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San Onofre power plant via the Nuclear Regulatory Agency

The Dawn of the Great California Energy Crash

Like CA, more states will soon ask, "Where will our energy c
Sunday, July 22, 2012, 7:46 PM

California, which imports over 25% of its electricity from out of state, is in no position to lose half (!) of its entire nuclear power capacity. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this year, when the San Onofre plant in north San Diego County unexpectedly went offline. The loss only worsens the broad energy deficit that has made California the most dependent state in the country on expensive, out-of-state power.

Its two nuclear plants -- San Onofre in the south and Diablo Canyon on the central coast -- together have provided more than 15% of the electricity supply that California generates for itself, before imports. But now there is the prospect that San Onofre will never reopen.

Will California now find that it must import as much as 30% of its power?

The problem of California’s energy dependency has been decades in the making. And it’s not just its electrical power balance that presents an ongoing challenge. California’s oil production peaked in 1985. And despite ongoing gains in energy efficiency via admirably wise regulation, the state’s population and aggregate energy consumption has completely overrun supply.

Some will say, however, that California doesn’t need to concern itself with domestic energy production. As an innovation economy, in the manner of Japan or South Korea, many have said California can simply import greater and greater quantities of energy in exchange for its intellectual capital and the services and products it provides to the world. But the problem with such a notion is that it extrapolates the trend too far.

Only a century ago, California was an emerging giant of oil and gas production, building much of its wealth from natural resource extraction. It was inevitable that this would change over time. However, given the state’s high priced electricity, its wrongly devised transportation system (which is heavily exposed to oil prices), and its deep financial distress, the nation’s largest economy is having to exchange greater amounts of capital to keep itself running.

Indeed, the latest data shows that California energy production from all sources -- oil and gas, nuclear, hydro, and renewables -- has just hit new, 50-year lows:

California’s Great Energy Crash: State Energy Supply at Fifty-Year Lows

Since 1985 (the year that state oil production peaked above one million barrels a day), the state of California has seen its portfolio of energy production steadily decline, from an all- time high above 3,600 trillion BTU (British Thermal Units) to 2,500 trillion BTU (latest available data is through 2010). Because the contribution from both nuclear and renewables during that period has been either small or simply flat, the steady decay of California’s oil and natural gas production has sent the state’s energy production to 50-year lows.

However, during those five decades from 1960 to 2010, California’s population more than doubled, from nearly 16 million to nearly 38 million people.

Additionally, California built out its freeway system and expanded greatly into counties such as Riverside and San Bernardino. Indeed, in San Bernardino County, population quadrupled from 1960 to 2010, from five hundred thousand to over two million, with the attendant homes, public infrastructure, state highways, and freeways.

This great expansion of California’s residential and industrial topography was a tremendous value proposition back when energy, especially oil, was cheap. But now we are in a new pricing era for oil. Equally, California must also pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. In counterpoint to the dreams of energy conservation, while California’s population merely doubled, its electricity demand rose nearly fivefold, from 57 million KWh in 1960 to 258 million KWh in 2010.

Essentially, California, like the rest of the country, has built a very expensive system of transport, which is now aging along with its powergrid.

Surely in the forty years that followed 1960, the prospect that California would have to import greater quantities of fossil fuels and electricity was no cause for alarm. However, the capital that is now required each year to maintain its aging highway system and purchase out-of-state oil and electricity, is mounting. While it’s true that California’s GDP is mighty and ranks as the 8th largest in the world, it’s also true that even smaller US states have seen their energy production not fall, but rather advance, in the era of higher-priced energy. Surprisingly, California’s total energy production is now lower than Pennsylvania’s, which is an intriguing contrast given that the Keystone State figures so prominently in the history of early oil and coal production.

Who will produce all the energy that California will need to buy in the future?

Golden State Hit by Nuclear Power's Inherent Complexity

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a number of countries and communities are reassessing the risk and the cost of nuclear power. Overall, however, it is the aggregate complexity of nuclear power that is driving the global stagnation and now the decline of this particular source of energy.

The complexity of nuclear power -- its enormous expense, its dependence on government financing, its long construction timeline, and its perceived and actual risk -- means that bringing new plants online is ploddingly slow and aging plants are increasingly likely to see their licenses rejected for renewal. From a recent LA Times article, California energy officials plan for life without San Onofre:

California energy officials are beginning to plan for the possibility of a long-range future without the San Onofre nuclear power plant. The plant's unexpected, nearly five-month outage has had officials scrambling to replace its power this summer and has become a wild card in already complicated discussions about the state's energy future. That long-range planning process already involves dealing with the possible repercussions of climate change, a mandate to boost the state's use of renewable sources to 33% of the energy supply by 2020 and another mandate to phase out a process known as once-through cooling, which uses ocean water to cool coastal power plants, that will probably take some other plants out of service. "Some of the weaknesses we have in the infrastructure [of Southern California] are laid bare by San Onofre," said Steve Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that oversees most of the state's energy grid... Before the current shutdown at the plant, officials had planned only for a scenario in which one of the reactors would be off line. No one had anticipated a complete shutdown. The plant's 2,200 megawatts of power provide electricity to about 1.4 million homes, but the facility also provides voltage support to the transmission system that allows power to be imported from elsewhere to the region San Onofre serves, particularly San Diego.

San Onofre’s processing ability has been damaged by faulty computer modeling, which caused excessive and accelerated wear in its steam generator tubes. The cost and timeframe for a solution may be so great that the return on such an investment may not be worth it. But again, note the complexity involved here, which runs the spectrum from computer programming that guides the reactors' operation to the critical role that this southern California power source plays in the grid. In powergrids, nuclear power plants play an infrastructural role but are also critically dependent on receiving power from elsewhere in the grid. As Japan discovered, its own power plant structurally survived the tsunami but failed when it lost external power.

In 2010, the year for which the latest data is available, California consumed 258,531 million KWh (kilowatt hours). 26% of that total was imported mostly from other US states (54,406 million KWh) and a small amount came from Mexico. California’s two nuclear plants provided 32,200 million KWh, about 12% of the total power that the state consumes from all sources.

Roughly speaking (because supply, demand, and capacity fluctuate from year to year), the loss of San Onofre will increase California’s potential dependency on out of state power by at least another 5%. This will indeed push out-of-state power dependency to 30%.

California’s Soaring Oil Dependency

California, like Texas, has been a giant in the history of US oil production. But after reaching a peak rate of production in 1985-86 at around 1.1 million barrels per day, California now produces half that amount, at 540 thousand barrels per day.

Just as in other post-peak producing regions of the world, such as Mexico and the North Sea, there is a constant flow of hope and theorizing that once again California could increase its oil production. While it’s true that opening offshore blocks to development could eventually stabilize and possibly raise the state’s aggregate production, it is highly unlikely that onshore production can now be moved higher. The reason is that best technology practices are already well-deployed in California's onshore production -- where old, original fields continue to produce, but at much lower rates.

More important is that California now has over 35 million registered vehicles, nearly matching its population. That makes California automobile rich but public-transit poor, as the state remains highly leveraged to gasoline.

Indeed, the post-war buildout of California followed the low-density, urban-sprawl model that was replicated throughout the nation after 1950. Accordingly, cities like Los Angeles are having to make a Herculean effort to resurrect a light rail system (built on the grid of its historic trolley network, once the largest in the world).

But 60 years of automobile-driven development will not be undone easily. The state is already spending a disproportionate amount of capital each year just to maintain the existing highway system (an issue we will explore in Part II of this article). And despite that ongoing investment, Californians drive on roads with some of the poorest conditions in the country.

Let's take a look at the history of California's oil production against its historical consumption of gasoline:

The spread between the quantity of oil produced in California and the quantity of gasoline consumed started to blow out in the mid 1980s, when gasoline consumption rose above oil production as measured in BTUs. Many believed this to be sustainable. But as the rest of the country would discover, a price revolution in oil would eventually hurt the economy very badly -- and, consequently, oil consumption. In BTU terms, the difference between production of oil and consumption of gasoline reached its widest in 2006-2007, when annual consumption was running above 1,900 trillion BTUs and oil production at 1,250 trillion BTUs.

Now consumption, like production, is falling. Will consumption follow production downward, relentlessly?

The prospect that petrol consumption has peaked in California, along with the rest of the United States, is exciting if one is viewing such a transition through the lens of efficiency, sustainability, and post-industrialism. However, the dream of a non-industrial economy, like all good ideas, reaches a terminus when we consider that a majority of human services and products are still delivered and produced through physical processes. The State of California does not deliver state transportation, health care, education, police and fire protection, and public works digitally through the Internet. Instead, energy, delivered through tangible infrastructure, is required to run the Golden State.

In Part II: California: The Bellwether for the Rest of America, we take a look at the severely-pressured state budget of California, as well as other measurements of its economy indicating that the direction of its energy balance is entering dire territory. What exactly is the cost of California's energy consumption? And what does it mean, as companies like Facebook build data centers outside the country to access external sources of electricity, that California cities such as Stockton declare bankruptcy?

There is no miracle solution for California. Even if we assume that the country continues to enjoy cheap natural gas prices, the cost of imported electricity from NG-fired power generation will not fall, because the cost of electricity transmission will continue to rise as the grid ages and requires new investment. Eventually the price level of higher energy and lower quality public services will also catch up even to higher wage employees, because a hollowing-out effect is going to pare down the number of service providers -- teachers, merchants, construction workers, and even health care professionals and lawyers.

Such woes, however, are not unique in any way to California. They are shared by most US states right now; California is simply further down the timeline at this point. The key question here is what are the steps Californians (and the rest of us) should be taking?

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary; paid enrollment required for full access).

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39 Comments

lynnke's picture
lynnke
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It's Population

Californians per capita are the most energy efficient citizens in the United States.  This is due in part to our climate.  But part is due to government regulation (much of which came into being during our current governor's last stint in office) forcing us to conserve energy use.  However, every year our aggregate demand goes up and up and up . . .  California's problem is not energy use per se, it is population.  Even at our current rate of just over 1% growth per year, our numbers will double in the course my three year old nephew's lifetime.  This gets to the heart of our sustainability.  

