Friday, September 12, 2014

Fights over legroom in the skies... and deficits in free fall

 ==Airline Deterioration==
airline-eliteTensions -even outright fights- about legroom and cattle-car treatment on airlines have reached a point that any sensible person would have predicted. (I did.) Violent interactions, frustration, pain and rising, seething anger.
What to do? Picket the carriers?
Naw. Any (metaphorical) torch and pitchfork mobs should head instead for the charter and corporate jets, which are obscenely subsidized, instead of taxed as luxuries. 

See: Airline Deterioration and the New Elite.
Stop the new White Flight! Tax the hell out of luxury-air and chase the rich back onto First Class, where they belong! And with only twice our comforts and legroom… okay, limit it to (tops) 3x.
first-class-airThe crux to remember: all forms of transportation degrade and collapse, when they are abandoned by the rich. Let em be rich! But they should fly with us. Then watch air travel get better again.
(This is what the Tea Party would be railing about if it were honest populism, instead of howling after the Export Import Bank, at the command of the Koch Brothers. A made-up "issue" toward an institution that costs the taxpayers exactly zero. The root motive?  Parasite oligarchs hate the rich corporations that got that way by innovating new products and services that can be exported.  Why? Because the latter bunch of billionaires vote democratic.)
== More facts inconvenient to the narrative ==
federal-deficit-declineThe federal government is on track to record the lowest annual deficit in six years.
Time and again, every single report that comes out fits perfectly with my appraisal of the deficit back in 2012
…and the almost perfect correlation (and shocking reversal of cliches) about how the two U.S. political parties handle fiscal responsibility.
It would be one thing if the matter were even slightly ambiguous. Then you would have some basis for clinging to Hannity-rants and quasi-religious incantations. But in fact, if you conservatives actually-and-truly cared, even slightly, about fiscal responsibility, you would never again touch the Republican Party with a ten-light-year pole. The fact that you still cling to that loyalty shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you are in this as a religion. Not as a logical, pragmatic and modern citizen.
==Competition and Libertarianism==
Paul Krugman is often on-target, though I suspect he kind of dumbs down his columns... and at times he veers from moderation down some paths where I just can't follow. Let me cite one of his B+ pieces. In his article, The Libertarian Fantasy, he shows you examples of a fact that should be blatantly obvious to anyone with any sense… that the libertarian movement in America has been hijacked away from its last anchors in reality and intellect. Facts do not support the Randian agenda.
competitionYes, it’s a good piece, though Krugman is often more shallow than I'd hope from a Nobelist who reads sci fi. There are more fundamental ways to undermine the grip of Rand-cultism, by appealing to what libertarianism should be about... competition. The most creative force in the universe — when it is flat-open-fair and transparent, and when the players (as recommended by Adam Smith) are not rentier-oligarchs, but companies and entrepreneurs who are small-enough-to-fail… and who then are free to start over and over and over again with fresh ideas.
Paul Krugman is in a perfect position to accomplish what I cannot (though I’ve tried.) Getting liberals (not leftists) to rediscover the founder of their movement — Adam Smith — who knew that oligarchy has always been far worse an enemy of enterprise than civil servant regulators ever were.
LIBERALS-ADAM-SMITHYes, libertarians should criticize bureaucracy! That’s their role and it’s an important one — that they are currently failing! Because they have allowed themselves to become oligarchy’s tools, devoid of common sense.
See my earlier posting: “Liberals rediscover Adam Smith!
==Promises vs Outcomes== 

One in ten working Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 have their wages garnished -- due to overdue credit card or student debt, or accumulated medical expenses, reports NPR news.
In Bread and Circuses, P. Z. Myers takes apart those trying to minimize income inequality.
See also his earlier post in which he talks about "Rollin' Coal," a backlash against environmentalism, in which good ol' boys blast pedestrians, bicyclists, baby carriages with specially arranged clots of thick diesel smoke. Oh, and they especially do it to hybrid drivers...cause they have it coming.
Showing that same level of intelligence, the CEO of Sears promised that applying Ayn Rand’s methods and Lord of the Flies management style, he would quadruple business and profits. Instead, Sears has tanked. So has his vaunted hedge fund. Proving that the Objectivist methods are just like Las Vegas. Where you can always make a small fortune! Providing you start with a big one.

51 comments:

Robert said...

How much of the "free fall" of the deficit is because of Republicans running the House, however? If Democrats ran the House and Senate and held the Presidency, might we not be seeing higher spending?

We don't know. As such, saying this reduced budget deficit is because of the Democrats ignores the fact Republicans are in control of the House and thus the budget.

Rob H.

brian t said...

I've noticed that Libertarians tend to be "social Darwinists", but there are good reasons why "survival of the fittest" doesn't translate at all well in to the human world.

If the human experience matched the animal kingdom, the losers in the (rat) race would just go away. The fit would survive, and the unfit would die, thus relieving the winners of the burden of the losers.

That's not how it works in practice. Even the most destitute "losers" have a strong survival instinct, as well as ingenuity and experience. They don't stop living or breeding just because they "lost" the "rat race". The "losers" don't go away, they remain alive and human, and any realistic economic system has to work for all people, not just the "winners". Treat people as disposable, and bad things happen.

David Brin said...

Robert that is dead wrong. The last six years of the Clinton Administration and the first 6 years of the Bush admin featured a total Republican lock on Congress. The first six featured surpluses or near surpluses. The MOMENT Clinton was out of the way, the Supply Side bills he had vetoed passed... and a tsunami of red ink ensued.

Yes, cause and effect are hard to assign in politics!

But correlation DOES apply to who bears the burden of proof. And the UNIVERSAL behavior of deficits puts a steep burden on anyone who suggests the GOP politicians are anything other than outright traitors.

Surely you have seen this?

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Subnumine said...

Actually, we do know how much difference the House makes; the President's proposed budget is public.

