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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Entrope Re:Here's why (468 comments)

Your "status card" is essentially recognition of the marriage by the government by another name. I have also barely scratched the surface of the issues. If the government doesn't recognize a marriage, then presumably it treats a "spouse's" inheritance as taxable income -- the US Supreme Court's first case on the question was over that very point (a lady in NY state died, the federal government's policy was to not recognize her state-recognized marriage to another lady, and thus the IRS wanted to tax the inheritance as income to the second woman). Maybe all inheritances should be tax-free, but a lot of people already seem sensitive over estate taxes now.

Government recognizes marriages for a lot of reasons, many relating to how much the two people are expected to rely on each other in case of hardship, and most of the rest relating to raising children. Even very good roommates are unlikely to share burdens in the same way, so it doesn't seem quite right to extend the current benefits of marriage to simple cohabitants.

about three weeks ago
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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Entrope Re:Here's why (468 comments)

So doctors should ask your estranged sister instead of your soul mate about what extreme measures you would approve of? Your retired parents should get all your worldly goods, and the person you made a life with should be left to beg them for money so that he or she can feed your children? In those cases in particular, most people would prefer that a spouse get precedence over blood relatives, and the law currently recognizes that priority.

My last hypo is this: Andi and Sam have a kid. They split up, and are now shacking up with others. Which of the adults are allowed to pick the kid up from school, or authorize field trips, or review medical records? Saying "family" doesn't cut it: there are two parents, who are perhaps unlikely to agree on major decisions, and two other step-parents (except that, in your proposed world, the law doesn't recognize such a relationship because it doesn't recognize either Andi or Sam as being re-married).

about three weeks ago
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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Entrope Re:Here's why (468 comments)

Legal recognition of "marriage" includes a lot of useful side effects that make it hard to get government out of recognizing marriages. Who should a hospital consult if a person is incapacitated but needs a medical decision to be made: a roommate, a blood relative, or someone else? Who inherits belongings if the decedent did not leave a will? If the parents of a child no longer live together, should their current cohabitants be regarded as legal guardians of the child?

about three weeks ago
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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Entrope Re:West Virginia too (468 comments)

Voter registration is required in the US because the state and federal governments do not always track where people live. If you get a driver's license, "motor voter" laws typically give you the option to register to vote at the same time, but there are people have driver's licenses, pay taxes, or do other things to show up in government databases. Voter registration gives them a way to vote. Voter registration rolls are also used to select people for jury duty.

Localities in the US may allow non-citizen residents to vote on local candidates and issues, and some have -- mostly more "progressive" cities and counties. I think states may allow non-citizens to vote for state candidates and issues, but my understanding is that it is currently forbidden in all states. It is illegal under federal law for a non-citizen to vote in federal elections, which I assume includes presidential elections, even though technically the votes only work to select state-level delegates to the college of electors.

Maybe it would be better and simpler if we just stuck peoples' thumbs in purple ink when they vote. That would give other people a chance to police non-citizen voters (in places where it is illegal), reliably prevent multiple voting, and reduce paperwork overhead. However, that scheme is incompatible with absentee and early voting, which are considered important voting methods by both conservatives and liberals in the US.

about three weeks ago
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NY Magistrate: Legal Papers Can Be Served Via Facebook

Entrope Re:I'm fine with it (185 comments)

With enough effort and expense, sure, the plaintiff (complainant? whatever) could probably *eventually* find a working address to serve notice at. That would delay the proceedings an unpredictable, and almost certainly undue, length of time. Neither the US Post Office nor the state's "Support Collection Unit" (which handles alimony) have a newer address for her. The husband in this case tried to call and text his two children (with the ex), but they did not respond. How long is the guy supposed to wait to argue that he shouldn't have to pay child support for his 21-year-old son?

about 2 months ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Entrope Re:"Hard redirect" (376 comments)

The key element of a tortious interference claim is not the existence of a contract, it is third-party interference with a business or contractual relationship. sixoh1 was suggesting that someone might have a cause of action against Rightscorp, not the ISP, so the ISP's prerogative to terminate customer contracts is not relevant.

about 3 months ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Entrope Re:"Hard redirect" (376 comments)

Similar logic applies to having the ISP cut off your connection entirely -- if they got statutory authority for one of them, I bet they could get the same kind of permission for the other (if the original language of the law doesn't cover both already).

Next up: Booting all of your connectivity -- mobile as well as hardline -- through one, integrated, Big Brother-ish app.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:Shortage propaganda versus wages (268 comments)

In the US, a typical manager earns some amount more than the people they manage. As a result, the average software engineer earns significantly more than the average non-engineering manager, and more than many engineering managers.

And in the US, doctors and lawyers are not comparable to software developers for two main reasons: they have significant legal duties towards their clients (and must carry malpractice insurance as a result), and it is a serious crime to practice medicine or law without a license (which is granted by the people already in the field). Doctors and lawyers typically have further education, as well, which is not required for software developers. We also hear chronic complaints about doctor shortages, too -- but thankfully none for lawyers :) The kind of doctors with the worst shortages are "primary care" doctors, rather than specialists and surgeons, who also make much less money than the specialists, and I think in the same neighborhood as software developers.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

You missed the key word "potential" in that sentence. There are many thousands of good programmers in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco area, although basically are already as employed as they wish to be. In the kind of places where you think a company might be able to relocate, there are probably dozens of programmers with the same level of skills. When a company wants to hire hundreds of good engineers, that is not very useful: they'd need to convince most of their workforce to relocate.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Apple et al. *found* a free-market solution to their woes, and are now in court because government regulations say that their solution is not allowed.

