) 181

Sales taxes have been proposed and supported as a way to "make the rich pay their fair share". They use the argument that food is excluded, thus it's a progressive tax because poor people have little luxury. Many states and even some cities have sales taxes.

The proponents are, frankly, delusional. It has been shown that people with higher incomes save more; unless you want to charge sales tax on capital gains or on mutual funds and savings accounts, there is a large chunk of money not being spent on sales-and-use. That means, for all intents and purposes, those of us sacking hundreds of thousands away, the Warren Buffets, the Donald Trumps, the people who put 60% of their money into savings, from middle-class up to ultra-rich, we all get to avoid much more of our taxes.

They say, "Well, the rich can't hide their money over seas, because a sales tax applies on everything!" How does it apply to the $32 trillion bank accounts hidden over seas?

So, no, the Federal Government doesn't have sales tax; but some idiots have proposed it.

Comment Re:Why encourage them? (Score 1) 181

What happens when Apple just moves operations to Canada or Ireland, leaving the 13,000 employees in Cupertino out a collective $2 billion flowing into the U.S. from global sales? Do you still demand they pay taxes in America, somehow, on their Irish HQ?

Apple has hundreds of billions of dollars sitting in a bank account. It can spend $100,000 to move an employee's family from the United States to Ireland, and drop $1.3 billion. The whole workforce, up and gone. Ireland would probably outright waive taxes on Apple Inc for a decade, since $2 billion of global income would be flowing straight into the hands of 13,000 workers residing in Ireland, spent right into their economy, fully taxable and job-creating.

Cupertino would turn into Detroit overnight. Ireland would take note of America losing $2 billion of economic resources and the amazing impact on their economy and extend the tax waiver for all eternity, with a historical account of how this got put into effect stapled to every copy of the document and handed out as mandatory reading to every official who got voted into office until the end of time.

Comment Re:Read again - reality is fixed for transfer (Score 5, Informative) 181

In 2014, corporations paid income tax accounting for under 10% of all taxes and 20% of all income taxes (Excluding OASDI). If you include OASDI payroll and wage taxes, corporations paid 23% of all taxes and 38% of all income+OASDI taxes.

Sales taxes, payroll taxes, and wages are paid by the consumer. These through some manner increase the cost of products directly. Income taxes skim the top: a business barely-getting-by doesn't pay income taxes. That is to say: If I pay $250,000 to employee wages, have $50,000 of other expenses, and have $310,000 of revenue, I pay income taxes on $10,000; if my operations grow 10x in size, I have $3,100,000 and pay taxes on $100,000. If I'm paying 10% on payroll, I've suddenly got to pay taxes on $250,000--and $25,000 of taxes! To compensate, I'll need more revenue; and to make more of whatever I'm supplying, I'll need more employee work time, meaning more wages, and more taxes on those wages. Basically, it means my prices have to go up by $15,000 for me to break even.

That doesn't mean a 40% business income tax is desirable. Business income taxes were $274 billion in 2013, SOMEHOW. Taxable business income was $2,090 billion, and wages were $7,633 billion. Wages would have about $1,700 billion of standard deductions, and total is $12,427 billion, so businesses would have under $1,100 billion in deductions in total.

Because it's so little, I typically ignore it as an accounting smudge. Business tax reform patently doesn't matter, and I am more interested in knocking down payroll taxes to produce the effect of lowering wages without lowering the amount of money that people actually take home. Sales taxes (and any form of VAT) also need to go away.

Comment Re:If a cigarette doesn't "smoke", is it harmful? (Score 3, Interesting) 304

Counterpoint. This is only the largest study; there are a lot of less-interesting studies that try to reproduce a lot of studies which, as you pointed out, do exist and do show a lot of good data that second-hand smoke causes health issues. My problem is with this:

the vast preponderance of evidence points one way, and it's not the way you say it does.

There *is* a vast preponderance of evidence pointing one way, in the same way that there's a vast preponderance of evidence that video games make kids into murderers or that homosexuality can be cured by therapy akin to torture. There's also a significant failure rate in reproducing those same studies; a full examination of the evidence shows only weak statistical linkage, if any.

I actually rewrote that claim multiple times before posting. It would be incorrect to say that second-hand cigarette smoke has been shown *not* to cause any health effects, in spite of the rather large and statistically-sound study released recently; it has *not* *reliably* been shown to cause any health effects. There is no overwhelming body of evidence; there is a lot of difficult analysis that's hard to control for, and a lot of outcomes that don't reproduce well. The level of certainty is about even with chance.

There is also a lot of evidence that high-carbohydrate diets (above 40% of calories) cause arterial build-up, and high-fat diets do not. The original consensus is based on flawed statistics, and current studies don't yet reconcile a concrete position.

There is also emerging literature suggesting AHA-recommended levels of sodium cause heart attacks. Below 1350mg/day will likely cause your heart to stop (too much potassium will do this, too); while high levels of sodium (up to 6,000mg/day) have no detrimental effect after about 3 days. Your kidneys release hormones to restore homeostatic balance and pump all that sodium out of your blood, but it takes a few days and you have high blood pressure until then. Keeping people on diets long-term is hard, and flaky; modern research looks at high-sodium-intake societies and compares heart attack rates with low-sodium-intake societies, which has its own problems.

The thing is we have cancer groups, the USDA, CDC, and AHA ignoring new literature and doubling-down on old literature. We also have economists contradicting the BLS on things like minimum wage. Every large organization takes a position and uses evidence to back it up; the whole of evidence necessarily outpaces them, because shifting your position as a large entity requires a much stronger degree of certainty than doing it as a small entity.

Comment Re:If a cigarette doesn't "smoke", is it harmful? (Score 1) 304

There are a lot of studies that support that, and a lot that show no link. Collecting all of one type or another can let you show that vaccines cause autism, for example.

Then there's a decade-long study of 76,000 women, the largest one in history, that attempts to single-handedly get a definitive answer (it doesn't work that way, but this is pretty strong evidence).

Comment Re:Always question a study... (Score 2) 304

If not, then it sounds like the solution is to regulate the industry to only permit safe(r) products, along with studies so that safe(r) is based on the best known facts at any given time.

There are good and bad forms of regulation; it's not a matter of more or less. Regulation goes out of date, either becoming inadequate or hindering beneficial actions.

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