As under Reagan, the difference in the totals is not much; most of the budget is pretty much agreed on. Allocation of what slack there is important. But not to the balance sheet.

Robert said...

Actually, Dr. Brin, I'm not wrong. You can speculate and utilize statistics to support a possible point, but the only data we have of Obama with both House and Senate in Democrat hands has them spending a lot of money and building up huge deficits... so to try and prevent the next Great Depression.

What we'd need (and won't get) is for Democrats to regain the House for 2015-2016, and keep the Senate. If that happened then we'd have data concerning the actions of Democrats at a point of economic stabilization and growth. In this situation then we'd have verifiable data.

Now let's look back in time and consider Congress if the House and Senate and remained in the hands of Democrats through 2014. Is it not likely that due to the slow recovery that Democrats would have spent more money to stimulate the economy in line with Keynesian economics? Thus would our deficit not be higher as a result? And even if the economy had recovered and if things were doing better because of that added stimulus, would there not be the temptation by Congress and Obama to continue spending money that is coming in, rather than paying down the debt?

Republicans put a brake on this. That they did so by throwing a massive tantrum is beside the point. Republicans forced reduced spending and thus are responsible in part for declining deficits.

I don't want Republicans in power. But I also see Democrats as a dangerous force when they are not forced into a minority government by the Republicans.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

I repeat that this is a simple factor of "two santas". If you want to reduce spending, just elect a congressional plurality that comes from a different party than the president. Boom. That's it.

So, elect a republican controlled congress for 2015-2016. Then we'll see what the races are like for the next presidential race.

David Brin said...

Robert asks a two parter:

1- "Is it not likely that due to the slow recovery that Democrats would have spent more money to stimulate the economy in line with Keynesian economics?"

Answer... yes. Though history shows they would have tried to pay for it by eliminating Bushite Supply Side tax cuts.

2- Thus would our deficit not be higher as a result?

Nope. Not only would supply side gifts to the ranters be canceled but the spending difference would have been mostly on infrastructure repairs, which are the fastest money-velocity stimulations possible and would have ended the recession and restored tax revenues. That is in fact the reason why congress torpedoed infrastructure spending... while also reducing IRS staffing so that collections would go down.

Robert said...

That's just speculation on your part, Dr. Brin. And the higher taxes could very well have destroyed the benefit of the recovery.

But since we're deep into speculation, consider one last thing.

How would the 2008 financial crisis have gone if Obama had repeated a tactic Bush did back in 2001 (or was it 2002?) by giving every taxpayer a "rebate" - by putting $7,000 per taxpayer into the Too Big To Fail banks (and in doing so providing capital for those banks to draw upon and not go under) with the condition that the taxpayers are only allowed to withdraw $1,000 from the account in the first year, and then $2,000 for the next three years?

The bank bailout was to provide liquidity for financial institutions. Having that liquidity provided directly to taxpayers would mean they would benefit and be able to stimulate the economy through purchases (or by making mortgage payments for a another month or two).

I suspect we'd not have seen the Occupy Wall Street movement (or at least not as large of one) because everyone would have benefited - however, the banks would only benefit insofar that taxpayers had that money in their banks.

The money would have trickled up to industry and to rich people through profit margins. And we may very well have seen less contagion in foreign banks as a result.

Sadly, Obama just continued the benefit-bankers-bailout at the expense of taxpayers. And note that now that Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac are making a profit again, Republicans and bankers are demanding that profit be given to them instead of paying off what is owed.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

See also his earlier post in which he talks about "Rollin' Coal," a backlash against environmentalism, in which good ol' boys blast pedestrians, bicyclists, baby carriages with specially arranged clots of thick diesel smoke. Oh, and they especially do it to hybrid drivers...cause they have it coming.


This confirms something I had already begun to believe about the "Drill, baby, drill!" brand of conservatism. It goes beyond simple willingness to accept harm to the environment as fair trade for economic development and wealth. No, they see the harm to the environment as a positive thing in itself.


Showing that same level of intelligence, the CEO of Sears promised that applying Ayn Rand’s methods and Lord of the Flies management style, he would quadruple business and profits. Instead, Sears has tanked.


This came up here several weeks back, and I still am mystified at this Randist guy, even on his own terms. The failed strategy he emoloyed of forcing employees to beg for resources doesn't strike me as partucularly Rand-like. If anything, it seems he was employing the tactics of the Starnes siblings who ran the factory that John Galt broke off from. Is it possible he read "Atlas Shrugged" without realizing that those were among the villains of the piece.

As I said before, it would make as much sense if he said he became a Holnist because he's such a fan of David Brin.

Robert said...

I suspect if you scratch at the surface of a drill-baby-drill conservative, you'll find a nihilist who believes the End Times are nigh and that the Earth will be destroyed and that only the Chosen (whom they are one of) will go to Heaven. Everyone else (including all those damn liberals) will burn forever.

Paul451 said...

Sociotard
Re: "Two Santas", ie, vote opposites

That would work better if the Republican party was still sane.

I think factions within the Dems now provide the same "two Santas" role. So your best bet is to vote for conservative Democrat candidates in enough electorates balance the other two Dem factions, the corporatists and the lefties. Sometimes the "blue dogs" would ally with the lefties to restrict corporate extremes, sometimes with the corporatists to reign in unrealistic over-enthusiasm of the lefties.

Paul451 said...

(Which disproves Robert's point about R's being a necessary factor in controlling deficits. Dems have their own factions who would worry about deficits.) Speaking of...

Robert,
I don't think the "drill, baby, drill" types are apocalypse nihilists. I think it's partly tribalism (smash what the enemy cares about, a la "rolling coal"), and partly the sheer joy of doing stuff, especially big things. As I nerd I get the same thrill from talking about ridiculous ideas like nuclear Verne guns. And I see it in pro-nuke advocates, maglev fanbois, mile-high-building proponents, etc.

David Brin said...

