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Obama: I will be the Democratic nominee (cnn.com)
77 points by nirmal on June 4, 2008 | hide | past | favorite | 125 comments

Hi guys.

I love discussing politics. Talking about your philosophy of life, government, and moral obligations to your fellow man (or not). Even the idea that political choices are mostly emotional and then justified by logic is a way cool topic.

Just let's not do that here, okay? I like you guys, and I'm not interested in pissing off half the crowd with my political views. Nor am I interested in reading a bunch of "heck yeah!" posts about any party or candidate -- I find them pedantic. I've got plenty of other places on the net for that stuff.

Now a story about opportunities for how startups are making big bucks with new technology in the campaigns? -- love to see some of that stuff.

I'm just the opposite. I hate discussing politics. When I'm with family or friends and stuff like this comes up, I go in the other room.

Oddly, political discussions here don't bother me so much, just as long as they are "occasional", not regular. I like to hear what people here have to say.

And it's easier to click the back button than to go in the other room.

News? Sure.

Hacker News? Not so much.

At this point, my faith in this community is slowly being evaporated. Where I would normally look to this site as quite possibly the most objective source of information (from a entrepreneurial perspective) and a source of honest opinions and as a frequent internet observer (I really do place so much value on all of your comments and to my knowledge, almost all of them have had a significant impact of my life and my decisions), I am scared to what this community has become. As someone who followed digg and reddit from the early days, I transitioned to this site because I valued all of your opinions, which I believed to be honest. All of my submissions (all ask YC/HN) have been to consult the community on decisions that affect my life to an unbelievable extent. I really am just so confused as to what I said that has offended the community to result in such an extreme display of downmodding (including those that disagree with me). Please just explain yourselves and opinions rather than downmod all of the threads opinions.

EDIT: As an indicator, my Karma has dropped roughly 20 points within the past hour or so, I just really would love to know what aspect of what I said that has made all of you to so passionately enforce such an action. Maybe I have not established relevancy to the hacker community as to why this story matters and that is fine (or maybe you all just disagree which is fine with me as well). I cannot reiterate enough, for my sake, please just let me know what I said that was so offensive. Please refute.


I just would also like to say that this comment has no relation to the one that has been associated with my comment (the one that has been placed below mine because the one it is associated with has been deleted).

That comment goes as follows: Look, I'm an Obama supporter. It's just that as far as I see it, this sort of thing is better left to other venues.

"this community is slowly being evaporated"

No it's not. Have faith in pg and the rest of us. This stuff happens all the time and we survive just fine. How could you know this after only 28 days.

"my Karma has dropped roughly 20 points within the past hour or so, I just really would love to know"

You never will, so don't waste any mental energy worrying about it. That's just the way it goes.

"confused as to what I said that has offended the community"

You haven't "offended" the community. Some people just downvote without commenting. Once it gets going, sometimes it snowballs. Forget about it and move on.

"All of my submissions (all ask YC/HN) have been to consult the community on decisions that affect my life to an unbelievable extent."

Great! Keep it up and do your part. Forget about the other crap.

I have noticed that discussions about what is "appropriate" get lots of upvotes ot lots of downvotes or both, without much logic. Hacker content threads, OTOH, are our bread and butter and are generally well received and appreciated. Stick with the latter.

FWIW I downmodded all politically partisan comments except the one specifically regarding technology policy. I did this because I like HN, and don't want it to turn into this: http://files.sharenator.com/we_know-2368.png I am sure you are a nice guy, I am downmodding your comments, not you. Don't take it personal.

The best thing to do is to be the HN you want to read. Submit good articles, make intelligent comments, and (possibly most significantly) vote up the articles which are really worthwhile. It still doesn't take a whole lot of votes to get something moving up the front page.

I agree. If people want to push their political views, I suggest doing it over here: http://www.createdebate.com/debate/show/Who_is_going_to_be_t...

I think it's time for sites like YC News to implement an 'idea tribes/groups' feature in order to survive 'old age'. Site Moderators are only so effective as shown historically by Slashdot...

Delicious does this pretty well (though the way they do it doesn't completely map to most social news sites) and Reddit has started doing this with its topics feature... Maybe YC News needs to implement something similar? Thoughts?

All I know is even with the risk of missing some good posts, I do not want to see anything from the users that submitted and upmodded this post, and simply moderating this will only sweep the problem under the rug temporarily, and conversely the users that like this post will want to continue making posts like this in the future...


Look, I'm an Obama supporter. It's just that as far as I see it, this sort of thing is better left to other venues.

Given the position of this article, it appears that the rest of the community disagrees.

Well, we don't have a way to downvote it, so I wouldn't assume that to be the truth.

Even without the ability to downvote, doesn't the position of the article indicate that there isn't a better article?

It indicates that that isn't an article with broader appeal. That's not the same thing as "better".

I then argue that "better" as defined by the HN heuristic is exactly defined as an article with more points.

The problem seems to be that people will occasionally reflexively use the upmod arrow on an article just to say "hooray for the sentiment expressed in the headline" rather than after carefully thinking about whether it's worthwhile.

Examples include this article (I'm guessing that most of the upmodders were Obama supporters), the "congrats to pg on getting married" thread the other day, and the "happy birthday somebodyorother" thread a few weeks ago.

I'm more interested in my definition of better than the algorithm's.

