Dan Crawford | May 4, 2010 10:07 pm
SInce there are so many comments in the deficit commission thread Ill start here with an essay Warren Mosler wrote in 2001 on the Eurozone.
Well, since everyone went home
before i could say this on the last open thread, i thought i’d bring it up again. my excuse is that it is a good example of what we are up against.
some commenters repeatedly berate me and others for offering “only opinions” and not “facts.” but the sort of facts they offer are like these:
[to the argument that]“Electric cars will substantially reduce demand for oil:”
[they reply] “Gasoline contains about 80 times as much energy, by weight, as the best lithium-ion battery.The Government Accountability Office reported that about 40 percent of consumers do not have access to an outlet near their vehicle at home.”
Exactly what these “facts” have to do with refuting the claim that electric cars will reduce demand for oil… must be in the mind of the beholder.
The battery can be refilled with “energy” time after time, with no increase in its weight. So we really don’t know how much “energy” a given weight of battery can hold. Nor would it matter much if we did.IF the point is to reduce demand for oil, we would better ask how much oil equivalent does it take for an electric car to travel the same number of ton miles as a gasoline car. (The answer is “about half as much as the gas car.”) Moreover, an electric car designed for the kind of slow speed short range city driving with low payloads will probably cut oil consumption in that use by more like 80%.
But my point here is not so much to prove that electric cars are better than gas cars as to point at the sheer irrelevance of the “fact” to the question.
As to “40% of consumers without acces to an electric outlet,” that is offered as an argument that electric cars will not reduce demand for oil… Apparently none of the people listening to this argument are expected to ask how difficult it will be to supply those consumers with an electric outlet. No, you are just supposed to nod sagely, and say, well that settles it then. No electric outlets so of course electric cars can’t save oil.
I am sorry to say that this is just the sort of “logic” that the people who insist upon “facts,” and the people who lie to the voters for a living, expect us to swallow. And they succeed to an alarming extent.
There is such a thing as asking what do the presented “facts” have to do with the question. Is there a reasonable chain of cause and effect that links the “wow, gee” fact to the problem at hand?
In principle there is no way one person can answer this himself. We are all vicitims of the way brains work and we will mistake an accidental synaptic connection for “logic” every time. But with a determination to “Test all things, hold fast to the good,” comparing steps with people from other points of view, we can at least reduce the number of foolish mistakes we make.
The interesting thing about the facts are how often they are proven wrong. It was a fact that man could not fly. It was a fact that people would die if they went faster than 30 mph. It was a fact you could not build a transcontinental railroad. Note that in each case there was an unvoiced part (at best) with current technology and proceedures.Taking the auto example cited, its partly a matter of thinking differently. It is viewing a vehicle as having a need to commute one day and drive 500 miles the next. If you build a commuter vehicle it could be electric (the volt is close here). Those with facts think the same way the peak oil folks think, that it is a fact that we can not change fast enough if there is a market push. Facts are often in the eye of the beholder, and depend upon the assumptions, such as the gas over the electric car because of the requirement to drive 500+ miles in a day.
The article was about 5 myths, and you have locked onto a single comment contained within. Dale, get a grip, and take it up with the WaPo editorial writer.
Arctic Sea Ice is just not cooperating! Remember last Fall’s great commentary re: Arctic Sea Ice loss being larger than the state of Texas. Well this Spring Arctic Sea ice has met or exceeded the Satellite record average.
Along with the Arctic Sea ice story we get the obligatory annual Arctic Sea Ice expedition, and they are finding conditions warming. Yup! Temps in the -25 to -35F range, and those temps were taken inside the tent. Wind chills approaching -60F. Gotta watch that Sea Ice melt.
***But my point here is not so much to prove that electric cars are better than gas cars as to point at the sheer irrelevance of the “fact” to the question.***
It’s quite irrelevant whether electric cars are better than liquid hydrocarbon powered cars. I’m guessing that they will be modestly inferior.
Someday, we’re going to run out of affordable gasoline for anything other than emergancy/industrial vehicles. That could happen in the next few years, It may take a while longer. We are going to want to replace the gasoline powered vehicles with some sort of personal transport. I don’t care if it is powered with electricity or fermented dandelion greens. I just want wheels. (And so will 85% of the other people living on the planet).
Codger said: “ I’m guessing that they will be modestly inferior.” Using today’s technology as a valuation starting point it is probably very true. Advances in both hydo-carbon versus electrically driven vehicles will advance at the same pace as the previous century. Until, as you point out, the cost so much higher than electric-based technologies for individual transport.
I know that is an obvious comment, but too often we see commentary that rotally ignores the economic drivers except to force them. It’s the forcing that, I think, is the major deterrent to the average citizen.