When Angela Merkel said Germany was going to get off nuclear energy.  She could make that statement with a straight face.  Germany's population growth is currently pegged at -.002%.  Yep, I said it right, negative point zero, zero, two percent.  In 70 years there will be half as many Germans as there are today.  And if you travel there you will see solar on roof tops is ubiquitous as are wind farms.

California will never keep up and yet we could if the politcal will existed.  But to do so would mean taking aim at one of the Democratic and Republican parties sacred cows - IMMIGRATION both legal and illegal an in particular from Mexico. . . .

SailAway's picture
SailAway
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Re: It's Population

lynnke wrote:

California will never keep up and yet we could if the politcal will existed.  But to do so would mean taking aim at one of the Democratic and Republican parties sacred cows - IMMIGRATION both legal and illegal an in particular from Mexico. . . .

Man you got it all figured out! I guess I should start packing and go …

BTW, I’ve been working for High Tech companies in California for 13 years now and believe me remove the immigrants and good luck to find “real” Americans to fill in the left vacant engineering positions.

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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California Energy Problem

I think we are having the wrong conversation when talking about solar energy.  The real reason solar energy is not a viable option right now is because of the way we build our homes and offices.  We have had the technology since the 1970's to build VERY energy efficient housing, but we failed to act. 

A great film to watch on this subject is:  "Garbage Warrior" which documents architect Mike Reynolds' journey of home building.  He builds homes that do not require heating or air conditioning units because the homes stay the same temperature inside year round - whether you live in the deserts of New Mexico or the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The homes he designs and builds use quite a lot of "garbage"  plastic bottles, cans, and TIRES! in their production.  Each home collects and uses it's own water three or four times over.  And the homes are absolutely beautiful - inside and out..... and each home comes with it's own  indoor greenhouse.

Mike Reynolds calls it biotechture and critisizes the home building industry for building homes that are not really designed for people. 

According to Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The Third Industrial Revolution," the top three energy consumers are, in order of use:  1.  Buildings   2.  Meat Production   and 3. Transportation.  It sounds counter-intuitive that buildings use more energy than transportation and who knew industrial meat production was the number 2 culprit for wasteful energy consumption?

So, it's not that solar isn't practical, it's that the way we build our homes isn't practical.  The film Garbage Warrior tracks the great difficulties involved in designing and building homes not up to "code."  There are what Mr. Reynolds calls "pockets of freedom" where you can build your home the way you like, without pesky and outdated city, county and state ordinances getting in the way.

Maybe, it's time to change the way we build!

rhare's picture
rhare
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Garbage Warrior

Hladini wrote:

A great film to watch on this subject is:  "Garbage Warrior" which documents architect Mike Reynolds' journey of home building.  He builds homes that do not require heating or air conditioning units because the homes stay the same temperature inside year round - whether you live in the deserts of New Mexico or the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

I agree, it's a great film, and you can watch it here:

kelvinator's picture
kelvinator
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Great Report, Gregor

As a lifetime Californian, it was great to see a long term overview and analysis of the energy situation on my home turf here, which has been struggling in the wilderness of political misdirection and delusion for so long.  I just read the book Boomerang, and Michael Lewis' description of his bike ride with Schwarzeneger, after he'd left the Governor office - how utterly impossible it was for him to make real progress by moving either to the right or the left politically - just impossible to get the public and politicians to get real, since denial, catering to focused political interests like the prison system companies and employees, etc. and imagining that you can get alot for a little until the very limit of your ability to borrow money seems to suit everyone as a survival strategy.   I didn't vote for Arnold, but still hoped he would/could do well - and he couldn't do much more than a incrementally failing holding action like all the rest.

I keep thinking - as a society, why don't we see more fundamental, long term attempts to assess what's going on like your report and to come up with intelligent responses - on population, environment, budgets, energy - you name it?   At least in the public media space, society has a denial lobotomy and so, of course, its intelligence and planning capability is gone for now, seemingly for the reasons Chris has noted that being real and talking about limited budgets and limited resources isn't positive for political careers.   And good luck with the notion that the wisdom of unregulated free markets can take over where politicians have created a governmental lobotomy.   We already had a nice dose of that brilliant, market-driven energy policy here in California thanks to Enron's Russian-mafia style energy manipulation/ripoffs, and will have to come up with something a little more difficult and complicated than removing all regulations and putting deluded criminal idiots like Lay and Skilling and an industry-packed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission like existed at that time in charge of managing our resources and planning our future.  Not easy - and like so many things, makes braille-method "crash based steering" more likely.   Like a cheap wind-up car, you keep running high speed in the same direction till you crash, experience major damage, course correct, and careen off in a new direction until more damage is encountered, new direction, etc.  I really hope the light bulb goes on before run out of the energy to power it.   I read recently that frogs in slowly heating water actually do get agitated and try to jump out before they die, counter to the story that they cook before they figure out wassup - let's hope that we can get the equivalent a societal foresight & planning transplant before it's too late as well.

rhare's picture
rhare
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Not a free market in sight....

kelvinator wrote:

And good luck with the notion that the wisdom of unregulated free markets can take over where politicians have created a governmental lobotomy.   We already had a nice dose of that brilliant, market-driven energy policy here in California thanks to Enron's Russian-mafia style energy manipulation/ripoffs, and will have to come up with something a little more difficult and complicated than removing all regulations and putting deluded criminal idiots like Lay and Skilling and an industry-packed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission like existed at that time in charge of managing our resources and planning our future.

That wasn't deregulation, that was just a different set of statist giving lip service to a free market while using the state to seek profits at the expense of everyone else.  So please, don't even attempt to claim any of the energy markets are even remotely free markets.

RJE's picture
RJE
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California (love that

California (love that State) is so dysfunctional from a political standpoint that energy should be the last of their issues. Offshore wind, solar farms, roof top solar, hydro, dessert, oil leaking from the Santa Barbara waters implying oil there, and if the drilling in the Monterrey is ever figured out then what's the problem? Leadership is the problem as it is on the national level.

No matter, the great reset will finally, hopefully, get things moving with a common sense approach to everything. Imagine, we may even develop plans, and energy plan, and work for the common good. How grand a thought is that. Maybe, hopefully, we finally grid every darn thing and send our waste electricity all around our country. If we could just capture more of what we waste then California would light up, and probably reduce the costs to everyone. Maybe!

Maybe California sends all that sunshine in the form of electricity to us. Maybe.

I still would like to know if "OFF the Cuff" has been abandoned. Maybe I didn't get the memo so if anyone knows please pass it along.

Thank you

Go Tigers

BOB

kelvinator's picture
kelvinator
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Already Gone Round

I think you and I already have gone round about the "free-market" notion before awhile back, rhare, so I won't belabor it again here in detail.  I don't know what "a different set of statist(s)" means, but I assume it's a reference to the usual libertarian view that invariably puts the blame for monopolies, misallocation of resources, theft and corruption of free market capitalism on government alone, instead of letting it claim its fair share, and leaves all that's good about markets, and there's a lot, to remain as a benefit of the supposedly infallible market.   The "true free markets" you're talking about must exist in some nameless place we'll never see, or perhaps you can name some great, long term well-performing free markets that exist or have existed other than in libertarian dream land?   I'm skeptical, but open to taking a real look at what you're saying if you can tell me where to look.   I just haven't seen one, and doubt there's one to be seen.  "Free" markets are eternally subject to corruption just like government.   Claims that one can finally be created that has the divine attributes libertarians attribute to them I don't find believeable, based on long history, any more than I'd believe that centrally planned gov't economies are the way to go for the same reason.  I'm glad that, at least we both apparently agree that what's happened under the banner of free-market capitalism recently is trashy stuff, even if not where to go from here.

SeniorD's picture
SeniorD
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Article: How Broken Is the San Onofre Nuclear Plant?

A friend "in the know" forwarded this informative article to me about what is happening in CA.

http://is.gd/XQKEub

To those that say that CA may have to start importing Energy, they say that is nothing compared to the "Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster RISK" that the nuclear reactors pose to both CA and the entire USA!  Note that the NRC has closed the San Onofre reactors down and forbid the operators from restarting them without the NRC's permission... Yes all the lights in CA are still on despite the Utilities "claim" that these reactors are needed, somethig that even the State says is not true:

http://sanonofresafety.org/energy-options/

BTW: The above article also contains whistle blower tech comments for those here that have the expertise to understand them.

Worrying about surviving a downturn in the economy is nothing compared to doing the same thing  AFTER a meltdown has occured upwind from where you live...

RJE's picture
RJE
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Kelvinator said: "Free"

Kelvinator said:

"Free" markets are eternally subject to corruption just like government.".

I say two wrongs don't make a right and IF we prosecuted and sent these crooks to jail then the scales of morality would tip up-word percentage wise to good over evil (whatever happened to Might Mouse and Adam Ant? They would straighten this sh*t out).

Will we eliminate the trash, no we will not but exposing them and putting them in jail gets them back into the rat infested alleys they belong. That I am afraid is the governments fault as no one has been prosecuted, NOT ONE!!!? Crazy stupid as it sends the WRONG message.

Respectfully given.

I am so happy that "Off the Cuff" had just been a scheduling problem, and not set aside. Mish, Chris, and Adam put on the best Podcast around. My Roosevelt fireside chat. A must.

Go Tigers

BOB

kelvinator's picture
kelvinator
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Taking Out the Trash

robert essian wrote:

...IF we prosecuted and sent these crooks to jail then the scales of morality would tip up-word percentage wise to good over evil ...Will we eliminate the trash, no we will not but exposing them and putting them in jail gets them back into the rat infested alleys they belong... 

