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Comment Re:Awesome. (Score 1) 1124

Of course they do. Who does more for the economy: a worker at home in bed from a treatable condition, or that worker going to his job? Hmmm.

I could do a line-by-line "rebuttal" as you have done, but I simply ask you to consider this:

Who would be better motivated to do better and more work, a worker whose livelihood depends on how good a job he does, or one whose livelihood (or at least the "right" to live as well as anyone else does) is guaranteed either by the government or the union, regardless of what he does?

That's the whole premise of the argument between socialism and libertarianism (oh, that and the whole question of fundamental liberty, but that's philosophy; nothing practical about it).

Socialism tries to ignore human nature. Libertarianism tries to work with existing human nature. It's up to you to decide which is a more ... practical endeavor. I've decided long ago that I shouldn't try to ignore the reality as socialists do.

P.S. BTW, even with all the supposed de-regulation, the U.S. financial sector was far, far from being "free market". For one, legislations like CRA practically forced mortgage lenders to take bad loans (I'm not talking about "minorities" specifically, I'm simply talking about those who couldn't afford the houses they bought). And even when we suppose that CRA had no bad unintended consequences on the financial sector, at this point we shouldn't spend public money on "bailout", because apparently some banks still managed to make good investments and they can carry us through. If anything, we should encourage (not pressure), deals like Chase's buyout of WaMu and keep government hands (and public funds) out of these purely private endeavors.

Comment Re:Awesome. (Score 1) 1124

Now explain why government spending on military ventures (WWII) CAN fix the economy, yet government spending on anything else (roads, new technology (Internet anyone?), electrical grid, R&D, universities (GI Bill anyone?), city infrastructure, etc. etc.) CAN'T fix the economy.

I didn't say WWII "got us out of Depression". I only said that it shook things up.

Truth be told, if there had been no New Deal or WWII, i.e. no government intervention and obstruction, the "Great Depression" would have been little more than a good sized recession. After all, nothing substantial actually had been destroyed (at least before WWII); it was just a stock market crash.

Those who lost jobs would have eventually found jobs somewhere (maybe in a different field, maybe with some paycut; but that's all part of reallocation of resources), much sooner if government hadn't crowded out all the private investments.

Perhaps I should be careful in saying that government can never help the economy. I mean to say that the government action can never help the economy in long term, and that even the short term benefits of "stimulus spending" is overrated (as New Deal has shown in how long Great Depression lasted, even though it was supposed to fix it).

Comment Re:Awesome. (Score 1) 1124

Suppose I agree (I don't) that New Deal was what got America out of Great Depression (it wasn't; it was the whole shake-up with WWII). And suppose that I completely agree with the goals of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Suppose all these programs are God's finest gift to men. Suppose these socialist programs are the best thing ever happened to United States of America.

From those (preposterous) suppositions, does it follow that because a little socialism was good, a whole lot of it would be better?

No. U.S.S.R. proved the contrary nearly 2 decades ago.

I do think government should provide some things to some people at the expense of others, if nothing else just because we live in softer times. I do think that government should provide "safety nets" so that people don't starve. So that people don't die of horrible diseases easily treatable only if they had a little bit of money. These things don't help the economy or promote general welfare (as defined by amount of "wealth" in the society), but we can afford to be generous to those too ... lazy to lift themselves up. (And before you argue that Social Security is paid for by its beneficiaries, I'm talking only about those who put hardly anything into the system and yet receive some minimum pension.)

But, just because these things make the society look nicer doesn't mean we should argue for even more socialism. Just because the government should make sure no one starves doesn't mean it should make sure everyone has a car or even a computer. Just because the government should ensure some sort of health care for those who can't afford any doesn't mean it should set up a national health care system that answers to no one (or, one that is as responsive and responsible as, say, your local DMV).

Just because a little socialism was good (and I would argue against even that) doesn't mean we should have more socialism. There is wisdom in moderation in everything.

Comment Re:Fucking Democrat fags. (Score 1) 1124

You know, you are right. I actually read Atlas Shrugged and agreed with most of what was in the novel and shed a few tears here and there as well.

