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Comment Re:Landlords are not middle class (Score 2) 106

I made less than $50K last year. Your definition of upper class would include me, and that's ridiculous.

Time for a bit of introspection, I think.

No, the idea that someone who makes $50k per year should be considered "upper class" is indeed ridiculous, no introspection required. A person is not "upper class" just because they make their money from real estate. To be sure. deriving wealth from investment rather than from working for an employer is part of the definition, but there are other aspects to consider. For one thing, the income has to be significantly above average, which is not the case here. Historically speaking, one's family background played an even larger part than wealth in determining one's social status—a merchant might be wealthier than the average aristocrat, but would still not be considered "upper class" for the simple reason of not being born into the aristocracy.

Comment Re:How to make your Rights illegal. (Score 1) 249

So you can make a case that that falls under the promoting the general welfare clause and has federal merit.

You mean the "general welfare clause" that serves only to constrain Congress's "Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises"? The one that doesn't empower the government to do anything other than raising funds? That general welfare clause?

The Department of Education has nothing to do with taxes, duties, imposts, or excises, so the general welfare clause is completely irrelevant. If you want to justify its existence as a federal program you'll need to find a different enumerated power. Your best bet would probably be "To regulate Commerce ... among the several States", but only to the extent of standardizing what it means to claim a certain level of education.

Comment Re:I didn't need a smartphone for a tech accident (Score 1) 343

... but it does show that officer judgement should be a factor.

No, what it shows is that it should not be possible to be convicted of a DUI unless you were actually driving, regardless of the judgement (or lack thereof) of any officers in the vicinity. The fact that the vehicle's transmission was in Park should be an absolute defense against any accusation that you were driving under the influence. If an officer sees someone impaired in a parked vehicle and worries that they might start driving under the influence they are welcome to stick around until the person actually does start driving and only then charge them with a DUI. No one is being endangered so long as the vehicle remains stationary.

Comment Re:Mapping vs real-time (Score 1) 68

[A few months], surely, isn't enough time for rigorous testing.

The frequency of updates says little about how much testing each update received. Perhaps that latest update has been in testing for a year alongside several other versions staged for release over the next few quarters. Also, quite a bit of regression testing can be done with previously recorded sensor data before the software comes anywhere near an actual car.

Comment Re:America! (Score 1) 341

The whole point is to make the competition somewhat unfair. You should [show?] what someone who doesn't have a profit motive, but instead a public service motive would do.

Changing the motivation does not make the competition unfair. Granting one service provider special treatment and legal privileges not available to other providers of similar services makes the competition unfair.

A co-op is managed for by the benefit of its members/customers, not outside investors, and would thus serve just as well while maintaining a level playing field with commercial service providers. The options are not limited to investor-driven corporations and governments.

Comment Re:America! (Score 1) 341

The way you structure things like this is that the municipality ... builds out the physical infrastructure, and then you allow multiple content providers ... access to that infrastructure.... The network is very reliable, the service is extremely affordable, and there is real competition.

I can believe that there is real competition between Internet gateways, but in this scenario the city itself holds a privileged position as the provider of the infrastructure—by far the largest part of a local ISP's capital investment. The separation is beneficial, to be sure, but there is no need for the city to supply the network. Unless there is special treatment (i.e. corruption) involved, a co-op could handle that part just as well as the city can, and competition among local network providers is just as important as competition over peering and transit.

Comment Re:America! (Score 2) 341

Not at all. You create a municipal internet, and you still allow everyone else to compete with it.

Fair competition is only possible so long as the municipal ISP doesn't receive any special treatment, such as favorable regulation, access to municipal easements, tax subsidies, municipal bonds, etc. At that point, why make it part of the municipal government at all? An internet co-op could do exactly the same thing without all the conflict of interest.

Comment Re:Taxes are for dummies (Score 1) 903

... is only making half of the "average American" by the measure most people probably think of (add up how much we all make and divide by number of people, i.e. mean income).

That's just bad statistics. When you speak of the "average" member of a population, as in the phrase "average American", the measure you want is always the median, not the mean. You can talk about "mean income" all you want but that has nothing to do with the "average American".