So, we have this huge oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. And it could get bigger. The reaction of course is to lynch British Petroleum although as far as we know, the well had a blow-out preventer than was supposed to shut it down in the event of problems. Doesn’t really matter whether BP was following best practices and got unlucky or was a culpable as Exxon was for sailing a supertanker onto a well known reef in clear, calm weather. BP is going to get blamed.
But over and above that, a lot of folks are rethinking offshore drilling. It is, of course, it is too late to do that. If we wished to avoid it, we needed to start taking steps during the Reagan or GHWB administrations. We are now in a position where it is virtually impossible not to drill offshore or in the Arctic. That’s where the oil is, and we need oil. Lots of it.
This morning in the NYT Thomas Freidman — of whom I am not a fan — wrote.
There is only one meaningful response to the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and that is for America to stop messing around when it comes to designing its energy and environmental future. The only meaningful response to this man-made disaster is a man-made energy bill that would finally put in place an American clean-energy infrastructure that would set our country on a real, long-term path to ending our addiction to oil.
Welcome aboard Tom. 20-30 years late, but it’s nice to have you show up at the party. Really. I mean it.
I fervently hope that the rest of the inside the beltway crowd gets on board as well. If one of the outcomes of this environmental disaster is that the nation finally cozies up to the idea of a national energy policy and rejects the faith based energy solutions that are so popular with the political right, this will turn out to be a net plus for the country.
Just a nit Lyle, but I don’t think very many people thought a transcontinental railroad was impossible. Difficult and expensive, yes, but not impossible. As you may be aware, the original railroads in the very early 19th century were horse powered. A couple of decades later the horses were replaced with steam engines. The railroads fairly quickly pushed West over the mountains and all the way to the Missouri River. It was actually the Erie Canal that opened up access to the Middle West, but the railroads did the same job further South. So, when the transcontinental railroad was chartered and funded, the railroads already crossed half of the country including some quite difficult territory in the East.
There were really only two difficult stretches on the whole route, One across the Sierra Nevada and the other down Weber Canyon in the Wasatch. The principle political problem was the need for government funding which the Southerners with their traditional and longstanding lack of vision (which prevails to this day) wouldn’t go along with. When the dingbats seceeded they took their votes with them and the railroad got built.
I actually agree with everything you said. The problem with a national energy policy, which needs to be done (no argument there), is that there are only three places to get energy on the scale we need: Oil, Coal, Nuclear. All the “green energy” won’t cut it. Solar and wind cannot provide baseload nor even be counted to supply excess and both are expensive even with gov subsidies. I live in Texas, have a great set-up for roof-top solar, but the ROI is not even close yet for me to pull the trigger. Hydro has been about tapped out and we are removing damns for environmental reasons as they age out & sometimes before.
I keep hearing conservation. We can do a lot more here but its going to be expensive and only cut at the margins. For a single datum point. I have 38 year old windows on my house. I had them inspected and was told that if I replaced them all with new energy efficient ones I would save no more than 4-5% on my AC & heating bills. That made a ROI somewhere in the next century. There are plenty of places where you can get real payback, but they are not going to suddenly drop our energy consumption back to the 1970s. Conservation can give us breathing room, but how much is debatable.
So now we need an energy policy – and it needs to focus on solving the nuclear fusion problem and the battery (energy storage) problems. We lick those two and we are set.
Until the its coal, oil, and nuclear fission (plus natural gas). Basically carbon burning to get our electricity. And never forget we have 2 Billion plus Indians and Chinese who want what we have (and China already pollutes more than we do…)
Islam will change
That’s great but people don’t want to live in the Soviet era block apartments that people like Matt Yglesious keep pushing.
if you need lots of oil (no argument there) offshore is probably not gonna cut it. If you’re obsessed with 4% of the reserves while consuming 20% or more of capacity you’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.
For the transcontintal railroad the obstacles were (as indeed in some of the case cited) economic not technical. Recall that many said that the Erie canal could not be done, a canal 300 miles thru the wilderness had never been done before. Of course many facts are in the eye of the beholder.Your point on the technical difficulties was well taken, all be it in 1864 no one but native americans knew about the gangplank above Cheyenne, Wy, that Dodge found and solved a major problem. Even then the bridge at Dale creek being 125 foot high was about the limits of the technology of the time. Further it took the Civil War to teach people how to organize a project of the magnitude of the railroad.
actually, I am ready to discuss all 5 “myths” but i thought i’d save it as an exercise for the class. There isn’t much point in taking it up with the WaPo. They know they are lying. They are counting on you being foolish enough to swallow their lies. That’s what I hoped to get you to think about. No luck.
Always suprised when we agree on something.
1. “Oil, Coal, Nuclear.” It looks like we can tolerate a great deal more wind, solar, etc power than we currently have, so there is no reason not to expand them agressively for a while. But you are right, unless we can work out a cost effective way to store the electricity, they can’t be baseline load. … And we need to upgrade the grid. Unless something has changed, I think that it is pretty much impossible to get any significant amount of electricity generated in West Texas to Spokane or Bangor.