Agreed, Bob.   But to take out the trash, you need to actually have someone cleaning up - regulations that aren't written by criminals and their congressional operatives and regulators that aren't owned by the criminals.  

And unbelieveably, a remarkable number of people have bought the corrupt baloney, eternally cranked out by the uber-wealthy PR machine that, after all the corruption that has gone on and is still going on, we shouldn't have any regulations or regulators - that that's what "free" markets mean - free to let connected, institutionally powerful wealthy criminals commit unpunished fraud and theft.  I don't believe that that's what rhare and others who sincerely believe in the real value and power of free markets intend.  And without a doubt, regulations need to be simplified, cleaned up, etc. - in part because they're chock full of loopholes inserted by special interests before passage -  lobbyists often literally write parts of the legislation to make sure they have special, favorable carve outs.   But the "free markets are genius - no regs needed" philosophy was very much the cover story for the giant bankster high leverage, mortgage-backed security rip-off operation that was set up to go under Clinton and Treas Sect Ripoff Goldman Sach Operative "Bob" Rubin, and went into high gear under Bush and Hank the Hammer Goldman Sach Operative Paulson.  If I understand correctly, rhare is saying that that's >not< really correctly operating free markets, but companies using the state to ripoff people, and I agree.  The Treasury Dept should just wear Goldman Sachs tea shirts to work.  The same fawning on the wealthy and drooling over wealth as some supreme ideal as opposed to public accountability and morality accounts for social climber Alan Greenspan, who describes himself as "a lifelong libertarian", refusing to investigate or respond to the FBI Director's warnings in 2004 of massive mortgage fraud with the potential to create a financial crisis.  That's why they put him in charge of the Fed.  This fool was supposed to defend the public's interest.  Instead, he opened the vault, defended nothing, gave free money to the banksters, let them use it to leverage 40 to 1, and rip off, bonus out and retire with as much booty as they could carry off.

http://articles.cnn.com/2004-09-17/justice/mortgage.fraud_1_mortgage-fra...

Greenspan later acknowledged in congressional testimony that his lifelong notion that businesses would regulate themselves was wrong.  Ya think?  After a few thousand years of human history and recent billions lost in the early '90's S&L ripoff after Reagan's dereg we might have known that?  What planet do people like that come from?  Anyone wonder why they gave him the job as a key "cop on the beat" for the caper and let him feel like his cryptic, self-important mumblings meant anything?

Government is owned by industry, (regulatory capture), as noted by former TARP General Inspector Barofsky in his book Bailout, that just came out:

"...regulatory capture is the main theme of the book. In a phone interview with TIME, Barofsky said exposing this subtle form of corruption was his main motivation for writing the book. And no official gets it worse than Geithner, who, Barofsky argues, “has shown a remarkable deference to the interests of Wall Street, by protecting them at every juncture through the implementation of TARP and the regulatory reform process.” Throughout the narrative, Geithner and other Treasury officials bristle at and obstruct every attempt to turn up the heat on the banks..."


http://business.time.com/2012/07/24/former-tarp-official-both-parties-ar...

Government and industry are joined at the hip -  it's not two problems, it's one problem.  The trash is not getting taken out because the pocket stuffing is still going on in both directions.  Unfortunately, as is always true in a democracy or a dictatorship, only really mad regular people will throw out the trash when they finally get fed up enough - at this point, both the Dem and the Repub party machines are part of the problem, though the Mitt-bot clearly your corruptoid of choice if you want to put the whole ripoff operation back into gear on the highest industrial scale possible.   For now, it's really just bidness as usual.

simit patel's picture
simit patel
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"its enormous expense, its

"its enormous expense, its dependence on government financing, its long construction timeline, and its perceived and actual risk"

china has cut the expense by over 50% with their modular reactors and has cut the timeline significantly as well. their model is headed west as western nuclear giants like areva are copying them. governments dont have any money and don't finance anything; if anything, solar/wind are more dependent upon subsidies because of their insufficient output. 

decentralization and modularization will help deal with complexity challenges. 

rhare's picture
rhare
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NOT a free market....

kelvinator wrote:

The "true free markets" you're talking about must exist in some nameless place we'll never see, or perhaps you can name some great, long term well-performing free markets that exist or have existed other than in libertarian dream land?   I'm skeptical, but open to taking a real look at what you're saying if you can tell me where to look.

There aren't any, and that's the point.  You keep saying free markets are a problem, but there are no truly free markets where there is not coercive force via government.  The primary reason is that our money is not free.  When your medium of exchange is corrupted, every interaction that uses that currency is also suspect.

The closest you can come is to look at areas in the economy that have less regulation and allow free choice by individuals.  Restaurants, hardware stores, electronics,....   If you as a consumer can choose who you want to do business with, then you are much closer to a free market.

In this case, utilities are "regulated monopolies".  What that means is the state grants a monopoly to a private organization in exchange for allowing politicians and bureaucrats to make the decisions.  You as a consumer do not get to use your money to vote for change - so you get none.

kelvinator wrote:

And unbelievably, a remarkable number of people have bought the corrupt baloney, eternally cranked out by the uber-wealthy PR machine that, after all the corruption that has gone on and is still going on, we shouldn't have any regulations or regulators - that that's what "free" markets mean - free to let connected, institutionally powerful wealthy criminals commit unpunished fraud and theft.

You are missing the point.  In a true free market, you make a mistake, you go broke, loose money, loose customers, face consequences.  There is regulation is a free market, much more powerful regulation that we have today.  You can actually loose.  In the corrupt world we find ourselves, if you are powerful and connected, you get guarantees and bailouts by government who confiscates wealth via force from it's citizens in order to provide that benefit.

When you as a consumer have choices, can vote with your wallet, you have power.  That is what free markets bring to the table.  Free markets do not mean "no law".  You seem to equate free markets with lawlessness and that's not the case.  If you believe in strong property rights, then you as the individual have the right to hold companies or individuals that abuse your property accountable via courts and the legal system.  However, many of the regulations so many people claim we have to have do the exact opposite.  Many of the trade offs for regulation include limiting a companies responsibility.  Just look at the BP oil disaster, regulations limited BP liability to $75 million.

kelvinator wrote:

But the "free markets are genius - no regs needed" philosophy was very much the cover story for the giant bankster high leverage, mortgage-backed security rip-off operation that was set up to go under Clinton and Treas Sect Ripoff Goldman Sach Operative "Bob" Rubin, and went into high gear under Bush and Hank the Hammer Goldman Sach Operative Paulson.

This completely ignores the fact that our monetary system is not a free market, and this is an example of the complete opposite.  When you can borrow via thin air money printing at "regulated" artificially low interest rates, guess what - bad things happen.  If we had a sound monetary system in which we have choice to choose money, and the ability to choose money that is much harder to manipulate, then this type of malfeasance isn't possible on this scale, because you have to get others to give you the capital to do so.  The mortgage market also suffered from huge amount of regulation that required lenders to lend to those that could never payback the loans, then the government via Fannie, Freddie, FHA transfer all risk from the lenders and those making money from the practice to the taxpayers.  NOT A FREE MARKET!

kelvinator wrote:

Unfortunately, as is always true in a democracy or a dictatorship, only really mad regular people will throw out the trash when they finally get fed up enough - at this point, both the Dem and the Repub party machines are part of the problem, though the Mitt-bot clearly your corruptoid of choice if you want to put the whole ripoff operation back into gear on the highest industrial scale possible.

Yet here you are complaining about the Libertarians who offer a different choice.

At least if your going to complain about these things, get it right.  Free market principals have little to do with the situation we find ourselves - many of the problems can be easily traced back to government intervention in the markets to favor large corporate entities that benefit from that intervention.

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I'm a rock star - NOT!

Kelvinator wrote:

The same fawning on the wealthy and drooling over wealth as some supreme ideal as opposed to public accountability and morality accounts for social climber Alan Greenspan, who describes himself as "a lifelong libertarian", refusing to investigate or respond to the FBI Director's warnings in 2004 of massive mortgage fraud with the potential to create a financial crisis.  That's why they put him in charge of the Fed.  This fool was supposed to defend the public's interest.  Instead, he opened the vault, defended nothing, gave free money to the banksters, let them use it to leverage 40 to 1, and rip off, bonus out and retire with as much booty as they could carry off.

Claiming to be Libertarian is completely different from being one.  I can claim to be a Rock Star but it certainly doesn't make me one.   Greenspan was probably the largest contributor to the mortgage mess because of his role at the Fed.   Use of fiat money forced on consumers via government regulation is as opposite as you can get from Libertarian and free market ideals.   Why would he ever investigate mortgage fraud when he was the root cause?  The mortgage mess was entirely predicatable.  Give people free money and remove risk, what do you think happens? 

You want public accountability - let the public make the choice in money and markets, then you will get true accountability.  Government can't create accountability any more than it can regulate morality.

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Thanks for Your Thoughts, rhare

We may agree on more than I might have believed when it comes down to it.  We probably disagree on at least one very key point - how much people-powered law and government there actually needs to be there to maintain a fair playing field for markets.  It's a nice notion to believe that the mighty interests can fall just like the weak ones in a truly free market - that failure is the only needed regulation, and a powerful one.  If that's the choice that libertarians offer, it doesn't seem consistent with history.  You make governments the problem when actually, it's human tendencies that are the problem, whether in governement or business.  The reason your ideal and simple free markets never exist in fact and won't, is because money and power >always< ultimately corrupts and controls the field unless its countered strongly - regardless of money system, IMO.  At the point that the banks should have been let fail in 2008, their operatives "supervising" the market said it was essential that they not fail and that all the criminals remain in place for the benefit of the public.   That's what's happened in Europe, too,- where the Irish banks astoundingly got the Irish public to take over their debt - amazing - and will always be true.  Unfortunately, there's no simple answer or formula, in my opinion, only messy ones that require on-going activism and use of discrimination and intelligence.  I wish it were different, but the powerful will always shove their market failures, environmental trash and thefts onto the weak unless there's powerfully organized opposition - and that means public government of some sort which the powerful interests will always try to own, not an underfunded, industry-owned SEC, etc.  That's the repeated lesson history, for anyone who cares to read it.  That's why we're in such trouble - no set it and forget it solution is possible.  It would be nice if one were.

