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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

microbox Re:Are you kidding (796 comments)

Lakoff is an ideologue, but that the authoritarian personality is also a conservative in these modern times.

2 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

The only exception on the government side is law enforcement, and the ,military, because these groups have to react to external pressures.

This cuts to the heart of the issue. Other countries have excellent civil services because they take governing seriously. Good government departments are corporatized, and look a lot like large businesses.

Regarding unions -- again the incentive structures are wrong in this country. When unions and businesses see each other as partners, then it works out fine. This is the case in Australia, where unions were by law forbidden to demand a pay rise unless they could demonstrate increased productivity in their workers. Business owners then were forced to pass on some of the increased revenue from this productivity. If you study the labor market in Australia, you'll see that working class people are both unionized, and far more productive than minimum-wage workers in this country.

Notice how you just dropped the issue on carbon pollution? It is not the only externality that businesses create. In fact, businesses have an active incentive to find and exploit externalities, and then manipulate the rules to product their malfeasance. Notice how you believe that businesses will just do the right thing, but unions and politicians simply won't. My view is that it comes down to the incentive structures that they operate under.

I think forcing people to buy insurance (in a free market) is a good incentive structure, because insurance companies can set premiums at a rate based on the risk of their clients behavior. So, for example, if someone wants to work at a bar were smoking is allowed, then the medical insurance should cost more, and the worker should in turn demand more money to cover this insurance. The cost should ultimately be passed on to the patrons who want to smoke, and then the externalities are owned. So regulations don't *require* the government. (Except here that government is mandating insurance do deal with the irrationalties of risk taking.)

If your *really* believe that people only run for office chasing vanity and power (I'd say only 25-50% do), then disabuse yourself of this adolescent notion by spending some real time getting to know some politicians (I find them at my local church).

3 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Nuclear? (429 comments)

If a wind turbine gives you cheap electricity when the wind is blowing, it doesn't make it cheaper than natural gas, because gas will produce when you want it to produce.

The levelized cost of energy takes this into account. Read about it. It's very complex. There are grid stability issues, and nuclear must surely be part of a complete zero-carbon energy system.

3 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Nuclear? (429 comments)

So I have some serious doubt Germany will ever build another nuclear power plant until "they feel the shit has hit the fan".

True, but they may be able to figure it out anyway. We are talking about one of the best engineering cultures ever, and a society with great institutions.

The nuclear crowd like to paint renewables as expensive, but it is a lie. Wind is cheaper than every other source of electricity except natural gas. (Look up levelized cost of energy by source.) Solar is only twice as expensive as nuclear. But the kicker is when you realize that renewables are coming down in price *fast*, and 20 years from now, even solar easily be half the price of the next best technology. Material science really is progressing that fast. Renewables have other advantages, like small capital costs, which make them better investments. The third world is building coal for now, but not too much longer. It is simply economics.

3 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

The idea that "However, we *must* make sure that businesses aren't pushing their costs onto the powerless and onto the commons" flies in the face of business reality. This was a problem at the turn of the century, but not today. Even the lowliest customer has access to social media, and Google - both of which have a long tail.

Carbon pollution.

If this was true, then why does a million dollar X-Prize result in solutions to problems that the government has shelled out millions and millions of dollars over years and years to solve?

Anecdote.

Government invests - and expects loyalty and quid pro quo.

Government follows rules -- and that is taken very seriously. Been there.

There are very few people in government working for the "common good" - but there a lot of folks in business trying to get rich.

Not everyone in government is there for vanity and power. That is a trendy but adolescent view of politics. The scary politicians are the ideologues who really believe that they are on some great moral quest.

3 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

Hi MooseMeister, this is a good post with lots of ideas in it that I am familiar with. Firstly, note that economists predict the effect of carbon taxes empirically, based on real world examples. The RGGI is one such example in the USA. Secondly, I understand the controversy of Keynesian economics, and appreciate just how hard it is to make scientific arguments in economics. I think conservative economists go too far in indulging in "praxeology", which Hayek himself was suspicious of. I think Hayek makes many excellent arguments, however, his ideas seem to work with some aspects of Keynesian economics which just demonstrates how complex economics is. Note that Hayek himself was not against government expenditure in things like education and healthcare. (It's in the Road to Serfdom.)