2. “I keep hearing conservation …” Of course we can conserve. And I’m sure that we will. One problem is that the existing housing and transportation stock isn’t very energy efficient and the inexpensive efficiency upgrades have largely been done. The replacements can be substantially better. But we’re talking about stuff with a service lifetime of 15 to 70 years.
Another, less recognized, problem is that the US has higher population growth than other developed countries. If we cut our individual energy use over the next three years by 33% — which I think is a doable if ambitious number, we’ll possibly lose half that gain to population growth. We’ll only cut our overall energy consumption by maybe 15-20%
“So now we need an energy policy – and it needs to focus on solving the nuclear fusion problem and the battery (energy storage) problems. We lick those two and we are set.” I’m not sure we’re set, but we’re at least in a rational situation. I’d add upgrading the power grid and transferring as much short and medium range transport from air and truck to more fuel efficient rail and water tranport. I don’t really expect people to take trains from New York to LA (although you could make that trip by rail in two days in the 1950s which is actually faster than my last — ever if I have my way — attempt at a cross country flight). But it’s silly that it takes all damn day for a train to travel from my local train station to Penn Station in New York. It’s only 300 miles. A 90-100 mph train could probably do it in 3 and a half hours with a few stops along the way.
Our homebuilders seem to be obsessed with window replacement. Has to be a high profit item. I expect that mass produced storm windows would be a more cost effective answer.
I’m a little surprised that roof top solar isn’t cost effective for you. It’s not for me, but that’s because I have a hillside covered with 70 foot trees just South of me and only six months at best without hard freezes. It worked OK for my folks near San Diego many years ago although I had to go up on the roof a few times to fix plumbing problems. I think that some DARPA type funding to develop rooftop solar that homeowners could install themselves and integrate into their existing hot water system would have a positive payback.
Factoid: Israel gets about 3% of their national energy budget from rooftop solar. The US can’t do that, but surely 1.5% would be feasible.
“That’s great but people don’t want to live in the Soviet era block apartments that people like Matt Yglesious keep pushing. ” Yet a great many people pay outrageous amounts of money for housing in Manhattan that is below the standards of Soviet apartment blocks. Same with some other dense urban areas. But you’re right, pulling folks back into the urban centers without creating massive crime and other social problems is something we don’t know how to do. I can understand people willing to give up the burbs to live in downtown NYC, Boston or San Francisco. But Dayton or San […]
***Recall that many said that the Erie canal could not be done, a canal 300 miles thru the wilderness had never been done before.***
Well, that’s fair enough. In fact the guys who surveyed, planned, and designed the lock systems for the Erie and Champlain Canals didn’t actually know much about surveying, hydraulics, or canal design and might not have attempted the Erie if they understood how difficult their proposed project was. But further South, George Washington was attempting to build a far more difficult canal from the Potomac to the Ohio (For a variety reasons the Canal only made it about half way — to Cumberland, MD).
***if you need lots of oil (no argument there) offshore is probably not gonna cut it. If you’re obsessed with 4% of the reserves while consuming 20% or more of capacity***
I don’t suppose you’d care to justify those numbers? Remember that “offshore” includes Alaska, the Arctic Ocean, the California Coast, and the relatively unexplored East Coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
So why hasn’t anyone mentioned the NYC bombing attempt? Two acts of God (or maybe incompetence and luck) saved us some real damage. 1) the bomber can’t set an alarm clock, and 2) Govt agencies can answer the phone when an airline is suspicious of one of its passengers, kept us from the bombing being succesful and captured the bomber. We sure can’t credit the Fed Govt for success. The past two Jihadist attempts were unsuccessful due to dumb luck. And the two prior successful attempts the administration has not admitted as perpetrated by home grown Jihadists. Don’t forget to blame Bush for implementing the systems that helped track this most recent Jihadist.
Still lots of oil in the Lower 48, not to mention Oil Shale. Enough oil shale in Wyoming alone, it’s just expensive right now to get it, but that may not always be the case.
My understanding is that the United States, Canada, and Mexico have the majority of the “found” oil reserves on the planet. I think the Geo-Political Strategy has been to use up the middle east reserves simply because we could afford it, and it made sense from a reserving resource and environmental stand point. If it would have come to light sooner that we ended up funding people who would come back to kill us, maybe the strategy would have been different.
I believe the Peak Oil propoganda is all about the environmental movement, not any real fear about not finding oil. I agree it is important to conserve, and find new technologies for the future, but any belief that we are going to get away from oil anytime soon is a Pipe Dream.
Cooling is Warming sooooo…….You fail again! I just can’t wait till we get the “Next Ice Age is Coming” propoganda again.
