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Comment Re: Louisiana is one big sinkhole (Score 1) 307

Government doesn't actually have to set the price. They just cap the availability and an auction process sets the price. Cap and trade ends up being more flexible and responsive to market conditions than a flat rate pollution tax.

The government can manipulate the auction results via supply or reserve tranches of credits, (effectively at cheaper prices) for some nationally important industries or exempt small emitters (like you and your car) while requiring large emitters like an airline or rail conglomerate or a electrical utility to purchase the credits each year.

Comment Re:Hell No (Score 1) 1081

You are confusing voter fraud (voting multiple times or for other people) with election fraud (miscounting the votes or manipulating how inconvenient it is to vote) .

Realistically voter fraud is meaningless outside of the occasional small local off-year race where a few extra votes will matter.

What the EC does is make the votes of the vast majority of the country meaningless and hands it to a few voters in a few states. The EC is a relic that should have gone away decades ago.

Comment 1000x Yes (Score 2, Insightful) 1081

This is now the second time in 5 cycles where this has happened. National Popular Vote will actually make the two (or more) candidates campaign for every vote instead of trying to strategize about what counties in swing states will matter.

There are several other structural changes we ought to consider but eliminating the EC is an easy one and would be broadly popular.

Comment Quality and accountability (Score 5, Interesting) 587

There is simply a completely different type of employment culture in India than in the US. In the US we are used to interacting with a self-selecting group of immigrants who work really hard and often put up with a lot of stuff under H1 or other visa programs that American citizens wouldn't tolerate from employers.

Back in India though, there is a culture of treating employees like shit, and consequently a culture among employees of working as little as possible. Employers also don't screen candidates well for off-shore call centers and the like because if they are working on a large contract, all the accountability is based on metrics that can be manipulated and the US based business that contracted them probably only cares about reducing their costs.

My Indian and other immigrant coworkers work their asses off. The support teams I deal with in India can't even be bothered to show up to a phone call and are usually incapable of anything more than opening up a ticket with the software/hardware vendor directly.

Comment Re:Tax avoidance vs. Tax evasion (Score 2) 579

Not really. In the US, if you had a private letter ruling like this where the IRS blessed your tax avoidance scheme and a court later disagreed, you still owe the taxes and internet. You would probably be spared the penalties since you followed IRS guidance in good faith. The law firm you hired to work with the IRS, might owe you some kind of refund or indemnity from their insurer.

Comment Re:False says Irish Finance Minister (Score 2) 579

I believe the way this happens is similar to what in the US is called a "Private Letter Ruling"

Basically a business or individual wants to know if a particular tax or other business strategy, basically a loophole, is legal. So they hire a specialty law firm and pay them to document the plan and then send it to the IRS or another regulator. What they get back is an opinion by that regulator that what they are doing is legal or not. Its not binding in court though but it might protect you from penalties or criminal charges for tax evasion if a court later disagrees with the private letter ruling since you followed the best legal advice and regulator interpretations in good faith.

So what seems to have happened here is Apple had this complex tax avoidance scheme and was able to convince Irish tax officials to sign off that their interpretation is that this is legal. However what was really happening is that Apple was telling all the other EU tax authorities that revenue was being earned in Ireland and would be taxed there. Then they were being allowed to tell Irish tax authorities that most of it was being earned and taxed elsewhere simultaneously.

Fundamentally this is a dishonest deal and the EU is right to require that a corporation when filing its taxes is not allowed to create two alternate stories to document its revenue and profits whereby a large portion of it, $100B+ of profits in this case is not being taxed anywhere.

Comment Re:What happened to personal choice? (Score 1) 104

A contract doesn't override the law. The government decides what contract terms are enforceable in court. Also most of the drivers started driving before the arbitration clause was added. You may have noticed about a year ago that virtually every company you do business with as a consumer sent out a notice with an arbitration clause because they found a wording that the Supreme Court agreed with even though the Federal Arbitration Act was never intended to cover consumer and employee disputes, but only business-to-business disputes. The expansion of FAA was basically a conservative project begun decades ago, long before some of the authors ended up on SCOTUS.

Comment The use cases are narrow but legitimate (Score 1) 212

The bad part about lack of anonymity in our transactions is that Big Data actually gets us some reasonable legal use cases for privacy like why should my credit card company and everyone they share data with know what kind of porn I buy or what books I read or whether I go out to lunch often and who knows what kind of automated algorithms farther down the chain might do with that info like deny me employment surreptitiously.

I think unfortunately the cat is out of the bag in terms of protecting that kind of data from widespread sharing and mining. The only thing that we can really do now is legislate transparency in how its used (like credit reports) and prohibit discriminatory practices based on it.

Unfortunately financial privacy's primary use case is tax evasion, criminal purchases, and money laundering. I think it is better that we reform laws against consensual crimes like recreational drug use and respect freedom of speech/belief/press as a basic human right and not just count on bad laws being difficult to enforce.

Comment Get a warrant and I'll give you my pw (Score 3, Insightful) 367

I promise I'll give up my password when I get a warrant and verify it with my lawyer.

The only reasons for backdoors are to violate the 4th amendment with mass surveillance or for ephemeral keys that get destroyed like an encrypted chat or phone call but they should not have been recorded without a warrant in the first place.


The allegations about murder-for-hire were never proven in the court or even charged iirc. He was basically convicted for being in a criminal enterprise by running the marketplace. There are plenty of violent criminals who got far lighter sentences than Ulbricht for basically acting as an online middleman for illegal transactions.
IMHO, you could probably imprison the CEO of Ebay for being the biggest fence of stolen goods under the same theory.

Comment Re:The law is as broad as possible (Score 2) 76

The other issue concerns employee use of employer owned systems. There have been cases where employees have been prosecuted for violating a purely civil agreement between them and their employer about the systems they have access to.

In general the law should not criminalize a civil contract violation or in the case of EULA's and Acceptable Use policies, it is questionable whether they are even valid contracts. This is especially true when the law in question is very one sided in favor of big companies using the threat of prosecution against researchers and employees and customers. I can't get the FBI to prosecute Comcast for turning on their public Wifi network on my router, even though it does potentially violate the CFAA.

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