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Human nature always wins....

jrf29 wrote:

You make governments the problem when actually, it's human tendencies that are the problem, whether in governement or business.  The reason your ideal and simple free markets never exist in fact and won't, is because money and power >always< ultimately corrupts and controls the field unless its countered strongly - regardless of money system, IMO.

Totally agree it's human tendency.  When you give someone the power over others or allow them to manipulate currencies, etc, it will happen.  The best you can do is try to limit that power and that ability.  The problem with government is that it allows one stakeholder to use force via government proxy to gain advantage over another.  The only way I can see to limit that behavior is to minimize government as much as possible to protecting individual property rights and have a sound currency and currency choice to protect from currency malfeasance.

The problem we have today is that we teach people that government is the answer, that just a bit more power over our lives given to government will make things better when I believe it will always lead to corruption. There is a belief that some "benevolent" leader or "smart" person will appear and save us.  It's the exact opposite of the lessons from the Crash Course:  self resiliency.

jrf29 wrote:

At the point that the banks should have been let fail in 2008, their operatives "supervising" the market said it was essential that they not fail and that all the criminals remain in place for the benefit of the public.

Agreed, but the problem started much much earlier.  As soon as we decided to let bankers and politicians control the money system, the game was lost.  If we didn't have the constant intervention over the years, the system would have collapse long ago and we would have a much smaller mess to deal with.  We have had lots of chances for that to occur: 1929, 1973, 2000, 2008 - but in each case we have been told we must "save" the system and the problem has become worse.  Now we have half the population relying on a giant government for their well being and that government can only survive if the money system is protected - not going to be a good outcome.

jrf29 wrote:

I wish it were different, but the powerful will always shove their market failures, environmental trash and thefts onto the weak unless there's powerfully organized opposition

Agreed, but that's why you have a system of government who's primary (only job) is the protection of individual property rights.   In that form of government, the basis of our constitutional republic,  is a small minimal government that generally protects the rights of citizens, not abuses them. 

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Zev Paiss

Many States are going to be asking a whole lot of question in the coming months and years because the assumptions and system which have been used in the past to keep them afloat, are quickly breaking down. The questions will shift from how do we keep things running, to how do we want to live in a contracting economic environment?

What we desperately lack are realisic and positive visions of what that kind of world could look, feel, and be like. Finally, a realistic, sustainable, and inspiring story has been written that can help many in the mainstream see what is truly possioble. The book is called "From Here to There: A Story of America's Future" and it will leave you both inspired and energize to continue the critical work of this Great Transition.

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Property Rights Came to Whom, How and When?

Well, as I probably said when we talked awhile back, rhare, I actually overlap a chunk with many libertarian views about individual freedoms, and I love to watch Ron Paul take on Wild Ben Bernanke and demonstrate how bought-in the rest of Congress is to leveraged banker ownership of US monetary policy, but I just part ways on a bunch of specific points.

Accepting your statement that a lot of what claims to be libertarian isn't, a huge amount of bad stuff has been done and is still being done under the supposed banner of a libertarian, free market philosophy, including political clowns operating under that banner like Greenspan, and affiliates in the Repub party and elsewhere who appeal for "libertarian" votes. It has been used as a license to open up vast financial assets for rip off and public resources to be trashed without consequence.

I don't agree at all with the idea that we'll have a full fair free market if we only enforce protection of private property.   We already had this discussion, but IMO, again it would be nice if it were that simple, but it's going to always be more complicated than that.   If you live in a town with 5 families, and two generations ago, one family used the laws the town council they controlled, or developed monopoly power (which Adam Smith says is a no-no) to expropriate the property of the other 4 families, or just outright took it at gunpoint, shall we now just say - "okay, now we'll defend private property" and enforce that one family owns everything and will let the other four families work for kitchen scraps as long as they call everyone in the big shot family "sir" or "madam"?  Do you think the rich family might own the only "court" in the jurisdiction?  Or what if you've got one rich family and a bunch of poor families and the rich family "legally" buys up all the water supply within 200 miles, uses the clean water and sells the dirty water causing brain damage at outrageous prices to the poor families renting the gully behind their big house - doesn't care if they live or die, stay or move away.   I'm sure Mubarak's operation was focused on property rights, but that's just one set of rights that need to be respected.

As they found during the Great Depression and in other circumstances in which capitalism and property rights were held high by those with substantial capital and property going in.  Those people forget about or excuse their own greed, favors called in, politicians bought, taken to lunch, etc. and think it's a great system until times get tough and push comes to shove.  Then, they better find a way that >really< tries make things fair - not just imagine that protecting the property of those that "have" from those that don't is a viable plan at that point.  Cause as has happened throughout history, people get fed up and just form up a mob and take the property for themselves - in with the new boss, out with the old boss.  Capitalism wouldn't work without the government programs that cushion the fact that it actually is self-consolidating and doesn't work super well for the masses once the debt the rich loaned them to buy stuff to build bigger empires for the rich collapses - capital concentrates to the point of revolution if those sops aren't given.   The best systems, as far as I can see, are a blend that combine government and capitalism - like the Nordic countries - Sweden, etc - that have a high happiness quotient.   Pure capitalism or pure planned economies don't seem to work, since both succumb quickly to corruption based on unreal idealism and expectations for each system.  The blend is more realistic, since it has two potentially antagonistic forces - gov't and business that, if balanced, can help keep the other honest.  Of course, any human setup is always subject to corruption if not actively cleaned up, and you can get the worst of both worlds if it goes awry, as you can make the case for in the US these days.

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Hladini wrote: I think we are

Hladini wrote:

I think we are having the wrong conversation when talking about solar energy.  The real reason solar energy is not a viable option right now is because of the way we build our homes and offices.  We have had the technology since the 1970's to build VERY energy efficient housing, but we failed to act.

<SNIP>

So, it's not that solar isn't practical, it's that the way we build our homes isn't practical.  The film Garbage Warrior tracks the great difficulties involved in designing and building homes not up to "code."  There are what Mr. Reynolds calls "pockets of freedom" where you can build your home the way you like, without pesky and outdated city, county and state ordinances getting in the way.

Maybe, it's time to change the way we build!

Could not have said it better myself.......  but, as much as I love them, you don't need to build an Earthship to achieve the same results, AND you can "build to code" to boot.  Our house[hold] consumes less than 10% of the average house, and generates more than three times what we need, turning us into a power station...  we are not only energy self sufficient, we make money from it and are blackout proof to boot!

http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-power-of-energy-effici...

http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/powering-up-for-the-collapse/

http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/?s=passive+mon+abri

Mike

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Thanks for the Link, Zev

I'll take a look and check it out.  I agree that time is best spent imagining what a new world that works could look like, given what we're looking at right now...

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Energy for the Planet
If China, India, Russia, Japan and the US wanted to become true World Leaders instead of just Military Powers, they would all work together to Champion Solar from Space and then lead the World toward a safe new future.  Until we start getting our energy from Solar (of all flavors) and especially from Space we will continue to have Energy Wars and civil strife on Earth. Here are several books that describe how to "save" the Earth from it's nuclear folly:
 

The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill,
Colonies In Space by A. Heppenheim­er.
The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine
The Space Enterprise by Philip Robert Harris
Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis
 
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San Onofre and the future of nuclear power

I cringe every time I read that complexity is a major drawback of nuclear energy. When we step back from complexity that we have the know how to handle we are not only stepping back, but moving back.

If you look at the resources we have to produce energy going forward, one resource stands out. If what I've read is true, there is enough uranium to supply our energy needs for a thousand years, if used in breeder reactor power plants.

Perhaps most of the voting public would prefer to focus their mental resources on "American Idol" or "Say Yes to the Dress." However, I believe there are enough people willing to constructively use their talents to allow us to continue to take advantage of nuclear power.

I hope people don't use their voting influence to vote us into a dark age. I'm not optimistic, but I can hope.

As a side bar, if we want to reduce the cost of nuclear power, and health care for that matter, we need to find a way to get the leagal profession to stop feeding off of those industries.

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Make it simple - the three commandments....

kelvinator wrote:

If you live in a town with 5 families, and two generations ago, one family used the laws the town council they controlled, or developed monopoly power (which Adam Smith says is a no-no) to expropriate the property of the other 4 families, or just outright took it at gunpoint, shall we now just say - "okay, now we'll defend private property" and enforce that one family owns everything and will let the other four families work for kitchen scraps as long as they call everyone in the big shot family "sir" or "madam"?  Do you think the rich family might own the only "court" in the jurisdiction?  Or what if you've got one rich family and a bunch of poor families and the rich family "legally" buys up all the water supply within 200 miles, uses the clean water and sells the dirty water causing brain damage at outrageous prices to the poor families renting the gully behind their big house - doesn't care if they live or die, stay or move away.   I'm sure Mubarak's operation was focused on property rights, but that's just one set of rights that need to be respected.

Again, you seem to like picking starting points that support your view.  How about before the initial abuse?  Also as far as the great depression, it was largely a result of abuse of out money system during the roaring twenties.  You are cherry picking when to start looking at history for your justifications.

Just because we have had years of abuse by and of government, doesn't mean the Libertarian ideals are not valid.  In your above scenario, just because property rights of individuals may have been abused in the past does not make it right to continue to abuse them.

I don't believe most Libertarians believe in a sudden stop to the current situation, but it doesn't mean we just throw up our hands and give up. 

kelvinator wrote:

We already had this discussion, but IMO, again it would be nice if it were that simple, but it's going to always be more complicated than that.