Thanks for mentioning upgrading the grid. The stories from my lawyer brother-in-law about the byzantine nature of the legal and technical issues with the west Texas grid are unbelievable. And yes we can’t get Texas wind electricity to Bangor or LA for that matter. Most of the obstacles are political and economic, the technical ones can be solved.
But your 100% right about a nationwide grid upgrade. Would be a good project for Obama or the next Pres (like Ike’s National Highway plan).
As for trains – everyone talks about how great Europe is. Well I can throw three Germanies into Texas with room to spare. All of Europe fits into the same space as the US east of the Mississippi. Yes in very dense corridors (Bostan-DC) is makes sense. Everywhere else not so much…for people. We need to get more frieght onto rails and off the roads though. But that a politcal issue not a technical one.
As for the solar. When I get close to a 5 year ROI they go on. I’m replacing my roof and making sure we can put on solar when it comes available. Right now replacing the existing & original cedar-shake roof with a new one plus new insulation should cut my energy bill in half (and my insurance bill by a third). If I could get off the grid I would be very happy!
And that last comment was left-over from somewhere. I pick on Matt Y becuase he continually comes up with incredibly naive ideas about density. But then he graduated from Harvard, never really had a job, is numerically illiterate by his own admission, and still blogs like he’s in High School. But I read him for entertainment value and find out what the current Dem line is. He is funny though…
I lived in Dayton. Actually a nice small-city. Still trying to recover its hey-day (1900), but is making a comback of sorts. Its funny but Dayton was once consider the high-tech research spot in the US….now, not so much.
I have a nit pick on the media coverage. Saturday in New York City the temperature hit over 85 degrees so the fact that someone would take his extra shirt off would certainly be a normal thing to do. So what was the point of the Video of the guy taking his shirt off and who released it. The FBI and law officials bug me sometime when they hang people out to give the impression they are on top of things. The worst case that I can think of was Richard Jewell.
Another nit pick is that the media immediatly released the fact that the suspect was a white man which I think plays into to the theme of “angry white men” are the new domestic terrorists. Contrast this with the long island railroad shooter Colin Ferguson or 2009 Bronx terrorism plot, in these cases the parties involved did not fit the profile of “angry white men” and their identifying characteristics not emphasized in the early release of the stories.
2009 Bronx terrorism plot
***Still lots of oil in the Lower 48, not to mention Oil Shale. Enough oil shale in Wyoming alone, it’s just expensive right now to get it, but that may not always be the case. *** jimi
Not so, regretably. We only count oil if it is reasonably recoverable using current technology. The Green River oil shales are not economically recoverable with current technology. The “oil” is actually a waxy solid dispersed into the pores of a fairly hard rock. Imagine trying to extract cup of candle wax that has somehow been incorporated as tiny bubbles in a brick. The Oil Drum has some good articles on the current state of oil shale extraction technology. (Note that there are other kinds of oil shales elsewhere in the world, and some of those are viable oil/energy sources using current technology). The Oil Drum link is http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6366 It’s actually kind of optimistic long run, but the key sentence for this discussion is probably “no production coming from oil shale for 10 to 24 years.”
A possible wild card. There was a small amount of oil production in the 19th Century from an oil shale in Ontario, Canada. I believe this was probably a “Utica Shale” — a black shale that is widely distributed across New York, Ontario and Western Quebec. It is just barely possible that the Utica shales could produce useful amounts of oil. But I wouldn’t bet on it. ***I believe the Peak Oil propoganda is all about the environmental movement, not any real fear about not finding oil.***
Sadly perhaps, you are almost certainly wrong about that. You might want to read the Wikipedia article on peak oil — several times http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
And do keep in mind that no matter if there is two or three times as much oil as the experts think. (Could happen but wouldn’t be my bet). The potential demand is there to use it all in this century with peak production in 10-40 years, and demand greater than supply from here on out. … and that’s the optimistic view.
Gee CoRev. Maybe it might be a good idea to stop gratuitously pissing off people who retaliate with random bombings when you blow up their cousin, his wife, and three kids by accident. You act like an irresponsible terrorist, you’re very likely going to get treated like an irresponsible terrorist.
If you ask me, there is higher proportion of terrorist mentality in middle America than in the Middle East. And frankly, I think just about everyone in the Middle East (other than the Grand Ayatollah al-Uzma Seyyid Ali al-Sistani) is stark raving nuts.
***Don’t forget to blame Bush for implementing the systems that helped track this most recent Jihadist.***
I certainly won’t. You may think that living in an incomepetent police state is fun. I’d prefer a free county myself. As you pointed out, your quasi-police state system constucted by incompetent bunglers didn’t keep the guy from entering the country, building a bomb, and trying to detonate it. It’s a safe bet that their next two dozen stupid ideas won’t fare any better. All you’ll accomplish to waste money, squander the lives of your betters who you instist on sending off to fight pointless conflicts in countries no reasonable American should care about, and incovenience those of us who know what a free society and how it should be run.