But that speech was so long I skipped past it after reading, oh, what 10 paragraphs of it or so?

I plan on getting an audiobook version and listening to it, but I am not sitting down and reading that radio speech from beginning to the end.

Comment Re:Awesome. (Score 1) 1124

I'll root for America to succeed, you root for it to fail, and we'll see who wins in 2010 regardless of what happens.

It's not a matter of someone wishing America to go belly up against someone wishing America to soar like eagle.

It's a matter of what is (something Clinton had trouble defining, BTW). As far as history has shown, socialism (and if Democrats are in charge, that's the way we are going) has never been good for economy, at least not of large powerful countries like U.S. (small countries often can get away with a lot of economically bad things because they are dependent on foreign nations anyway). So, we conservatives (or at least libertarians, I couldn't care less about social conservatives) say that if Democrats get their wish, it will be bad for the country, and what GP said is that when that happens, he wants Democrats to own up to their mistakes rather than passing the blame off as they have with CRA.

On the other hand, if the economy benefits from the socialist policies passed by Democrats, then, well, it will be a shock to most economists and we will have learned something new. Maybe human nature has changed or the main drivers of economic forces changed. Something that wouldn't have been true 200 years ago would have become true, if that happened.

But, let's wait to see that happen. Until then, I'll side with those who say socialist policies don't benefit the economy, but that doesn't mean I wish for America to suffer (after all, I am an American; when America suffers, I suffer). It does mean I think, based on all the facts and what happened before, if Democrats get their socialist policies enacted in such a large country as U.S. our economy will suffer (not that I want it to).

I am simply being realistic.

Comment Re:Anti-Copyright? (Score 1) 554

No, that's not the case. Stallman is pretty clear on this point. Going back to his original reason for creating GNU (the infamous printer incident at MIT), the core point has always been to create an environment in which software authors are encouraged to start from pieces which enforce good citizenship, which by his definition (no judgment, here) is defined as providing source and allowing modification.

Perhaps this will go nowhere with us outsiders talking about it back and forth, but if you follow his anecdote through, it wasn't (necessarily) that the printer driver didn't come with sources. It was that when he found someone who had a copy of the source, and he asked for it, he said he couldn't share it because he agreed not to.

To the extent that copyright is used to prevent spreading of such knowledge—so that even those who do have access to the source and are willing cannot share it—FSF must be against copyright (and it doesn't make a difference as far as its mission goes whether copyleft dominates the world or copyright (at least on technical materials as software) is abolished).

Now, as far as secrets (such as source code) can be kept without copyright protection, namely, trade secret and all those NDAs, I frankly don't know which way FSF would go. Copyleft doesn't help in this case (after all, since it's secret how is anyone going to know whether copylefted material has been used? Enough changes in the code, and the traditional methods to spot GPL violation may not work), and copyright doesn't matter.

Until we see an authoritative source saying clearly one way or another, i.e. whether FSF would have no copyleft or copyright at all than copyright balanced with copyleft, it's just a speculation—speculation based on more than 20-year old anecdote that some say are not factual anyway.

P.S. One could argue that we should do away with copyright and outlaw NDAs ... but I feel that outlawing of something like a nondisclosure agreement would be outright unconstitutional with its infringement on the freedom of contract.

Comment Re:Anti-Copyright? (Score 1) 554

the FSF would have been happy to lose the protection of the GPL by copyright on software being abolished. Indeed, I believe that is still the case, but I don't speak for the FSF.

Well, I don't speak for FSF either, but I will say that I support FSF because I also believe that FSF would rather see copyright (at least ones on software) abolished than to keep its leverage of copyleft.

If I ever see evidence that's not the case, well, FSF would lose my support.

Comment Re:Anti-Copyright? (Score 1) 554

If that's the case, then why don't they use a BSD-like license? Because that's all they will have if copyrights are eliminated -- anyone can take FSF code, modify it, and lock away their modifications.

