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Comments

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CES: Laser Headlights Edge Closer To Real-World Highways

Snarfangel Re:Awesome (295 comments)

Now if people were clever the would polarize the headlights and everyone would wear sunglasses at night............

That would be an awesome solution. Circular polarization, or at a 45-degree angle?
http://www.polarization.com/land/land.html

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Snarfangel Instead of the Communist Manifesto (796 comments)

Read Henry George's Progress and Poverty. The writing is clearer, and it offers ideas compatible with capitalism.

BTW, I don't want to suggest in any way that George was a communist. He was arguably more of a capitalist than most, in that he didn't want to tax capital at all -- or labor, for that matter -- just land (and by extension, natural resources with inherently fixed supply). Karl Marx's writing is a more difficult slog, and his importance is more how he was able to convince otherwise rational people to behave irrationally en masse, rather than economic ideas that would be useful to implement.

about 9 months ago
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DoD Public Domain Archive To Be Privatized, Locked Up For 10 Years

Snarfangel Re:Legality vs Enforceability (183 comments)

If our government commits an illegal act, who is able to enforce it?

Dunno. Coastguard?

But who guards the Coastguard?

about 9 months ago
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Crowdsourcing the Discovery of New Antibiotics

Snarfangel Are you testing poisonous plants? (73 comments)

Not that I have the urge to track down death caps or anything, but I have noticed that NOTHING seems to munch on or infect poison oak (at least where I live). It stays nice, glossy green until the leaves turn in the fall, without wilting or mold or any other ailment I can see on other plants. It would be interesting to see if the urushiol oil or something else protected it.

about 10 months ago
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Why Does a Voting Machine Need Calibration?

Snarfangel Re:why are the options close together? (398 comments)

(of course, it should go without saying that those buttons should be extremely obvious, and the selection of candidates on page 1 should be randomized for each voter.)

Agreed. There is no reason that a computer screen cannot show candidates in random order for each race, and that would help lessen systemic error as well as ill-informed or lazy votes (lazy voters who just pick the first candidate in races would spread votes among all candidates).

about 2 years ago
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Romney Taps Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan As Running Mate

Snarfangel Re:News for Nerds???!! (757 comments)

Your modern world frightens and confuses me.

more than 2 years ago
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Nukes Are "The Only Peacekeeping Weapons the World Has Ever Known," Says Waltz

Snarfangel Re:One small caveat (707 comments)

We can prove this scientifically.

First, assume a spherical dictator. For example, Kim Jong-un.

more than 2 years ago
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Christmas Always On Sunday? Researchers Propose New Calendar

Snarfangel A better calendar reform (725 comments)

This will be buried at the end of 600 comments, but hey, I might as well throw in my two cents.

Make the calendar:

Five days per week.
Six weeks per month.
Three months per quarter.
Four quarters per year, plus one five-day week at the end of the year.
Add a leap day to the end of every fourth year, except years divisible by 128. In other words, 128 years would be exactly 46751 days, and each year would average out to 365.2421875 days.

Then start the year at the autumnal equinox (in the northern hemisphere). The seasons would roughly align with the quarters. Of course, the phases of the moon would fall out of synch, but 30 days is pretty close to a lunar cycle. You can have the quarters of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, with each quarter divided into Early, Mid, and Late.

For example, the months would be:
Early Fall, Mid Fall, Late Fall
Early Winter, Mid Winter, Late Winter
Early Spring Mid Spring, Late Spring
Early Summer, Mid Summer, Late Summer.

And no one will ever read this, but here is a little ditty:

The First of Autumn, to make it clear
Is the first day of the year.
Every week has just five days
Six weeks per month, plus one that stays.
Thirty days hath Mid Winter
And all the months that you remember.
Fall and Winter, Spring and Summer
The seasons are just four in number.
At years end, across the nation
Add a week of celebration.
Every four years, you may note
Add another day to vote.
Except for the years 1-2-8
Don't leap ahead, and you'll stay straight.

more than 2 years ago
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The Unique Candidates of the New Hampshire Primary

Snarfangel Re:And this is how (116 comments)

I would mod this up if I had points. Plurality voting sucks. At least go with Approval for single-winner races, if you think Condorcet is too complicated.

more than 2 years ago
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Medical Billing Codes For Injury Via Turtle Among Thousands Created by New Law

Snarfangel Re:Some turtle attack advice (380 comments)

Hey, it's what killed Aeschylus.

That's what happens when you are bald. Eagles think your head is a handy rock to drop turtles on.

about 3 years ago
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Slate: Amazon's Tax Stance Unfair and Unethical

Snarfangel Re:Let's just do away with sales tax (949 comments)

There are two general arguments you can make with regards to the preferred method of taxation, one based on morality, and the other based on efficiency.

For morality, it depends on what you consider to be the most fundamental property we can claim ownership of. Is it our labor? Is it our labor applied to land to produce capital? Is it land, which is a factor of production not produced by anyone's labor?

My argument would be that our labor is the primary thing we can morally claim ownership of. An income tax takes away part of that labor directly. The harder you work, the more you have to pay to the state. Hard work is thus penalized and discouraged.

A capital gains tax takes away labor applied to land (in the economic sense of a natural resource of fixed supply) to produce capital. Like the tax on labor, a tax on capital reduces the incentive to save a portion of what you produce, discouraging capital formation and encouraging current consumption (eating your seed corn, rather than saving it until the next planting season, for example).