That’s all for now. If I think of anything else wrong with your cravenly cowardly and entirely unwarkable approach to national security , I’ll get back to you.
Hopefully the giant funnel that BP is trying to put in place will work and contrain most of the spill.
I think Thomas Friedman is a luddite clueless idiot on energy policy. The only energy policy that’s worth going after is to fund some research in developing a cheap new source of energy. Conservation just sweeps our problems under the rug and does not solve them for the long term. We need to develope all our domestic energy sources, worke on the diplomatic front to keep open the pipeline from our international suppliers, fund public research and providing incetives to private research to find new sources of energy. On offshore drilling we should keep doing it and simultaneously review environmental safeguards and add to them where deemed appropriate. The oil companies are generating a lot of cash because of high prices so they should be able to afford additional safety equipment.
Here is a good site for information (Its more relevant then Tom Friedman over 1,000 miles away punching out his column so he won’t be late for the meeting of his Salon).
CoRev, I have a nit pick on the media coverage. Saturday in New York City the temperature hit over 85 degrees so the fact that someone would take his extra shirt off would certainly be a normal thing to do. So what was the point of the Video of the guy taking his shirt off and who released it. The FBI and law officials bug me sometime when they hang people out to give the impression they are on top of things. The worst case that I can think of was Richard Jewell. Another nit pick is that the media immediatly released the fact that the suspect was a white man which I think plays into to the theme of “angry white men” are the new domestic terrorists. Contrast this with the long island railroad shooter Colin Ferguson or 2009 Bronx terrorism plot, in these cases the parties involved did not fit the profile of “angry white men” and their identifying characteristics not emphasized in the early release of the stories.
It’s a nice article I’m not convinced that the dollar is as stable as is assumed. When you think about it, the US has only had a Central Bank for about a century and the Federal Government has only been in the bailout business for about 40 years. Has anybody looked at the parallels if any between Greece and the 1975 bailout of New York City?
Here is a question for our experts on social security. For people paying social security tax part of the tax goes to pay current benefits, a small amount on overhead, and bulk of the rest as I understand it is transfered to general fund and accounted for by the social security trust fund. My question on looking at the rate of return on the social security contributions is there a rate of return computed based on taxes paid and furture expected payouts? Like an internal rate of return calculation and if so what is it. Also, I assume that for the prorated amount of our taxes that are used in the general fund that are accounted for by the trust fund get a decent rate of return (given the current low return on government debt). However, for the remainder that is used to pay for current benefits I don’t see a source for a rate of return for these funds. The only things can think of that could provide one are the growth of the work force that pays social security taxes and technical progress.
Here is a question for our experts on social security. For people paying social security tax part of the tax goes to pay current benefits, a small amount on overhead, and bulk of the rest as I understand it is transfered to general fund and accounted for by the social security trust fund. My question on looking at the rate of return on the social security contributions is there a rate of return computed based on taxes paid and furture expected payouts? Like an internal rate of return calculation and if so what is it. Also, I assume that for the prorated amount of our taxes that are used in the general fund that are accounted for by the trust fund get a decent rate of return (given the current low return on government debt). However, for the remainder that is used to pay for current benefits I don’t see a source for a rate of return for these funds. The only things that I can think of that could provide one are the growth of the work force that pays social security taxes and technical progress.
Just to jump into this for a moment . . . it is obvious to anyone who pays attention that energy is the crucial bottleneck that is causing most of the imbalances in our society. Apply enough energy and you can solve most any of the problems mankind faces at this time. This being the case, I think the most rational thing we could do right now is embark on a Manhattan-Project level effort to solve the problem of sustained controlled Fusion reactions. If the research at NIF this year shows that the laser ignition approach is viable, why don’t we spend whatever it takes to get this online in 10 years rather than 40?
I’d be happy to have my taxes bumped by 10% to get this done. I’m not real bright sometimes though . . .
***The only energy policy that’s worth going after is to fund some research in developing a cheap new source of energy.***
If we could turn energy production and usage on a dime, that might be true. The problem is that both production and usage involve massive investments with long lifetimes. Right now, we are severely overinvested in petroleum production and usage — which is going to be a really nasty problem if OPEC has been lying about reserves more than we think they have or if demand in developing countries expands as quickly as it might.
In the simplest case if you buy a gasoline powered car tomorrow and plan to keep it for 15 years, what’s your plan if gasoline is $12 a gallon in 2017? Sell the car (to whom?) and buy an electric car? The point of an energy policy is to try to minimize stranded costs and other difficulties caused by the long lifetimes of energy investments both for consumers and producers.