Because BSD-like license will not motivate the big players to abolish copyright. The only way to get traditional backers of copyright to oppose copyright on certain things is to poison it—and copyleft is exactly that. If enough software libraries and tools are under copyleft, and the big players want to use them without putting their own work under copyleft (or paying for separate license, if such option is available), then the only way is to abolish copyright.

Using BSD-like license (which is little better than just putting it in public domain) will just let the big players keep trampling on you.

Comment Re:Missing option: (Score 1) 913

This, really, is the whole point. You take as your assumption "small government is better just because" whereas most people take as their assumption "government should do the most good for the most people."

Er, no. It's "small government is better (for everyone)" versus "government should do what the most people demands".

And you know what? The government (or the elite that does the governing) should know better than hoi polloi. What the public demands often is not what is good for them—and high taxation of "the rich" falls into that category.

The argument libertarians and free market advocates make is that "free market" is the option that does the most good for the most people (in fact all the people), as well as those who have the initiative to earn their money. (Note, we don't support government subsidies or contracts—we think there should be less of that too.)

So far, the only argument I heard is how people feel jealous and that makes them "unhappy". You know, I would bet those studies and surveys that "found" this trend were probably badly designed—hampered by political bias of whoever that ran them. They probably didn't mention the downside of being the person who makes $20,000 in a society where everyone else makes $10,000 compared to being the person who makes $30,000 in a society where everyone else makes $80,000.

I, for one, am glad that there are rich people who make the stuff I enjoy using. I am glad that someone made money developing DVDs, high-storage hard drives (who could've thought of a portable 500 GB hard drive 30 years ago?). I am glad that there are some companies that are making fortunes on GPS so that I can have my handheld GPS.

And I say this as a graduate student who makes less than $30,000 a year (at the moment, anyway).

If there are mentally unstable people who can't be happy that everyone is better off (just some people who took the initiative tad bit more than others; there is diminishing return effect when you have more money), why should we make radical changes to our free society to accommodate them?

Comment Re:Missing option: (Score 1) 913

It has been typically found that once you have achieved some minimum level of well-being where starvation is to longer a danger, levels of life satisfaction depend more on relative well-being than they do on absolute well-being. You're going to be a lot happier as a rich guy in a poor country than as a poor guy in a rich country even if you are worse off in an absolute sense.

Using that same logic, in classrooms we shouldn't give A's or A+'s to anyone because that makes people who got B's unhappy.

There are a few things that the government should concern itself with (such as national defense, and maybe making sure that no one actually starves from lack of food). Doing the bidding of the jealous public isn't what a free government should do—it's what a totalitarian state or a "democracy" led by demagoguery and mob justice would do.

These people who are so jealous that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are doing so well had the exact (well, almost, on a logarithmic scale) same resources and could've done that themselves. They should be held responsible for what they didn't do, and that's what the "gap" between the rich and the poor is about. As long as this "gap" isn't killing them or preventing them materially from overcoming it by their own effort, the government should do absolutely nothing.

Comment Re:Missing option: (Score 2, Insightful) 913

Except your "Rising tide" isn't wealth, it's INFLATION.

Inflation doesn't make cell phones. Inflation doesn't build the Internet. Inflation doesn't make technologies that make producing essential goods cheaper.

A good metric of how well off people are is percentage of their income people spend on food (this metric works everywhere except for France). In a country that's barely-scraping by, people will be spending 100% of their "income" on food, because they are just trying not to starve. In a developed country, typically people spend less and less (as a fraction of their income) on food and other essential items and more on luxuries and things that they don't really need.

And I'd dare say that people do spend more—as a fraction of their income, so it is already adjusted for inflation—on things that they don't need these days than they did several decades ago.

Comment Re:Let's forget the environment for a momnet... (Score 2, Interesting) 633

Well, reducing armaments globally would also solve world hunger several times over.

Wrong. The existing armaments can destroy the world many times over. The cost of producing them is peanuts compared to what we already spend on foreign aids and welfare.

Just look at United States. Right now, even with all the expenditures related to the war in Iraq, the military budget of United States (which outstrips military budget of any other country) is less than $700 billion. That sounds like a lot, but compared to the welfare budget (this is for a different year, and without all the "stimulus" funding), we spent $600 billion on Social Security, $380 billion on Medicare, $200 billion for Medicaid, and $320 for unemployment for total of at least $1500 billion on welfare programs federally.