You didn't provide a definition of better.

ok I am going to play the Luttgenstein/Chomsky blah blah blah argument.

you are arguing semantics that are reduced to arguments about differences in language. it is meaningless, mostly

Pardon the brevity of my previous post. I'm sorry if it appears that I'm arguing for it's own sake. I only meant to indicate that we currently have an implemented definition of "better" between posts--the HN ranking algorithm. I believe that the burden of proof belongs to the party challenging the status quo to provide an alternative and then argue why the alternative is indeed the preferred system.

During the debate over which ranking algorithm/definition is better where I believe the Luttgenstein/Chmosky argument is most applicable because we don't have a clearly agreed upon definition of what a better ranking algorithm is. However, until an alternative is provided, we cannot possibly reach and/or explore these semantic differences.

Why I use the implemented definition of "better" in favour of my (admittedly completely subjective) definition?

If you surveyed people's definitions of "better [thing that they care about]" you'd get a lot of different answers, but I suspect few would say "more people like it" (even if an algorithm based on "more people like it" would be good at finding things they think are better).

Smooshing this together with your previous statement, we get:

> Even without the ability to downvote, doesn't the position of the article indicate that there isn't an article with more points?

It does indicate that. So what?

Democracy is the greatest hack.

No it is not and you are correct in that assessment. Personally, Obama does not represent a good portion of my views in terms of policy, but what he does represent for me is a new wave in politics, a wave that is once again representative of the people rather than individual incentive and making decisions based on who is going to line their pockets. Anything to end corruption is better to me than someone who is going to promise to act within my set of views for what is best for this country and then do the opposite or what they want.

My view, personally, is that government should act as a safety net rather than a guiding father figure. I tend to float towards more libertarian policies than anything, small government and as little intervention as possible (a view that can be considered almost the complete opposite side of the spectrum than Obama). My view is that this nation has grounding and worked for so many years to be a country of opportunity, therefore, the structure of government should reflect that ideal and anyone who is willing to work hard should be rewarded for it (no free gifts).

What I do support from Obama are his values (or proposed and believed values) as a human being. Not his religious values or the garbage perpetrated by the media (ie. reverand Wright). He gives individuals a reason to believe that he is going to act on what is best for society and that enough might be what will make me forget about his views of government. Yes, he most likely will propose policy that is near opposite of what I believe and I will make that admission, but I hope that having a man with a sense of ethics will take this country down a path where someone with my sense of views and his could come to some sort of a compromise with what is best for this country. I would rather have that than the selfishness thats perpetuated this country since I have been alive. I would rather have a man who will admit when he is wrong and correct it than someone who will ride it out. Call him a flip flopper or whatever bullshit title you want to call it (I am talking to you media), a real man will admit when he is wrong or made a mistake and then go to fix it.

Back to why it is relevant, it is news to you as a hacker because he represents technical views that are in line with what most hackers view as what the internet should be; maintaining status quo and keeping the internet free. I know without a doubt Obama would insure that the internet would continue to remain free and would not be corrupted by big business and allow them to manipulate the way traffic and data flows. That, above anything, should be the most important issue to you, as is to me. To my limited knowledge, he has promised to create a new IT oriented branch of the office if elected, which is once again relative to you. I have had quite a few drinks tonight (I know it is a wednesday but I will give the fact that I am in college as an excuse) but I hope my statement is coherent; the more you think about it, someone in politics, or more specifically the president, has almost the most significant impact to any hacker as almost any individual possible and that is why it is relevant to you. Cheers!

Not his religious values or the garbage perpetrated by the media (ie. reverand Wright)

At the risk of being downmodded for injecting more facts into this thread, you are aware (I'm sure) that BHO considers Wright to be his spiritual mentor? The connection is not a media invention or media "garbage" by any means.

You are also aware that Wright and his church are ideologically and officially associated with views of an extremely radical nature?


Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago is the one church frequently cited by press accounts, and by Cone as the best example of a church formally founded on the vision of Black liberation of theology

This is the church that Obama spent 20 years attending. Ask yourself, everyone: What would happen if McCain had spent even one day in a church that advocated "White Liberation Theology"?

BHO is probably an atheist like myself and most intelligent people, and his attendance to the church was likely somewhat cynical. But the connection between the church's official dogma, Wright's views, and Obama are meaningful.

Amazing that these data are so upsetting to news.YC's audience. I wonder if one of the downvoters could articulate what it is about these facts that needs to be suppressed. It seems relevant to me that Obama sought such a radical preacher as his mentor, and it was only when one of his other spiritual mentors (http://www.volokh.com/posts/1207631070.shtml ) got in trouble that he finally left the church.

I enjoy the handling of downmodded items though. Where reddit hides it and thus makes unpopular views (especially really unpopular views) hidden, YC simply grays them out.

It'd be neat to somehow highlight really unpopular views while still being able to filter things out that are simply trash. YC doesn't have much of a problem with this right now, but it could help suppress the noise from the random waves of out-of-place comments.

Why are you so afraid of black people?

[Playing armchair psychiatrist]

Why? He has been victimized: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=95161

Although he states that race has not permeated his thought process, a casual glance over the books he wants to buy share a decided slant towards race issues:


Bear in mind that I am black, and I am empathetic to him. Put yourself in his shoes, a young guy with a new gig just trying to make it in the Big Apple, and you aren't getting paid much so you have to settle in a seedier part of the city. People attack you and rob you just because of your color. You are trying to do something generative with your life. You were not part of this: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.liu.edu/cw...