It is not “mere speculation” Robert. The Bush Supply Side tax cuts created not just low velocity money but the lowest velocity money of all. Supply side theory said that would not matter, if the rich invested the money on productive capacity, new companies, products, factories. The only problem is that (as Adam Smith predicted) they did not do that but instead inflated asset bubbles.

It is not speculation that wages for newly hired, lower-middle class workers would be high velocity, it is a fact. They spend instantly, to businesses that pass velocity along. nd at every stage tax revenue is generated.

The problem with this kind of stimulus is that it has potential to cause inflation. But we have had a decade when the problem was too little inflation, not too much.

--
Paul451 right. We need lots of Blue dogs! The only chance for politics in America is WITHIN the democratic party. As has happened in California, where the crushed GOP has become so moderate that they now are able to make alliances with blue dog dems and sometimes get Eisenhower conservative things passed!

Take note of the above , Tacitus2.

David Brin said...

Paul Shen-Brown... email me? Via the bottom of http://www.davidbrin.com

sociotard said...

Paul451:
That would work better if the Republican party was still sane.

Are you saying
A) An insane republican congress would not obstruct a Democratic president (obviously false; that's what is happening now)
B) An insane republican president with matching congress would spend very little
C) An insane republican president would spend lots of money that his democratic congress gave him
D)You hope that we can have a matching democratic congress and president, but they won't spend money because of faction differences.

I really don't think D is true, and I know A isn't true, and B didn't happen last time, and I'll be surprised if C is true.

David Brin said...

California disproves all of your canards, Sociotard. A demo governor with a 2/3 demo majority passed bills to restore the economy and lead the nation, then to set aside half the surplus to pay down debt and to fill a rainy day fund...

...exactly as Clinton did and what Obama would do, if allowed... and if the GOP in congress weren't deliberately sabotaging the republic.

locumranch said...

Strictly speaking, Social Darwinism is not a Libertarian principle, but rather an equivocation between the supposed biological fitness of Hereditarianism and the productive economy of Scientific Management, the conclusion being that the unproductive worker is not fit to live in civilised society, which is utter rot, as social influence, political fitness and corporate dominance tend to be inversely related to individual productivity, meaning that the most unproductive individuals are often thought the most social (politicians & executives being a case in point) while high producers (engineers, medicos & doers) tend to be more solitary and antisocial.

It is this equivocation, IMO, that has led directly to our current 'Peter Principle' social predicament, where smiling incompetent 'consensus-builders' gain intolerable moral authority over the dourly dutiful producers, leading the likes Sir Paul McCartney to roll up his sleeves, take a goal-oriented approach and abandon the libertarian 'Live & Let Live' mentality in the hopes of setting the world to rights.

What does it matter to ya
When you got a job to do
You gotta do it well
You gotta give the other fellow hell

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(you know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever changing world in which we're living
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die.

Only then can we set the world to rights.


Best

Daniel Duffy said...

Historian Will Durant on income inequality. From his book, "The Lessons of History":

Since practical ability differs from person to person, the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in a minority of men. The concentration of wealth is a natural result of this concentration of ability, and regularly recurs in history. The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and the laws. Despotism may for a time retard the concentration; democracy, allowing the most liberty, accelerates it. The relative equality of Americans before 1776 has been overwhelmed by a thousand forms of physical, mental, and economic differentiation, so that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is now greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic Rome.

In progressive societies the concentration may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.

.... Good sense prevailed; moderate elements secured the election of Solon, a businessman of aristocratic lineage, to the supreme archonship. He devaluated the currency, thereby easing the burden of all debtors (though he himself was a creditor); he reduced all personal debts, and ended imprisonment for debt; he canceled arrears for taxes and mortgage interest; he established a graduated income tax that made the rich pay at a rate twelve times that required of the poor; he reorganized the courts on a more popular basis; and he arranged that the sons of those who had died in war for Athens should be brought up and educated at the government's expense. The rich protested that his measures were outright confiscation; the radicals complained that he had not redivided the land; but within a generation almost all agreed that his reforms had saved Athens from revolution.

(IOW, Solon as the FDR of ancient Athens)

....The Roman Senate, so famous for its wisdom, adopted an uncompromising course when the concentration of wealth approached an explosive point in Italy; the result was a hundred years of class and civil war.

.... In one aspect the Reformation was a redistribution of this wealth by the reduction of German and English payments to the Roman Church, and by the secular appropriation of ecclesiastical property and revenues. The French Revolution attempted a violent redistribution of wealth by Jacqueries in the countryside and massacres in the cities, but the chief result was a transfer of property and privilege from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie. The government of the United States, in 1933-52 and 1960-65, followed Solon's peaceful methods, and accomplished a moderate and pacifying redistribution; perhaps someone had studied history. The upper classes in America cursed, complied, and resumed the concentration of wealth.

We conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution. In this view all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation.

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry, "drill baby drill" is already obsolete.

Getting oil out of the ground will soon be as obsolete as getting it from whales.

From an article of mine: http://www.distributedenergy.com/DE/Articles/Natures_Own_26651.aspx

Scientists at Tulane University have discovered the first known strain of bacteria, TU-103, which produces biobutanol (which can be used as a replacement for gasoline) directly from cellulose. TU-103 (discovered in zebra feces) is the only known butanol-producing strain that can grow and produce butanol in an aerobic environment. Oxygen kills other butanol-producing bacteria, and not having to produce butanol in an isolated anaerobic tank will greatly reduce production costs. It will also allow for the mass conversion of the bulk of our solid waste (like old newsprint) into fuel that does not increase levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The US Navy has developed a catalyst that allows them to extract hydrogen and carbon dioxide from sea water and make jet fuel at $10 a gallon:

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140407/DEFREG02/304070027/US-Navy-Converting-Seawater-Into-Fuel-Game-Changer-

The University of Glasgow has just improved the efficiency of hydrogen electrolysis by a factor of 30:

http://phys.org/news/2014-09-hydrogen-production-breakthrough-herald-cheap.html

Scientists in Finland and the UK have genetically modified e.coli bacteria to generate propane:

http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/how_we_tricked_e_coli_bacteria_into_making_renewable_propane-144009

Japanese advances in extracting methane from frozen clathrate formations on the ocean floor would yield 1,000s of years of clean burning energy:

http://fortune.com/2013/09/03/japans-energy-savior/

Daniel Duffy said...

