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December 22, 2014, 07:10:47 pm
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101  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How long can you hold out? on: December 10, 2014, 11:26:03 am
As long as I had access to a decent library full of non-digital media, indefinitely. Although l'll admit that lack of CTRL+F might break me.
102  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Where do you stand on abortion rights? on: December 10, 2014, 09:51:22 am
I've never heard a compelling point in favor of the idea that we ought to treat each fetus as a member of society, even in a limited sense.

That said, I would tolerate a fairly strict set of restrictions - a ban after the first trimester, say, which comprises the lion's share of abortions anyway - with comparatively little complaint if it meant diminishing how heavily the issue figures in our politics. The public debate is absolutely noxious, futile, and ridiculous. None of us profits from claiming that our opponents are irredeemable sexists or abettors of mass murder, and I doubt that most of those who make these claims actually believe them.
103  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: How much would you miss American Football if it went away? on: December 10, 2014, 08:33:22 am
Hopefully Americans would get into actual football as opposed to just mindlessly cheering on the national team every four years.

If there's one good thing about the popularity of "foot"ball in this country, it's that it has spared us from the popularity of football.
104  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA2: Accountability for Merchants of Death Act on: December 10, 2014, 08:24:25 am
No additional enforcement will be necessary. We are only extending a waiting period and removing a problematic law that guarantees legal immunity to arms dealers. Why should the same laws relating to negligence that everyone else must follow be suspended for a single group? 
105  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA1: End Predatory Gambling Act on: December 10, 2014, 08:19:19 am
I don't understand your argument, which seems to suggest that we'd be better off legalizing, regulating, and taxing everything from lead toys to child pornography.
106  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA3: Salvation for Convicts Act on: December 09, 2014, 10:24:43 pm
I move that we end debate and hold a vote.
107  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Government / Re: Protecting People from explosives Amendment (Passed) on: December 09, 2014, 11:31:02 am
God bless Windjammer.
108  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Voting Booth / Re: Pacific Voting Booth: Protecting People From Explosives Amendment on: December 09, 2014, 11:30:03 am
Aye
109  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: Rebuild the Pacific with me - Paleobrazilian for the Pacific Council on: December 09, 2014, 09:48:08 am
Endorsed and Good Luck. Smiley


Let me know if I can assist your campaign in any way.

Thanks! Smiley

By the way, I'd like to speak out against this proposal, that will only kill jobs and reduce our liberties. If elected, I will fight as hard as I can to defeat this very bad idea.

...spoken like a paid mouthpiece of the gambling lobby. In the words of one celebrated Atlasian organizer, this is deeply disturbing.
110  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Government / Re: Fix the Senate Rules Resolution (Debating) on: December 09, 2014, 09:46:09 am
Some of these edits are worth discussing, I see no reason to further muddle the rules by sanctioning a pointless position.
111  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you buy into any conspiracy theories? on: December 09, 2014, 07:06:00 am
Ronald Reagan's staff recognized symptoms of Alzheimer's in his behavior by the last year of his first term as president.
112  General Politics / Book Reviews and Discussion / Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? on: December 09, 2014, 07:02:45 am
I'm working through about a dozen books stowed in various shelves and crannies at my apartment. Here are a few of them:

Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin, George Kennan
Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, Susan Neiman (I made it about halfway through this one a few years ago... picked it up again over a recent lazy weekend)
Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization, Robert Wade (surprisingly readable for economic writing)
Truman, David McCullough (too hagiographic to be interesting, but I got it last Christmas and feel obligated to finish by the end of the year)
Inside Terrorism, Bruce Hoffman
The Invisible Bridge, Rick Perlstein (I started on this one a few months ago, but I might put it down to read the entire series in order)
Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United, Zephyr Teachout (I haven't read any reviews, so I have no idea what to expect from this one)

Also re-reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72... not a good book to work through during finals week, but whatever.
113  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA2: Accountability for Merchants of Death Act on: December 09, 2014, 12:28:09 am
The right to bear "small explosives" is, absurdly, protected in our federal constitution. Despite Senator Windjammer's best efforts, this is not likely to change soon.

In the meantime, our best recourse is to make acquiring weapons as difficult as possible. If this means creating minor inconveniences for legitimate purchasers, or that making business more difficult for arms dealers. This is not ideal, but federal law leaves us no alternative. In any case, it is clearly small price for protecting our citizens from homicidal maniacs and armed gangs of PCP-addled psychopaths.
114  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA1: End Predatory Gambling Act on: December 09, 2014, 12:18:23 am
Thank you, Senators, for your support in this struggle.

I was asking you to explain your belief, not restate it.

Is it not simple? If you have an addictive habit you will either still do it, but illegally, or find another outlet to express it. Knowing many people with addictive personalities, this is how it always ends. Simply writing a law does not solve the issue.

Let me rephrase. You've stated a hypothesis. Does it have any empirical, theoretical, or authoritative support?
115  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: ArcGIS on: December 09, 2014, 12:15:49 am
I use ArcGIS frequently at work. I prefer QGIS for home use, and that's what I would recommend to any serious hobbyist who wants to get into GIS software.
116  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of KCDem on: December 08, 2014, 07:39:06 pm


I'm sorry, but the guillotine is just too good for him.