This is how much we are spending to "feed the poor" in the United States and that's crippling our nation. Can you imagine what would happen if we tried to do that for, what, 1, 2, or 3 billion more people?

The liberal media would have you believe that we spend too much for military and armaments. Maybe we do—we sure spend much, much more than before the world wars. But compared to other spendings like those on social programs, it's really peanuts, and before we talk about removing our only defense from our enemies, we should talk about letting each person take responsibility for his action and not burdening the society for his (or his father's) laziness.

Comment Re:Let's forget the environment for a momnet... (Score 1, Interesting) 633

So why in the hell would anyone support polluting this planet?

It depends on what you mean by "pollution". If you mean nasty stuff like ozone (at the surface level; not up there where it blocks UV) or other things that used to come out of tailpipes and factories, sure, I don't think anybody is against reducing these nasty pollutions (that's what the catalytic converters and all those filter things are for).

But, what's really insidious about the "global warming" crowd is that they got people to think about carbon dioxide (CO2) as a polluting gas. CO2 is not pollution. Sure, you can get CO2 poisoning, but then, you can also die from eating too much salt or sugar (or water on the flip side). CO2 per se is not toxic, it's not "pollution". You breathe it out, and plants need them for photosynthesis.

So, that's what the debate is about, because any time you burn something other than hydrogen, you are going to generate CO2, and to scrub it out of the emission, it will just cost too much (way more than filtering other, actually noxious gas out).

There have been no studies that linked slightly elevated level of CO2 in the atmosphere (I think currently at 200 to 500 ppm or so; it takes about 1%, or 10,000 ppm for anyone to feel anything) to any harmful effect on long term health.

So once we get rid of all the nasty stuff that everyone agrees we should get rid of, the debate is really down to, "Should we bother with this innocuous gas CO2 where the only concern is some unproven possible effect on global climate?"

And I would say most reasonable people I know around me (mostly physics professors) say "No" to that question.

Comment Re:Missing option: (Score 4, Insightful) 913

Look, I agree Milton Friedman's ideas sound attractive. But we've tried that experiment. So has Chile, Poland, Russia, South Africa, and a number of other countries. Everywhere low taxes and privatization is tried, it results in concentration of wealth, not trickle down prosperity.

I think you are looking at the wrong metric. The basis of trickle-down economics is "rising tide raises all boats".

The real metric you should be looking at is the absolute quality of the life of those in lower-middle class (or even those who might be below "poverty line").

Are they better off now than they were 30 years ago? Definitely. Is this due to free market economy or due to better technologies (either as a product of free market or government-subsidized activity)? That's debatable.

If you are looking to "reduce the gap" between the rich and the poor, free market is a very poor tool—communism has shown that it can reduce the gap between the rich and the poor (mainly by making everyone, or nearly everyone, poor). What free market advocates claim is that free market is more efficient and productive. This is done by putting capital into the hands of those who know how to use it (what you see as "concentration of wealth" is a feature, not a bug), and the end result is that (this is what free market advocates claim) even though the poor may seem poorer compared to the rich, they are better off than they would have been if the government stifled all this economic activity.

The gap between the poor and the rich is not the right metric to look at if you want to genuinely see if a particular policy promotes prosperity. It's the absolute well-being that matters, not the relative one.

Comment Re:Let me be the first one to say it ... (Score 1) 1870

Maybe you meant immoral, but it's quite impossible for copyright to be unconstitutional.

Well, it may be impossible for copyright per se to be unconstitutional. But particular kinds of copyright act can be unconstitutional.

For one, the constitution only allows for copyright (i.e. monopoly) for limited time. In the last century, the law makers repeatedly extended copyright retroactively so that the duration of copyright became "limited" in name only (if you could call author's life plus 70 years "limited" in the first place).

That would be—and should have been—unconstitutional.

But unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason Lessig lost the case and the Supreme Court ruled that these retroactive extensions were all perfectly constitutional.

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