Once these processes become commercially viable and begins production at an industrial scale within 5 to 10 years, we will make solar derived fuel produced by genetically altered organisms fed by waste materials as cheaply as we make beer (using essentially the same techniques). Then everything changes.

Everything.

Politically, flooding the world economy with cheap mass produced propane and other fuels generated by genetically engineered bacteria will cause the collapse of corrupt oil oligarchies from Saudi Arabia, to Iran, to Nigeria, to Russia, to Texas. The Middle East will go back to what it was before the discovery of oil in the Persian Gulf - an unimportant wasteland of little strategic importance that is not worth fighting for. Without Saudi or Iranian funding terrorism will whither away and die.

All these governments suffer from the "resource curse": countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. Or as a Matt Damon's character said in the movie "Syriana":

"Twenty years ago you had the highest Gross National Product in the world, now you're tied with Albania. Your second largest export is secondhand goods, closely followed by dates which you're losing five cents a pound on... You know what the business community thinks of you? They think that a hundred years ago you were living in tents out here in the desert chopping each other's heads off and that's where you'll be in another hundred years"

Environmentally, these bacteria produced fuels are the perfect form of solar energy and are carbon neutral (or even carbon negative). We will pull back from the precipice of global warming.

Economically, the result will be energy with essentially zero cost. Just imagine what essentially free energy does for macro-economic growth.

Like I said, getting oil from the ground will soon be as obsolete as getting oil from whales.

Paul451 said...

Sociotard,
"A) An insane republican congress would not obstruct a Democratic president (obviously false; that's what is happening now)"

An insane Republican Congress obstructs a Democratic President in a way that harms the US economy, therefore reduces the US's ability to balance budgets in the long term.

Shooting yourself in the head will cure your hay-fever, but is not recommended as a treatment for hay-fever.

Therefore if you believe in the "two santas" idea, you are better off voting for "blue dog" Democrats than Republicans.

Robert said...

You did it wrong, Dr. Brin.

It's done like this.
Tacitus2! Tacitus2! Tacitus2!

As for these alternative oils replacing drilling? That's a pipe dream. So long as there is oil to drill you'll have companies drilling it. You will have companies citing security concerns (one tailor-made virus could kill the propane-producing or oil-producing aerobic bacterium and cause an energy crisis). Heck, the oil companies will likely get government subsidies as a result.

Hydrogen is problematic as a fuel source for vehicles (though it would be useful for other processes and possibly for power plants) due to the difficulty of storing it and the fact it produces less energy than gasoline.

And killing the Middle East and Russia by no longer needing their oil might sound good on paper, but what about the geopolitical aspects? You have nations with military arms and possible access to nukes (and definite access in the case of Russia) who will have nothing to lose. War will be waged on the West and it will be a horrific war that makes World War II seem pleasant because you will have one side that declared it a holy war and has people willing to kill themselves so to go to the head of the line and meet their God.

I hope I'm wrong. We could very well have the wealthy Saudis and Kuwaitis and other rich petrobarons abandon the Middle East and move West... and instead have a humanitarian crisis as food and water becomes increasingly scarce in the region and ethnic and religious strife flares up more and more often.

(And no doubt the House of Saud and the other Arabs will meddle in Western politics to ensure a feudalistic society with them at the top is in place. A cynic might suggest they're already doing this because they've seen the writing on the wall for decades and have been priming the West to become their new domain.)

It won't end well. No matter if it's a massive war or just the collapse of these regions and the destruction of Democracy in the west by the oil barons setting up new realms to rule in the West.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Strictly speaking, Social Darwinism is not a Libertarian principle, but rather an equivocation between the supposed biological fitness of Hereditarianism and the productive economy of Scientific Management, the conclusion being that the unproductive worker is not fit to live in civilised society, which is utter rot,...


Locum, I often think you're just down on everything, but in this case, I'm in perfect agreement with you.

Society has moved from demanding that a person do a day's work for a day's living, instead demanding that a person prove his worth to the 1% owners of the means of survival, as if you don't deserve to live unless Charles and David Koch have use for you.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

An insane Republican Congress obstructs a Democratic President in a way that harms the US economy, therefore reduces the US's ability to balance budgets in the long term.

Shooting yourself in the head will cure your hay-fever, but is not recommended as a treatment for hay-fever.


Politically, they "win" if they can get people to vote against Obama, laying the blame for the sucky economy on him.

The fact that the Republican party can gain political points by harming the country means that our system is disfunctional, not that the ones who know how to game the system are insane.

Karl Rove and his ilk may be sinister, but they're "insane" like a fox. Heh, "FOX".

Daniel Duffy said...

"As for these alternative oils replacing drilling? That's a pipe dream."

- Nope, they are already technological reality. The Technology of creating fuel from genetically altered microbes is in the Model T stage. The technology only gets more efficient and economical with time.

"So long as there is oil to drill you'll have companies drilling it."

- Until they can't compete with cheaper fuels from genetically altered microbes.

"You will have companies citing security concerns (one tailor-made virus could kill the propane-producing or oil-producing aerobic bacterium and cause an energy crisis). Heck, the oil companies will likely get government subsidies as a result."

- Don't be an idiot. Even aerobic microbes have to be grown in vats as part of isolated batch processes. You may as well try to introduce yeast killing viruses into every micro brewery in the world to eliminate beer forever. If we can ever create such surgically precise viruses we will have other more serious problems to worry about (like Captain Trips from Steve King's "The Stand").

