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Comment European vacuum cleaners, regulatory consequences (Score 2) 222

All regulations have unintended consequences. And the best intentions sometimes backfire. For example, take the new European standard for electrical consumption of vacuum cleaners. In essence they've now banned the larger models. But it's not going to save any electricity. Now with smaller models that can't create as much vacuum and thus induce a much smaller CFM of air flow. Hence they work less efficiently and more slowly. So any electrical efficiency gains are offset by the poorer performance overall, requiring longer use and just as much electricity. Besides that, even if all things were equal, the greater electrical use (and subsequent CO2 generation) from the bigger vacuums probably can't even be quantified for most people since vacuum cleaners are used so infrequently compared to computers, lights, heating, and other electrical devices.

This is, in my mind, a clear example of well-intentioned Energy Star -like programs and regulations that just don't apply well to many things and shouldn't. And this is why people, including trump supporters, get so upset with government interference in their lives. Most people I know aren't stupid. If they buy a new freezer, they do want to save money and energy by buying the newer, more efficient models. I think this would continue even without Energy Star, should it ever disappear entirely.

Besides that, if you really want to change things, a carbon tax is better than efficiency regulations. If the true cost of energy is passed on to consumers you can bet they'll make different choices and drive demand for energy-efficient devices. Rather than set fuel efficiency targets, tax a vehicle's registration based on its fuel consumption. Lets people have the freedom to drive an old, less-efficient vehicle if they wish, as long as they are willing to pay for it.

Sure direct regulation is easier for the government, but it's not always the best way. And it always has unintended consequences and leads to regulatory capture of the market by a few large companies.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 5, Informative) 355

The problem is that even if coal is completely deregulated, it's not miners who are going to be doing the extraction. The future of mining is automated. At best this will just give the coal barons a few more years of profit and do dick for the miners.

But it's not even going to be that good. Natural gas is killing coal, so there isn't even going to be a coal industry by the time renewables dominate. This is a classic "buggy whip" problem, in that there ain't gonna be no more horse-drawn carriages, so there ain't gonna be no more buggy whips. Whatever you think of Clinton, she was telling the miners the truth, their jobs are quickly becoming obsolete.

And the same goes for lots of other industries. Manufacturing is rapidly automating, so that even mass repatriation of US industrial capacity is not going to deliver the same level of employment that was there even thirty years ago. There's nothing the US government can do about it, short of outlawing automation and renewables, which would be sheer madness.

Christ, no less than Rick Perry himself has admitted the US needs to stay in the Paris Accord. Even the most pro-oil of pro-oil politicians know full well the jig is up. Oil isn't coming back, and as the price falls away it's impact on the economy diminishes. Coal was the first because it's the most expensive and most obviously harmful, but it applies to all the fossil fuels.

Comment Re:Incorrect (Score 1) 355

Do you have any actual evidence that wind farms have this effect? This strikes me as arguing that NASA shouldn't use gravity assist because it robs a planet of some of its momentum.

In other words, while you're technically correct, the effect is so small as to be irrelevant. But tell you what, if you have evidence that wind farms actually have this large an effect, then provide citations. And no, some blog is not a citation. I mean peer reviewed or primary literature.

Comment Re:Windows is Bloated (Score 1) 122

To be fair, your average Linux distro is pretty fat too. A basic installation of, say Linux Mint, can still run several GB. Granted the default installs of most Linux distros include a fair amount of utility programs and full-blown applications, such as LibreOffice, that Windows does not include.

It is pretty embarrassing for MS to have 40% of an EXE consist of this unnecessary XML code.

Comment Re:It's true (Score 2) 252

Pixar was unique in Silicon Valley companies in that we had deadlines that could not move. The film had to be in theaters before Christmas, etc. I'd see employees families come to Pixar to have dinner with them. I took the technical director training but decided to stay in studio tools, first because Pixar needed better software more than they needed another TD, and second because of the crazy hours.

Comment Carrier comparison (Score 2) 205

Many who comment here will have a reason that they chose one carrier over one other carrier. They may have switched carriers. I always found that the latest carrier plan was better than the competition, and that it would go back and forth or be too confusing to come up with one clear answer. I actually have iPhones and aPhones on 5 carriers. I also travel the world quite a bit. Domestically, all the carriers are good for most unless you live in an area not covered by some. I remember times when Verizon was faster but now it seems that AT&T is faster for me, most of the time. I remember when you could buy international data from Verizon that covered 200 countries, while the AT&T list was only about 50 countries. That affected me in places like Russia and South Africa, back then. T-Mobile has incredible data plans for here and away but they don't seem as fast as claimed unless I'm in the store. Sprint has gone far out of their way to help me with issues, including a stolen phone number. Right now I believe that the best carrier I have, for my own needs, is Google Project Fi because the plan works in over 100 countries. You can even order a free data-only SIM for free, without even a shipping charge, to use it on iPads and the like. I would never say that anyone's choice of plan is bad in any way though.

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 501

The problem still remains that "over-abundance" will only apply to labor. It won't apply to capacity nor to raw resources. We'll have lots of humans with not enough to do, whereas Marxism remains a "classical" economic system which still thinks in terms of scarcity of labor.

I don't think the future is Communist, but neither do I think it is strictly capitalist. I think we're still going to have a fundamentally consumer society, still at its core free market, it's just that labor will no longer be an issue. It will mean adjusting precisely how it is that society as a whole profits from the means of production. And remember that Marxism was always more than merely an economic theory, but was fundamentally a socio-political theory. It was innovative in that it viewed economics as the very core, but it proposed a good deal more than simply "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", and involved revolution, dictatorship and what really does amount to a sort of single party state (because, after all, who needs more than one political movement when Marxism is perfect).

In the end, I expect we'll probably see a shift towards capital gains taxes, higher resource rents, transactional taxes (ie. taxes on the purchase or sale of bonds and shares) and other such mechanisms, and while lots of corporate interests will kick up a mighty storm, but there's little choice in the matter. At some point, robots will do a great deal of the work.

Comment Re: where does all this money come from? (Score 1, Insightful) 501

Just because people pay you for your services doesn't mean you create more than you consume. Perhaps you have some sort of serious illness, which means your health insurance provider may be paying you more than you are paying them. Perhaps you have enough write offs to heavily reduce your actual taxable income, meaning others are actually paying more tax than you.

But do you really pay enough money in taxes that it covers the building of the road past your house, pay for the wages and equipment of the firefighters who may have to put out your fire? There's an entire infrastructure out there that is paid for by the economic output of an entire society, and the idea that somehow anyone, even a billionaire, can claim responsibility for a significant fraction of it is absurd.

Comment Re: Ontario, largest subnational debtor on the pla (Score 1) 501

It's called taxes. We can debate which taxes would be best, but presumably if someone is making something, whether it be with human beings, robots or some combination, they also have sales, which means there are any number of financial transactions which can be taxed. Pick your poison; corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, excise taxes, etc. etc. etc. In the end, money is just a means of counting value.

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