What SHOULD be surprising is that most Americans are making less than half of the [mean income].

I don't find it surprising at all, actually. The development of stable wealth is a process that requires saving and investing over the course of multiple generations, which runs counter to the current popular mania for expecting individuals to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. At it stands, those who come from families which did not suffer from this particular mania tend to be vilified as "the 1%". If the 99% truly desire equality they ought to be learning a thing or two from the 1%, not trying to destroy what the 1% have accomplished through discipline and foresight. There is nothing "unfair" or immoral about wanting to give your own children a better start in life than you had for yourself. If more people thought that way the distribution would not be so uneven.

But if you want to hoard all the money, be prepared to pay for everything, because nobody else can.

It's not about the money. The wealthy don't tend to hold all that much money, as a matter of fact—they hold investments. What this is really about is the capacity for production, a.k.a. capital, and the mindset which creates and nurtures it. More than that, it is about those who spent their savings on short-term consumption envying the rewards earned by those who invested in the capital which enabled their consumption, and vilifying and punishing the investors for having the audacity to produce the goods they demanded at prices they were willing to pay. In the end, seizing the investors' capital will not change the consumers into investors. The capital will simply fall into disrepair, consumed by an ungrateful public for a short-lived gain.

Comment Re:So you exclude half the taxes and what you get? (Score 1) 903

I think you're conflating marginal and effective tax rates here.

Thanks, but no. The top marginal rate in Iowa is exactly 8.98% for $69,256 and above. In my example you'll note that I only used 7% (32% - 25%), which is the effective Iowa income tax rate for an annual income of around $100k.

Your estimate at $71k was quite low, by the way. For that income you'd pay $4,532 or 6.4%, not 2.9%. You can find a list of the brackets here: State taxes: Iowa.

Comment Re:Taxes are for dummies (Score 1, Flamebait) 903

But as a percent of income the rich buy less, thus paying less taxes.

No, they're still paying more taxes. Far more, in most cases. The fact that those taxes make up a lower fraction of their income does not mean they are paying less taxes than those with lower income. Compared to the value they get for those taxes, which does not vary much from one individual to another based on income, they are significantly overpaying. Moreover, that portion they don't spend on taxable goods is being invested, which does far more good for society than one could reasonably expect to result from handing it over to the government. You're proposing to seize those "excess" earnings and distribute them as a handout, which at best would just drive up prices, instead of allowing the funds to be invested in finding new ways to improve the efficiency of production and make the goods people need even more affordable. Punishing saving and investment in particular is a lousy way to help the average citizen, ensuring that the next generation will be worse off than its predecessors.

Comment Re:So you exclude half the taxes and what you get? (Score 1) 903

I live in a European country. I pay 25% sales tax, a 40% income tax... If I was an American I'd be paying 25% income tax and 0-10% sales tax depending on where I lived.

That 25% is federal income tax only. Many states have their own additional income taxes. For example, in Iowa the top marginal rate (at ~$70k) is over 8%, which puts the total over 32% before payroll and sales taxes. Payroll taxes (effectively a second federal income tax) add another 12% for a total of 44%. Then, out of the 56% or so of your earnings they have graciously left you, you get to pay sales and property taxes and fuel taxes and annual vehicle registration fees, etc.

I do not doubt that there are many countries in the world with higher taxes than the U.S., for various reasons, though this study is overlooking too many forms of taxation to properly support that conclusion. However, for a country not founded on the principle that the government ought to be intricately involved in providing for the everyday needs of ordinary citizens, the amount taken remains far too high. Reasonable levels of national defense and law enforcement and a basic "safety net" do not require fully half of all income to be diverted from producers to the state.

Comment Re:Nice job . . . (Score 1) 421

(assuming your home gateway is firewall setup to passthrough to those addresses on whatever port they use for command and control, which can be done automatically via NAT-PMP or UPNP)

Or you could just leave those ports open in the first place and not try to filter incoming connections at the gateway, which would have exactly the same effect as allowing devices to open their own ports automatically with none of the complexity.