"Hydrogen is problematic as a fuel source for vehicles (though it would be useful for other processes and possibly for power plants) due to the difficulty of storing it and the fact it produces less energy than gasoline."

- Hydrogen was never a fuel, its a means of storing energy. The the process just got cheaper and more efficient, and will continue to do so.

"And killing the Middle East and Russia by no longer needing their oil might sound good on paper, but what about the geopolitical aspects? You have nations with military arms and possible access to nukes (and definite access in the case of Russia) who will have nothing to lose. War will be waged on the West and it will be a horrific war that makes World War II seem pleasant because you will have one side that declared it a holy war and has people willing to kill themselves so to go to the head of the line and meet their God."

- So the oligarchic elites of these corrupt oil nations would rather incinerate the planet than see their profits fall? Or they would force us to buy their oil with the threat of nuclear attack? Neither is exactly what I would call a sound business model. Again, don't be an idiot.

"I hope I'm wrong. We could very well have the wealthy Saudis and Kuwaitis and other rich petrobarons abandon the Middle East and move West... and instead have a humanitarian crisis as food and water becomes increasingly scarce in the region and ethnic and religious strife flares up more and more often."

- Unlike toady's Middle east where everything is peachy and there are no massive numbers of refugees?

"And no doubt the House of Saudi and the other Arabs will meddle in Western politics to ensure a feudalistic society with them at the top is in place. A cynic might suggest they're already doing this because they've seen the writing on the wall for decades and have been priming the West to become their new domain."

- They can try. But once this technological genie is out of the bottle there is no putting it back in again.

"It won't end well. No matter if it's a massive war or just the collapse of these regions and the destruction of Democracy in the west by the oil barons setting up new realms to rule in the West."

- Once again, don't be an idiot. Nobody can stop a technology whose time has arrived. They won't be able to stop this anymore than railroad barons could stop the automobile.

Daniel Duffy said...

We should think of fuels from genetically altered microbes as “Liquid Sunshine” that turns solar energy into an easy-to-use liquid fuel.

It solves a lot of problems inherent with the direct use of solar energy, especially the need to store energy for later use. The main problem with solar is that it is produced when and where it is available, which is not necessarily when and where it is needed.

And solar energy needs to be transportable. Biofuel, being liquid, is easily transportable via an existing network of pipelines and fleets of tanker trucks—just like gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. In short, we already have in place an infrastructure for the transport and delivery of biofuel (there is no need to create a smart grid or other expensive energy infrastructure changes).

The other problem with solar energy is that it is diffuse. Turning it into biofuel concentrates it into a usable form, with the energy density on par with fossil fuels

Tim H. said...

Daniel D., don't sweat about nay sayers, when useable hydrocarbons can be found for less in the vats, drilling will be limited to just the heavier petrochemicals needed for lubricants and chemical feedstocks. Be prepared to wait though, technology can take longer than anyone likes to develop. For example, fuel injected automobiles began to be available in the fifties, but decent CFI systems didn't show up until the seventies, EFI a little later.

Jumper said...

I was amused by the libertarian who said "government is not productive" because the same could so easily be said about management anywhere, and lead so quickly to the idea that only the workers have a right to determine pay and prices.

On competition, some adherents believe this includes sabotage, and certain university students engage in destruction of others' experiments, burglary of test answers, etc. I find such definition of competition abhorrent yet it goes on.

I forget where I heard a quote recently addressing an imputation that government by force was an evil. Without force a government is no government at all.

I'm reminded now of a friend who when "accused" of voting for the lesser of two evils said "I have been doing that my whole life and will continue."

Daniel Duffy said...

Tim H - agreed, it will take about a decade to become commercial viable. But when it takes off (like solar PVC today) there is no stopping it. Then Putin's Russia and the House of Saud will collapse, because all they have is oil (the resource curse). Good riddance to these corrupt despots.

FYI see what SF writer Frank Herbert of "Dune" wrote about "hydraulic despotism" - a form of tyranny as old as ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China and the control of their local river's levees, irrigation channels and canals by the resident God King.

Unknown said...

Hi - Beware of Brin's bizarre counterfactual claims such as, "California disproves all of your canards, Sociotard. A demo governor with a 2/3 demo majority passed bills to restore the economy and lead the nation, then to set aside half the surplus to pay down debt and to fill a rainy day fund..."

Decades of sanctimonious Democratic legislatures in California has delivered a failed state, plain and simple. Today your beloved Democratic super-majority has achieved bankrupt cities, grotesque patronage, e.g. a 54yo San Diego librarian collects a $19.5k/month lifetime pension, and a state bond rating on-par with Botswana, Lithuania and Curacao. C’mon.

California is objectively dysfunctional, an economic disaster. Against the other 49 states, California is dead last or near last in ALL economic measures due to failed Democratic policies and hubris. Beware.

Meanwhile, the state's failed, impenitent Democratic environmentalists are using bulldozers to destroy desert ‘wasteland’ to correct the soaring ‘global warming’ farce, while creating vast, carbon-spewing industrial zones out of ‘public lands.' All in Brin's backyard!

http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/California-solar-projects-plan-undergoing-major-5739105.php

(BTW, Brin's inveterate habit is to 'shoot the messenger' so it will be a miracle if he shares thess FACTS.)

Don't forget, the Sacramento Bee reported in December that California state government and its local government agencies, with a combined $443 Billion in debt (the most in the nation), has extended its lead by being the number one issuer of new municipal bonds. Bloomberg news reported that California government agencies issued $46.2 billion in Disastrous new debt in 2013.

Brin trades in hate-speech. Just ask David Brin why California's Democrats and bureaucrats with their stupid, failed economic policies drove Tesla's multibillion-dollar battery Gigafactory to Nevada? Brin will NOT tell you Tesla's battery project is expected to bring Nevada an economic impact of nearly $100 billion in the next 20 years, and to enable Tesla to get enough battery juice to power half a million electric cars annually. At the welcoming ceremonies yesterday, Nevada's GOP governor Brian Sandoval, was delighted!

