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BraveSirZaphod BraveSirZaphod
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Right-wing Heritage Foundation trolls Pride month by declaring June 2 "Ex-Gay Visibility Day"
  • The First Amendment is pretty strong about how it's legal to be a dick.

    Just as I can say that evangelicals are delusional children who never learned how to get over their daddy issues to the extent that they literally invent a daddy in the sky who just so happens to approve of every bias and bigotry they hold to.

  • Majority of Americans wrongly believe US is in recession – and most blame Biden
  • If you think Biden is only "slightly less extreme", you really need to take another look at the Republican party, given its leader is casually suggesting sending out secret police to round up undocumented immigrants into camps.

    Even restricting the view to economic policy, the gap between the average Republican and Democrat in office has been growing much much larger compared to the old 90s consensus. Both parties have grown critical of free trade, with Republicans going much further and wanting to throw huge tariffs on any country that feels icky (and somehow thinking that jacking up prices on all imported goods will improve inflation*). Republicans have also grown extremely fond of attacking any corporation they perceive as being too woke or socially aware, even going so far as to invoke the powers of supposedly-small government to ban certain diversity practices.

    Both parties have become relatively protectionist, but Republicans tend to be against any form of actual domestic investment. On housing, pretty much all supply-side solutions (which you'd think would come from the supposedly market-loving Republicans!) are instead coming from the Democrats, with the Republicans instead reducing essentially everything to culture wars.

    Again, look at the Republican party as it actually is today, because they largely do not have any substantial policy beyond stoking white conservative rage. I'm not saying mainstream Democrats are revolutionary champions of the working poor, but there simply is no competition compared to the Republicans of today.

  • Target to lower prices on thousands of basic items as inflation sends customers scrounging for deals
  • I mean, it's both, among other things.

    Target would absolutely love to charge $1000 for a carton of eggs, and would if they could, but they can't. There has always been some ceiling price past which most consumers will simply walk away and go somewhere else. What exactly that number is depends firstly on the actual cost of getting the item in the first place, since no store will sell an item at a loss (unless they expect that to drive greater returns elsewhere), but then on how much money people actually have available to spend, and that very much is influenced by how much money the Fed is printing, among plenty of other things.

    My point here isn't that corporate greed isn't a factor, but it's not a new factor. It's not like corporations were feeling generous in 2019 and then got in a greedy mood in 2021. They always have and always will charge as much as people are willing to pay, so any changes to what they're charging should be examined by looking at what other factors might be at play. In this case, they've probably realized that they've gotten past the point of driving too many customers away.

    Obviously corporate PR will never come out and say "We're being greedy because fuck you, but we got a little too greedy so please come back", but that is and always has been the dynamic.

  • A Global Tax on Billionaires? Janet Yellen Says ‘No’
  • There are very real constitutional issues with explicit wealth taxes. It took a constitutional amendment to authorize the federal government to collect an income tax, and it's quite possible that it would take another to authorize a wealth tax. Particularly with this Supreme Court, Congress probably doesn't have the legal ability to impose a wealth tax even if it wanted to, to say nothing of the general complexity and costs of collecting it. There are plenty of economists who support the general idea of taxing the wealthy more but who prefer other taxation schemes.

  • ‘Huge win’: Brown University protesters reach an agreement to dismantle encampment
  • Well, this is Brown we're talking about. The students probably got too high and just accepted whatever deal was thrown at them without thinking about it.

  • Republican Congresswoman Greene launches effort to oust Johnson following passage of Ukraine aid
  • He is terrible, but he's better than any replacement, he's shown a willingness to work with Dems, and most importantly, if he ever breaks any promises, the Dems can sick him to the wolves.

  • Survey finds that 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution
  • Okay, so imagine you just ban plastic soda bottles. Now plastic bottles cannot be used in any circumstances, no matter how genuinely warranted, even if a user is willing to pay all costs to ensure its environmental impacts are offset. Also, all soda is now significantly more expensive, so "the poors" still have less access to it.

    And by definition the amount you would have to tax to achieve this has to be so much that it destabilizes the market.

    Potentially, yes. The entire point is that these artificial low prices are only possible because the negative externalities are being inflicted on other people in the form of pollution. By actually factoring this impact into the cost of the good, its true cost emerges and the market will settle into whatever the equilibrium is. If the only thing enabling mass access to cheap soda is a ton of pollution, then you either accept mass pollution or you lose the mass access to cheap soda. There's not really any way around that fundamental trade-off.

  • Survey finds that 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution
  • The spot where you charge it really doesn't matter much except to the accountants; it'll always just be factored into the price of the product. There's no real difference between the company increasing the price by ten cents or a ten cent tax being levied at the register.

    I really wouldn't call it an indulgence tax though. There are plenty of uses for single-use plastics that aren't sodas or indulgences.

  • Survey finds that 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution
  • You frame this as a ‘there is no solution i can see that’s worth it so why bother’ and this tells me you are not interested in a solution.

    That is the exact opposite of what I'm saying. I'm saying that an externality tax to capture the actual cost of single-use plastics would do a lot to reduce their use without distorting markets and causing unintended side effects while likely being more effective than blanket bans.

  • Survey finds that 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution
  • Regulation is fine, but people need to realize that there are always downstream effects that often result in a less efficient version of the same outcome.