But a simple model is a good goal to strive towards.  We have vastly complicated our lives and our government by continuely increasing complexity.  More rules to correct problems caused by previous rules.  Perhaps it's time we start reversing the trend.  A good start would be the elimination of rules that try to dictate morality and what one chooses to do with ones own body, or how about changes that allow one to choose what money to use, or instigating a massively simplified tax code...  The problem as I see it is we have too many people trying to control how other people live.  It's the arrogance that is evident in nearly all politicians, that they know best, that they are "smart" and should take control of others lives.

I think we could get down to three simple rules (who needs 10):

  1. You shall not murder.
  2. You shall not steal.
  3. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

That seems to be a pretty good starting point, IMNSHO.  Most of our legal and political system seems to revolve around how to justify breaking rule #2.

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Damnthematrix
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Green homes

Further to the disussion on homes reducing energy consumption wrt solar power, I've just found this...:

Study Finds Green Homes Sell $34,800 Higher in California

If sustainability and environmental responsibility weren’t enough persuasion, then cold hard cash in the form of home resale value may get homeowners to invest in green improvements. A new study finds California homes with green labels sell for $34,800, or nine percent, more than comparable homes without green certifications.

Researchers from UC-Berkley and UCLA examined the data on 1.6 million single family homes sold over the last five years in California.

Interesting points to the study include that residents with green label homes in hotter climates sell at higher prices, which may be indicative of the value of cheaper home cooling systems.

Source: Business Wire

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Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler

rhare wrote:

But a simple model is a good goal to strive towards.  We have vastly complicated our lives and our government by continuely increasing complexity.  More rules to correct problems caused by previous rules.  Perhaps it's time we start reversing the trend.  

I agree with your general sentiment, rhare - things have been made way too complex -  the tax code, most laws, to name a couple, often for devious and unproductive reasons.  But the quote, supposedly from Einstein, sums it up best:  "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."   I think your three commandments are a great starting point, but end up being too simple in themselves to handle the huge, sneaky and divisive social problems that we actually have to deal with where individual rights & ownership, natural resources, other's rights collide, etc.   

Capital tends to be self-consolidatating - (as they say "the rich get richer", "the golden rule: those who have the gold, rule", etc).   You may not accept this general premise, and if so, we'll just have to accept we disagree on whether it's a problem, but I mention it again, because for me it's an important general reason why your three rules aren't enough. It's a statistical fact that capital has consolidated into fewer hands in the US in recent decades, and it's a general tendency of capitalism, from what I've seen.  When you put it together with one of the basic tenets of this site, that natural resources are finite and dwindling and the view that infinite exponential growth, the underlying tenet of modern economics (and I'd say capitalism) is absurd and won't happen, then you've got a problem:  a relatively small number of people own and control value of and return on a huge and growing portion of the Earth's physical resources - way more than they personally need.  And you've got a ton of people who own almost nothing who need what the wealthy few have got in order to survive.  As I said in a different way in other comments, your three commandments will address that as long as the masses are willing to quietly die by the billions while staring at and silently observing your three commandments and especially observing private property rights, but - once again, based on history - I think the chances of that happening are as unlikely as the uncorrupt free markets we've never seen happening.   The notion that the poor everywhere should just buck up and get a (non-existent cause there aren't enough resources) job doesn't cut it, I'm sorry - though again, we may live on different planets in that regard and have to leave our discussion there on that point and agree to disagree.

Okay, so let's say you don't agree with the generalization that capital is self-consolidating and by its nature, tending to push us off a resource cliff (or as Jeremy Grantham, legendary investment manager since the 19070's who predicted the recent crash, and like us is worried about finite resources said recently, that  "Capitalism is threatening our existence.")

But if you don't agree with that general premise, I think you would agree that one specific example I gave of that kind of problem is just an exaggerated version of the kind of divisive problems that happen in a market-driven world all the time:

kelvinator wrote:

Or what if you've got one rich family and a bunch of poor families and the rich family "legally" buys up all the water supply within 200 miles, uses the clean water and sells the dirty water causing brain damage at outrageous prices to the poor families renting the gully behind their big house - doesn't care if they live or die, stay or move away. 

I'd be genuinely interested in hearing how, following your three rules, you would resolve that problem, or whether you think anything should be done at all.  As I understand it, according to your rules, nothing needs to be done - everything's legal and above board, property rights are respected.  I'm not sure whether the "not bear false witness" rule extends to potential fraud and damage, and would require that the water's potential brain damaging impact is disclosed and a "not for human consumption" sign is put on the water sold to the poor - of course, even that would take some "nanny state" regulation and enforcement - gov't payrolls, tax and spend, so not sure where you draw the line on that.   The world is full of specific situations that need to be resolved or not, & the rules have to address them, or not, I'm sure you agree.

From my point of view, you have to add at least one very miserable and complexifying rule, and find ways to actually encode it into law, just as you would encode your vital three more straightforward moral rules into laws:  "Love thy neighbor as thyself."   That, admittedly is one terrible and vague rule to have to add - potentially the source of a huge part of the difficulty with government - a virtual deal killer.  Unfortunately, it's got to be there if the rules aren't going to be too simple and ultimately fail, as far I'm concerned.

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Symptoms not causes

kelvinator wrote:

You may not accept this general premise, and if so, we'll just have to accept we disagree on whether it's a problem, but I mention it again, because for me it's an important general reason why your three rules aren't enough. It's a statistical fact that capital has consolidated into fewer hands in the US in recent decades, and it's a general tendency of capitalism, from what I've seen. 

I think we are just going to disagree - I believe the reason is that you see these problems as a cause, while I see them as a symptom (result).  I agree capital has consolidated, but it's the manipulations through force by government that has encouraged or allowed it to happen.  I look at the problem as primarily the result of monetary malfeasance, then all else follows.  The reason I say this is it's the nature of humans to seek out advantages and exploit them.  As long as we have systems in place that promote/allow this, we will have problems.  It's why I see currency freedom as the most important, because it allows one an escape from a manipulated market.  Just as there are those that seek to manipulate currency, there are others that will find a way around those manipulations if possible - it's self balancing and self "regulating" via human nature.  Why do you think there is such a crack down by governments for using anything other than the government approved currency? 

kelvinator wrote:

When you put it together with one of the basic tenets of this site, that natural resources are finite and dwindling and the view that infinite exponential growth, the underlying tenet of modern economics (and I'd say capitalism) is absurd and won't happen, then you've got a problem:

Agree that natural resource are limited, but exactly how does capitalism require infinite growth?  Fiat currencies based on debt certainly do, but that is entirely different than capitalism.  In fact capitalism is probably the only way you will properly distribute and use those limited resouces.  How else will you determine the value of those resources and what people believe is the best use of them without a capitalistic system to value them?

kelvinator wrote:

a relatively small number of people own and control value of and return on a huge and growing portion of the Earth's physical resources - way more than they personally need.  

Exactly how do they control them?  How do you extract and use resources by yourself?  There is a learned helplessness that pervades society, that without the approval of your overloads (government or economic) you can't survive that I find most distressing.

I also want to know who decides who has "more than they personally need"?  I'm certain we wouldn't have to look far to find many people who would say the same about your or I?  Or do you simply view as many others do that "way more than they need" is simply defined as "more than I have"?

kelvinator wrote:

And you've got a ton of people who own almost nothing who need what the wealthy few have got in order to survive. 

Examples?

kelvinator wrote:

The notion that the poor everywhere should just buck up and get a (non-existent cause there aren't enough resources) job doesn't cut it,

I don't think I have ever said anything remotely like that.  I've said we need to protect individuals because otherwise they will be trampled by the majority.  So if there are not enough resources, someone will die or suffer; perhaps all we are arguing over is who gets to decide.  I believe individuals should have a chance to fight and if lucky win on their merits, versus your solution, which seems to be let some political class make the decision for them?

kelvinator wrote:

kelvinator wrote:

Or what if you've got one rich family and a bunch of poor families and the rich family "legally" buys up all the water supply within 200 miles, uses the clean water and sells the dirty water causing brain damage at outrageous prices to the poor families renting the gully behind their big house - doesn't care if they live or die, stay or move away.

I'd be genuinely interested in hearing how, following your three rules, you would resolve that problem, or whether you think anything should be done at all.  As I understand it, according to your rules, nothing needs to be done - everything's legal and above board, property rights are respected

So let's take your example, and I will say it is unrealistic and unlikely to happen in the real world.  What advantage to the wealthy family is their in doing so?  Owning all that water, far more than you can drink does not bring you wealth unless you can trade it for things you do need like food and the labor required for the food.  Killing off your market and your means of survival isn't a good strategy.  Is the rich family planning on getting out in the fields and growing their own food?  Why would the poor stick around instead of leaving for somewhere they are not abused?  After all, you've pointed out they have nothing so no ties to the area.  Why would they not want to leave?  If they leave, are the wealthy still wealthy?

Back to your case and the three rules, first, no I don't believe much needs to be done.  The best solution is for the poor to leave and not do business with the wealthy family.  I believe this is a contrived example and in real world circumstances when someone is abused, they generally resist or remove themselves from that situation.

However, if the wealthy family is fraudulently advertising the water as good, then that is theft.  See rule #2.  If they are purposely giving something they know will kill, then that's kind of murder isn't it?  Rule #1 applies.

I think you seem to miss the point that capitalism is about voluntary trade.  Parties exchange goods when both agree the trade is equitable, otherwise it doesn't happen.  Where you see the corruption and abuse occur is when that trade is manipulated to the advantage of one of the parties - and this most often done by government via regulation or by monetary manipulation due to a currency being forced upon the participants by government.  Value is determined by what one is willing to pay.

kelvinator wrote:

From my point of view, you have to add at least one very miserable and complexifying rule, and find ways to actually encode it into law, just as you would encode your vital three more straightforward moral rules into laws:  "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

No, I don't believe you need that rule, in fact that rule is just another excuse for violating the other rules.  Oh, your not loving thy neighbor in the way I think you should, you should be punished.  Seems to me that has been the basis for an awful lot of killing.  I would much rather have everyone looking out for themselves and being free to choose.   People are much more charitable when giving is voluntary versus coerced.  Mutual free trade also brings about much more civil conduct since when you rely on others through trade you are much less likely to do things that could damage that voluntary beneficial relationship.