Or this: http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/african/2000/lynch_1.jpg

The folks that committed those crimes are long dead. But that is part of the ugliness of racism/tribalism: It's propagated like a tumor to non actors and good people. I've been called an epithet or ten in my day, but I've never been under physical attack like him. I would hope that I would have came to his aid in some way if I saw it happening. I would also hope that I would come away from it without negative racial views of the perpetrators, but am I that noble? I'm not so sure. I was good friends with a Jewish guy in college who got chased after school every day calling him "white boy". He overcame that and saved my ass on many an occassion, but I digress... The human mind evolved friend or foe circuitry tuned to statistics, so the conclusion his mind has come to is somewhat rational.

So what does a man do? If you're of low intelligence and have a proclivity for violence, you become a skinhead. If you're Byrne, you have an above average intelligence, as he seems to, you get your ass out of dodge and read a few books to better inform yourself as to why what happened to you happened.

Again, as a black person I can't agree with his conclusions, but I empathize with him and he would have been within his rights as a human being to fire a pistol at his attackers.

If I mischaracterized him my apologies in advance.

A few other things: I should start by pointing out that your premise is flawed. I don't hate any ethnic group. I appreciate human diversity. Differences between human groups are real, and they appear to be somewhat genetic.

I was actually surprised to see how few race-y books I'd added to the wishlist. There's a sort of illicit thrill to buying something that you can't read in public.

By the way, if you're interested in the lynching issue you might give Thomas Sowell a read. He claims that there were more whites than blacks lynched prior to the Civil War. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rednecks-Liberals-Thomas-Sowell/...

Again, I really appreciate that you can keep an open mind about this. When I first got interested in this issue, I didn't know the ethnic background of the guy who was arguing against me -- if I encountered these views from someone who considered his ethnic group smarter than mine, I would not have been nearly so open.

If you're open to considering the idea further, I would recommend adding http://isteve.blogspot.com and http://gnxp.com to your reading list for a little while. You'll find, as I did, that they present a view of the world that's just more consistent than the one most Americans are raised with.

I appreciate your research. This is approximately correct, although I had definitely studied the issue before getting mugged.

Where did I mention that half of Obama's ancestry?

I wonder if one of the downvoters could articulate what it is about these facts that needs to be suppressed

Good luck. I was going to come up with an elaborate analysis, but it would be wasted. A quick analogy: If you write a post explaining why dell is cheaper than apple, given the same components, you will be severely downmodded. Even if apple is better in every other way, pointing out even a single disadvantage is an affront to people who've bought the whole package, even if they've bought that package because of a single detail.

In Obama's case, that single detail might be: 1) Iraq, 2) Net neutrality, 3) Telecom immunity, 4) Anything else.

ADDENDUM: I'm not going to look it up, but the only time I remember pg being dowmmodded severely was when he criticized (rather lamely, in fact) Ron Paul. So, it's not unusual.

I definitely think that these bitter Americans and non-Americans cling to social news sites and Obama. I just wish some of them would explain why, instead of downvoting factual information about their candidate. The guy has been a public figure for about four years, compared to maybe forty for John McCain, so I'd expect them to be desperate for new information, and thankful when it's provided. And yet, the more I tell people about Barack Hussein Obama, they madder they get at me!

"And yet, the more I tell people about Barack Hussein Obama, they madder they get at me!"

It's because you're a bigot.

Wait, is it bigoted to have information about Obama? Or bigoted to share it? Or is neutral information transubstantiated into bigotry by my communion with Odin?

Please clarify your question.

It wasn't a question, it was a statement. You're a racist. It's become painfully obvious after reading your comments over the last several months. You can accept that or not. I just thought it was worth losing karma to confront you with that.

Okay. Does that mean I'm wrong? Or does it mean that I'm right but you're upset about it? If you can make a factual argument, I'd like to hear it. If all you can do is call me names, that's fine -- I'm okay with being vilified but not contradicted.

I don't think you should worry about being downmodded for injecting facts (downmodding is more of a reflection of the community rather than the validity or relevance of a statement) so never have that be a determinant of your opinions.

I would definitely agree with you, as I am sure you would with this statement, that Obama would not renounce himself from the church if it were not for the presidential election and the way the media has portrayed the situation. But what we might disagree on is what the definition of spirituality is, and subsequently what that influence has on values and opinions. You and me could have exactly the same viewpoints on every aspect of every thought but differ on spirituality and views of god etc, but does that necessarily mean that those values would reflect in our decision making process.

I don't necessarily support radical values (being white it would make sense that I am not a black "radical") but I will admit that sometimes it takes a group of radicals to have influence on a larger group to bring influence and equilibrium to the status quo.

To inject more facts into the thread and refute the McCain statement, a slow undercurrent and momentum has been to show light on McCains pastor Hagee:


Basically the same, yet opposing views, of Wright. Any logical individual will acknowledge that Black's have been oppressed throughout the history of this country, but I don't think that either of us are in any position to make judgment on whether they should feel as though they need to advance their race or make sure that they are considered equals among society any more etc.

