Sat, 29 Mar 2008

Two Local Morons

We have not one but two local morons who have opened their mouths and proven the fact. First, we have the Deputy Mayor of Potsdam, Ruth Garner, who was quoted by the Daily Courier-Observer as saying:

"If everybody is allowed to put out signs on all of the things they agree or disagree with, good God, it would be chaos," said Garner.

Welcome to America, Mrs. Garner, where we have freedom of speech. Whether you feel that voters' opinions are "chaos" or not, you don't have the ability to control their speech.

Second, we have Tom Sauter, who has earlier made a fool of himself. Apparently that's part of his job description, because he continues to do it. DANC (Tom's employer) is going to run fiber optic cables to the counties' industrial parks. First, fiber optic cable is not magic. The phone company and cable companies are happy to run fiber wherever they need to, in response to customer demand. So whenever DANC starts spouting the magic of economic development through fiber optic cable, I have to cough "bullshit" into my hand. Second, the very article announcing this points out that of eight industrial parks, two or three have fiber optic lines. Tom (the moron) then tries to claim that there would not be overlap with private companies in the areas in question. Is Tom ignorant of those two or three industrial parks that do have fiber? Or is he, again, lying?

Note that I hold out no criticism of Tom Sauter the person. A guys's gotta make a living. I just think that his job requires him to utter things which are utterly stupid.

Posted [12:15] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

The IRS is wholly evil.

We "did well" on the stock market last year. We "made a lot of money". Now the IRS say that because we bought stocks for one price and sold them for a higher price, that's income on which we owe taxes.


Ha, ha.

Ha, ha, ha.

Anybody who's been tracking the market knows that it's substantially below where it was last year. I didn't in fact make any income from the stocks, I rolled it over into different investments ... investments which lost value.

But even though the income that the IRS says I "made" and which I never accessed, is now gone, I still have to pay taxes. The IRS considers that you have income whenever you have access to the money. Well, that's a great theory, but it simply defies logic. If I have a key to your house, the IRS considers that I've entered your house, even though I may never ever have been to your city. If you wrote me a check, and I never cashed it, the IRS considers that to be income, simply because I could have cashed it. And yet, I didn't, and the money to pay the non-income taxes has to come from somewhere else.

So, you might say "well, sorry, Russ, that's the rules; sucks to be you." Maybe. And yet as an economist I need to point out that while this rule gains the government money, it makes our society poorer. Since I never got the income they claim I got, I have to liquidate some other investment. I have to consume my capital. Whenever you engage in capital consumption, you make not just you worse off, you make everyone worse off because one and only one thing makes workers more productive and enables higher pay for workers: capital.

Yet again, government actions hurt citizens.

Posted [00:35] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]

Mon, 24 Mar 2008

Patents and Open Source

Are you a patent holder, wondering how to write software which implements your patent? Here's my advice: Patents expire. Towards the end of the patent's lifetime, you want to be trying to transfer the patent's franchise over to the relationship between the patent-holder and the licensee. That can be done with closed-source software, but you risk competitors writing their own software. With Open Source software, as long as you manage the relationship with the user correctly, you end up with a franchise.

Long before a patent expires, you have ZERO NEED for closed-source software. ZERO. NONE. The purpose of a patent is to give you ownership over the idea. The purpose of closed-source software is to give you ownership over the code. But if you already have a patent, you own the idea. No need to own the code -- in fact, owning the code only hurts you, because it closes you out to people who would improve the code, or even to people who would create new patented works based on your patent.

If you have a patent, you NEED open source software.

Posted [10:57] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Sat, 15 Mar 2008

Too many poor

There are too many poor people in New York State. We could try to increase their wealth through the same old same old methods of income redistribution, or economic development. Or we could try some innovative new scheme, like ... paying them to leave. Why not? Let's make New York State a better place to live by getting rid of its poor people.

So, the plan works like this: poor people register their intention to leave with New York State. The first tax year that they file taxes in another state, we pay them some reasonably large sum of money, like $5,000. If they stay away another year, we pay them $2,000, and then $1,000 and then $500.

Shocked? Does this sound like a horribly cruel scheme, designed to rip asunder the communities of poor people?

Consider, instead, getting rid of a different set of people: the rich. Let's do as the Working Families Party wishes. Only, instead of paying the rich to leave, we'll tax them if they stay. Let's increase the taxes of everyone earning over $250K by 1%, over $500K by 2%, and over $1M by 3%.

The Working Families Party calls this "fair". Yet they would undoubtedly howl in outrage if the exact same scheme was seriously proposed as I did in the first two paragraphs. Why is one thing fair when proposed for the rich, and yet outrageous when proposed for the poor?

Posted [11:33] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Tue, 04 Mar 2008

Licensing Adobe Flash

Are you having trouble licensing the Adobe Flash player? Apparently, Adobe makes it difficult for some people to license their Flash player. I don't know why -- you'd think they'd be all about the money. But regardless, the Gnash project is happy to license its Flash player to you if Adobe won't license their Flash player. Go Get Gnash now.

Posted [16:43] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 01 Mar 2008

Returning to the US

Returning to the US today. Had a great time at the IWTC. My talk went pretty well, I think, and so I was told. It's a new conference, so attendance was pretty sparse. My talk was fairly specialized, so unless the talk was specially featured, as it was in Croatia, it's going to be a small talk.

Met a great gang of people, including Sean O'Donnell, Clare Dillon, Ana Nelson (no relation), Martha Rotter, Barry Alistair, Joe, Michael Twomey, Anton Manning, Vickie, Jessie, and many people whose names I did not catch.

Had a chance to wander around Dublin before the conference started. Found the conference venue, a Maplin, a martial arts store that had tai-chi sword with a live blade, the spire, the Ha'Penny Bridge, the Millenium bridge, and Trinity College.

Did a LOT of drinking, at least a lot for me. Many a Guiness flowed past my lips. But I didn't over-do it, I think. At least I didn't feel any ill effects.

On the flight back. A detestable 757 with overhead video. Tons of stuck pixels on the LCD. No choice of movie to watch. The person next to me is sucking her thumb. Acceptable in a child. but really creepy in an adult.

I'm working on Gnash full time these days, so I was pimping Gnash at every opportunity. Talked to the Adobe guys about them being more helpful towards us, but of course got no committments. Stuff like that happens at the CTO level. I think I may just use my OSI cajones to wrangle a meeting with the Adobe CTO. What's the point of being on the OSI board if I can't change the world?

Posted [15:56] [Filed in: posts] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]