Penn & Teller have a great episode of "Bullshit" that is very closely related to this topic of trade interdependence.

WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE!!!!

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Well, I Guess We Knew We Disagree rhare

Though our views overlap in some ways, we just see the world in very different ways, and I guess will just ultimately have to leave it at that, though the exchange is worthwhile.   You say that things similar to my example with the family aren't likely, and it's true they infrequently happen with that intensity at a family level, but between individuals and companies, property/resource/pollution/disclosure conflicts like that, I'm sure you'll agee, are coming up each and every day across the US and around the world. I don't think your solution, which would put money in the controlling position every time, works.   The problem - and what makes it worse - is that the "rich family" is usually a limited liability, publicly traded, remotely owned corporation that is heavily incented to make money full tilt for shareholders, and also, as in the case of the banks, mining companies, etc. to be blind to and deny the damage caused by its activities and foist the damage out on whoever happens to be in the vicinity and cover their tracks with a fleet of attorneys to wear down opposition.  

In 1982, I worked as an exec for a company that was clearly legally owed $1 million by Time Warner.  A tiny chunk of that million was mine.  TW was bought by Jack Tramiel, a guy whose motto was "Business is war", who had TW set aside $10 million for "attorneys costs", some of which he used to tell my company to take 20 cents on the dollar or go bankrupt.  Our company had to be downsized and sold, but we fought & eventually got our money after 1-2 years atty delaying tactics and minus 30% atty fees.  

You'd say, okay, so the locals affected need to resist.  Fine.  They do. But money is power, and tends to win, period, unless it's strongly counterbalanced.  That's what has happened with the banks in and since 2008.  That's where your notion completely fails to operate in the real world, and why we don't see your model free market happening and won't.  Shareholders and bondholders often don't want to know what politicians are bought and laws bent to make their returns - and bought they will be, in the past, in the future - unless we see that this is the way the world works and call a spade a spade and set up strong counterbalances designed to maintain fair play - your rules aren't enough.

Here's a company that I own (via the Goldminers ETF GDX) and probably a lot of people on this site own if they own miner funds - Newmont Mining.  I just yesterday heard this fight was going on - and I wonder if the families who own the little shacks in the "gully" under the huge slag pile in the picture are going to win and what their drinking water will be like?  They might, but history says the odds don't favor them, when all's said and done and the news has moved on.

http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-07-25/industries/32829629_1_tintaya...

The Penn & Teller vid spends a lot of time making jokes about war protestors, (and clearly preaching to the converted), but them clever boyz neglect to mention that the joke is actually very much on them; the protestors were absolutely right - they just didn't speak in phraseology you used about "corrupt statists" constructing a phoney war based on Cheney's made to order CIA reports that "Iraq absolutely has WMD's" and give the green light to make a ton of money for his buddies at Haliburton, KBR and Eisenhower's military industrial complex - but they'd agree with your and Ron Paul's essential point in that respect, that it's a bunch of evil and waste based on corruption.  I saw and joined them out there protesting before the war - I wasn't aware of a lot of libertarians out with me in the street saying that that multitrillion taxpayer theft and the murder of hundreds of thousands of Americans, Iraqies, etc. about to be done in our name shouldn't happen and calling a spade a spade exactly as it later came down before it happened, but maybe there were a few.  I didn't see libertarian groups on organizing lists.  Instead, here we have these clucks in suits so utterly out of it they think they're clever making fun of the protestors, the people who nailed exactly what happened and spoke out while the boyz in their magic suits didn't see it, didn't speak against it, and are saying that world trade would solve the problem.  You've >got< to be kidding.   We have world trade, and, yes, I agree it's a force for peace if done right, but it didn't stop the wars.   And IMO, watch what happens now that the globalized free trade "peace and love" train totally flying on the banker built easy-money credit bubble starts collapsing and has to deal with the real world - now the trade wars are just starting up, and no one's likely to stop them once they get rolling, and the resource wars may follow soon behind - I hope not, but that's one reason why we're localizing and why WTO agreements have gone nowhere for a long, long time.  Even uncle Mitt wants to start a trade war, and Ron Paul, who presumably would tend to avoid trade wars and real wars, will never ever be elected anyway, in part because big money and citizen's united will never let it happen, and because the rest of the electorate like me, realize his market ideas are, unfortunately, too naive for the real world.

Anyway, I enjoy sparring with you, rhare, and appreciate that you have taken the time and had patience even though we do look at the world in different way.  We'd probably agree on a lot if we were both on a town council dealing things at a local level - it may be more the big picture that we actually can affect less where we clearly have a different philosophy.

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Questions for you kelvinator....

FYI: Penn Jillette has been quite out spoken about the war and the corruption for a long time (see Google).

kelvinator wrote:

But money is power, and tends to win, period, unless it's strongly counterbalanced.  That's what has happened with the banks in and since 2008.  That's where your notion completely fails to operate in the real world, and why we don't see your model free market happening and won't.

We definitely agree money is power, which is why when it is corrupted it leads to all kinds of things - resource misallocation, wars, abuse of citizens, etc.   The point I have been trying to make, apparently poorly, is that fixing that, which involves getting government out of the way, fixes a lot of the problems.

kelvinator wrote:

We have world trade, and, yes, I agree it's a force for peace if done right, but it didn't stop the wars.

We really don't have "free" trade, because we in the US have all the power because we have the worlds reserve currency (at least for now).  We don't have to be good trading partners with anyone else, because we have held all the power.  The "clucks" as you like to call them are right, but the problem is money is not "right".

If money accurately reflected the value of labor and resources many of the problems would disappear.  It's only when corporation and governments (particularly the US) have access to arbitrarily cheap capital do they get to do "stupid" things.  Let's take the wars as a good example.  Do you think we would be at war right now if the citizens of this country were actually paying for it?  We are currently running $1.5T deficits, and realistically with GAAP we are running more like $5T/year deficits.  If every household in the US was receiving a bill for $42,000/year ($5T/110M households), do you think we would still be at war?

Do you think if big banks weren't funding with cheap cash billions to the large corporations, do you think they would be behaving as they do?    Do you think the corporations would be near as large as they are (such as TW) without access to free money?  When you actually have to borrow from citizens savings to expand?

I very much agree with you on the symptoms, but I would prefer we dig a bit deeper and go after the cancer rather than just applying band-aids.  I do have some questions for you to answer.

You seem to agree with the problems, you don't agree with the Libertarian solutions, but you haven't put forth any solutions... What do you think needs to happen to fix the problems if it's not something along the lines of what I propose?  If you think the problems can be remedied by government intervention, exactly how will that differ from what has been occuring the past 100 years and why?  You say we need more rules, but we have been expanding the number of laws at an exponential rate, if 200,000+ pages of federal law has not been enough to solve the problem, how many are?

kelvinator wrote:

We'd probably agree on a lot if we were both on a town council dealing things at a local level - it may be more the big picture that we actually can affect less where we clearly have a different philosophy.

And finally, why do you see that government at any size should be different than any other relationship be that family, business, etc?  What makes government a special entity that should be allowed to use force instead of voluntary participation?

FYI - I do enjoy these discussions as well, hopefully not driving others too nuts.  I really do want to know how you think these problems will be solved since I view the past with large government and centralized planning as a clear failure.  And that brings us back to the original comment I made on this thread, how can the same cerntalized planning that has brought us to this point be expected to be better in the future?

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major holes in this story

"And despite ongoing gains in energy efficiency via admirably wise regulation..." 
this sentence is utter nonsense....as a professional that has worked and complied with California Adminstrative Code Title 24, for which is the law that is being touted as 'wise regulation' I take great issue with the ignorance of this statement. This complicated ever changing extremely expensive very political and yes, liberty destroying set of regulations does quite little to actually offset cost. Compliance alone could add up to 35% to your initial building costs alone. The regulations fill two books literally 3inches each and are extremely repressive in building design and layout. Hell, anyone that has worked, designed and built  "behind the paper curtain" of California can tell you when it comes to energy use, the state legislature is nothing more than a politburo, granting benevolant favor for those who share it repressive 'conservation only' energy policy and punishing those who don't share it's 'bike path' mentallity with costly and liberty destroying regulation. Listen, when a state can mandate that you must install 'occupancy sensors' in a residential bathrooms (please, like children, we don't know how to turn off a light or aren't responsible for the bill and need the ever so wise and ominiscient bureaucrat to guide us) you no longer have basic liberty and the residents resent it. I know this first hand (i've performed electrical design for 20 years in southern california) and I know how many commerical and residential customers changed, at even greater cost, and reversed such non-sensical demands back to their 'choice' of devices, fixtures and applications. I could go on and on about Title 24 but I digress...

Also not included in the article is the extreme no growth political leftist mentality that REFUSE to find other forms of energy and REPRESS ALL FORMS OF ENERGY PRODUCTION. Oil may have peaked whenever, but it's the state legislature that has REPRESSED THE USE of any of the nature resources, especially oil and the production of nuclear power, waaay before Japan's woes. Nuke is hated like a religion by the no growth marxist political left and has dominated the political structure forcing the private sector to comply to it's unruly and costly regulations whilst it claims energy purity buying electricity from coal burning plants in Wyoming. Hypocrites all! The California Air Resources Board is one of the most corruptable agencies on the face of the globe. To not include how politically corrupt this state is, the ownership of the unions, paying a whole ONE THIRD of the nations welfare and being a SANCTUARY for FOREIGN NATIONALS you cannot truly tell the story of California. Why are highways and infastructure falling apart? It isn't due to lack of revenue. It's by design! The very backwoods no idea's governor that we have now is the same governor that decided in the 70's, with the state legislature NOT to update and build new roads and highways, and keeping things like that dumb ass diamond lane to FORCE BEHAVIOR to Car pool. Have you ever tried to car pool in California?