US software developer salaries are much higher than in Europe when you control for cost of living. For example, most of the big cities in Europe have higher costs of living than Silicon Valley, but software developers earn much less there. You have to look pretty far down the list of US cities -- say, Charlotte (NC) or Peoria (IL) -- to find salaries that are roughly in line with expensive places in Europe. Companies stay in Silicon Valley because of infrastructure, network effects, and because there are a lot of potential employees in the area.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

You're applying single-stage reasoning to an iterated game, which is a good way to lose in the iterated game. If company X hires an employee from company Y by making a better offer, how should company Y respond in order to maximize its own revenue? (It will almost always involve a counter-offer to the employee, and if that fails, company Y will probably try to hire away another experienced engineer for reasons that Fred Brooks described in The Mythical Man-Month.)

If you don't think there is a shortage of software developers in the US, why are developers in the US paid so much more than ones in Europe?

Also, there is no hard threshold to define an "actual" shortage when you're talking about such a large job market.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:WTF? Jailtime! Boycott violates Anti-Trust (268 comments)

Yeah, I figured you had nothing.

Standard Oil and Ma Bell were broken up because they exploited monopoly power. There's nothing remotely similar for tech employers. You claimed there was some kind of supplier boycott, I pointed out that there obviously wasn't one in the usual sense, and you fell back to "maybe this kind of harm happened, you can't prove it didn't!"

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:WTF? Jailtime! Boycott violates Anti-Trust (268 comments)

Those who tried to leave probably succeeded. Can you cite to a single case where this anti-poaching agreement prevented an active searcher from getting a job offer?

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

Not really. People consider factors besides salary when choosing jobs -- location, fringe benefits, work content, prestige, and more -- and there are other constraints on worker/job compatibility. A married person might become a homemaker if it takes too much effort to find a job that is sufficiently attractive; moving to a different city is expensive, especially for someone who expects low earnings; an employer cannot have a workforce that consists entirely of people who are learning to be productive in their jobs; the list goes on.

Most fundamentally, though, the number of available jobs is flexible in a way that defies quantification. If an employer has unmet demand, they could hire more workers if they can find workers at a low enough salary. It might be cheaper for the employer to hire more people who are individually less productive than to hire more-skilled workers. Automation and other forms of labor substitution further complicate the equilibrium. In contrast, the number of people who have applied for unemployment assistance is very easy to measure.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

You failed economics, didn't you? If they recruit employees from other companies, they have to make better offers, and they will have to make better counter-offers to their own employees to counteract poaching by other companies. They do not have bottomless pits of money for salary; they calculated that it was better to have a conspiracy against poaching than to try to poach. (There was also Apple's threat of patent lawsuits if Google in particular didn't agree to the deal.)

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

People would turn down jobs at Google or Apple on salary grounds if there were a surplus of workers. Almost everyone seems to agree that there is a shortage (according to the usual definition in economics). This case was brought because large companies -- by all accounts -- illegally colluded to counteract that shortage, and thereby suppress their employees' wages.

about 3 months ago
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Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

Entrope Re:And yet (268 comments)

They could say that with a straight face because the two ideas ("worker shortage" and "cheaper labor") are two sides of the same coin. If there are more workers in a market, the average (or median) salary of an arbitrary engineer goes down. By definition, a shortage exists in any market when the price exceeds what buyers would like to pay. This is essentially why the "natural rate" of unemployment is not zero: There are workers who are not willing to accept the jobs that companies are willing to offer them.

As a trivial case, imagine two companies trying to hire one very specialized worker: A canny worker will be able to get the greatest salary that either company is willing to pay. If there are suddenly two workers available, that leverage goes away, and it is much harder for either worker to bargain up a salary.

about 3 months ago
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PlayStation Now, Sony's 'Netflix For Games' -- Pros and Cons

Entrope Re: To summarize... (75 comments)

The service is still in beta, too -- I would hope they rationalize the pricing (especially for first-party games) by the time they end the beta. Personally, I can't see myself paying these rates ever -- I have a perfectly functional PS3 that I still use more than my PS4, and I somewhere have a PS2 for all my really old disc games.

about 4 months ago
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Google's Mapping Contest Draws Ire From Indian Government

Entrope Re:Ignorance is no excuse ... (96 comments)

Does India have anything like the US Constitution's requirement for due process of law before someone is punished? It is conceivable for the government to ban the collection or publication of national security information, with the burden on the collector/publisher to figure out whether they have done so. This would be a recipe for arbitrary enforcement and unjust outcomes, but similar schemes have been implemented in the past -- between restaurant reviews and search engines, recent European cases provide examples for comparison and contrast of laws that are only really decidable with hindsight or by judicial dictate.

about 4 months ago

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