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About Altherion

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  1. I don't understand why they felt the need to come to NYC in the first place -- even with the tax break, it's more expensive than nearly every other place they considered and there are few places with so many entrenched, powerful interests.
  2. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    To some extent this has been tried, but it can only be taken so far. Keep in mind that the wealth of the large or even medium-sized corporations resident within a given city comes predominantly not from the city itself, but from the region, the country or, for the largest, even the entire world. That they happen to be concentrated within a particular city is mostly an accident of history. Of course, there's a certain cachet to being there and moving would be a rather painful experience (they'd lose some fraction of their employees), but if make the taxes high enough, they will leave. If this happens, the city would be even more screwed than if they had never been there because during the fat years, it racks up obligations which it would be unable to fulfill. For example, the average pension (not salary, pension!) for retired New York City public school employees (this includes both teachers and administrators) is around $44K per year. This can be kept up as long as the budget is $90B, but if even a few of the largest contributors leave, there will be trouble.
  3. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    That depends on how you define value. They certainly contribute economic value to the corporations they serve -- otherwise the latter would not employ them.
  4. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    This "better way" has the same fundamental problem as "Why don't the coal miners learn to code?" The people who are moving in are well paid because they have skills and credentials which are valued by the local corporations. Despite the high cost of living, the competition for these jobs is very fierce and while some small fraction of the locals may, with a lot of effort and almost certainly additional training, be able to compete for these, there's simply no way that all or even most of them can do this.
  5. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    I don't mean a person, I mean the growing inequality combined with the natural tendency of corporations to cluster in relatively small areas. This results in cities where the middle class consists of the servants of these corporations and government employees who get salaries which are nominally large (e.g. the average for a public school teacher is nearly $70K), but are in fact in line with the rest of the country after taxes, rent and cost-of-living. Everyone else can eek out an existence by charging prices in line with this cost of living, but it's hard for a small business to be successful in such places. Yes. Though I never lived in Manhattan, I grew up in NYC in the 1990s, came back nearly every year for a while in the 2000s and finally moved back for good a couple of years ago. Some good things have happened, but I would hesitate to say that they outweigh the bad. I think this varies by neighborhood though and Manhattan gets by far the most of the good and least of the bad. Basically, some people get a Q extension while others get years of track work that further slows down a commute which is already 20-30% slower than it was 20 years ago. Maybe Mlle. Zabzie knows more details, but it's common knowledge here that people from all over the world buy second homes in the city -- Russia, China, the Arabian peninsula -- you name it. They recently cracked down on some of the Russians who were close to Putin, but on the whole, nobody looks too closely at where the money came from and these apartments and houses maintain their value so it works well as a laundromat for anything from millions to tens of millions of dollars.
  6. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    Who gets to choose which 11 million? The military-industrial complex as well as the telecoms and various other large corporations which collect money from the government are undoubtedly parasitic too, but if we're going to limit their parasitism (this is a purely hypothetical argument; it will never happen within the existing framework), why not simply collect less money from the people who are paying it in the first place? Partly because New York is the city I know best (I've lived in three others over the course of my life, but not for as long), partly because its politicians fight very hard to claim that they're on the leading edge of the progressive movement (e.g. Ocasio-Cortez is from here) and partly because New York is emblematic of the economic environment the country is being pushed into. Not in this case. Everybody knows that the tax money is somehow making its way to private hands, but it's hard to figure out exactly where it's going and even if you manage to do so, it's impossible to get the city to justify why they went for that specific high cost, low production option.
  7. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    Sure, but this is only true so long as this lifestyle isn't viable. If they're given enough money to support themselves, there will be a whole lot more of them. It depends on how they're spent. In many instances, they amount to a means for parasites to suck the life from the host society thereby weakening it. For example, New York City has a budget of roughly $90B (note that this is distinct from NY State's budget which is even larger and collects from the same citizens). Since its population is roughly 9 million people, this amounts to $10K per person for the city alone. Despite this, the subway is falling apart, the streets are in poor repair, most public schools range from awful to mediocre (there are a few exceptions which the city is unsuccessfully trying to drag down to the general level) and, more generally, nearly every service the city provides is both overpriced and inadequate.
  8. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    It's more likely a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. As the MSN article ThinkerX posted above points out, the New Green Deal people have not done a great job of explaining what is and what is not part of their platform (perhaps because there is no coherent platform but rather several distinct groups fighting over what it should be). I suspect this guy simply wasn't told that they said whatever it was he said they didn't say.
  9. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    Warren is officially in the race: I think she missed her chance last time around and the DNA test silliness isn't helping, but she's still one of the better candidates.
  10. Altherion