Don't buy the shameful, hate-fueled lies.

-j

locumranch said...

Whether Blue or Red, one insane politician is much like any other, especially within an increasingly dicroic system, leading us ever closer to our own color-coded schism, much along the lines of the Nika Riots and the Justinian response.


Best

Jim Satterfield said...

There was a recent baby step towards helping innovation with the Supreme Court's Alice v. CLS Bank decision. It's already killing some of the ludicrous software patents out there and will hopefully continue.

http://thedemigeek.blogspot.com/2014/09/good-news-on-software-patents.html

Alex Tolley said...

It seems that our nouveau riche, Silicon Valley derived Peter Thiel (e.g. PayPal) is suggesting monopolies are better than competition. That may be simplifying his message, but in essence that is what he is arguing for. The logic is correct - for the monopolist business - but not for teh economy as a whole. Having eaten in those very same Mountain View restaurants, I can say that competition in Indian restaurants improved the quality enormously in the 1990's. I cannot say the same for PayPal - although newer payment method competition might do that in future.

As with other self styled thought leaders, give them the microphone and they say things that are just as daft or unpleasant as Joe Sixpack.

Alex Tolley said...

@Daniel Duffy

Scientists at Tulane University have discovered the first known strain of bacteria, TU-103, which produces biobutanol (which can be used as a replacement for gasoline) directly from cellulose.

The cellulose comes from where - fast growing trees. switchgrass? This means that butanol production cannot be more efficient that the overal conversion of sunlight into cellulose - far lower that solar PV. The cost in agricultural land loss for this technique, or from similar schemes with algae, is non trivial. Algal biofarms have been mostly put on back-burner status due to costs. Other cekllulose conversion plants are in similar status. Even if costs decline to be competitve with fossil fuels, it may not make sense to create cellulose farms instead of food farms, just like bioethanol from corn has caused disruption in the food supply chain.

The US Navy has developed a catalyst that allows them to extract hydrogen and carbon dioxide from sea water and make jet fuel at $10 a gallon:

Which is logistically fine for a nuclear naval vessel, but the relevance for the economy is?

The University of Glasgow has just improved the efficiency of hydrogen electrolysis by a factor of 30:.

No. They have increase the speed of conversion but not the energy efficiency, which couldn't be increased by much more than 100% at this point. It remaiins to be seen if their method is commercially viable for even niche applications.

Japanese advances in extracting methane from frozen clathrate formations on the ocean floor would yield 1,000s of years of clean burning energy:

Back to "fossil" fuel burning. Short term greenhouse emissions from leaks could be catastrophic.

One should beware of PR pieces that are constantly issued from institutions vying for attention and funding. Most grand schemes to solve big problems fall apart once one applies a modicum of arithmetic, or the 2nd order effects are taken into account. We need to get off using fossil fuels, but the solution mix is fairly evident for teh US, teh problem is teh political and legal challenges from teh fossil fuel industry to protect their businesses. As a recent article noted, to prevent burning teh assets in te ground will strand $3tn of reserve assets. The industry will fight tooth and nail to keep them as earning assets.

Alex Tolley said...

@Ubknown - California's debt rating is a disaster, worse than Botswana. What kool-aid are you drinking?

Facts:
California debt rating
other nations

The Tesla deal for Nevada has already been questioned, especially as the $100bn in economic returns is considered BS by analysts. Nevada was just prepared to offer very sweet tax breaks. Good sites for solar farms to power the plant were a factor too.

John Maloney said...

@alextolley. Don't be a Brin's chump.


"Last year, Chief Executive Magazine’s annual rankings, based on a survey of 650 chief executives on taxation, regulation, workforce quality and living environment, ranked California 50 out of 50 for the eighth year in a row. California also received an “F” grade in January from the Kauffman Foundation in a survey of 6,000 small businesses across the country. The Tax Foundation ranked California 48th worst on business taxes." -Forbes, Feb 2014

C'mon.

Is you real name Alex TROLLey?


Oman A Negative 2011-11-29 [4][5]
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE A Stable 2011-11-29 [4][5]
Slovakia A Positive 2014-08-01 [4][5]
Trinidad and Tobago A Stable 2011-11-29 [4][5]

California

Andorra A- Negative 2012-02-20 [4][5]
Aruba A- Stable 2012-02-20 [4][5]
Botswana A- Stable 2012-02-20 [4][5]
Curacao A- Stable 2012-02-20 [4][5]
Latvia A- Stable 2014-05-30 [4][5][12]
Lithuania A- Stable 2014-04-11 [4][5]
Malaysia A- Stable 2011-11-29 [4][5]
Poland A- Stable 2013-03-07 [4][5]
Slovenia A- Stable 2013-02-13 [4][1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_credit_rating

Try the FACTS not histrionics like all the lame Brinions.


Tesla?

"This is not the first time that California has seen prominent companies moving jobs to other states. Chevron CVX -0.94%, founded in California more than 130 years ago, has recently announced that they will be moving up to 800 jobs from the Bay Area to Texas. The Campbell Soup CPB -1.63% Company announced that they would be closing their Sacramento plant and moving over 700 jobs out of California’s Capital. Boeing BA -0.54% announced last September their plans to shutter a massive Southern California jet assembly plant and lay off nearly 3,000 workers starting this year." Forbes, Feb 2014

Quick question: What is WRONG with you?


David Brin said...