I think the line that was crossed by Wright was the press conference right before Obama disassociated himself from Wright. It was clear at that point that Wright was taking advantage of the media coverage and milking the spotlight. I would have done the same if someone that I considered a friend sold me out to fame, fortune, press, whatever. To me, integrity and ethics are more important that religious values.

I was about to say, word for word, the exact same thing. Had it typed out and everything. Then I had to check on dinner, came back, and got the unknown/expired link error.

Needles to say, I'm in agreement.

It is somewhat important to hackers what the future of tech policy in the United States will be. Net neutrality? FCC regulations on different parts of the spectrum? FCC regulations on ISP's? Funding on new internet backbones or litigation against the previous telecoms on their failure to implement high speed access with previous funding? Higher education funding and research grants?

All of these are directly related to the production of new/better hackers or the ability of existing hackers/internet startups to reach people.

While, yes, any other day this would certainly be off-topic, in our two party system when one party decides on its nominee for president of the United States, it is some-what important for hackers to know what the two possible outcomes of the future of Technology policy will be.

Articles about net neutrality and other political issues of relevance to hacker entrepreneurs are certainly relevant to HN. General political stuff of the sort that's already saturating the media everywhere else is not.

In response to all of our comments being heavily downmodded, (which I personally wish that the ability to mod was more integrated with the necessary requirement that a comment follow for the sake of conversation) I really hope that you could refute your point of view or why you so vehemently disagree rather than mod into the thread and conversation into oblivion so that no one else will see.

I really do believe that some important points were addressed in the conversation in relation to the validity and relevance to the hacker community for the conversation so I would hope that rather than mod down to where no one will see the conversation you express your opposing opinion. In the end a refutation will do more than silencing the opposition.

EDIT 1: Thanks to you all that have resurrected the comments in the thread (especially those that oppose the comments). It really would not bother me if every one in the HC community opposed those viewpoints, I am just glad to know that we could have a civilized conversation in the thread and that individuals will still be able to express their opinions in text rather than have the influence be based on votes.

EDIT 2: The conversation has obviously went from negative to positive for quite a while now (which would come with the assumption that it is quite controversial and polar topic), but once again, please establish your opinions rather than vote to where no one will read the viewpoints and comments expressed.

While this is awesome, this is covered on the TV News, so it does fall within what the rules consider off-topic. But threads like this have come up rarely enough (one previous Obama thread?), that the rules can be broken.

Go Obama.


>Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

Though I guess Obama is kind of an interesting new phenomenon, but probably not new to anyone here.

maybe the moderators are off on a honeymoon, or something?

Well, if we need to tweak it for more relevancy, I'd be interested to hear any strong public speakers pick apart what makes him such a good speaker.

Yeah...however, the outcome of the presidential election would deserve to be on the front page.

No. That will be on every news source.

But this isn't the outcome of a presidential election. And anyways, why should the outcome of the presidential election be on HN? Its not especially relevant to hackers, and I'm quite certain people will see the news elsewhere - it usually gets a lot of coverage.

I think it is relevant to hackers. It might not be hacker-specific, but it significantly affects all kinds of things, many IP related.

You could say that about basically any politics story - the point is that when politics are involved, discussions like this one happen. Politics has made Reddit's frontpage basically unreadable to me, and I would hate to see that happen here.

All I'm saying is the outcome of a presidential election is a legitimate exception to the politics rule. The rest, sure, it's irrelevant to hacker news. I stand by my downvoted opinions.

I think in an idealized HN, even the outcome of the Presidential Election wouldn't get upvoted, although I'm sure that in the real HN it probably will.

It's not more relevant to hackers than other people. It's very relevant to hackers, miners, accountants, lawyers and everyone else. That's a good sign that it's not "hacker news". The key factor is relative importance, not absolute importance.

Agreed... but I don't make the rules. Do your worst, editors.

If anyone wants to read his tech policy, here it is. This election is a battle for net neutrality.


The education policy is also good, it basically comes down to "spend more money on education."


If throwing money at problems worked well, startups would be screwed.

If education could be solved by the government it would be well worth eliminating many potential startups in the education space. It would make more opportunities for startups, because everyone would be more educated, producing more wealth to spend.

Is there even a positive correlation between throwing more money at education and having better-educated kids? It looks like at some point over the last thirty years, we got to the point that the administrative cost of distributing the next dollar for education exceeds one dollar, so the extra money gets soaked up by bureaucratic inefficiencies.

But whatever! It's only billions and billions of taxpayer dollars spent by a monopolist that buys its product from a cartel! Clearly, the important thing is to give more money to this completely deranged system, rather than fixing it.

I've never understood this mindset. Don't conservative types like you believe in market influences? How could spending more money NOT improve education levels?

Just a couple of examples off the top of my head: 1) Spending more means higher teacher salaries. Higher salaries attract better talent, which means better education. 2) Spending more means better facilities and supplies. Decent materials and supplies lead to a better classroom experience.

I went to a dirt-poor high school in south Georgia. My chem teacher was senile, our textbooks were 14 years old and falling apart, and the sinks leaked chemicals onto the floor. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but more money would have helped my school a TON.

This whole "bureaucratic inefficiency" argument it a catch-all that greedy rich people like to use as an excuse to not help out the less-fortunate.

"Don't conservative types like you believe in market influences? How could spending more money NOT improve education levels?"