    NFL 2019 Super Bowl: the restless shade of Mike Martz

    They've released the Mic'd Up video for the Owl. It's 40 minutes long so you might not watch the whole thing, but the first minute or so is very amusing: Excited McVay talks to a fellow coach about how they told him they're going to open the roof later. This is gonna be fun! Video montage describing how the roof of the stadium works. Grumpy Belichick badgering the ref about the exact timing of the roof's opening and closing. There's a wind factor! It's hilarious.
  11. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    It's a pretty old idea that may or may not apply depending on the relative likability of the cheaters and the cheated. For example, from a cursory Google search, it appears that the story of Paolo and Francesca is still taught at American universities.
  12. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    It's most likely because this is the highest hanging fruit. The easiest and cheapest places to find gains are on efficiency (i.e. spend less energy). This means stuff like better insulation which reduces the need for both heating and air conditioning, LED lightbulbs instead of halogen and so on. It's only slightly more expensive, but you need everybody to buy in (nearly impossible in a capitalist economy, but probably not that hard in, say, China). The next best thing to do is to use the clean technology that is available right now (e.g. solar panels, electric cars, etc.). At the moment this is still quite expensive and is mostly accessible to the upper middle class and higher (there are exceptions for people who live in a few regions where it's either favored by nature or heavily subsidized). Carbon capture is even worse than that -- it's still in the development stages and even once it comes out of development, it'll still be quite some time before it is economically viable. I'm not saying we shouldn't work on it, but it's not a near term thing.
  13. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    This is a different problem. Most sprawl is not in areas which are more dangerous than the city it surrounds (most of the time, it's less). You live in a very sparsely populated state. I'm currently at almost the exact opposite of that (i.e. New York City, though not Manhattan) and I can tell you that the utility bills are outrageously expensive despite the fact that I'm in an apartment rather than a mansion. It's not that the electricity itself is expensive (it's fairly cheap in New York state), but the price more than doubles due to "delivery charges" and other fees of this nature. The same is true for water. It doesn't matter what one does here: the closer to the places where there are many good jobs, the more expensive everything gets. And in fact this happens pretty much everywhere in the world; it's a nearly inevitable consequence of concentrating so much wealth (and therefore also so many jobs) into small spaces. I can imagine a world where this is not the case, but it wouldn't look much like ours.
  14. Altherion

    US Politics: The Accountability Problem

    I strongly disagree with you about him gaining nothing by not conceding: even once he knew he could not win, he likewise knew that this was about as big a chance to drag the Democrats to the left as he would ever have. Once he conceded, people would stop listening to him and there was value in showing that despite the fact that the establishment cheated to tip the scale and the fact that he was outspent by a large margin, he still got roughly 45% of the vote (depending on what exactly is counted). Coming back to the present time, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey finally came out with a draft of the Green New Deal: Obviously, all of this is aspirational -- there is nothing concrete on the table yet. I suspect none of it will go anywhere soon, even if the Democrats win in 2020. The Speaker's reaction is in the same article: I wonder if she was intentionally making a reference to A Song of Ice and Fire...
  15. Altherion

    US Politics: Ready, Set, Announce! Bookering the Odds

    But that's exactly what he did: once the convention nominated Clinton, he supported her all the way. He fought while there was still a chance -- a bizarre, negligibly small chance, but a chance nonetheless. Do you think the Rams should have simply quit before kicking that last field goal? After all, to save the game at that point they'd have to make the field goal, recover an onside kick with enough time for one play and then either throw a hail Mary or imitate the Dolphins. It's very nearly impossible and neither Sanders nor the Rams got anywhere close, but why fault either of them for trying? I've always been surprised by the strange rage some Democrats display towards Sanders. If anyone should be angry, it's Sanders himself -- after all, the Democrat chiefs not only solidly backed Clinton, but also cheated to help her win (leaking debate questions, party registration shenanigans, etc.) even though it probably wasn't necessary. It's almost as though they need somebody to blame...