It's solely a matter of efficiency, Kal.
117  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA1: End Predatory Gambling Act on: December 08, 2014, 05:25:41 pm
I was asking you to explain your belief, not restate it.
118  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: Rebuild the Pacific with me - Paleobrazilian for the Pacific Council on: December 08, 2014, 01:25:00 pm
Do you support a tax on management buzzwords in political speeches?
119  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of KCDem on: December 08, 2014, 01:22:38 pm
120  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA2: Accountability for Merchants of Death Act on: December 08, 2014, 09:27:26 am
What are the benefits that would result from this legislation?

It would provide for stronger control over the arms trade within the Pacific Region.
121  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA1: End Predatory Gambling Act on: December 08, 2014, 09:26:19 am
I believe that the addictive habits would only manifest themselves in other ways.

Why do you believe that?
122  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: When will the Libertarians gain power? on: December 08, 2014, 09:22:31 am
How is the discipline of libertarianism's revolutionary party maintained? How is it tested? How is it reinforced? First, by the ideological consciousness of the libertarian vanguard and by its devotion to the Constitution, by its tenacity, self-sacrifice and heroism. Second, by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and—if you wish—merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of real Americans —primarily with libertarians, but also with the non-libertarian masses. Third, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided the broad masses have seen, from their own experience, that they are correct.
123  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which world thinker/figure/writer/activist is the preceding poster most like? on: December 07, 2014, 10:33:04 pm
Lyndon LaRouche
124  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Overall, should teacher salaries in the US be increased? on: December 07, 2014, 11:58:30 am
No, of course not. We know that throwing money at education doesn't improve quality.

"Throwing money" implies something a bit less directed than raising pay for teachers - even more so if, as several posters have mentioned, we are talking about raising pay only for the best teachers. While bloated administrative and facilities budgets are difficult to justify, the discussion about teacher salaries is less easily dismissed given what we know about the importance of teacher quality and the present lack thereof in a large share of American classrooms.

Another important point, often ignored, is that teacher pay has been kept artificially low for most of the profession's history simply because schools have had a reliable supply of extremely talented workers with few other employment alternatives (i.e. women).

I find very little fault in the argument that some teachers deserve to be earning more, and that raising pay for the best teachers would attract more of the right people to the profession. (The relevant academic literature provides strong backing for the second point.) But this argument ignores something crucial: The link between pay and prestige is not as direct as pay for performance advocates imply. I know plenty of talented people in their twenties who have entered low-paying jobs at not-for-profits, for instance, but few who would even consider becoming teachers.

Clearly, other aspects of the job matter, and deserve as much attention as pay. I am not a strong critic of standardized testing, but, if I had to point to one aspect of teaching that discourages talented people from entering the profession, it would be the degree to which they must answer to and obey the dictates of preening managers. If I had to point to a second factor, it would be the behavior of students - there will always be a place for teachers who are capable of a performance worthy of Stand and Deliver, but there are many talented educators who do not enjoy playing disciplinarian, and, unfortunately, that makes them a poor fit for the modern American classroom.

This is something that (some) charter schools get right (because they aren't subject to the same rules as other public schools), and private schools as well, which is how they attract qualified teachers while offering substantially lower pay than nearby public schools. This is also where critics of standardized tests have their strongest point: Students taught by the best teachers will usually score well, even when the teacher does not emphasize the test, but when school administrators are chasing state or federal dollars they rarely offer teachers a choice.

The disastrous state of most university education departments also deserves mention. One of the virtues of charter schools is that they can ignore the (frankly, cartelistic) credential requirements that apply to most public schools and simply hire anyone with the right knowledge of the subject material and talent for teaching.

To summarize: Yes, teacher pay should be higher. But that's hardly the only factor behind profession's low prestige, and it probably isn't even the most important one.
125  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Overall, should teacher salaries in the US be increased? on: December 07, 2014, 10:59:58 am
I don't think it makes sense to pay teachers more on average.

But, you have to factor in the whole picture.  If someone just has a bachelor's degree, they get the summer off and a large amount of vacation time, pretty normal and decent hours, they get good benefits and tenure, that all factors in.  So, it's really a range.  For a teacher in South Dakota fresh out of school, $40k might be perfectly reasonable.  For an experienced teacher in New Jersey who has a masters in chemistry, is on a professional development committee and coaches football, $100k might be reasonable.  But, this idea that we should increase all teacher salaries by 50%, that's bonkers.

I agree with this. The other thing to consider is the substantial pension advantage teachers enjoy over similarly paid private sector workers. The rule of thumb we use in the accounting profession is that a defined benefit pension plan is worth roughly 20% of base compensation. So a teacher making 40k is really making something like $48k.

What are teachers' health insurance plans like? Are they significantly better than the private sector? That too might make for a higher total compensation package.

It varies quite a lot from state to state, but, in general, the chief advantage of public sector health care plans in the US is not higher quality of coverage, but rather that employees are expected to cover a smaller share of their premiums.
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