It's insulated from the actual market. Government schools are a de facto monopoly, since they sell their product below cost, and you have to pay for it even if you don't use it. They also use a teacher's cartel to supply their teachers, and this cartel pays a lot of money to lobbyists who craft our education policy. Given these layers of monopolies, cartels, and corruption, your reference to 'market influences' makes little sense.

"1) Spending more means higher teacher salaries. Higher salaries attract better talent, which means better education"

I'd rather figure out how to fire the bad teachers rather than hiring new ones. Imagine how much money we could spend on new teachers if we shut down the rubber room: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/education/10education.html...

"Decent materials and supplies lead to a better classroom experience."

Oh. Does this mean "I looked at what kind of school supplies people used fifty years ago, and concluded..." or "I imagine..."?

"This whole "bureaucratic inefficiency" argument it a catch-all that greedy rich people like to use as an excuse to not help out the less-fortunate."

Or this whole "spending other people's money on a system that has only gotten more pathologically ineffective as billions of dollars of other people's money has been spent on it" argument is just a way for people to feel good about themselves without facing reality. Or maybe it's pointless to attribute someone else's argument to their biases, especially when you can't disprove the argument!

I think we should accept that school is not for everyone. I think we should get people out of school when they can contribute more to society by working rather than disrupting classrooms. It's a travesty that so many otherwise useful 14-year-olds are earning their straight-D report cards for years (and spending my money to do it!) when they could be mopping floors, flipping burgers, etc. I would have been happier working full-time when I was thirteen, instead of going to school and only getting to work evenings and weekends. Surely I'm not the only one.

Rich towns with high tax revenue tend to have good schools. Poor towns with low tax revenue have worse schools. It's often obvious just in the building and materials.

There are a thousand ways that schools could be improved--giving up on students and sending them to flip burgers full time at 14 is not one of them. That only serves to perpetuate the self-feeding cycle of poverty, crime, and poor education. Breaking the cycle is going to be hard and expensive.

Education needs more money and smarter money.

Interesting. Fortunately, there are experimental data available! School busing programs have sent poor kids to rich schools for years. Somehow, test scores are still declining, though.

giving up on students and sending them to flip burgers full time at 14 is not one of them.

At what point is joining the work force 'giving up'? And how recently did this become the case? Also, do you not think there are any jobs that don't require at least a high school education, or do you think that a high school education is important even if we know in advance that the person who gets it won't be using it?

You have experimental data? Wonderful, link away.

You were complaining that "otherwise useful" students were doing poorly in school rather than working minimum wages jobs, specifically mopping floors or flipping burgers. The poster was complaining especially that they were "wasting your money."

At what point is joining the work force 'giving up'? You are “giving up” at the point when you “give up” on doing better than a minimum wage job with no high school degree. It’s very hard for a person of average or below-average intelligence and ambition to move beyond this—and these average people are the people we have to consider.

And how recently did this become the case? This is a flippant question, but here’s an answer anyway: Around 1870 public education became universal. Prior to that, we weren’t even trying, and hence, could not “give up.”

Also, do you not think there are any jobs that don't require at least a high school education, or do you think that a high school education is important even if we know in advance that the person who gets it won't be using it?

There are many jobs that do not require a high school degree. In fact, there are examples of people without a high school degree doing almost every kind of work there is, and getting paid all sorts of different salaries for it. But we’re not talking about exceptions here, we’re talking about average people. And a high school diploma is very valuable for most people. http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/site/c.kjJXJ5MPIwE/b...

I believe that a high school education is valuable in itself, beyond financials. If we’re going to have a democracy, it would be nice to have voters have some idea of what’s what. It’s also valuable in parenting. These concerns, however, are really not necessary to show the value of a high school diploma.

The previous poster made a claim about poor students in high-quality schools. I thought it was an interesting claim given that there have been experiments to that effect. Someone who says "If X, I bet Y!" should be happy to hear that "Someone tried X -- do you know if they got Y?"

You are “giving up” at the point when you “give up” on doing better than a minimum wage job with no high school degree.

You're not "giving up" on the workforce when you stay in school? Also, are you "giving up" on school if you don't pursue a BA? An MA? A JD? A PhD? A postdoctoral position? A professorship? Tenure? A Nobel? Fields Medal? When you say that they "give up" you imply that they don't do something because it's too hard -- I'd rather say that they do the right thing, which happens to be the easy thing. I've "given up" on being a novelist, or an athlete, or a mathematician, or a drug lord, because I don't have the skills for that job.

I like how well your link controls for the possibility that smart people pursue higher education. I eagerly await the Center for Public Education's (they're neutral, too!) report on how height income, because most people under five feet tall don't even bother to join the labor force.

I believe that a high school education is valuable in itself, beyond financials.

Okay. There are lots of things that I think are valuable, but that I don't insist you pay for. If you're spending huge amounts of other people's money, you probably owe them some assurance that it's not just because it sure would be nice to have what you're buying (regardless of cost?) but that they will get their money's worth.

If we’re going to have a democracy, it would be nice to have voters have some idea of what’s what.

And they're learn this from government schools? How many teachers will tell kids that their government is horribly inefficient, or that their country has veered far from the values that its founders fought and killed for? Your argument might be persuasive in general, but I'm opposed to democracy so it doesn't sway me in particular.

If you have data, please share it. The only bits of info I found were that busing students from one neighborhood to the next didn't have much effect either way.