This notion that the government is always worse, or always less efficient is really an ideological issue that does not stand up to evidence. If, empirically measured, the government provides more for less, then why should we substitute oligarchs on things like internet services or healthcare or roads? Again, the emphasis for me is on the empiricism. I reject the notion that the government is simply less efficient, and in this I agree with both Hayek and Keynes.

I spent 10 years working in the "real world" including 5 years running my own small business. (Five employees for which I felt a tremendous burden of responsibility.) I have worked inside and out of the government, and can attest that it is very similar to large corporations. But I know that that type of personal anecdote is not evidence, and to date, I've found from personal experience that experimentation cuts through a lot of attractive ideas. So I'm not just an academic sheltered from the world, and have the personal benefit from a wide range of experiences.

The reason why science based environmentalism improves the economy is because it forces businesses to own externalities. Note how you completely missed this point. I agree with you 100% about false demand and subsidies, and as such, have am a strong believer in markets. However, we *must* make sure that businesses aren't pushing their costs onto the powerless and onto the commons, which in aggregate makes them far less efficient.

I agree that there are problems with measuring debt as a proportion of GDP; however, the as a rough *rough* measure it is okay. For example, Spain's debt was about 35% of GDP, which surely must be a better situation than Japan.

I disagree with Krugman who believes that debt is not a problem. But its not a short term problem, and the deficit spending hypothesis of Keynesianism has not been disproven, and does have some provisional empirical support. I've noted that liberal governments around the world (and in the USA) seem to do a much better job at balancing the books and paying down debt when times are good than conservatives, who have some bizarre notion that tax cuts just pay for themselves despite evidence to the contrary. So even if deficit spending is problematic, it is fine with me if the same people actually pay down debt when times are good, and that is what I see happen from Keynesians.

When you say the "whereas government and academia NEVER does." -- that is a black and white statement, and therefore certainly wrong. The government in the USA has a very long history of funding research that is in essentially everything you see around you. The free market is great, but not perfect, and that is what the historical record says quite clearly. But I'm not arguing for government this or government that... but a balanced and nuanced understanding of the complex issues. The efficient market hypothesis would have more credence with me if the labor market was more fluid, but people aren't rational, and they have things like children, and they get sick.

You only have to go back to the gilded age to realize that regulations are important in getting businesses to do the right thing. (Back then, government regulation was associated with quality... those who doesn't understand history are doomed to repeat it.) I'm not arguing that there should be lots of regulations. I think every regulation has an intrinsic cost, and should thus be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. Such an analysis is impossible when half the political spectrum believes "four legs good, government bad".

Environmentalism has been colonized by wackos, and that is a really big issue with the movement, but have some faith that intelligent people are also involved, who want to do the right thing, and have a deep understanding of the underlying economic issues. It is very easy for well connected businessmen to tap into anti-environmentalist sentiment to push death and destruction in the world and bolster their balance book. Again, this is just history. Think: acid rain, ozone whole, and tobacco. History is full of businesses claiming that rules will destroy the economy, but it never pans out that way, and addressing the ozone whole and acid rain cost next to nothing.

You say have faith in the human condition: I do. However, people are very good at coming up with self-serving logic that they are doing the right thing, even when they are not -- this cognitive mechanism is at the root of just about every problem in the world. If you just trusted people to do the right thing, then we wouldn't need courts, or police or laws, or regulations. Hobbs was correct about the leviathan.

4 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

Running a company is not the same as running a country, as someone with a graduate degree in economics should know.

But congratulations on running a successful company.

Given your background, you should already know that the property market crash, along with the inability to control its currency, are at the root of Spain's crisis. I was surprised to learn that they had relatively small sovereign debt before 2008, and still have less debt than the USA, as a % of GDP. As anyone with a graduate degree in economics would know, austerity programs are associated with, and arguably cause, sharp contractions in the GDP. Perhaps it is all for the best.