Cardiff, I am not one of the experts, but from reading Bruce and Coberly and some newspapaer accounts–always an iffy source of information –I believe that the social security taxes paid in 2009 all went to current benefits because of the Great Recession. This was not scheduled to happen until around 2018, but that assumed unemployment would be 6% or lower. I also believe that social security still ran a surplus–ie added to the trust fund because of the return on the special treasuries which the government gives when it uses social security surplus to reduce the budget deficit–and I believe those special treasuries are counted as part of the national debt. So we could have run perfectly balanced budgets for 10 years in a row and still added a couple of trillion to the national debt. As to the rate of return, I think Bruce or Coberly suggested that it was between 3 and 4 % over time. I do not know what it is now, but a 10 year treasury note is like 3.65%. As to your rate of return, it depends on whether you or your family get disability benefits , whether you make it to retirement age and how long after you start collecting you or a qualified survivor live. It is my understanding that the level of benefit is not set by a rate of return, but rather by the amount of taxes you have paid and the cost of living inflator. If you die as a single person with no kids, you get zero return and lose the principal as well. If you draw maximum benefits into your 90’s and we have a lot of cost of living adjustments you will get a very good nominal rate of return and at least a fair real return
High speed rail makes a great deal of sense in Texas along three highly travelled routes – Houston-Dallas-San Antonio (with a brief stop in my neighboring Austin of course 🙂
This project has been kicked around Texas in various ways since I moved here 15 years ago in 96. All you have to do is claw back part of the insane subsidies we give the airlines and put it into rail infrastructure and voila… Oh wait….
The ROI on roof top solar can be dramatically shortened if you make it a factor in a national energy policy. Like in today’s Germany for example where the utilities are required to buy back excess energy from people at fixed rates. Those rates are guaranteed not to change for a period of about 20 years so you can make a reliable payback regardless of the short term changes in electrical rates.
in 1997 the german government established a goal of getting 12% of their energy from renewables by 2010. That goal was surpassed in 2007 when renewable electricity alone contributed 14%.
German environmental technology employs about 800K people in jobs that are difficult to export or outsource and contribute to their technological leadership in the sector.
***As for trains – everyone talks about how great Europe is. Well I can throw three Germanies into Texas with room to spare. All of [Western … surely] Europe fits into the same space as the US east of the Mississippi. Yes in very dense corridors (Bostan-DC) is makes sense.***
The problem isn’t that trains are nice although I kind of like them. It’s that if oil gets very expensive, flying is going to become very expensive. My understanding is that long flights on full aircraft aren’t too bad energy wise but that short haul flights are very costly energy wise. [Am I wrong, I’ve never actually checked the numbers?] So, people will, I assume, want an alternative that takes a bit longer but is cheaper. In Japan and Europe that’s rail and it looks like that will be the case in China as well. So, I’m thinking we should start untangling the shambles that is short and medium haul passenger rail in America today.
If you ask me, Burlington is a nice small city. Dayton is an disasterously overgrown suburb with a nice art museum. But to each his own.
BTW I didn’t mention, but probably should have that Hydrogen Fusion power if it comes about should be abundant, but may not be all that cheap. That’s a problem for the kids, not me. Barring an unexpected breakthrough, It appears that the first serious Hydrogen fusion power plant will come on line some time after 2040 at the earliest.
***This being the case, I think the most rational thing we could do right now is embark on a Manhattan-Project level effort to solve the problem of sustained controlled Fusion reactions. If the research at NIF this year shows that the laser ignition approach is viable, why don’t we spend whatever it takes to get this online in 10 years rather than 40? ***
Tain’t dumb, and I think it is worth looking at. Here’s the relevant Wikipedia link if you want to check it out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER There are projects other than ITER with links under the SIMILAR PROJECTS heading at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER#Similar_projects . I have no idea if any of these are efforts where more money will help or if there are other concepts that could use some attention.
On rail, and travel in general, unless something breaks will become very expensive and time consuming. Right now I can get to Miami from DFW in 3 hours for $200. If prices go up drastically, it will just stop me from going to Miami…I can easily imagine a dystopia where we return back to the 1900-1910 era where most people rarely travel farther than the county they were born in and almost never out of state – just becuase of costs. Or where only the truely wealthy can afford to travel far at all – because they can afford to lose the time it takes to physically travel. It will be a far less rich world if only people making 6+ figures could ever afford to travel to say Europe, and then maybe just once.
On the other hand I can also imagine a world with plentiful, cheap and slow travel but still hooked to the net so I can work even while traveling. Take the QE II to Europe but still log my work hours from the computer via high-speed secure data-transfers. Or maybe even dirigibles will make a comeback…
Never lived in Burlington. Dayton for just 2 years. Dayton was once the big cheese between Columbus and Cincinnati, but its contracted hugely since then and is basically a support system for Wright-Patterson AFB. But I have found memories and a daughter born there…bet there is a reason for that!
Awww Codger, when are you going to realize they, those nasty ole Jihadists, just don’t like you? Me on the other hand I already know, because they attacked my POB already.
