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Comment Re:Populist Call (Score 1) 903

Your waters are muddy, but since I'm not sure if it's intentional, I'll assume the best of intentions. You left out the cost of service on the national debt, which is something like 200 Billion this year (I think I'm close), and that comes out of the general fund. SocSec and Medicare do not come out of the general fund, and are (in essence, and occasionally adjusted) paid by separately-funded income streams. Your fixation on the word "entitlement" is interesting, because these are the social safety net programs that see that those people who cannot provide sufficiently for themselves (or at all) are not burdening the earning power of their families or costing us all more by addressing that poverty in other ways... crime, unpaid bills, etc.

If you want to see the sick, old and severely disabled also suffer the indignities of absolute, irrevocable suffering, abject poverty and starvation, then by all means fight these "entitlements", but you'll be fighting the working people by encouraging unhealthy living conditions, and less social and economic mobility as they have to shoulder those costs by themselves in an environment where wages have been stagnant for 30 years.

I'll grant you that there must absolutely be people who are on SocSec disability who can and should be working, and any number of crooked ways that medicaid and medicare money is mis-spent or scammed away, but we also have a lot of old people in the country and a lot of them spent their money on their kids and their homes and cars and college all along the way through their earning years, and it's that long-term contribution to the economy in general that "entitles" them to the reassurance that the safety net brings.

So, yeah, "entitlements" account for a lot of spending, but that spending comes into being because of our social contract and because of the economic investment that citizens have made, more than the actual value of the specific payroll deductions that feed or have fed those funding streams.

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

Those same people in that 40% still pay social security and medicare taxes and all the regular fees of banking (if they have enough money for a bank account) are not discounted for them. Many in that same group have higher cost of capital in the event they need to borrow, and in the event that they don't have access to banking services, they have to use check-cashing or payday lending that takes away even more money in fees.

The people in that group frequently work for hourly wages at or slightly above the minimum wage, making something like an illness or injury even more costly in terms of lost income. Practically speaking, there is a tax on poverty. It helps sustain the cycle of poverty by reducing the ability to save money, develop assets and endure the economic effects of adversities that everyone experiences.

What's more, that same 40% is likely to have taxes withheld even if they are totally refunded, but they are also denied access to that capital throughout the year until they get their refund. Lack of access to their earned money denies that 40% the ability to use that money in more productive ways.

If the social fabric of the country could moderate the effects of these other economic factors, then perhaps something like a "fair tax" would be a lot more fair than it is. For example, re-opening the postal banking system such that cheap-or-no-fee accounts and low-interest (or subsidized interest) lending for postal accounts, and mandatory paid sick days for all wage-earners might be low-cost ways of growing services, reducing earning risk and the cost of capital.

Also, this notion that the very wealthy are more avid consumers the more they make just doesn't bear out. There are only so many houses, cars, boats and planes one can buy. Unused assets like houses, cars, boats and planes cost money simply to keep, and consumption hits a ceiling because one only has one ass to park in any one of those categories at a time. Wealthy households have fewer children, so there are fewer people in the family to spend asset money on in the first place. The relative utility of multiple physical assets drops away, which reduces the inclination to spend further. After that desire to spend goes away, the money sits in the bank or in semi-liquid securities where it does nothing for the economy. Philanthropy can take the place of traditional consumption spending, but it's not at the same scale as you see in the day-to-day consumption of a middle-class household. While wealthy households may demand more in services than poor households, they don't tend to buy services of increasing cost when their income grows. Proportionally, from an income-to-taxable-spending standpoint, the rich spend less than households at the poverty line, incur less risk and have an incredibly low cost of capital when they need to borrow. My point is that even if we were to strengthen the social fabric for those at the poverty line, the very wealthy would still not shoulder the same proportional burden as the lower income-earners under a "fair tax" scheme.

Comment Time capsule. (Score 1) 105

It's amazing. I haven't been to this website in YEARS. I saw a link to this story on Twitter, clicked on it... and I'm right in the middle of a "Why would you use Windows when you can use Linux" argument from 2002. Did I go through a wormhole or has nothing changed here in a decade and a half?

Comment Re:All too true (Score 5, Insightful) 266

I came here to say this, mostly.

I *know* that there are plenty of places in our software that I could spend an hour or two, and rewrite an algorithm to run in 1/5th the time. And I don't care at all, because the cost is too low to measure, and usually, performance bottlenecks are elsewhere.

Who really cares if I can get a loop to run in 800ns instead of 1500ns, when the real bottleneck is a complex SQL query 11 lines up that joins 11 tables together and takes 3 full seconds to run?

Comment Re:They'll probably need something like AEGIS (Score 1) 318

Depends on if your state allows destructive weapons. The ATF will register it as a destructive weapon. You pass a background check and pay your $200 tax and 6 - 9 months later you get a tax stamp in the mail and go buy your CRAM as long as you don't use explosive ammo you're go to go.

Comment Re:Umm, yes, it is an ad. (Score 1) 124

Like how NPR doesn't have ads, they have 30 second messages from "contributors".

I used to tolerate NPR's ads because they were short, all read by the same woman (with a nice soft radio voice), and infrequent. However I'd swear that in the last year they've increased the frequency and duration of them by at least 50% and changed voices to an unpleasant man's voice. I now mute the audio or switch stations when they come on.

I abhor advertising and refuse to partake in it, so I usually pay for services. However if something like NPR is going to run ads anyway, why should I continue to donate to them? If Google is going to shove ads at us, why should I pay for their Home device?

It used to be "free" or "ad-supported". Now companies want to double dip and make you pay to hear ads. Fuck that noise.

Comment Re:Good or not? (Score 1) 301

Without having commercials to teach you that companies consider you a never-ending open wallet, and that they WILL lie to you to get your money, will these Netflix-only kids grow up to be or more less naive about the honesty of other people and companies?

This may be true, but the flipside is that without growing up inundated with asinine commercials, they may also tend to be less tolerant of them overall. One could hope this would lead to trending away from commercials as a valid way of paying for entertainment. I've avoided TV and radio commercials for a decade and now find them utterly abhorrent.

Personally, I'd love it if we moved away from all advertising subsidization. It would lead to fair market prices for entertainment and services, as well as bringing back some sanity in the salaries for actors. With some luck we might even end up back where the user the customer instead of the product.

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