Regarding Spain's present situation: it is one of the worlds more competitive hightech economies, but cannot devalue its own currency in order to bolster competitiveness. Thus, fixed-price money flows out of the region, which is precisely the problem solved by being able to float your own currency. Apparently the labor market is inflexible which causes problems as well. As an economist with a graduate degree, you should already know all of this. Green regulations do not feature as substantial causes of problems, or ongoing problems. As an economist, you'd know that the effect of such regulations as carbon taxes is well studied, and know how to find and interpret material on the subject. Did you know that economists believe that such programs have minimal impact on society? Did you know that such a program has covered 20% of the US economy for a decade, and that portion has grown relative to the rest of the country?

You are still an annoying person with your snarky little insults, but that is what passes for intelligent conversation online.

Snark is a method to highjack someone's cognitive systems. Sure it wins you no friends, but I'm not a businessman like yourself. Still, I think I got you wrong before. Sure you dressed up the truth a bit, but you're also capable of reading, so point taken.


And you most certainly *do* consume conservative media. (Or consume little-to-no media, and speak primarily to people who consume conservative media.) This is obvious from the memes that you use. (Obama thinks the rich are evil, rotfl!) I'll take evidence like that over protestations to the contrary. You could have proven me wrong by using different memes. I'm willing to bet that even if you aped it at this point, it would still be obvious where you get your information.

Fyi, science based environmentalism creates jobs, and is good for the economy, because it means negative externalities are owned by the culprits, which makes markets more efficient. Did you know that wind power is (on average) cheaper than coal/nuclear? And that's even when you put aside the cost of the carbon pollution, which the best science says will cost us big.

4 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

MooseMiester, I don't think you're a racist. I also agree that overly aggressive environmental regulations are stupid. The emphasis is on "overly aggressive". For me, that call should be science and research based. I have searched and not found any reputable economist who believes that Spain's problems were caused by "greening" the economy. That is a claim that bounces around the echo-chamber, but is not tethered to any disinterested research. Presenting the claim, and then stating you have an economics degree is a dishonest appeal to authority.

You obviously have strong conservative leanings -- taking conservative media at face value is a dead give-away. If you really want to understand economics, then go to grad school, and you'll discover that an undergrad degree doesn't mean much. If you want to understand the world, you will need to honestly investigate claims made by your favorite conservative medias.

My politics is science based, pretty much down the line. So that's where I stand. You can still be conservative in most of your ideas if you develop better sources of information. I'd recommend Russ Roberts "Econtalk" as an excellent source of interesting conservative intellectual material, mainly on economics.

4 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

I do have a degree in economics.

Oh yes, and that leads you to believe rumors from europeans you know about the "green cause" of Spain's financial troubles. You don't need a degree to believe word of mouth rumors, so why did you bother bother with school?

4 days ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

microbox Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (854 comments)

You're one of those people who just has to have the last word, aren't you?

Projection.

Okay if you MUST know, my OPINION that is MINE is based on what friends in Europe have told me.

Oh, well, you were just stating before that you have authority on this issue because you have a degree in economics. What's with the intellectual dishonesty?

And for your information I am not even a registered Republican, so terribly sorry.

They don't check you're a registered republican when you read Breitbart. I know, because I'm not a registered republican either.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Nuclear is obvious, an energy surplus is desire (429 comments)

India and Europe also have extensive nuclear programs. Despite interference from the Dems, the USA still does a lot of nuclear research as well. Pebble reactors are an advancement, but have their problems. I'm hopeful that there will be failsafe breeder reactors in the future, and maybe Bill Gate's traveling-wave reactor research will provide a robust and decentralized solution to the energy situation.

Pebble reactors are a great idea. You can read about some of the history and problems here

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Nuclear? (429 comments)

Humanity lacks capability to "confirm" cause of radiation caused cancers.