Daniel Duffy passes this along: “Getting oil out of the ground will soon be as obsolete as getting it from whales. http://www.distributedenergy.com/DE/Articles/Natures_Own_26651.aspx



“Scientists at Tulane University have discovered the first known strain of bacteria, TU-103, which produces biobutanol (which can be used as a replacement for gasoline) directly from cellulose. TU-103 (discovered in zebra feces) is the only known butanol-producing strain that can grow and produce butanol in an aerobic environment. Oxygen kills other butanol-producing bacteria, and not having to produce butanol in an isolated anaerobic tank will greatly reduce production costs. It will also allow for the mass conversion of the bulk of our solid waste (like old newsprint) into fuel that does not increase levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Plus… “The US Navy has developed a catalyst that allows them to extract hydrogen and carbon dioxide from sea water and make jet fuel at $10 a gallon.”

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140407/DEFREG02/304070027/US-Navy-Converting-Seawater-Into-Fuel-Game-Changer-

Japanese advances in extracting methane from frozen clathrate formations on the ocean floor would yield 1,000s of years of clean burning energy.” Better get busy on the latter, as those methane deposits are starting to “tipping point” fizz that powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

http://fortune.com/2013/09/03/japans-energy-savior/


Dan Duffy gets post-of-the-day for his multiple contributions about energy advances, some of which I will quote soon, up top. Just please soften your tone (e.g. “idiot.”) you are among very bright fellows here. Respect.

I do disagree that the sheikdoms are ignoring all this. They are building up their desalinization, airport and business-center infrastructures for the post-oil era and constructing universities… for women too, at a furious pace. I don’t mind any of that. What I mind is their catastrophic meddling in international politics, twisting the American polity with lavish propaganda and attempting to undermine the American Pax that they utterly depend upon… while artificially stoking the Israeli conflict that should have been resolved 40 years ago.

BTW the techs you mention are not carbon neutral or negative. But they can 1- eliminate coal, yippee and 2- collapse the political power of carbon extractors, enabling the polity to invest heavily in sustainables.

Robert. I don’t think Russia etc will go to deliberate all-out war as their oil price goes down. But they may become unstable.

Paul, I have this optimistic streak. I believe ISIL has done the world a lot of good by ruining the “caliphate” brad… which the Saudis had long range been aiming for. Perhaps now they will consider other options, like peace.

Did you fellows read that bizarre, counterfactual “Unknown”? Above? “Hatefueled?” Um? California has to deal with something like ¼ of ALL of the nation’s immigrants, yet it is haulking itself out of the Wilson-Arnold created deficits hand over fist. Jerry Brown is the most popular and successful governor in a lifetime and will be re-elected by tsunami margins. My sole regret is that he is too old to run for president.

Alex, DD’s point was that we throw away so much trash cellulose that it would take a long time to use up both the town and farm waste streams.

Alex Tolley said...

@ John Maloney

One can usually tell when someone is making reasoned arguments by the language used. It also helps to have some knowledge of what underlies the situation.

So we have a case of California being described in the most emotionally laden words as being a disaster, worse than even...African...states (because we JUST KNOW that colored people cannot run a nation). But of course the data shows no such thing. California's debt rating isn't worse than these African nations, and better than many. Then of course there is the fact that California isn't a sovereign nation, able to print money either. When we look at nations that cannot do this either, e.g. in the eurozone, we find an even worse situation - Italy BBB, Greece - B, Spain BBB. The US (AA+) is even worse than Britain (AAA), and the economic state of Britain is definitely pretty awful.

So California has high taxes and a poll of businesses ranks it last? Quelle surprise! Yes, California does have some relatively unfriendly business laws. Don't like them, operate somewhere else. I just don't see mass emigration of the population to all these super friendly-to-business states. Same goes for New York.

As regards Tesla. You did know that Texas was in the running for the site and so lost too? Now how could that happen to Rick Perry's business friendly, low tax, low wage, low social services, state? Obviously not business friendly enough!

No outraged screaming or ad hominem arguments. And I didn't have to call you John Baloney either. :)

David Brin said...

Funny thing. All the doom proclamations about California and New York keep being pushed into NEXT decade, then the next, then the next... while people all across planet Earth consider them to be the most vibrant and creative and exciting places to live.

Maloney's rants are only what we have come to expect from a movement whose smarter members KNOW has gone stark, jibbering insane, having repelled from its ranks all the scientists and teachers, doctors and nearly every other knowledge professionals.

The democrats always had a slightly lower education level, on average, than republicans, because they represented immigrants and the poor. Goppers were proud of this! They called it out! That is... till it changed.

Now, the demmies still represent (legal, not illegal) immigrants and the poor. But the average education level of DP members is WAY higher than the RP. And suddenly that is not worth mentioning anymore.

It is no longer a political party. It is the re-risen Confederacy, with all of the old agendas. Reason and progress and science are no longer factors.

=== onward to next posting.

Alex Tolley said...

DD’s point was that we throw away so much trash cellulose that it would take a long time to use up both the town and farm waste streams.

My point stands, the numbers do not add up. The waste streams of cellulose are not that great, even from farms. E.g. Corn is either plowed under or used as silage for animal feed. So we have relatively small carbon waste streams, and low conversion efficiency from sunlight to cellulose by plants. Domestic cellulose waste streams are predominamtly cardboard and paper which are best recycled rather than digested.

So if one wants biofuels, the most efficient means is algal carbon fixation, rather than growing terrestrial plants and then digesting them. Fuel synthesis is clearly going to be very important in the future, but unless it is very efficient and fast using biology, direct solar plus chemical conversion is likely to be more efficient and cost effective. For example, solar PV->hydrogen by electrolysis->methane (Sabatier). PV is 25% efficient, electrolysis (>30%), Sabatier (80%?) -> overal 6% efficient with room for 3x improvenet in solar PV effieciency. [This probably won't make sense as the atmospheric CO2 source is too diffuse to make this work].