The problem of selection bias is of course going to be very present as always. One of the toughest issues with public policy is that there's rarely data up to a scientific standard of proof. It's possible that the amount of money spent on an education has nil effect. One simple counterargument is this: you can't learn about computers if you don't have them.

1)"Giving up" You're using a slippery slope argument. I think a minimum wage job with essentially no opportunity for advancement at 14, is too early to "give up." That's the example that I responded to.

This is a place where we have to set a number -- it's currently at 16. This is a fairly subjective call, as there are a thousand different concerns that could reasonably move it one way or the other.

2)Value of an education A decently educated populace has great value, to me. I'm willing to pay for it. On the contrary, a bad education is not worth all that much. I believe the solution to bad education is to make it better, not to get rid of it forever.

3)Democracy How about basics like what the supreme court is and how to locate Iraq on a map? If you want to tell people about the founders, it helps if they know who the founders were and what the constitution is. No one is going to vote for your viewpoint if they don't even know what it is you're talking about.

We seem to disagree about some basic matters, so trying to argue about a high-level issue like education funding and the drop-out age is probably fairly futile.

Right, let's reduce education! Ignore the order of magnitude more funding provided to the Department of Defense.

This never made any sense to me. I target my voting like I optimize my code. Look for the biggest inefficiencies and start there.

I don't see why that's relevant. I was responding to the argument that, contrary to the last few decades of high school spending for poorer performance, we might want to consider lowering spending. Unless there is some kind of treadmill of escalating dumbness, and we have to keep spending more and more on schools to break even.

Education spending is not just a single number.

Should we spend more or less on:

Sports, Teachers, Food, Text Books, Staff, Administration, Trips, Gifted Programs, Counseling Services, Science Fairs, Music Programs, preschool, 1st, 2nd...12th, Collage, Grad School, PhD Programs, Anti Drug Programs, Anti Teen Pregnancy Pamphlets, etc.

I think it's safe to assume each of the above have related rates of diminishing returns. If you wanted to evaluate how effective changing each of the above programs where you might come up with an interesting idea but hacking education is more than just how much money should the US government in total spend.

Less (kids do sports on their own).

Less (by making it easier to fire incompetent teachers).


Less (textbook companies are almost as bad as the teachers' cartel -- I learn more from old books, anyway).

Unknown (what do you mean by staff?)

Less (I have never walked into a school's administrative building and thought that these people seemed too busy and that what they did was important).

Unknown (some trips are great, some are a waste. Maybe trips geared towards different sets of interests would be better -- e.g. don't send dumb jocks to a play if they're just going to make things miserable for the drama kids).

Less (gifted programs tend to suck. Ideal gifted program: let them hang out in the library after hours, and maybe pester interested teachers).

Less (counseling is counterproductive. We were a safer, saner country when we didn't diagnose temporary moods as medical problems).

I don't understand how you spend money on science fairs. The ones I have been to involved students doing projects and displaying them at school. Who pays how much for what?

More (for kids who aren't interested in athletics, music programs are a good way to participate in a team. They also teach some math, which is nice).

Less (I've seen no evidence that preschool helps anyone).

Less (high school is too expensive because too many people feel obligated to attend. A 14-year-old American who paid a little attention in school has enough knowledge to function at an acceptable level, so someone who could work for four years instead of staying in school should do so. Unless high school is worth more than the $20K/year they could get doing blue-collar work and learning a trade).

Less (too many people go to college. Again, time value of money).

Less (useful stuff is subsidized by the private sector. PhDs in the semiotics of of Star Trek / Harry Potter crossover slash are paid for by truculent taxpayers like me).

Less. Above.

Less. I don't think we should impose an anti-drug culture. Let kids learn at home whether or not it's okay to spend their time getting high, and of course to learn which drugs have which effects.

Less. There are more efficient solutions.

Ok, do you have any research to back up those assumptions? It's easy to have an opinion about such things but on what basis are you making such assumptions. Across the US there is a huge range in how much we spend on each of these. Anyway, the Staff is everyone involved that is not teaching and not an administrator such as janitors, lunch ladies, school buss drivers etc. There is a wide range in cost for each of these across the US and at different points in the educational system. If you averaged each of these based on cost of living per area you would find many schools spend well under the existing average do you want to cut them to zero or bring them up to average and cut out the big spenders.

PS: I don't understand how you spend money on science fairs. Every activity from printing a single scrap of paper costs money. I have known schools which stopped doing science fairs because the cost to much (under 1000$) and I know schools that spend a that much or more per student to give them access to the tools they need to do high level experimentation. (AKA access to an electron microscope etc.)

No. I have done research, but I cannot point you to a specific source that rigorously defends the assertion that kids play sports even if you don't make them do it in P.E.

Fortunately, the burden of proof is on whoever wants to spend billions of dollars on a system that is less and less effective as it gets more and more expensive. Right?

* Every activity from printing a single scrap of paper costs money.*

Right. I would not expect the cost of paper to increase from a teacher saying "There will be a science fair this Friday."

schools that spend a that much or more per student to give them access to the tools they need to do high level experimentation. (AKA access to an electron microscope etc.)

That isn't a cost specific to a science fair. Perhaps it would be a learning experience for kids to do a science fair within a budget. It's certainly a learning experience for them to see adults cave in when asked to underwrite arbitrary profligacy.