A mathematical model is used to estimate how much additional cancer comes from radiation leaks. It is plausible, but not without controversy. If you want to learn something about estimating the human cost of a reactor accident, then read the TORCH report on chernobyl. (Unlike the WHO report, the TORCH report actually explains the underlying science and uncertainties with estimating cancers caused from radiation leaks.)

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Nuclear? (429 comments)

Every extra solar panel and wind turbine added to the grid increases grid instability a little more.

This is true, but Germany has a *lot* of renewables right now. I think they need some modern nuclear as well. But don't think that they won't try and solve the grid problems.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:The Real Solution (429 comments)

Oh I see. It's a classic case of, it doesn't fit my tidy little view of the world therefore I won't read it.

A smart person like you should know that newspapers and blogs are full of misinformation and plain bullsh*t. Obviously the GP doesn't know that Lomborg is an academic (albeit, a rather crazy one), but if he claims that newspaper articles are insufficient to change his mind, then that is fair enough. Provide some links to peer-reviewed literature, and if you're intellectually honest, provide links to *both* sides of a controversial debate, and trust that the truth will shine through.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:The Real Solution (429 comments)

While I agree that the opposition to GMOs is mainly based in irrational fears and anti-scientific sentiment, and that Greenpeace should, in theory, be a science based organization, most conservative attacks on environmentalists are really off-base, as in completely barking wrong. Lomborg makes arguments that sound good at face value, but he's one of the anti-science wingnuts at core, and has made absurd and incoherent claims about DDT.

Even in this case Lomborg has gone astray, and there are a number of material problems with what he says. In particular, the golden rice available 15 years ago did not have enough beta-carotine to have an effect -- a problem since remedied. Sure the new golden rice would have saved lives, if we could put it in a time machine and transport it back to 2000 . But why stop there? You could just claim that billions died because golden rice wasn't invented in antiquity. It really is a case of being trivially wrong.

I'm pro-science 100% down the line, which is why I support responsible use of GMOs, which means that they should be tested before letting them run rampart in the environment. Lomborg is a crank.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Gotta board this train soon (429 comments)

Haha, the glaciers in the Himalayas, greenland in 10 years !!! You don't know the context of any of this do you. I mean, you don't even know what was *really* said, and what *really* happened. But it sure makes you feel like you're onto something.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Don't use climate change denial to stigmatize (429 comments)

In fact the deniers of climate change are not doing a thing to prevent any major renewable energy project from proceeding in the world.

I agree with your sentiment, but this is not really true. A carbon price would cause more R&D and a faster roll out of renewables. Also, the RGGI in north-eastern USA (covering 20% of the USA economy) has shown that it is possible to reduce carbon usage with very little impact on the economy. (This part of the economy is growing relative to the rest of the USA.)

A carbon tax could balance the budget with minimal impact -- but we know that "Pharisees", as you call them, aren't really interested in reducing government debt. The GOP has also stood in the way of extending government investment in wind power, and also pressuring the USA to ignore kyoto.

Exxon, Koch, et al. are definitely getting value for money in their stalling campaign of doubt. The wingers are just pawns. But the fundamental economic situation is stacked against fossil fuels, simply because renewables are cheaper, and will get much cheaper in the future, while oil/coal can only stabilize or go up in price. Really, the question is whether it will be too late to prevent catastrophic change (like sinking Florida and Manhatten by 2200), which it may well be.

But I hold out hope that cheap cheap low carbon energy may even allow use to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but we're a long way from that being feasible.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:NIMBY rules (429 comments)

More Gen 4 would be great; however, nobody tears down nuclear plants. It costs to much, and why tear down something that is making money? The marginal risk of accident is pushed onto the community anyway. This is why capitalism need regulations. If society is going to bear the risk of accident, then society should be able to say "though shalt upgrade that plant". This is precisely what *didn't* happen at fukashima, and in the wake of this accident, France has upgraded all of their plants. So, it takes a tragedy before the spin-doctors get silenced, and technocrats are listened to.

Same goes for AGW. The technocrats have been yelling about this for over 30 years now. (Yes, that's how long there has been consensus.) The spin-doctors will stonewall significant change until everyday people *see* the effects directly. But we will be 50 years beyond some tipping point at that point.

