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On preventing future NiceGuys

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On preventing future NiceGuys submitted by /u/anichole821 to r/niceguys
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SharedProphet
51 days ago
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Google Fiber's 'Failure' Succeeded In Shining A Light On Pathetic Broadband Competition

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We've mentioned several times how Google Fiber's promise to revolutionize the broadband sector never really materialized. There's a long list of reasons for that, from incumbent ISPs suing to stop Google's access to utility poles, to Alphabet executives suddenly getting bored with the high cost and slow pace of deploying fiber and battling entrenched monopolies.

As it stands, Google Fiber's expansions are largely on pause as company executives figure out how much money they're willing to spend, what the wireless future looks like, and whether Alphabet really wants to participate. That said, while Google Fiber's actual footprint pales in comparison to the hype, the service was a success in that it generated a quality, nationwide conversation about the sorry state of U.S. broadband competition, and spurred some otherwise apathetic incumbent ISPs to actually up their game, as countless cities nationwide decried the terrible state of existing service.

That point was driven home this week in this piece by Blair Levin and Larry Downes. In it, the two quite correctly note that Google Fiber not only pushed incumbents to expand more fiber, but also resulted in incumbent ISPs offering dramatically lower rates in markets where Google Fiber was deployed. This is, as you may already know, how real competition is supposed to work:

"It stimulated the incumbents to accelerate their own infrastructure investments by several years. New applications and new industries emerged, including virtual reality and the Internet of Things, proving the viability of an “if you build it, they will come” strategy for gigabit services. And in the process, local governments were mobilized to rethink restrictive and inefficient approaches to overseeing network installations."

I wrote something very similar on this subject back in 2015, noting that Google Fiber (read: actual competition) did more for broadband in a short period than the FCC's 2010 "national broadband plan," a collection of politically-timid policy goals set forth by Obama's first FCC boss, Julius Genachowski. Like most of the things Genachowski did, the plan carefully avoided offending anyone, barely addressed the overall lack of competition in the market, and (as the FCC likes to do) set forth a number of policy "goals" that would have been met with our without the plan's guidance.

Levin, who played a starring role in crafting that plan, sent me numerous e-mails complaining about my original piece, yet several years later returns to make many of the same points. That said, Levin and Downes go on to notably oversell the lasting impact Google Fiber's effort is going to have on the (still quite broken) U.S. broadband market. There's an odd effort to suggest the broadband market has been permanently fixed by Google's now-shelved ambitions. Case in point:

"Though Google appears to have paused future deployments, the broadband business has permanently changed. Fiber investments by former telephone companies have accelerated or restarted. More advanced DSL using fiber-copper hybrid technology was rushed into operation, as were new fiber-to-the-home services from AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier. Cable companies once again upgraded their technology, accelerating deployment of gigabit-capable standards. New technologies — including low-orbit satellites and “fixed wireless” — were developed for remote and rural locations.

The two-tiered market of high-speed cable and lower-speed DSL broadband has given way to a free-for-all, forcing adoption of more disruptive strategies by incumbents and new entrants alike. The result is increased competition between providers and among cities and regions eager for game-changing private investment."

Reading that, you'd think it was mission accomplished. But Levin and Downes fail to even mention how incumbent ISPs continue to sue many cities that try to modernize their rules if they favor competition. They also ignore how many potential Google Fiber customers are immensely frustrated by delays, cancelled installations, and empty hype as Google Fiber figures out what it wants to do next. But most importantly, the piece ignores that despite Google Fiber, the broadband competition problem in the United States continues to get worse in many markets.

One, without Google Fiber or an equivalent prompting them to, most telcos have refused to upgrade aging DSL lines to fiber at any real scale. That has resulted in cable incumbents like Comcast securing a bigger monopoly than ever across a huge swath of the states, and numerous areas where fast broadband simply doesn't exist (especially if you're poor). And while Downes/Levin look to wireless to magically fix this mono/duopoly, companies like AT&T and Verizon still enjoy monopoly control over the backhaul fiber used to feed cellular towers (and everything ranging from ATMs to schools).

So yes, Google Fiber helped generate a conversation about broadband competition, and even helped address the problem in a few areas. But we've taken numerous steps back since Google Fiber's heyday. Especially given the Ajit Pai tactic of simply gutting most consumer protections and insisting that's going to somehow magically fix the problem of natural broadband monopolies (another issue the authors just kind of casually ignore as if it's not relevant to solving the current problem).

