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Comment Re:Behind the curve (Score 4, Insightful) 1040

A 5% increase in the minimum wage could easily be 20% increase in costs.

This is mathematically nonsense. Even if a business's costs come 100% from employee wages (a mythical business that pays no rent, has no equipment, no licenses, no worker training, etc.), a 5% increase in wages is... a 5% increase in costs.

That is the worst-case scenario. You are correct that small businesses don't have the level of efficiency of Walmart - payroll is probably going to be a higher fraction of total cost. The healthcare and the service industry tends to have the worst fraction, with about 50% of costs being payroll. That includes benefits, but if we ignore that for the moment and assume it's all wages, and wages get increased 5% you're still looking at a worst-case increase in costs of 2.5%.

Comment Re:Behind the curve (Score 2, Informative) 1040

Because wages are generally only a fraction of the cost of goods sold, raising wages doesn't result in anywhere near as much of an increase in prices. Raising Walmart's minimum by ~50% would result in 1.1% price increases.

My guess would be that a large chunk of the workforce having significantly more spending money would help most companies sell *more* product, even with a minor price increase. Why doesn't Walmart just up it's wages, if it's such an obviously good idea? It still has to compete with others who probably won't follow suit. The only way to ensure a level playing field is to set a general minimum wage that applies to everyone - and set it high enough that full-time employees can actually afford the goods and services needed to survive (and maybe even participate in the economy a bit beyond that). The Walmart CEO himself asked Congress to do this in 2006.

Comment Re:Off-topic Maybe (Score 2) 411

"Yet another wannabe C++ killer"? You say that like Objective-C is some new kid on the block that is out gunning for C++. Neither of those is true - Objective-C has been around as long as C++ and nobody is trying to use it to take out C++. In fact, they work together quite well (even in the same source files) should you need to do so. I do agree that Swift will probably ultimately be Apple-only, but that's the status quo with Objective-C and doesn't seem to have caused a serious lack of developer attention so I don't see that as an issue.

Comment Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (Score 2) 190

That's kind of the point - government services are (should be) to the benefit of society as a whole, and since we all live together in society, we all reap the benefits even when it isn't immediately obvious. People without children may complain their taxes fund schools - but those schools allow them to live in a society where even the poor are educated enough to have decent prospects (instead of falling to desperation and crime), where employers can expect a decently educated workforce, etc. Even if you're a rich man driving a private limo everywhere (in the strict, immediate sense a non-user of public transport), public transportation reduces traffic for you, reduces pollution for you, and ensures that the poors who shine your $1000 shoes can get from home to their shoeshine stations.

Comment Re:Time to become a better shopper (Score 1) 211

If Wal-Mart raised wages and benefits, that cost would translate directly to higher prices, shifting the burden of the subsidy from the top third to the bottom third, income-wise.

That cost would come out in the wash. You conservatives and libertarians love to claim any rise in the minimum wage will translate to an equivalent rise in prices - as if a 25% wage increase would mean a 25% increase in prices. Anyone with half a brain knows this is bullshit FUD, because wages are only a fraction of a product's price. Raising Walmart employees' wages to $12.50/hr would result in price increases of 1.1% (or $12 per year for the average shopper). I'm pretty damn sure the bottom third would love to trade 1.1% higher pieces for a >1.1% wage increase.

Comment Re:Time to become a better shopper (Score 1) 211

Face it: hatred for Wal-Mart is a tribal identification thing, not a rational economic argument.

What an idiotic statement. Was hatred of Standard Oil irrational? Allowing a monopoly to control a market has the potential to be efficient (at least in the short term) but ultimately consumers lose when choice and competition disappear.

Comment Re:Well, of course. (Score 1) 437

Trusting strangers for help isn't remotely dangerous. 99.99% of people will do nothing to harm a random child (do you really think there's a pedophile on every street corner waiting for his opportunity to abduct a kid? Muggers ready to steal the large amounts of cash children carry?). But regardless all that, if we ignore that the majority of such situations will be short local rides (replacing that walking or biking to school/friend's house with an autonomous ride) any parent who sends their kid on a 3 hour drive somewhere alone should only do so if they know the child has the maturity level and experience to handle it, which is no different than the current situation of sending their kid alone anywhere on foot, on bike, or on public transport. And it's easy for a patent to ensure the kid has a way to communicate in case of a problem (cell phones are cheap, and I doubt any automated cars won't have a cell/data link). People used to let their kids roam all over town on their bikes without half the safety that modern technology and automated systems provide, and society did not collapse. If you don't trust your kid to handle it, don't send them.

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