The shutting down and limiting of power production in California is by political design, pressure and capitulation to no growth ideologues- for which if by magic all the oil you could ever want was deposited off the coast of cali, these people would refuse to obtain, provide and utilize it.

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Damnthematrix
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major holes in this story

I'm not from California, in fact not anywhere in the US....  but some of the things posted here just blow me away...  I'm amazed anyone can find occupancy sensors 'repressive'!  We have them in our bathroom, even though there is no law that says I have to do this...  in fact our house is full of them.... in the stairwell, the corridor, the laundry, the toilet, and even the kitchen!  One of my pet hates is lights left on when they are not needed.  All our friends are really impressed with my automatic lighting and wish they'd thought of the idea themselves...!

You may think the "no growth political leftist mentality" is extreme, but it actually is a fact of life, and you better get over it, because growth is FINISHED....  whether you are a leftie or conservative.  The party's over my friend, not decided by marxists, but by geology.

If you don't like the building code or its consequences, you need to take a long hard look at the crash course... we have exceeded the Australian building code by a very long margin, and are now indepedent of all power bills and laughing all the way to the bank.  Wouldn't have it any other way......

http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/mon-abri/

http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-power-of-energy-effici...

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questions about occupancy sensors

Damnthematrix wrote:

I'm amazed anyone can find occupancy sensors 'repressive'!  We have them in our bathroom, even though there is no law that says I have to do this...  in fact our house is full of them.... in the stairwell, the corridor, the laundry, the toilet, and even the kitchen!  One of my pet hates is lights left on when they are not needed.  All our friends are really impressed with my automatic lighting and wish they'd thought of the idea themselves...!

Mike,

I have my opinions on this issue but before I comment, to be fair, could you please explain how your occupancy sensors work.  Are they infrared activated so that they are based on detecting movement?  Are there timers involved?  Are there any particular designs or brands you would recommend?  Any other information would be appreciated.  Thanks. 

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On Occupancy Sensors and Answers to rhare’s Questions

Rhare –I’ll try to answer your questions in a way that ties back to this thread, since, of course, the failing energy supply is a crucial issue everywhere that has to be addressed by markets or governments or ?  That way we’ll have at least a bit of an excuse for testing the patience of fellow thread members a little more.

First, I’ll go off topic again for a paragraph to say I stand corrected, rhare, regarding Penn as far as relatively early criticism of the Iraq war.  I didn’t find any quotes that indicated he spoke out with the goal of stopping the war before it happened, but his quote in winter 2003 could have been from one of the protestors he was making fun of: “Our war in Iraq started as a religious war and it’ll end as Viet Nam. There won’t be a celebrating couple  kissing in Times Square when this war ends. It’ll be slow and miserable.”  Correct, and identical to what many protestors were saying.   My mistake was to imagine that no one actually opposed to yet another corrupt, disastrous war (in US/Iraqi lives, Iraq infrastructure, US finances & international standing) would belittle people trying to stop it as corrupt and wasteful just because their over-arching analysis is different.   To me, it makes zero sense to do that if you’re actually focused on trying to get something important done: trying to stop the war.  If your focus is an outcome, you welcome every ally that will join you to actually make it happen.  That’s why Socialist Bernie Sanders co-sponsors Libertarian Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Fed.   That’s why people across the political spectrum and particularly on the left agree with libertarians about letting the big banks fail – though maybe not the specifics of how to do that – and on many civil rights issues, including opposition to “Big Brother” Patriot Act provisions, etc.  Hey, Penn’s a comedian and entertainer – fine - but to me, his piece strongly suggests he’s disconnected from the damage of the war and the importance of actually trying to stop it – he’s more into making entertainment and cranking out ideology.  Yeah, some of it's funny and I can agree with, but better to join seriously with anyone who wants to stop a disaster.

Anyway, that’s one way of getting around to answering your questions:  I believe in competing ideas and democracy as the best bet for government, and so that means respecting diversity and making alliances with people to enjoy life, find solutions, pool resources and get things done – with people that often partly share my views or goals and partly have different views and goals.    I’m guessing you agree that far, but are focused on almost all being voluntary, and just figure that government should be as small as possible.  

In the case of the occupancy sensors, I imagine you agree with kingroc’s general view that laws requiring energy conservation measures like the sensors and car pool lanes in California are prime examples of inefficient, nanny state repression of individual rights that should be eliminated.  I really disagree, although I do agree with you and with kingroc, (and Gregor and anyone who looks at California finance) that California’s budget is insane, and it’s way beyond time to get real about what people are willing to be taxed on and spend on in every category.  I also agree with kingroc about pockets of hypocrisy and misinformation in some supposed "green" positions (like sourcing coal energy, cost of hybrid tech vs recycling old cars, I'd add, etc.)

The “checks and balances” idea we learned in elementary school makes sense to me.  To me, it’s totally clear that >both< unregulated capitalism and centrally planned government have >big< problems these days.  That’s why it’s complicated and from what I see in the world, the best solution is a balance that sets one against the other to keep the other honest – as I said, the Scandanavian democratic socialist states like Sweden (I read not that long ago in the free-market oriented Economist that the free marketeers were happy when Sweden took over a leadership term of the EU because they were known for having been more prudent, “conservative” and intelligent economically  than other regimes – they’d actually let their banks fail rather than underwriting the crony capitalists, for example – another case of socialist and libertarian approaches overlapping at times).

Governments permit a crucial level of foresight, social intelligence and long term, large scale planning and projects that  free market capitalism, in practice, just hasn’t created and won’t.  For example, "free markets" often can't see and don't want to see beyond short term costs - like kingroc's "35% additional building cost for energy efficiency" - to the long term savings that can dwarf the intial investment.  On the other hand, gov'ts tend to grow to big like cancers, and free markets generate levels of efficiency and creative solutions that government often can’t or won’t.   You likely won’t agree, rhare, but US healthcare is an end-over-end cost and efficiency trainwreck compared to almost any other healthcare system in the civilized world – all of which cost less, get better outcomes across the whole society and have a bigger gov’t role.  Europe’s “big gov’ts” had the foresight to raise taxes on gas decades ago, and thereby focus public and private investment into vehicle efficiency and fund intensive public transportation.  Now the entire continent is much better positioned with infrastructure for an energy scarce world than is California or the US.    Instead, we have kingroc advocating that we should have invested more in highways, and shouldn’t try to legislate energy efficiency.  I disagree.  Hey, “the American dream” of high energy use lifestyles is in the rear view mirror, & doesn’t compute – as Gregor says, the model of high energy cars, suburban homes for all is not viable here or around the world.  Kingroc can imagine that it’s going to be solved by more drilling, nukes, new tech, etc., but that’s not my view, and probably not the view of most who believe the overall message of “limits” embodied in the crash course.  I believe studies show that efficiency is, hands down, the cheapest energy dollar.

In my view, big gov’t European gov'ts clearly had a more realistic view of global energy issues for a long time and a more intelligent preparatory response.  The US, on the other hand, has been dominated by crony capitalists putting out false projections of energy supply and denying climate change in order to keep milking their franchise ownership of fossil resources with minimal competition and interference in the public interest.  Again, the damage is intense – as we look at how unprepared the US is regarding energy and how much direct damage is being done via Katrina, and her following and upcoming twins, tornadoes, droughts - way out of norm climate still being denied by people who seem to think that global scientific  consensus – and it is a consensus – is the output of evil “elitist intellectuals” or something – scary stuff.

To me, Libertarianism is a scary pipe dream that really is a Trojan horse for unilateral disarmament by ordinary people in their eternal battle against the power of concentrated wealth and its corrupting influence.   I just saw the movie “Farewell, My Queen” – great movie, by the way IMO - about the last days of King Louie and Queen Marie Antoinette and their large bourgeois entourage at their huge palace of Versaille as the French revolution started kicking into high gear and they were living in denial and reading pamplets being handed out on the street that they were on the list of people who would be beheaded by the revolutionary council, as they later were.  In a libertarian world that operates by only the three rules you listed, rhare, it seems obvious to me that private wealth and power will rapidly fill the vacuum left by public planning and protecting functions of government.    Clearly, some public unions have >way< over-reached & gov't is bloated.  But as a non-unionized consumer middle class with no more access to credit from the wealthy to fund their lifestyle continues to disappear, we’d be more and more in a world dominated by intermittent huge "Versaille estates", private police and military, (and more "privately operated" countries), and more stultifying propaganda that smothers the truth, instead of information tracked and distributed in the public interest.  The vast majority of people would have little access to resources and would be in very bad shape – unemployed and unneeded.  We’re already part way there.  On the other hand, look today at where France ended up long after their revolution threw out the wealthy who lived in unbelievable luxury but were stupid enough to leave Parisians with no bread:  they now have a society that even I think is a smothering, dysfunctional nanny state.  

One can imagine that it's free enterprise that's lifted the poor to a better life globally in recent decades, and that's only partly true.  But the whole truth is that it's been a combination of somewhat free markets, protective gov't - and, importantly, the one time gift of a century of low cost energy that's now disappearing.   I think it's a really bad idea to just be left with "free markets" right now - the power of money and protection of private property - out of the three.  It's a setup for a return to feudal lords and unenlightened times - the powerful few, and the weak who can attach themselves and serve them.  Like I say, to me it seems complicated, and takes openness, intelligence, adaptability, alliances, matching power with power and making a bunch of specific decisions and actions.  I certainly don’t figure I have all the answers.

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Current
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occupany/vacancy sensors

Most use PIR, some use ultrasonic, and a few utilize both (but cost quite a bit more.)

Subtle distinction: an occupancy sensor turns on and off the load based on occupancy. Many commercial projects are using vacancy sensors, which require a button press or other gesture to turn on, but automatically turn off when the space is unoccupied. Many of the newer devices can be configured (typically via DIP switches or software settings) for either mode of operation.