Let's put carbon consumption into perspective. We emit about 10bn tonnes of carbon (35 bn tonnes CO2) per annum. Total human food consumption is about 5bn tonnes, (wet wt). So even without doing conversions, it is clear that replacing fossil fuels via converting ag production to fuel probably won't be even close, even if we assume 90% of of the photosynthetic productivity is cellulose waste.
Look at it another way. Annual CO2 of 35bm tonnes of CO2 increases atmospheric CO2 concentrations by ~3ppm. The Keeling curve shows annual fluctuations of ~ 5ppm. So global carbon fixation is of the same magnitde as our emissions. Allow for hemispheric effects and lower than maximal fixation in mature forests and even total carbon fixation by photosynthesis on land and in the oceans is only a few fold greater than our current emissions. There is no way that harveting cellulose will be nearly enough. In comparison, we know that solar energy is many orders of manitude greater than human power generation, which suggests that concentrated energy in fuels should be chemically manufactured, not converted photosynthetically fixed as cellulose.

By all means make bioreactors part of the mix where appropriate. But don't think that it can anything more than a small part to play in global energy and fuel production.

Jim Satterfield said...

The ideologues who proclaim the imminent doom of California, New York, and any other state that would dare to not follow what passes for conservative economic dogma in the U.S. now also believe fervently that low taxes result in high growth. Yet respected economists taking a serious look at the subject disagree.

http://goo.gl/hAPLJt

Jim Satterfield said...

David, I was just curious after reading what you have to say about deficits, etc. what you think about Modern Money Theory?

David Brin said...

JS... link to a definition of the term?

AT, I know some folks in Algae and portray it in EXISTENCE. Clearly Algae is the win-win since you take effluents from industrial farms AND from cement kilns and turn it into good stuff.

David Brin said...

Now onward!!!

Jon Maloney (jheuristic) said...

Alex, you are on a fools errand. California, due to Democratic excess, is in great pain.

When California ranks dead last or at bottom against the other 50 states in most all economic metrics, it is fair to call it a disaster. Detroit is a disaster. Illinois is a disaster. The Oakland Raiders are a disaster. See the pattern? C'mon.

Look, there are entire sites devoted to the household names that have moved substantially from California to Texas.

Remember, David Brin is an entertaining demagogue. Brin deifies everything in the 'D' column. His blood runs cobalt blue. Sadly, his 'D' has morphed from Democratic to dogmatist. Don't buy it.

When faced with facts, Demagogue Dave [DD] shoots-the-messenger. Rational thinking is off-the-table. Economically and political DD traffics in Woo -

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Woo

Remember, Brin will never tell you Firefly Space Systems of Hawthorne, California, on Wednesday confirmed its relocation to Austin. The announcement comes just weeks after SpaceX announced it is creating the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches in South Texas.

Gov Rick Perry (R) is thrilled!

No thanks to phonies like David Brin.

Why won't Demagogue Dave reveal these facts? Because he may repel his naive Brinions. Demagogues need idiots. DD recognize that pluralism matters.

Gee, ever hear of Visa, Toyota, Apple, DropBox, eBay, etc.? Yep, all headed substantially to the Lone Star State and into welcoming Red State arms. Get a clue.

Sorry, California ain't Golden it's blue and that makes it a disaster.

BTW, why no comments on the Ivanpah boondoggle or are you too focused on Brown's Crazy Train to nowhere?

California Democrats are searing raptors in the Mojave, and Texas is attracting California businesses wholesale. It's more than laughable, it's bat-shit crazy!

Google Ivanpah Streamers.

http://bit.ly/1p3XwtD

Jim Satterfield said...

David,

Here is the link to the Wikipedia definition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Monetary_Theory


Here is the beginning of a primer on the subject by L. Randall Wray.

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/modern-monetary-theory-primer.html

Jim Satterfield said...

Apple is not leaving California for Texas. DropBox is not relocating to Texas.

And corporate welfare is alive and well in Texas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us/winners-and-losers-in-texas.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/19-billion-reasons-talk-about-texas-business-incentives

David Brin said...

Yes, indeed, "When California ranks dead last or at bottom against the other 50 states in most all economic metrics, it is fair to call it a disaster."

And in some sci fi scenarios, I suppose that could happen, some day. What puzzles me is how some people can take such fantasy suppositions and actually talk their own mad minds into thinking they are talking about this world!

Dig it. Massage Fox-isms all you want. But no Californian or New Yorker would trade his or her home (allowing even for price differentials) with ANY Confederate star except... in some arguable cases... Texas. And Virginia and N. Carolina, which are turning Blue rapidly.

Indeed, almost any red state. ALL are governed vastly worse, are worse in almost every conceivable human metric of success. What's more... Maloney knows this. His rant is shrill denial, screeched in order to evade uncomfortable truths.

Jim S thanks for the links, let's follow up later in the week, under a blog. I'll not be coming back to this one.

onward

Jon Maloney (jheuristic) said...

Jim Satterfield - C'mon. Give us a break. Apple is ALREADY in Texas. Like many others, they are rapidly moving and EXPANDING outside of California because of frightfully incompetent Democratic excess...


First phase of Apple's new $300M Austin, TX campus nears completion Feb 2014 Apple is moving into its new "Americas Operations Center" in Texas's capital city. Austin city officials have issued certificates of occupancy for two new buildings at the site, according to a report with photos from the Austin Business Journal. The structures provide some 290,000 square feet of office space, just over a fourth of the 1 million square feet the campus will eventually contain.

Meanwhile, Feb 6, 2014 - Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox Inc. said it plans to move its headquarters to Central Texas.

http://www.statesman.com/interactive/california-jobs-coming-to-texas/

Don't share this with the unctuous Brinions...

http://www.alec.org/wp-content/uploads/RSPS-CA-14.pdf


Please, there's room only one entertaining fiction writer and Woo-master - Dogma Dave!

David Brin said...

One response for pushy morons... hatter all you like... no one is down her.

You are committing the suicidal crime os... zzz.....boringness......zzzz
zzz
zz
z



onward

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

Don't buy the shameful, hate-fueled lies.


Irony, anyone?