Edit: I'm also unfamiliar with this use of "AKA". "... to give them access to the tools they need to do high level experimentation (also known as access to an electron microscope..." doesn't make sense to me.

One point to bring it on topic: Obama has by far the best use of the Internet any candidate has ever had. From fundraising to volunteer recruitment to local organization to event coordination, he blows the competition away.

  Number of Obama Meetup groups: 71
  Number of Obama Meetup group members: 4,037

  Number of Ron Paul Meetup groups: 716
  Number of Ron Paul Meetup group members: 28,870
Source: http://www.ronpaulstats.org/Meetup_Groups.html

  Largest single day online Ron Paul fundraiser: $6.2 million
  Largest single day Barack Obama fundraiser: Errrrmmmm....a lot less.
Of course, if you want to get semantic, I suppose you could say Barack Obama's done a better job using the Internet; the Internet has done more in the way of using Ron Paul.

Not to bag on RP, who is a very interesting candidate, but those fundraising numbers are pretty misleading.

Let's look at the totals (http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/)

Barak Obama - $265,439,277 Ron Paul - $34,442,643

The comment I was responding to was solely about the Internet. Barack Obama has done much more in the way of the traditional $2000 dinner events, while probably 90% of Ron Paul's funds came over the Internet.

The man has his own social network to recruit volunteers.

Warning: Posting in the thread for Obama winning the presidency will get you downmodded uselessly.

There has to be a better, quicker way to choose a new president. This is worse than big brother (the tv show).

Is it any wonder so few vote when they have to endure years of this before hand?

I half-agree that this isn't HN material. Half, because I'd really like to hear about HN users' views and opinions about politics.

I can sum it up for you: they pretty much represent the normal political spectrum, but there are a lot more libertarians, and probably fewer Bush style conservatives. If you want to see the results of such a discussion: libertarians vs more left-leaning (a lot more in some cases) vs a few lonely moderates, have a look at reddit. It's generally not that entertaining, and I'd much rather talk about things we all have in common rather than those that divide us.

> things we have in common

Right, like the undeniable facts that vim is better than emacs, Macs are fundamentally more secure than Linux, the gphone will be better than the iPhone, 37signals is overrated, ruby is better than python...

emacs rules, dude! But at least in those debates, we're some of the more qualified people to comment, whereas with politics, it's just the same tired old blah blah blah that you hear everywhere else.


I'm so happy this happened, because this will finally save the world! (Not)

(To all non-US folks, like me: if the US were really so important as they think to be, it would suffice to save them, and all of the world would be safe and happy.

There's only one big problem here: the progress of US is often based on regress of too many other countries, and especially very poor ones...)

how l33t of him.

The rampant down-modding for differing political views on this thread (which has no business being on Hacker News in the first place) is ridiculous.

It is not ridiculous, since people aren't downmodding to express a difference of opinion about what the person said. They are downmodding to assert they do not want to hear any political opinion on Hacker News, because--as has been said--there are countless other venues for hackers to express and debate political opinion; Hacker News is not one of them.

Notice therefore we see something interesting regarding the HN system. In essence, this is exactly what pg had in mind. Karma is taken away for comments and not just submissions, so that users will adapt to the Hacker News atmosphere. As we have seen from this thread, politics (even "news" like the first ever black general election presidential candidate) is simply not something people are interested in seeing on HN, and if people keep discussing it, they will be downmodded into oblivion, effectively maintaining the current HN mindset (since, presumably, people with negative, or quickly decreasing karma, will not want to continue posting on HN).

The only thing that could break such a system is a vast shift in the mentality of the community (which is not a bad thing since it would still keep the community happy, although it's very unlikely to happen), or a massive influx of new people into the community (which is why pg wants to keep the number of new signups per day low).

Correct analysis, but the downmodders are acting uselessly.

I disagree. Read my post again, I added two paragraphs. It's very useful behavior, in fact (imho). It preserves the nature of the community quite effectively (albeit at the expensive of causing temporary upset).

it feels to me that more assholery has resulted from "HN-vs-not HN" than what would have from a political discussion

Think over the long term.

If there's enough HN-vs-not-HN assholery over the short term, political topics will show up less often and there will be less need for both kinds of assholery. If political discussions are allowed to run unchecked, assholery remains at a constant level (and HN enters a downward spiral).

that sounds like a slippery slope. this is the first political topic i've seen in a while, and it's about a fairly significant milestone. i think people know this isn't a general news site

You may be right, but I'd rather err on the side of caution.

(Being a non-American who's absolutely sick of the 24/7/365/∞ circus you guys call "politics" has probably affected my opinion somewhat)

I agree. I am also amazed that the word "assholery" made it throught the HN spell checker. Wonder what that means.

If people don't want to hear political opinions, won't they downmod everything else equally?

Do you really expect that there will be no correlation between bad-mouthing Barack and getting more downvotes?

In case this gets buried in the noise:


Obligatory: correlation != causation

How is this not dead? Politics should not be the top story - I thought there was a strict ban on politics?

No strict ban, just caution - the reason given as politics tending to be divisive, even among intelligent groups.

awww. i wanted hillary to win, because she has bill

Why is it that every time a political link is posted on here, it gets up-modded like crazy, while at the same time collecting dozens of comments full of meta-discussion about what types of links should and should not be on HN? Seems to me that if you don't like a link, you should just not up-mod it, and certainly not waste your own time by commenting.