The broadband market is a complicated mess, and is going to require an ocean of creative solutions, from serious policy that encourages competition, to local public/private partnerships where local governments play a role in improving connectivity to lower ROI markets. Yes, Google Fiber highlighted the problem. But its solution was a temporary one, and most would-be competitors lack the resources allowing them to bang their heads against a regulatory captured, broken market. So yes, Google Fiber taught us some valuable lessons, but it's entirely unclear if those lessons have actually been learned.



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SharedProphet
57 days ago
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Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic

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submitted by /u/EightRoundsRapid to r/worldnews
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SharedProphet
80 days ago
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Voting Software

16 Comments and 48 Shares
There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.
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SharedProphet
99 days ago
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14 public comments
siskamartin
79 days ago
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uff
caffeinatedhominid
93 days ago
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Yep.
tante
96 days ago
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xkcd on voting software is spot-on
Oldenburg/Germany
wmorrell
97 days ago
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Hazmat suit, too. Just to be safe.
rjstegbauer
98 days ago
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Amen!! Paper... paper... paper. It's simple. It's trivial to recount. Everyone already knows how to use it. It's cheap. It's verifiable. Just... use... paper.
ianso
98 days ago
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Yes!
Brussels
ChrisDL
98 days ago
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accurate.
New York
reconbot
99 days ago
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Legitimately share this comic with anyone who represents you in government.
New York City
cheerfulscreech
99 days ago
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Truth.
jth
99 days ago
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XKCD Nails Secure Electronic Voting.
Saint Paul, MN, USA
skorgu
99 days ago
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100% accurate.
jsled
99 days ago
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endorsed; co-signed; it. me. &c.

(alt text: «There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.»)
South Burlington, Vermont
alt_text_bot
99 days ago
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There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.
alt_text_at_your_service
99 days ago
reply
There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.
srsly
99 days ago
Seconding this policy ^^

Koch-Backed Think Tank Finds That “Medicare for All” Would Cut Health Care Spending and Raise Wages. Whoops.

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A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is making headlines for projecting that Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” bill is estimated to cost $32.6 trillion — a number that’s entirely in line with 2016 projections, and is literally old news. But what the Associated Press headline fails to announce is a much more sanguine update: The report, by Senior Research Strategist Charles Blahous, found that under Sanders’s plan, overall health costs would go down, and wages would go up.

The study, which came out of the Koch-funded research center, was initially provided to the AP with a cost estimate that exceeded previous ones by an incredible $3 trillion — a massive error that was found and corrected by Sanders’s staff when approached by AP for comment.

But despite that correction, the report actually yields a wealth of good news for advocates of Sanders’s plan — a remarkable conclusion, given that Blahous is a former Bush administration economist working at a prominent conservative think tank.

Blahous’s paper, titled “The Costs of a National Single-Payer Healthcare System,” estimates total national health expenditures. Even though his cost-saving estimates are more conservative than others, he acknowledges that Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan would yield a $482 billion reduction in health care spending, and over $1.5 trillion in administrative savings, for a total of $2 trillion less in overall health care expenditures between 2022 and 2031, compared to current spending.

In order to arrive at this number, Blahous looked at how “Medicare for All” could lower administrative costs and provide savings in areas like drug spending. He concluded that by empowering the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower drug prices, Sanders’s plan would add “$846 billion in additional savings over the 2022-2031” period. These savings, and others, are offset by certain other costs, like those which come from higher “utilization,” or the increased amount health care services used once everyone is insured.

Blahous’s report also acknowledges some substantial benefits to eliminating employer-sponsored insurance. He writes that these changes “should increase worker wage net of employer-provided health benefits,” while also “relieving individuals, families, and employers of the substantial health expenditures they would experience under current law.” The report even admits that the Sanders bill would serve as a boon to states, freeing them from most Medicaid obligations.

But despite the explicit benefits acknowledged by the Blahous study, health policy experts and single-payer advocates David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, who reviewed the Mercatus study, argue that Blahous actually significantly undercounts savings that could result from “Medicare for All.”