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Wise regulation? Haaa!

DTM,

If the issue is truly decided by geology or some other naturally limiting factor or true market forces I can accept that. But what is infuriating is artificially imposed laws and regulations based on political ideology rather than reality. California's bureaurocracy is anything but responsive to reality. A couple of examples:

When I built my house several years ago, I didn't want to install a furnace. We live in Southern California, legendary for it's temperate weather; it very rarely gets below freezing and even then only for a night or two per year. Moreover, I have a very efficient woodburning stove, access to free firewood and an extremely well insulated house. But the building code mandates a furnace. So I was forced to spend extra money to buy a furnace, the production of which incurs an imbedded energy component in addition to the consumption of fossil fuel.

More infuriating was the prohibition against grey water systems for recycling houshold 'waste' water. Water is a far more critical issue here. I had read Art Ludwig's books on the subject and was determined to incorporate them but was cited by the building inspector and was forced to dismantle them (only to re-install illegally at a later date). So much for conservation and environmental concerns.

It's great that you exceeded your local building codes. But you did it by choice. If these energy saving measures are all that they're cracked up to be, then most folks will choose them willingly. I did where cost effective and 'energy effective' and still do.

You note one of your pet hates is lights left on when no one is present. I've got three small children who notoriously leave the light on in their bedroom. But it's not cost effective (nor EROI-effective) to install a sensor or timer. There's only two small CF bulbs in there. I've roughly calculated the payback to be about twenty years!! They'll be long gone well before then. This is my decision, as it should be. People will do the right thing on their own for the most part if given the truth and the option.The government Nazis have no business dictating their mandates in these matters.

Kingroc is right. Most of the regs in California are not about public safety. It's about ideology, (particularly no-growth), cronyism, expansion of the bureaucracy and generation of funding.

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Damnthematrix
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Wise regulation? Haaa!

Look, I agree the law is an ass......  I had my fair share of fights with local authorities.  I wanted to go greener than anyone had gone before me, and had to fight all the way!  You say "It's great that you exceeded your local building codes. But you did it by choice. If these energy saving measures are all that they're cracked up to be, then most folks will choose them willingly."  Except they won't.  Or at least the building industry won't, here in any case, refuses to change at every turn....

Once I realised it was possible to build houses so efficient they could not be bettered, I decided to use my new found skills to carve myself a niche in the building industry.  It was a total failure.  Nearly every house I designed was never built because when the clients put tenders out to, the builders continually questioned why you would build such a house, and nearly always talked the customer out of it even though the client wanted it.....  I even built my own version myself (as in I did all the work personally, with assistance for the heavy stuff of course) just to prove that it was not hard.  If I can build one, any builder can....

Building hyper efficient houses is neither hard nor expensive, but the industry does things a standard way (why do you think all houses in an estate look the same?), and they can't be bothered to change.  In the end I just gave up and decided the world was screwed anyway and little old me wasn't going to change an awful lot...

I had to fight my electrician to fit the sensors....  he said I would come to hate them and they would cost a lot to replace with conventional switches (in the end I did all the wiring myself illegally!).  And I've learned to love them...!  It certainly pays to put some thought into where to put them, maybe that's the hard part, tradies don't like thinking, it fries their tiny brains...!  ao I use a brand called Arlec, quite likely only available in Australia, and they only cost $16 a pop ( I have seven of them).  They work by IR and have a built in programmable timer.  Sensitivity is also programmable.  So the one in the stairwell is set for 30 seconds, the one in the bathroom eight minutes.  The one in the kitchen is more sophisticated and cost a whopping $30...  it's black instead of white!  It's set for four minutes, but at two minutes it senses for motion, and if it detects any resets automatically for the programmed time until no motion is sensed.

We don't do furnaces in Australia, except, I guess in the Snowy Mountains....  most of our climates are a bit like Socal... or hotter!  But we now have laws banning electric water heaters.  They must either be solar or heat pump.  I 100% agree with laws like that.  Our solar hot water system has already more than repaid itself in zero hot water bills.  That's ZERO in eight years!

I too had problems with greywater.  Not that they're not allowed here, quite the contrary, but they all use power, and mine doesn't.  I fought tooth and nail to have it passed, and eventually won.  Crazy.  Talk of "market forces", and big companies come to mind who control local autorities to only allow their products while better things invented by little people like me are glossed over. 

IMO, market forces are a crock and got us into this mess.  When resources are abundant, market forces make them very cheap, like oil and gasoline was in the US right up until the oil shocks of the 70's and 80's.  Such cheap fuel encouraged Americans to build and drive the classic gas guzzlers, and most of your oil was wasted driving Chevy Impalas and V8 pick up trucks.  And now it's as good as gone.  Your loss.

No growth is more than an idology, it's what WILL HAPPEN.  I am amazed ANYBODY on this site still disputes the need to end growth....  read this: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/

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A little clarity

I'm not advocating ending immigration to the US in total.  What I am advocating is that policy be grounded on doing what is best for the citizens of this country and not the corporate interests or interests of the immigrants.  We actually had very restrictive immigration policies from the 1920's throught the late 1960's.  This is the period of time in which one of my parents came to this country.  It was a good time for immigrants and native born workers.  This combined with the broader educating of women and bringing them into the workforce lowered population growth and by the early 1970's we had achieved population stabilization.  But things changed and we liberalized immigration policy in 1965.  There were many unintended consequences to this. So much so that one of the bill's sponsors, the liberal Senator from Minnesota, Eugene Mc Carthylater bemoaned what he helped to do in his book Colony of The World.  

In closing, I think it is disingenuous to advocate any kind of conservation policy without looking at population and it's impact.

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CA Has Energy Options

Thanks for the comments. FWIW, over the past several years I have written and been interviewed about the Golden State's energy situation, and there is no question that CA could choose to significantly increase its oil production. It would take some time to ramp up, but offshore CA--based on the collective research to date--could probably produce as much as 400 kbpd (thousand barrels per day). Additionally, I have suggested that this production (which few in CA are willing to risk, btw, given that it's offshore) could be used to further strip out the automobile from the state's infrastructure by rebuilding streetcar networks, and other passenger rail. I have also been clear that, imo, it would be silly if not stupid to take on the risk of new Offshore production if its only purpose was to maintain the current Automobile-Highway complex in its current form.

Overall, CA evidences the problem with large scale systems when the economy is no longer expanding. Contracting systems, as when the tide goes out, reveals who has been swimming naked. So, partisan political blame is of little use, and of little meaning here. There is something much bigger taking place.

Best to all,

G

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Perhaps CA will rethink their

Perhaps CA will rethink their pristine shoreline mantra at all cost seeing as the Cesium levels and nuclear fallout has contaminated the area from our Dear Friends from due West. I know this, oil is highly toxic, and lots of it is washing up on to the beaches as is natures way, and many unaware people are just picking that spew up  then blaming oil companies when it is just the natural leaking from what must be some nice puddles of a precious resource. What do I know, I just read stuff, and Gregor just used a fine narrative for the proper use of Oil and that is:'use it to get off of it'. Sounds good to me.

Go Tigers

Regards

BOB

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everything is political..especially energy policy

Mr. Macdonald- I appreciate your writing and get benefit from your perspective and analysis.I print them out and refer friends and colleagues that i am trying to wake up with them. Thank you.

With that said, I often find that academics are disconnected with the reality that surrounds them. 
All policy is, especially energy policy is enacted from a political apparatus. The political apparatus is itself subject to great bias based on a great many of things, one of them 'ideology'.  So so say "partisan political blame is of little use, and of little meaning here" is again disconnecting from the source (or cause) that the effect (i.e. inefficacious energy production and supply) is emanating from. It also disconnects from the fact that political apparatus are employed and ran by 'man', which is fallible and subject to grab and exercise great abuse of power over it's 'subordinates', that is 'the individual'.

It is not of 'little use' if the CARB (cal. air resources board) enacts a energy policy, that is based on a flawed report, even after the report and the author are publicly discredited, especially if it puts thousands of 'energy users' out of business or in economic hardship. It is an abuse of authority by idealogical bias that is expressed through the political apparatus as an energy policy.
Bureaucracies are not gods, nor benevolent and for some reason, most academics seem blind to the fact that evil (yes, i'll use that term as defined as : that which is 'not perfect' or a 'privation of that which is wholly good and perfect') is among us and dwells richly in politics. We suffer not just from a point of broken 'mechanics' and if we 'just implemented the right mechanisms' we would have the right solution. Evil, as defined, is the systematic cause or the 'why' a government or bank or entity of any sort would institute such damaging policies.

Simple put another way, 'you don't starve the children waiting for the corn to harvest when there's food in the pantry'

California can be tapping ALL it great resources, including it's private sector's ability to innovate with new sources of energy, not either or.  We could be tapping our oil reserves, our natural gas reserves, building new and smart nuclear and hydro electric plants while unleashing the private sector on any new technology that is here or on the horizon including the problems of having to cover (travel) a large geographical area.

But the legislature and more over the unelected oligarchies like the CARB do the opposite, they smash private business, abolish use of natural resources and punish the use of existing natural resources...this is ALL politics my friend and a 'statist' mindset that a few masterminds know better than the individual.
That is the true nature of our energy and resource calamity: the individual has been crushed by an over reaching ever growing non responsive body politic that is all powerful and accountable to none.
You might have assisted such bodies, but I and millions of productive thinking and creative individual citizens have had to live and work UNDER such powerfully destructive political policies made by just a relatively few people.
No solution will be efficacious if the individual is subjugated to the tyranny of the few political elite that seem to always hold the next 'solution' that brings us closer to disaster.

So with that said, I agree that there is something much bigger taking place but respectfully disagree that it is of 'little use' to see and understand the causes that continue to block the State of California (or the nation for that matter) from ever becoming 'golden' again.

-steven j. rocker
 

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