Global warming is, in theory, really a very small problem.

4 days ago
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

microbox Re:Renewables (429 comments)

Some of these can be made worse through extreme global warming, but they are major problems, bigger than global warming even in the complete absence of global warming.

Global warming is a significant obstacle to solving the deeper problems of poverty and desertification. (Overpopulation can be considered the fundamental problem.)
Desertification is on the menu for much of the world due to AGW. (e.g., all the USA from California to Indiana is expected to desertify.) Sure all the food production can move, but what will be the cost, and who will bear the brunt?

The world population is expected to stabilize at 11 billion. Given sufficient time and stability, technology will allow 11 billion people to have a modern lifestyle, and I hope we have the time. (This solves the poverty issue.)

My biggest fears with AGW is the immense loss of culture and history as the seas swallow and destroy most of the major cities in the world today. (They are, in general, all on the coast, and on the scale of 100s of years, they don't stand a chance.) But worse will be an outbreak of widespread war, which could happen due to various environmental stresses and mass migrations.

4 days ago

Submissions

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Studies show cap-and-trade is net economic benefit in 6 US states

microbox microbox writes  |  about 2 years ago

microbox writes "t is axiomatic to some that cap-and-trade will wreck the economy and promote the type of corruption that both extremes of the political specturm decry. Vitreol and name-calling aside, both the science and the economics come down to an empirical question. For those who do not know, six US states have implemented cap-and-trade since 2001. On average, these states have faired as well or better than the rest of the USA according to standard economic indicators, and quantitative studies now show a direct economic gain to the region from cap-and-trade. Are conservatives too invested in nay-saying cap-and-trade to make an about face on the issue (e.g., Tony Abbott's expensive direction action alternative), or is the issue too polarized? When does empirical evidence make a difference to peoples beliefs?"
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US health administrative costs 4x that of Canada

microbox microbox writes  |  more than 2 years ago

microbox (704317) writes "Free-market healthcare is a hot political topic, with both Republicans and Democrats heavily invested in their positions. Republicans often claim that US healthcare is the best in the world thanks to Adam Smiths' invisible hand. The US system certainly has advantages; however, no other country spends anywhere near as much on healthcare, and US physicians and administrative staff spend 4x as many hours per week dealing with payers and insurance companies as their colleagues in Canada. Is it possible that laissez-faire health-care is an inefficient solution, or are high administrative costs nothing to be concerned about, and reflect a more efficient and higher quality healthcare system?"
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Mac savvy woman remotely photographs thieves

microbox microbox writes  |  more than 5 years ago

microbox (704317) writes "1010 Wins brings us a story about a woman who nabbed the two guys who stole her laptop. When they went online, she connected to it using "Back To My Mac", and then she used the laptop's camera to photograph the thieves. I'm not sure if that's a great sales pitch for potential switchers, however, I think that's kinda cool [dons tin-foil hat]."
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Do schools educate students out of creativity?

microbox microbox writes  |  more than 5 years ago

microbox (704317) writes "Sir Ken Robinson wittily makes a profound case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. The universality of his message is evidenced by its rampant popularity online: "If you have not yet seen Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk, please stop whatever you're doing and watch it now." A transcript of his talk can be found here, however, the transcript is missing Ken's superb comic timing."
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Typing faster than Intelligible Speech

microbox microbox writes  |  more than 6 years ago

microbox (704317) writes "According to this article, an average speedy "typist" works at about 35-40 words per minute — a professional around 70-95 words per minute. Yet I recently came across an article on machine shorthand that purports that a typist can reach 225-300 words per minute. That's faster than intelligible speech! The trick is to use a chorded keyboard where-by a user types whole syllables or words by striking multiple keys at once, a technique called "chording". Specialized hardware goes for between $US 1000-4000, however, I see no reason why we couldn't use a regular keyboard for chorded input. I failed to find any FOSS software like a text editor that lets you use your keyboard in "chorded" mode. Is this a better mouse-trap that's just waiting to be built?"
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