And, when did we start “…with random bombings when you blow up their cousin, his wife, and three kids by accident.…” If it’s random how can it also be an accident?
Cong. David Obey (D-WI) has announced his retirement. How many more before the Nov. elections?
“the media immediatly released the fact that the suspect was a white man which I think plays into to the theme of “angry white men” are the new domestic terrorists. “
NEW?? Where you been? Angry white men (males, some have been teenagers at schools) have been responsible for the acts of domestic terrorism for years. Conservatives just never called them terrorists. That term, for them, is strictly reserved for people of muslim background. Angry white (usually conservative) men love walking around brandishing weapons and making not so veiled threats of violence and then they act surprised when people suspect them of committing horrendous acts. Hmmmmmmmmm
Its really not surprising. Whites are in the majority and whites have a very violent history so it stands to reason that most domestic terrorist acts would be committed by whites. Thats not politicizing anything its a demonstrable fact. If it bothers you (CoRev, Cardiff, Jimi and others) get your political allies to stop acting like thugs.
“Me on the other hand I already know, because they attacked my POB already.”
I’ll assume that you are referring to the World Trade Center attack. Otherwise it would seem that your business interests are in either Iraq or Afghanistan, which I’ll guess is not the case. So how do you equate the activities in Iraq with 9/11? And how do you justify the continuing activities in Afghanistan, especially the “unfortunate” and frequent collateral damages that occur their. I assume that you are aware that the 9/11 attack was the work of a group of Egyptian nationals with a few Saudis along for the ride. Of course given your tendency for twisted logic I’m sure that you can justify any murder and mayhem in an effort to assuage your need for revenge. The need for revenge if loved ones were lost is understandable. The twisted logic is not.
Jack, NY was not the only city attacked. Why would I justify continuing in Iraq, Afghanistan, pakistan, Africa, the Phillipines, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Korea, Germany, the UK, Albania, Japan, S. Korea (need I go on?)
The rest of your comment is BS.
Greg, Uh huh! It’s all a white conspiracy.
As usual CoRev responds to a question with a question. As usual CoRev has no valid answer to a question posed to him. His comment implies that he is well satisfied with the US maintaining military bases throughout the world. CoRev,Is that the source of your manhood? If you’re within the age range why not join up and put yourself on the line rather than contriving lame excuses for US militarism across the globe, which, by the way, has done little good in bringing peace or safety to any part of the world.
Aww, Jack, why the schoolyard bullying? “Is that the source of your manhood? If you’re within the age range why not join up and put yourself on the line…” Silly child!
I have already served. In Uniform and as a civilian. You????
My eldest son is currently deployed. My youngest son has several clients that are ex-military.
But this comment is just silly: “ US militarism across the globe, which, by the way, has done little good in bringing peace or safety to any part of the world.” Talk about warped history. You’re a prime example. WWI, WWII, Korea, etc. etc. etc.
And then there are the cases like McVeigh who killed 168 people including 19 children under 6 years of age. This pissed off white racist former infantry gunner’s attack in 1995 was initially covered by the media as likely to be the responsibility of muslim extremists. I lived in Wichita KS at the time so followed the coverage very closely. Only 3 days later after being arrested for driving without plates and illegal firearm possession near Perry Oklahoma was he identified as the subject of a national manhunt.
So sometimes the jihadist turns out to be an angry white guy. And he is (so far) the #2 domestic terrorist in this country of the last couple decades.
Unabomber Ted Kascinzski, Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph, Columbine High School shooters Kliebold and ?? (plus almost every other school shooting was a white kid) the idiots that walked into the church in Tennessee …… but my point is simply that its NOT surprising to me that IN OUR COUNTRY the majority of violent acts of terrorism would be committed by white people.
People commit these terrorist acts when they feel something has been taken away (or is going to be taken away) from them and this is the only way they know to try and stop it or get back for it. Whites have enjoyed an enormous amount of privilege and in many instances they see or fear they are seeing things they consider important being taken by “a system” or even a specific person.
I’m actually arguing that this is an understandable (but inexcusable…usually) reaction to such circumstances. I could commit an act of terrorism myself if presented with a situation where I had no control over a continuous loss of something I deemed very important.
It depends on who you ask. The “experts” like to deal in averages, but there are too many variables in SS for any average to be meaningful, and many to be misleading. Social Security is not an investment fund, but an insurance plan. And like any insurance plan your “return” will be higher if you have the bad luck to experience the event you insured yourself against. I have done some calculations of “typical” situations, and found the “return” to range from about 10% REAL return for low lifetime earners to about 2% REAL return for high lifetime earners.
Don’t worry about dying young without dependents and “losing your principle. That’s like feeling bad because you lose the principle of your insurance payments when you die without having had an accident or a fire or cancer.