“The Mercatus Center’s estimate of the cost of implementing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act (M4A) projects outlandish increases in the utilization of medical care, ignores vast savings under single-payer reform, and fails to even mention the extensive and well-documented evidence on single-payer systems in other nations – which all spend far less per person on health care than we do,” Himmelstein and Woolhandler explain.  

In a written analysis shared with The Intercept, Himmelstein and Woolhandler write that Blahous’s report undercounts administrative savings by more than $8.3 trillion over 10 years. Taking those savings into account would lower Blahous’s estimate from $32.6 trillion to $24.3 trillion.

Additionally, the policy experts believe that Blahous underestimates savings from drug prices; for example, ignoring the success the U.S. Veterans Administration, the Canadian government, and certain European governments have had in negotiating for lower drug prices. If the United States paid European prices, they conclude, another $1.7 trillion would be trimmed from Blahous’s total cost estimate, bringing it down to $22.6 trillion over 10 years.

Himmelstein and Woolhandler also claim that Blahous grossly overestimates how much extra care would be utilized as a result of expanding insurance coverage. Using Blahous’s projections, they note that he is essentially arguing that once every American is covered, there will be 100 million additional doctor visits and several million more hospitalizations each year. But Himmelstein and Woolhandler say that’s wildly off the mark. From their written analysis:

[T]here just aren’t enough doctors and hospital beds to deliver that much care. Doctors are already working 53 hours per week, and experience from past reforms tells us that they won’t increase their hours, nor will they see many more patients per hour.

Instead of a huge surge in utilization, more realistic projections would assume that doctors and hospitals would reduce the amount of unnecessary care to those who are currently not getting what they need. That’s what happened in Canada. Doctors and hospitals can adjust care to meet increasing demand, as happens every year during flu season.

Moreover, no surge materialized when Medicare was implemented and millions of previously uninsured seniors got coverage. Between 1964 (before Medicare) and 1966 (the year when Medicare was fully functioning) there was absolutely no increase in the total number of doctor visit in the U.S.; Americans averaged 4.3 visits per person in 1964 and 4.3 visits per person in 1966. Instead, the number of visits by poor seniors did go up, but the number of visits by healthy and wealthy patients went down slightly. The same thing happened in hospitals. There were no waiting lists, just a reduction in the utilization of unneeded elective care by wealthier patients, and the delivery of more care to sick people who needed it.

Blahous explained the $3 trillion error in an email to The Intercept.

As you might imagine, any draft study like this is shown to many people along the way (at least 20 in this case) and goes through multiple rounds of re-estimation, editing and redrafting.  Estimates in prior drafts were revised in both directions (higher and lower) in subsequent drafts on the way to final publication. One of the more recent drafts before final publication was shown to the Sanders office,” he said. “That draft contained an estimate of long-term care costs reproduced from another study, which was cited because this study had no long-term care model to draw upon.  That previously-published study predated the introduction of the Sanders bill, the language of which the Sanders office asserted was not intended to increase federal financing of long-term care service utilization.  In reality there probably would be some increase in long-term care utilization under M4A because its broader coverage expansion would enable more people to make use of long-term care benefits already authorized under current law through Medicaid.  But rather than attempt to estimate that, I concluded the right thing to do was to reflect the language’s intended effect as represented by the primary sponsor, as was done throughout the study with the other provisions of M4A.  I was very pleased to receive and incorporate their input.

Even using Blahous’s numbers — which may be off by roughly $15 trillion according to Himmelstein and Woolhandler’s estimates  — the conclusion is plain: “Medicare for All” would cover more people, increase the quality of coverage, and cost less than is currently being spent on health care. “Blahous admits that covering the uninsured and upgrading coverage for most others could be achieved at virtually no additional cost through a single payer reform,” Himmelstein and Woolhandler conclude.”Altogether, the increase in federal health spending is dramatic and certainly significant, but the change in projected national health expenditures really isn’t,” he told The Intercept. Especially given the source of the report, that’s news.

Top photo: Audience members wave signs as Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at his event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017 on Sept. 13, 2017.

The post Koch-Backed Think Tank Finds That “Medicare for All” Would Cut Health Care Spending and Raise Wages. Whoops. appeared first on The Intercept.

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SharedProphet
108 days ago
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Wild Florida

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Wild Florida submitted by /u/fatehpuria92 to r/memes
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111 days ago
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