Public Knowledge on Free Access petition

I wrote earlier today that I wasn't sure about the nature of the recent White House directive requiring open access to research and development in government organizations.  I was iffy because my source was the White House (who will obviously be biased in their own favor) and Huffington Post (who are not notorious for thorough, accurate journalism). I'm a little less reserved in my optimism now, though, because has published a write-up about it.  It's a re-post of a Google Plus post by Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project.  In it, he talks about why the directive is good, and how it compares and contrasts to the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), which I didn't know was a thing.

Here's an excerpt:

The two approaches complement one another. FASTR does not make the White House directive unnecessary. FASTR may never be adopted. And if it is adopted, it will be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment, negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive takes effect today. The wheels are already turning. Compared to this executive action, FASTR is slower. (Thanks to Becky Cremona for this good line.)

Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary. On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today's White House directive, but could not rescind legislation. (One lesson: Don't let up on efforts to persuade Congress to pass FASTR.)

So, great news.  Progress for science, freedom of information for America's citizens, and transparency always makes corruption harder, so steps like this almost inevitably improve government.

(Also: I learned about a new thing in Open Access terminology in this article.  Apparently there's two popular standards for access:  Green OA, which means organizations publish directly to their own open access archive; and Gold OA, which means organizations publish their research in Open Access journals.)

Barack Obama's Tax Calculator

NOTE: There is an edit at the bottom of the article. I just watched Hank Green's video about the Obama campaign's tax policy, linked here, embedded below.

I don't want to just reiterate what Hank said, but it's deeply depressing to look at.  It's depressing because I know a lot of people who really need that money.  People older than me, with more financial responsibility, who struggle harder to make ends meet.  I know those people, and I know a lot of them plan to vote for Romney.

Some of it is racism.  I know at least two people who have told me, out loud, that they won't vote for Obama because he's black.  So, that's a thing that happens.  One of those people is a registered Democrat, too, so it's not like the Racist vote is irrelevant.

But there are other people who've just been convinced that being a good businessman and being a good president are somehow basically synonymous, where as far as I can tell they're pretty much entirely unrelated.  The responsibility of a successful businessman is to help a small group of wealthy investors profit off the back of a product.  The responsibility of a President is to maximize the wellbeing of a huge quantity of people while protecting their civil liberty and acting on their behalf to improve the world.

We can see the difference in those philosophies in the tax calculator, which, as Hank points out, demonstrates that Romney's plan doesn't help you out until about a quarter of a million.  If you're single and have no dependents, Romney's plan increases your taxes until you reach $197,500/year.  Even then, you're still saving more under Obama's plan.  Single people with no dependents don't start doing better under Romney until $497,500/year, at which point they jump from saving    to saving $36,319/year.  $1 less and they're only saving $4,016, at which point Obama's still offering more savings, at $5,353.

EDIT 8/8/2012 11:20am

It turns out this isn't based on Mitt Romney's declared tax plan, it's based on the results that would be necessary for him to keep his campaign promises both re: tax breaks and budget balancing.  Hank explains:

Romney might not have paid taxes in the last decade

(via Boing Boing) It came from an anonymous tip from someone claiming to have invested with Romney, so Senator (D-Nevada) Harry Reid said yesterday that he has a source claiming Mitt Romney hasn't payed any taxes, at all, in the last decade.

That's a pretty rough allegation, and it could do a lot of damage to Romney's campaign -- the American People are paying our taxes to support the government that pays to keep this country stable, and Romney reaps all that benefit without kicking in even a fraction of his share?

Via the Washington Post:

Reid suggested that Romney’s decision to withhold tax information would bar him from ever earning Senate confirmation to a Cabinet post. Then, Reid recalled a phone call his office received about a month ago from “a person who had invested with Bain Capital,” according to The Huffington Post.

Reid said the person told him: “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years.”

“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” Reid told HuffPo. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?”

Neither Reid nor his aides would identify the alleged investor, HuffPo reported.

I wonder if that's Romney's fiscal strategy.  Maybe he thinks that sufficiently fancy number work can get America out of paying our debts.  I'm not happy about this guy in the first place, but that's a scary possibility.

Of course, maybe it's all just a rumor -- Romney could prove it wrong by releasing his tax records, like he said he would.