Because ignoring them doesn't work. If you don't fight to keep things on-topic, you'll just end up with another Reddit in a few months.

Agreed. Without a downmod arrow, bitching about upmodding is part of the system. The idea is that if every political article degenerates into a bunch of people bitching that political articles shouldn't be posted, then eventually people will learn not to post political articles.

True. Even with a down arrow, it's not helped Reddit (helped == make me want to read the front page), hopefully the bitching is more effective.

Say 100 people really liked it, and 1,000 people did not.

Well, you'd have an article that had 100 upmods and far more comments inside saying that the article sucked and should not have been upmodded.

Let's hear it for a crippling capital gains taxes!

Whoops, I meant 'Go Barry!'

I hate Obama as much as anyone, especially for tax reasons, but I modded you down anyway just for trying to start a political argument.

how does one "mod down"? I see only and "up" button. Thanks.

The mod down arrow has some sort of minimum karma threshold.

Ithink the Dems have the right man fr the job - Obama is a wonderfuly intelligent man who will bring all the requisite nuance and intelligence to the presidency (his choice of favourite films, for example, reveals a man very sensitive to different aspects of culture within America, and indeed the world) - but unlike Kerry, he's got the charisma and power to not have that come off as 'flip flopping' (the most ridiculous branding to ever decide an election on - a shameful year for the USA, that was). Internationally, he comes off as a sensitive and reasonable American patriot - I think this is a very good combination for international relations.

This sucks for the Democratic campaign in '08 - Obama/AP/CNN says he will be nominee, Hillary campaign says they are mistaken, Democratic party can't say much until the convention. Doesn't seem like much of a time of unity... hopefully, we'll all come together by November.

She actually said they were mistaken? From what I watched of her speech she completely ignored the issue.

The AP story is incorrect. Senator Clinton will not concede the nomination this evening.

From: http://blog.hillaryclinton.com/blog/main/2008/06/03/163233

That's pretty fishy wording, and her newer posts seem to be very close to conceding...

My god, this whole comment thread is people wondering out loud if "this is hacker news" or not. Give it a rest. No it's not hacker news, and no it doesn't matter. If you're really concerned with the purity of a website, you're going to have to find out who upmodded the thing and then ban them.

As I said a long time ago: The democrats have one chance to lose this election, and that is to nominate Barack Obama. Oddly, given that McCain is basically a moderate democrat himself, a loss by Obama would probably tend to neuter the GOP and result in an overall advantage for the leftist program.

How are we supposed to find out who voted it up and ban them? We're not mods (at least I'm not). The best we can do is express our distaste at the fact this that is on the front page.

The prediction markets like Obama. http://www.intrade.com

McCain has been around for a long time and has said a lot of contradictory things -- it is easy to edit videos together to make him look like a fool. A flip-flopper, if you will.

Intrade's markets on the election are ripe for arbitrage: 4.2 the price for the Clinton nomination, and 6.0 for her winning the general. What's that, a 43% profit with very very low risk[buy the nomination, sell the general: can't win the general without the nomination]?

The problem is that the Intrade market is small, requires a wire transfer + personal docs to deposit money, and is almost certainly illegal in the US. I've wanted to play there many times, but I've never wanted to go through the process of getting my money to Ireland.

If I could legally bet against him I probably would. McCain is an idiot. He's old. He's ugly. He's got awful cancer scars. He's sick as a pike. He's a hypocrite. He's a criminal. He's (possibly) insane. I'm aware of his faults, but I'm also aware that none of them "stick". Obama and his various followers have consistently broken a key rule of politics: Do not insult the voters. I expect more of the same.

Obama is a pyschologically interesting person, and I can't help hoping he wins, in a way. (Only because it would be interesting, though). McCain is as interesting as Franco, which is to say: Not at all. Obama, by contrast, grew up politically as a strict identity-politician. That is, a "black" politician, who mainly tried to divert public money and favors to a particular race. Read his bio. This attitude is somewhat artificial and I'm not sure that he has the sort of natural bigotry of Jesse Jackson or Sharpton. Nonetheless, his politics are damn close.

His goal now is to divorce himself from his past: First, whatever his "real" personality is, plus the somewhat phony personality he concocted during his Chicago inner city days. He's got a lot of contradictions to cover up, and a lot of hard acting to do. I think he'll crack, frankly, before it's over.

Another thing: He's a wimp. Wimps lose. McCain is a bully. Bullies win.

Methinks you get your info from some pretty biased sources, none of which you cite.

And your last "point" is just plain horseshit.

Congratulations to Obama. You've got my prediction here and now he will be the next president...by a landslide.

You've got my prediction here and now he will be the next president...by a landslide.

I wish you turn out right, but not that this is far from the case if the election were held today:


And your last "point" is just plain horseshit.

Ha ha. Hillary Clinton seems tough as nails compared to him, and she's wept publicly half a dozen times during the campaign. First of all, it's undeniable that McCain is tougher than Obama. As much as I hate Mac, the guy is 1000x tougher than the average person and he's got the crippled body to prove it. That's a given. Second, if you don't think the bully wins over the wimp, you must be a democrat, because that's a primary reason they can't win the presidency. John Kerry? WTF? Dukakis? Mondale? Carter and Kennedy won on technicalities. Better hope for another...

some pretty biased sources

Ha ha. Obama's bio. The guy is obsessed with race.

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