Only a land value tax does not take away labor directly -- we can, for example, imagine a gypsy tinker who wanders from place to place, working on pots and pans brought to him, but holding no land title. An income tax would reach out to take a portion of the labor from such a person, no matter where he roamed, whereas a land value tax would not. The reverse of this, a rent seeker who does not labor, would seem to be morally more suspect. A person who does not work, but merely expects the state to use force to protect his or her property without payment in taxes, would seem to be at best a parasite on the community. Land tenure secured by the state would seem to be the one thing that -- well, call it a tax, or a user fee, or a rental fee, or anything you like -- could be morally levied. If you control an expensive piece of property, and expect the police to show up when you call, a tax would to reimburse the the state seem to be reasonable.

And as for efficiency, land is fixed in quantity, and a tax does neither encourages nor discourages the amount available. If we tax it at or below the rental value of land, it will continue to be productive, without any reduction in use. Only if we tax high enough that people began abandoning land would we have to worry about negative effects. In addition, since land is fixed in quantity, we do no have to worry about deadweight losses from the tax. This is unlike taxes on labor (income taxes), capital (capital gains taxes), or trade (sales taxes). A tax that doesn't reduce economic activity would seem to be the holy grail of public finance.

Finally, if you think that the community does not have the right to levy a land value tax, do you think that they can use eminent domain to take a piece of property after paying a fair price? Because true ownership by an individual would seem to preclude a superior claim by the state.

more than 3 years ago
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Slate: Amazon's Tax Stance Unfair and Unethical

Snarfangel Re:Let's just do away with sales tax (949 comments)

A sound property tax system (unlike California under Prop 13) is probably a much better idea for most state governments, housing bubbles notwithstanding.

Actually, a sound property tax system would not only provide a much more stable source of funding than income and sales taxes, it would eliminate housing bubbles (which are really land value bubbles). See Land Value Tax: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax

For fans of progressivity, land value is even more concentrated than income, plus it is much harder to hide in Swiss bank accounts or buy on the black market.

more than 3 years ago
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Swiss To End Use of Nuclear Power

Snarfangel Re:What will they replace it with? (470 comments)

It is a mountain kingdom, lots of hydro potential and very few people. Why would they want the infinite expense and risks involved with current nuclear?

Because the valley people might ask for treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill.

more than 3 years ago
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Can You Really Be Traced From an IP Address?

Snarfangel Re:WTF? (246 comments)

Interestingly, the article says much the same. If you're going to get pissed off about an article, shouldn't you at least read it first?

But I'm angry now!

more than 3 years ago
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WA Election To Try Online Voting

Snarfangel Re:Postal vostes bad, online even worse (304 comments)

IMHO, postal votes should be reserved for those who can't get to the polling station because of some disability or travel. The problem with postal votes is that, for a family, or anywhere that has a shared postal address, you simply don't know who is completing the ballots and returning them.

Oregon has universal vote-by-mail, and it works very well. Plus, it pretty much eliminates vote caging.

more than 3 years ago
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New Hampshire Bill Could Lead To Adoption of Approval Voting

Snarfangel Re:I disapprove of Approval Voting (416 comments)

I approve of all three methods, especially for single-seat elections. :)

For proportional representation, I like some form of proxy voting, where each legislator casts a vote equal in power to the number of first-place votes he or she received in the last election. Far fewer wasted votes that way, and it pretty much eliminates any reason for political parties.

(Nice mention of Kemeny-Young. Excellent method despite being NP-Hard.)

more than 3 years ago
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Once-Darling Ethanol Losing Friends In High Places

Snarfangel Re:We borrow money from China to fund corn... (586 comments)

"Guaranteed minimum income" is just another way of saying "subsidies that avoid the phase-out problem". And the thing is, supposed the GMI is $10k , and then a 20% (marginal) "tax" kicks in at $50k. At $100k income, you're still getting your "minimum income" , but you're also paying the same amount in "tax". Money's fungible, people should not get all hung up about the labels attached to it, just figure out subsidies and tax codes so you have a healthy economy, enough money to run the government, and you avoid pathologies like the way current subsidies getting turned off in a narrow income band provide such a disincentive to work.

There is another way to provide a "guaranteed minimum income" (though it is more of a Pigovian wage subsidy). The poverty line in 2008-9 for a single person was $10,830 per year. At 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, you have 2080 hours, which means the poverty line is about $5.21 per hour for full-time employment. If I remember correctly (it's been awhile since I scribbled out the numbers), that's about 28% of total wages and income in the United States.

If you have add a flat 28% rate to everyone's current tax rate, and give a wage subsidy of $5.21 an hour (up to 40 hours per week) for gainful employment to all American workers, you have a break-even point of roughly $38,700, or a bit below the median income. If you graph out the effective tax rate, it is a smoothly progressive curve. At no point along this curve is there any disincentive to to work* -- there isn't a higher tax bracket to be kicked into. With a such a work subsidy in place, you can remove Federal minimum wage laws and greatly reduce welfare and unemployment payments (remember, every American is guaranteed at least the poverty line for full-time employment, plus whatever wage they can negotiate with their employer).

* Well, okay, above $38,700, you have a higher effective tax rate than you have currently, which may be a disincentive. On the other hand, those earning below $38,700 are getting a lower effective tax rate, so they would have a greater incentive to work, and these are exactly the low-skilled, entry-level workers we want to bring into the labor market to gain marketable skills.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Snarfangel Snarfangel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Snarfangel (203258) writes "Voting method debates are generally considered snooze-producers for all but a small group of aficionados, partly because they involve large, non-intuitive spreadsheets and tables. For something so important to democratically-elected governments, that is a shame. Fortunately, it is possible to create visual representations of voting methods, revealing where methods agree, and where they fall into voting paradoxes. Ka-Ping Yee has created multicolored graphs covering Plurality, Approval, Borda, Condorcet, and IRV. While the flaws in Plurality are readily apparent, what is even more fascinating is the failure of IRV in certain elections."
Link to Original Source

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