    For instance, say you just pass a blanket ban on plastic soda bottles and mandate glass. Production costs immediately go up (not to mention transportation and logistics), and those costs are naturally passed onto the consumer, so the prices of all sodas go up.

    Has this really improved things? There are real questions about the environment impact of glass, since they're significantly heavier and thus require more carbon emissions to transport. Glass is better if it's reused, but there are situations where it's unlikely to be reused. Soda is now more expensive, just as it would have been under a plastic tax (and because lower income people tend to drink more soda, you've hit them extra hard relatively), but now you've also eliminated the ability for plastic bottles to be used in situations where they truly are called for; for instance, you probably don't want to be selling glass bottles at a music festival, so an organizer will need to instead purchase extra plastic cups instead, resulting in the consumption of extra glass and plastic.

    I know people have this idea that the only factor that goes into a price is how greedy the CEO happens to feel that morning, but that's simply not the case. Prices are set by market circumstances, not greed. It's not like NYC landlords suddenly got less greedy in 2020; the market radically changed. They're already charging the most that the market will bear. In terms of regulation, it's almost always more effective to go after the market incentives - that is, price signals - instead of just taking a hammer to the thing you don't like and hoping it doesn't have any bad effects.

  • White House considers welcoming some Palestinians from war-torn Gaza as refugees
  • In most cases, longer. Jews had been in Iraq more than a thousand years before Islam was even developed.

  • White House considers welcoming some Palestinians from war-torn Gaza as refugees
  • There's this notion that modern Israelis are essentially just Europeans who invaded after WWII, which is simply not true.

    While the Zionist movement largely did originate in Europe in the late 1800s, the majority of Israeli citizens today are not of European ancestry / Ashkenazi. The majority are what's called Mizrahi, coming from Middle Eastern Jewish communities that were forcibly expelled from Arab countries during the 50s and 60s. For instance, Ben Gvir, the current Minister of Defense (and to be clear, a complete little shit), is from an Iraqi family. In 1948, there were roughly 150,000 Jews in Iraq, making up nearly 40% of the population of Baghdad. Today, there are estimated to be less than five. Likewise, in Yemen, there were roughly 50,000 Jews, maintaining a presence that goes back well over 2500 years. Today, there may be one single Jew left in the country. The same situation happened all throughout the Arab world. The departing Jews generally had to flee their homes without any significant belongings, since their property was often confiscated. In Syria, for instance, a 1964 decree prevented Jews from traveling more than 3 miles from their homes, banned them from owning land, banned them from working in the government or in banks, banned them from leaving anything as inheritance - which would instead be seized by the state.

  • Fired Google workers ousted over Israeli contract protests file complaint with labor regulators
  • An extremely specific and highly regulated type of work action has a lot of rules in order to legally be protected.

    For instance:

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a “sitdown” strike, when employees simply stay in the plant and refuse to work is not protected by the law.

    Especially at the level of working for Google, employment is a voluntary agreement, not a right. If the employees find it unconscionable to work for Google, the correct thing to do is to, you know, not work for Google.

  • Fired Google workers ousted over Israeli contract protests file complaint with labor regulators
  • Workers have essentially zero right to protest on company time on company property and disrupting work.

    It would be another thing if, to address your counter-example, an employer went through everyone's social media and systematically fired everyone who made the "wrong" public stance in an avenue that has nothing to do with the job (still legal probably, but much shittier), but using your own work time to interrupt business operations isn't going to be tolerated pretty much anywhere.

    Again, if these employees had been protesting outside the company offices on their own time and were fired for that, I'd be more sympathetic, but that's not what happened here.

  • Survey finds that 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution
  • That's what's always a bit maddening about these conversations. It's not like companies are just shredding plastic into the atmosphere because they're cartoon villains who love evil.

    They're making cheap plastic shit because we love cheap plastic shit. They're making this stuff in response to explicit consumer prioritization of low costs above all other factors. If consumers broadly demanded soda in glass bottles and expressed a willingness to pay the extra cost that this entails, every soda company would use glass.

    I'm not saying that you individually should be blamed for all environmental pollution, but we have to realize that companies are responding to the exact same incentives that we do. They're obviously operating at a much larger scale, but they use cheap plastic shit for the exact same reason we do. If you're looking for policy solutions, a great option would be to introduce an externality tax on plastic so that this environmental cost is actually factored into the production and end price and can fund remediate the damage, similar to carbon taxes. Of course though, the moment you say the word 'tax' people's brains completely shut off, so this is probably a non-starter.

  • Keurig's new K-Rounds coffee pods are plastic-free and could finally make single-serve coffee-making sustainable
  • I mean, it's a plant. You can grow it, and plenty of it is grown. It is objectively more sustainable than, say, coal or helium.

  • Yes, you cannot, so to do it do like this
  • This feels more like a poor non-native English speaker than an AI. LLMs do happily lie, but they don't usually have significant grammar mistakes like the missing articles here.

  • How financially literate are Europeans? Not very - but who knows most?
  • This isn't even true though. The vast majority will agree that a little bit of inflation is good, deflation is very bad, and hyperinflation is essentially cataclysmic.

  • Supreme Court Backs Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage Gay Rights Ruling: Supreme Court Backs Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage

    The decision appeared to suggest that the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people, including to same-sex marriage, are on more vulnerable legal footing, particularly when they are at odds with claims of religious freedom.

    The justices settled a question left open in 2018: whether businesses open to the public and engaged in expression may refuse to serve customers based on religious convictions.