The “surplus” and the “cash flow deficit” are not important. They are just the Trust Fund doing what it was designed to do: provide bridge funding for hard times. The ultimate effect on the tax you pay and the benefit you get is too small to worry about. The interest on the Trust Fund is just a way of keeping the government honest when it borrows the money from Social Security. That interest is set by the prevailing rate on bonds at the time the Treasury borrows the money from Social Security. It turns out it is roughly the same as the “wage index” adjustment on your benefit calculation.
The right way to think about this is that you are paying now a small percent of your wages for the promise that when you reach 62 you will be able to retire if you want to or have to, with enough money to “get by.” Rate of return will not be the important issue then. The issue will be how much did i have to give up in order to have enough to live on when I really really need it.
by the way
hardly fair to blame Social Security for the national debt. The congress was going to borrow the money anyway. Keep straight in your mind that the money was borrowed FROM Social Security, not FOR it.
and yes, you are right, the “interest” on your money comes from growth in the economy, or at least from inflation, so that at the end of the day what determines how much “interest” you get will be how well the country is doing. population growth times wage growth. this could be a little less or a little more from generation to generation. the devil will teach you to howl if it is a little less, and to be smug if it is a little more. but think about your grandparents, who might have gotten a little higher rate of return, and think about how well they lived and what they had to put up with, and i don’t think you will envy them.
no, the crucial bottleneck causing most of the problems in our society is the limitations of human intelligence. seems very hard to find a way to get the poor to do work the society is willing to pay for. and those who have the money aren’t willing to spend it to find solutions for the poor.
and that’s being generous. i’d say the evidence is overwhelming that the people “running” society right now are so poisoned with greed that they are creating problems, not solving them.
more energy will just be more pollution and the rich will run over the poor in faster cars. we have all the energy we need right now. we waste most of it.
You shouldn’t leave out the most recent angry insane white guy Joe Stack who killed a 68 year old Vietnam vet and IRS agent Vernon Hunter.
Hilarious. My version of the same data is interpreted as Society has decided some jobs aren’t worth paying a living wage to do.
Yep, you right….Now go get your Shine Box!
Great analogy! And don’t forget the Fort Hood Terrorist who killed 13 active duty soldiers on American Soil., just another example of insane White People Gone Wild!
Sadly perhaps, you are almost certainly wrong about that. You might want to read the Wikipedia article on peak oil — several times NO! The peak oil debate is still in it’s infant stages. For as many that want to claim Peak Oil is close, there is the same that claim is is somewhere between 30-60 years away.
Some of the same people who keep the peak oil hysteria going, are the same that were pushing Global Warming before “Climate Gate.”
I’m definetly not worried about it, and niether are the Oil Companies. One of the tricks of the debate has been to claim that Governemnt Land is off limits, therefore, no oil exploration and production. Great for fullfilling agenda, but not good for American economics.
And how do you justify the continuing activities in Afghanistan, especially the “unfortunate” and frequent collateral damages that occur their.Because you can’t make an omelette unless you break a few eggs!
Jimi, Jack thinks figting against an insurgence where the insurgents hide amongst the population (some of whom are also opportunity-based insurgents) will result in NO COLLATERAL damage.
Yup! When we say war is brutal and then we get responses like Jack’s, it just shows their ignorance of the reality of war.
Worse when we heere comments re: we withdrew in VietNam and stopped the war, we just find another example of the cognitive dissonance associated with an unwillingness to admit that our presence was actually helping to stabilize the area. But, admitting that the successful demonstrations that ended the VN war, resulted in nearly 1M dead.
Been and interestiong week. All three of the Navy Seals have now been acquitted of all charges. That Al Qaeda strategy of using our own system against us isn’t working out so well.
If you want an example of why attempting to address terrorism as a military or political problem won’t work go take a close look at the last 40 years of history in Israel. It’s fairly relevant to the US since our massive and continuous aid to that country has kept the game going more or less.
The countries that have successfully thwarted terrorism and terrorists have handled it as a criminal problem. Terrorists are criminals, not political or military actors. We may still yet learn this from our mistakes. Anything’s possible.
The Times square bomber Faisal Shahzad may yet turn out to be a pakistani version Joe Stack more than not. Lost job, defaulted on underwater house in the suburbs… so he decides he’s mad as hell and not gonna take it any more. He did travel to Pakistan and try a terrorist attack in the US afterwards but it’s not yet clear he was motivated by islamist extremism as much as simple frustration with his unfortunate lot in life.
while i agree mostly, i’d suggest caution. the al quaeda and taliban would like to be state actors. and they have the potential to become so. it the people responsible for the security of this country regard that as a serious threat they would be irresponsible not to counter it.
the argument is, or ought to be, whether blowing up buildings with women and children, not to mention old men and innocent tall guys in white robes standing on a hill in afghanistan, is the right way to go about “fighting” this “war.” i don’t think it is. for both moral and practical reasons.