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Comment Re:You have absolutely no idea what the hell you'r (Score 1) 349

They're examples of what systemic poverty does to people.

How is utter dependence not part of systemic poverty?

It happened because Bush/Cheney diverted resources meant for disaster preparedness to the war in Iraq (and by extension their own pockets).

That's the response. Few such resources would have been necessary if people had actually evacuated.

If they did Paul Ryan (who's family's fortune was made paving roads for the government) would be suicidal.

You are being obtuse. Surely you recognize that I am not talking about government contractors or people who simply work for the government.

I'd like to say you're just somebody who never experienced real hardship in lift by I know better.

No, you'd be absolutely correct. I've lived a charmed life - my parents were not rich, but they made sure that I had a roof over my head, all the schooling I could eat, and they frankly spoiled me rotten. I used this opportunity to get a useful degree that pays well (engineering), and I haven't had any major health issues. But despite that, I understand just how quickly it can all go south. I could easily have had a car accident or major health problem that caused me to lose my job and health insurance. I could easily have wound up on disability and utter dependence on government. But that's not really what I'm talking about here. My wife works at a hospital in a very poor area. The people who live there are generally able of body, but they use their minds to game the system because that is the incentive structure that they are presented with. Their schools suck, their upbringing is violent, and they develop no skill set beyond gaming the system. I'm not blaming them, I'm not judging them. Yet, from the perspective of the people setting up the programs that are intended to help them, they are indeed acting like "douchebags" - misusing the system. My contention is that the system is what is broken - the incentives are all misaligned with the goals of bringing people out of poverty.

You're not being compassionate or decent.

Defending the status quo is also not compassionate.

Comment Re:O RLY? (Score 1) 62

I'm something of a skeptic in that regard.

Fair enough, though it seems notable to me that all of the search engines arose in places with looser copyright than Australia.

Maybe that would even have become a better system than what we have today.

Now it's my turn to be skeptical :)

You are basically arguing that a technology might be better today if only there was a major roadblock which forbade the current approach, forcing us to explore alternatives. The problem I have with that argument is that there is nothing stopping someone from implementing those alternatives right now, and despite at least two periods in recent history where massive capital was thrown at anything even remotely web-related, no such solution arose. It's certainly not ideal to have Google running the search world, but I'm highly skeptical that simply banning their method would make us any better off.

Automation has so far proven to be a questionable benefit over curation,

I think Wikipedia demonstrates the scale limits of openly curated content. It's awesome, but orders of magnitude smaller than Google's index. If we are talking proprietary curated content, you could probably go larger if you were Google, but I question the value of putting a huge advertising company in charge of a manually compiled index. I remember the bad old pre-Google days of search where all the content was mixed in with sponsored results.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 1) 349

That argument only works if you have a very naive, binary view of the world. The fact is there are an almost infinite number of different ways the government can help the poor, and we don't need to be having a discussion along the lines of for/against but rather a discussion about the goals and methods.

Comment Re:O RLY? (Score 2) 62

I understand what copyright is intended to do, but I see little evidence that a 90+ year term and other onerous terms are means to this goal. Patents give us a good example of actual stuff being created with 1/4 the term - it's hard to imagine that artists would significantly change their motivation given a 15, 50, or 90 year window. It's very hard to argue that a law which prevents you from building upon another creative work for an entire human lifetime is advancing the useful arts. Rather, it seems like an abuse of government power by an elite.

And of course, as Google points out, the search index could not have occurred under such a regime. I shouldn't have to sell you on the usefulness of internet search on society vs the promise of more Rihanna songs or Transformer movies.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 1) 349

I don't follow the logic. If no one is buying stuff, then it is true that the robots aren't needed. But if people are buying stuff, then the cheapest way to do it would be the robots, so they would be used. They may or may not "put themselves out of business", but there's still no room for humans.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 1) 349

You're already dependent on the government, it's just a matter of degree.

I completely agree. With that said, the acid test is what will happen to you if the government disappears for a day... a week... a month? If the answer is "I'll die" or "I'll beg on the street", then you probably meet the standard that I'm talking about. Yeah, we all use government roads. But the fact is that if the government took a month-long nap, we'd still use the roads and local bands of us would even make short term repairs. If the government stopped running the sewers, it would be a major public health problem in the long term, but in the short term people would dump bed pans into the street sewers like they did for hundreds of years. I'm talking about a totally different level of dependence, and one that is incredibly demoralizing.

People don't get depressed because they depend on the government. People with untreated mental health problems are less likely to hold a job, and therefore more likely to end up on welfare. And our society equates worth with work, and that affects people. People need (to find for themselves) a purpose, not independence from the government.

That does not square with studies showing that people living in formerly prosperous middle class areas suffering mental health problems after the jobs disappear. I agree that correlation does not equal causation, but I don't think you are giving enough weight to the effects of stress on mental health.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 1) 349

I think we largely agree, though we'd probably spend a lot of time on the details. With that said:

they would probably un-ghettoize their ghettos.

I actually suspect that a lot of people would move to where opportunity was. People stick around in places where opportunity once existed in large part due to the government subsidies being available. If there was no government welfare, I suspect Detroit would have been largely abandoned once the industry fled. I disagree that capitalism produces ghettos... raw capitalism produces shanty towns - poor urban centers that spring up organically as people pursue opportunity. These are not ideal, either, but they are a separate problem from the modern US urban ghetto where most of the people have no opportunity and are dependent on government assistance. I also recognize that the US has a historical problem with race and ghettos are historically associated with the oppression of blacks - much of our current situation does indeed stem from that, but I believe one contribution to their persistence in modern times is government assistance.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 4, Interesting) 349

I have no problem with a safety net in principle. The thing is, humans have a knack for being douchebags ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h using systems for a purpose other than designed, resulting in an outcome that is other than desired. Unless the desired outcome is long-term total government dependence, safety nets need to be very carefully designed and implemented.

In case you can't pick up on it, I definitely do not favor government dependence. People seem to be depressed as hell when they are dependent. In a few cases, we see where dependence leads to total helplessness in the face of government failure, like in Katrina. Ghettos are also nice little teapots of dependence and misery.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 3, Interesting) 349

Here's the thing: it doesn't matter.

If robots can take my job, then they will take my job. Sure, you can push for some local protectionism. Maybe even slow things down so that the transition happens after I retire or die. But at the end of the day, some society somewhere in the world will go with the more competitive option and my job will be history. Avoiding technical progress is working great for the Amish, but not everyone is so lucky to be ensconced by a benevolent, protective society.

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