Friday, January 28, 2011

federal spending freeze

i hate the fact that the current administration is turning me into one of "those people", who are always angry.

the gov't has created a spending freeze for 5 years, via the recommendation of our President.  this was done all in the name of getting spending under control.

that is one of the stupidest things i've ever heard.

we can spend tons of money on people for social services, and get absolutely nothing for return.  or we can spend on our current infrastructure, where each agency and department has an actual product or service to deliver.  the gov't wants to chose the first.

our agency ran on the same annual budget for around 5 years, finally getting a lift a few years ago.  now, we are having to cut.  the room i am sitting in right now had 4 more engineers in it a year ago than it does right now (really, it is like 6 or 7, as a few people have accepted gov't jobs, and the contractors could not backfill).  people are leaving, and there is no money left to replace them.  management seems almost relieved when someone goes, as they are clearing up some cap space.

legacy systems must be kept running.  we are performing a massive overhaul to our hardware, and the subsequent software to be used is running through huge upgrades as well.  we will have to deploy people to test on site, and will inevitably have problems.  but our budget is being cut.  the gov't wants us to provide more service (not the same service, but more) for less money.

instead, we are spending money on keeping old, retired, useless people alive longer.  we are spending money on people who don't want to work.  i have family members that never graduated high school, much less college, and they are doing just fine.  why?  because they aren't lazy, and they want to work.  you can find work if you really want it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

user admin in linux

where i work, we currently ship our linux software to independent sites around the US.

the sites need a way to configure their users for these systems.  they need to be able to add and delete users, as well as reset and change passwords.

there are two ways of doing this: add user management into your software itself, and run everything within the OS as one main user, or use OS users, and let the OS do the work.

i prefer the second option, which is what i am going to discuss here.

now, you have 3 options of letting the OS do the work.  you can:
  • simply let the root account do all of the admin (via logging into root)
  • let the users themselves perform the user admin via sudo.  this would require a cleverly constructed sudoers list, where you give passwd, useradd, and userdel access to a specific group of users or groups.
  • use the sticky bit in linux, perform a setuid, and still let the normal users perform the admin.  this isn't much different than the second option, other than it would require the end users to know the root password if they want to do any user admin.  then, in your code, once you have the root password from the user, you change your userid, execute the command, and change the uid back.
i prefer the second way of doing it.  it requires less people to have access to the root account/password, and we can restrict things very nicely in the sudoers file.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

health care

there are a lot of proponents for free health care.

i am not one of them.

it's not from a republican or democrat standpoint or loyalty (i can't stand either party).  it is from the fact that the entire concept is stupid.  if public health care were a stock, no one would buy it.  and obama's current plan is a worse idea that free health care for everyone.

looking at what i pay in medicare and medicaid now (and projected earnings), i will pay around $75k-$100k over the course of my career to public health care.  my wife, who has worked for 5 or so years now (making under $50k a year) will be coming home soon to be a stay at home mom, meaning she will have paid hardly anything ($5k tops).  when i turn 65, i am a simple surgery, some medication, and a few doctors visits away from eating up the entire amount that i paid in.  add in my wife, and boom, the system is definitely going negative (assuming we live that long).

i have a grandmother who had a $100k quadruple bypass surgery when she was around 70 years old (she was always thin and healthy.  just one of those things).  she never worked a day in her life, and is a housewife and [was] a stay at home mom, and has been since she graduated from college.  she's a great example of why this system is broke.  her decision to stay home has done nothing more than cost the american taxpayer a crapload of money.

the problem with obama's plan is that it is a huge tax on the middle class, and is being used to pay for the lower class.  supposedly 30 million americans are without insurance (number thrown around before he passed it).  that still means 270 million have insurance.  even if you bump the number up to 50 and 250, most people are covered.  considering we have an illegal immigrant population of around 20 million, we are talking about 5-10%, which is about right.

to pay for these uninsured people, obama is digging deep into the deficit, and then forcing the middle class to pony up.  the thing that immediately hit me was the gutting of the "cafeteria plan" option that most companies provide.  this was a way for people to pay for medications, ointments, and general aid, and to do so in a pretaxed way.  you could buy your asperin, contact solution, diapers...almost anything found in a pharmacy..., and do so pretaxed.  not any more.  now, it only pays for medications, and it doesn't even cover most over the counter meds, even if they are prescribed (i had an over the counter ointment prescribed to me, and only 1 pharmacy in 20 miles had it, and it still wasn't covered).  it wasn't too bad for me.  but my friend who has 4 kids took a massive hit.  with the amount of prescriptions he had for his kids, his and his wife's prescriptions, braces for his kids, and everything else in between, he took a massive pay cut due to the gutting of the cafeteria plan.

most people have a basic threshold of living.  by that, i mean that a family's food, gas, utilities, basic clothing, basic mortgage, and car payments will never dip below a certain point.  granted, the sky is the limit on spending, but there is a basic number that each family lives by; an amount of money required to live before the extras get paid for.  for most in the lower and middle class, this means that the ability to obtain wealth is not an option, as most of a family's income goes towards paying for daily living.  the rich can easily meet their quota for their bills, and then use the extra money to generate more wealth, or to improve their style of living.  even a slight hit in taxes can be a huge thing for the middle class.

the only reasonable way to pay for everyone's health care is to raise taxes.  a tax raise doesn't hurt the lower class, because they get exempted from taxes.  it doesn't hurt the upper class, because they can afford it (if you make $250k+ a year, a 5% tax doesn't hurt).  but to the middle class, these taxes hurt.  the middle class still has a struggle to meet the needs of their lifestyles, and now they are expected to pony up for those who don't want to work or do well in school.

the problem is, when a tax increase takes place, the middle class feels it the hardest.

i have a friend who grew up very poor (food stamps, donations...).  his siblings floated through high school, dropped out of college, had kids, and are now living on government assistance.  they are/were lazy, and didn't value a better life.  my friend worked hard through school, was valedictorian, graduated from college, and got a good job.  he gets no help from anyone.  yet, with the government assistance, his sisters don't make much less than he does.  he worked hard, and they still get to live a cushioned life because they are lazy.  it's a joke.

we need to quit being so protective in this country.  we have become a nation of sissies.  some people are going to be poor, and it is because of the decisions they made in life.  to pay for health care, and do so responsibly, we need to raise taxes by a lot, and it isn't right.