If a device doesn't want to deal with incoming connections it should just leave the port closed, which has the same effect as blocking the connection at the gateway. If it does allow incoming connections it should employ proper authentication and encryption suitable for public networks, even if the source appears to be on the local intranet—failing to do so allows attackers to leverage control over one vulnerable device to infect another. If an admin wants to maintain control over incoming traffic they'll have to manually configure the allowed addresses and ports either way.

The firewall still serves a purpose. It should be on the lookout for malformed traffic and spoofed "local" source addresses, for example, and some admins will want to exercise manual control. Blocking incoming connections only until some device asks nicely with a UPNP request, however, serves no useful purpose. If you're willing to let your intranet device decide what ports to open, just make sure that incoming requests follow the proper protocols—no underhanded tricks—and let the devices accept or reject connections on their own.

Comment Re:The government won't enforce this new law eithe (Score 1) 128

The current ruling ... is that crossing the boarder is probable cause

Nonsense. That would mean that these searches are more likely than not to turn up evidence of illegal behavior sufficient to justify the search. Since there are far more people crossing the border than instances where they actually find something worth prosecuting, the mere fact that one is crossing the border cannot be probable cause.

In any case, having probable cause is only the first step in the process. After determining that probable cause exists, and supporting that cause by oath or affirmation, they still have to obtain permission (i.e. a warrant) to conduct the search. No warrant equals no legal authority. Per the 4th Amendment, any warrant must describe the particular place to be searched and/or the particular persons or things to be seized. No branch of government has the power to pre-authorize searches of all devices at the border, because that would be an unconstitutional warrant.

The phrase "warrantless search" is really quite misleading. If the search was truly warrantless it would mean that the border agent was acting without any claim to legal authority. What is really going on here is not "warrantless searches" but "unconstitutional warrants". These border agents claim to have been given legal authority to search your property, which is what a warrant is. However, that warrant does not meet the constitutional requirements due to being over-broad and lacking in probable cause, and was thus illegally issued.

Comment Re:What is "rent seeking" (Score 1) 307

Merely owning an apartment building, however-- where the value comes from the apartment itself, not the maintenance-- is not "providing a service."

Sure it is. Letting someone else use your apartment is every bit a service.

No voluntary arrangement can properly be considered rent-seeking. If there weren't some value added no one would choose to pay the rent. Only arrangements based on force can be rent-seeking, at the hands of either a government or some other form of criminal organization.

Comment Re:Ugly legal implications of "circumventing DRM" (Score 1) 126

What does "freedom to tinker" have to do with the Cleanflicks case? If we're going to have a copyright system at all, in any form whatsoever, then prohibiting the creation of unauthorized derivative works for commercial gain has got to be the #1 item on its agenda.

Prohibiting the creation of derivative works is far from the main purpose of a copyright system. If anything, it's a harmful and unintended side-effect, inhibiting rather than encouraging the creation of new (even if not entirely original) creative works. The only thing copyright is supposed to do is ensure that the copyright holder gets paid for any new copies. Copyright is not intended to allow the copyright holder to control how a copy is used once it's been sold; this is the principle commonly known as the First Sale Doctrine. Derivative works are controlled only because it's otherwise difficult to decide what is or is not a "copy"—ideally it would be proportional to the degree to which the derivative substitutes for the original. However, Cleanflicks didn't divert any revenues from the original copyright holder; they purchased a fresh copy of the original for every edited version they sold. From the copyright holders' point of view, the end result was no different than if the customer had bought the unedited version and fast-forwarded through the "bad" parts, aside from the customers' convenience. There is no argument whatsoever that they were harmed by Cleanflicks' actions. If anything, the copyright holder gained more revenues from customers who would never have been interested in the unedited version.

I support freedom to tinker with things you own, but you don't own the copyright to the movies you watch.

Pick one. The freedom to tinker—or more generally, the right to use your property as you wish without interfering with others' equivalent rights to use their property—is fundamentally incompatible with copyright. Either you are actually free to tinker with the things you own, potentially including using them to make copies of arbitrary data in your possession and giving or selling those copies to others, or a legally privileged class of copyright holders get to decide how you are allowed to use your property despite the fact that your use of your property does not and cannot in any way impede their use of their "property", which is non-rivalrous by nature.

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