Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sat. News & Notes: Ignoring Valentine's Day

Let's start with the Russians...

It's amazing what you can find just lying around on Twitter.

States Consider Increasing Taxes for the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent (NY Times)
Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes...

Favorite targets for the new taxes include gas, e-cigarettes, and goods and services in general. Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine, who wants to start taxing movie tickets and haircuts, is also proposing a tax break for the lowest-income families to relieve some of the pressure.

Eh.  It's true that consumption taxes tend to be regressive, especially if you tax things like gasoline and e-cigarettes.  However, we need an increase in gas taxes to pay for road reconstruction, and if you're looking at raising revenues to pay for roads, gas is the obvious thing to tax.

There is no standard by which America has high gasoline taxes.  In fact, a very strong case can be made for raising gas prices to continue giving disincentives to American drivers.  Especially now that gasoline is cheaper domestically, we're at a point where bad policy will see Americans slide back into bad habits--driving more, buying bigger cars, etc.  Ultimately, this helps almost no one.  Bottom line, there many better, more economic ways to manage transportation in this country, but no one is going to invest in those as long as gas is so cheap that it's not worth the effort.

Similarly, you tax cigarettes to provide a disincentive to smoking.

Finally, while regressive taxes do hit those who spend a larger proportion of their income on consumables particularly hard as a percentage of their total paycheck, it's still true that folks who buy more stuff overall wind up paying more overall as well.  Granted, a better solution would be a kind of graduated "luxury" sales tax, but at least these guys are talking about raising revenue.

That said, I am in favor of no tax breaks for anyone.  We're still at war, and just this week, the president asked for even more powers to prosecute that war.  Talk of lowering revenue during combat is disingenuous to the point of absurdity.


This is why Disney bought Marvel.  Even Star Wars made more money on merchandising than it did on ticket sales.  In fact, it was the first movie to prove the current model.

I'm just gonna drop this here for those who don't believe in environmental regulations.  Some things are at least as important as "job creators".

Jeb Bush’s money juggernaut is far eclipsing the efforts of his would-be rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, putting his two political committees on pace to amass an unprecedented sum of tens of millions of dollars by early spring.

The former Florida governor’s overwhelming dominance in the race to line up financial backers has come at a speed that has impressed longtime Republican money players, who say wealthy party backers have rapidly migrated to Bush since 2012 nominee Mitt Romney decided againstanother White House run two weeks ago.

It looks like a presidential race, but really, it's a competition of intimidation.  Both Bush and Clinton are trying to cement their frontrunner status early as a way of pushing others off the field via a sheer sense of inevitability surrounding their campaign.  If they have all this money, then surely no one else will even try to compete.  That seems to be the strategy, anyway.

I will not be surprised if it works.

Calling for the preservation of the content of the internet for future generations, Cerf said that rapid advancements in technology will make old files inaccessible; thereby leaving future generations with hardly any understanding of the 21st century society.

According to Cerf, if efforts are not taken to preserve the content on the Internet, the ‘digital black hole’ created for the 21st century will be similar to the ‘Dark Ages’ period in Britain – between the 5th and 8th centuries – about which not much information is available.

Although I've not seen the man in some thirty years, I used to know Mr. Cerf pretty well.  His son David was my best friend in elementary school.  We used to swim together way back in the day, and we played our first D&D together as well.  It was a pretty unique time in my life, and for all that I've never really regretted growing up as a Marine brat, I do wish that my family could have stayed in Washington, DC, so that I could have finished growing up with those friends from that time in my life.  Our next stop, New Bern, NC, was an abyss of misery, and that particular cohort, from Annandale, Virginia, was a wonderful--and wonderfully intelligent--bunch.

With that said, it seems unbelievable that future engineers won't be able to work some sort of backward compatibility with modern storage devices.  Granted, Mr. Cerf owned the first computer hard drive I ever saw (back in 1986 or '87), so perhaps he's annoyed that he can't get to some of his original files now, and that's led to the current stance, but...  It still seems a little farfetched to me.

Saw this yesterday.  It's horrifying...

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