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Author Topic: Seriously, though, how would a libertarian society address global warming?  (Read 27393 times)
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December 16, 2011, 07:20:49 AM
 #441

So.... the corrupt government should decide who gets the best chance at some predetermined age decided by sociologists trying to keep their jobs so the local bureaucrat doesn't get them fired. That's extreme but it completely negates your simplified argument. We all agree it sucks when some possibly really smart person is born into poverty and never allowed to reach her/his potential. No one argues that that sucks. Please propose an actual, applicable, real world solution to the problem rather than a vague idea.
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December 16, 2011, 08:06:30 AM
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Batteries are heavy, and include a huge 'sunk' energy cost in their production.  They also don't last very long relative to the steel block combustion engine.  They contain huge amounts of poisons that would contanimate any area that a major accident occurred.  They are relatively slow, and have very limited ranges and long 'refueling' times.  Even many 'green' leaning inventors have acknowleged the problems with electric transport, which is why the Revopower Wheel was invented.  Pity it never made it to mass production, I would have bought one straight away.  There is no substitute for the energy density of petrol.

Mostly matters of physics and economics, not matters of technology.  Electric vehicles will become commonplace as soon as the economics of peak oil force the issue, and then people get accustomed to the particular inconviences that electric transport presents.

Perhaps we could have, but again, there isn't a lot of further research to be done.  Again, we know how to build thorium cycle reactors, and we did it fourty years ago, but we just don't.  The infrastructure, as you noted, exists for the refinement and production of uranium fuel rods, because of the military's desire for plutonium.  We no longer need any more of that, and really need a lot less than we have, but the infrastructure exists.  So uranium fuel cycle reactors not only have a precedent, they have an economicly mature nationwide/worldwide supply chain.  An equivilent supply chain for thorium reactors would have to be built up from scratch, which can be done if we had the political will, but it seems that no one but India has any such will.

No contest there, but it's not really your's to decide.

True equal rights under the "law" (common law or natural law, like how the term was intended when the framers spoke the term.)  No special rights for historicly oppressed groups, no identity politics.  As a parent, I am responsible for the quality of their education and their health care, and no one else gets to intervene in my decisions. (excepting, perhaps, the child) 
Batteries can be recycled and reused and yes they are poisonous in case of an accident. So are ICE cars. Not really a world of difference, except that it's easier to reduce pollution from electric cars. Are electric cars slow? Compared to what? They are on par with regular cars. The range could be solved and I know of a few ideas currently undergoing testing on how to charge electric cars during operation, which would also help with refuelling times. That too is an engineering problem and can be solved fairly easy. I saw a TED talk about replaceable battery packs. Go look for it. It's interesting.
I too see issues with green tech, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying. I had something similar to Revopower when I was young. Small two-stroke engine attached to the hub of a normal bike. Worked like a charm.

There's plenty to be done with our current reactors. They can be much more efficient than today. And fusion is still 20 years off.

Why shouldn't I have a say in things that affect me?

That's not creating an equal playing field. That's maintaining the status quo where the privileged have access to better everything and underprivileged are still screwed. Children with parents who won't or can't provide for them will be at a disadvantage, and most will never catch up.

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December 16, 2011, 08:32:15 AM
 #443


Batteries can be recycled and reused and yes they are poisonous in case of an accident. So are ICE cars.


Batteries can only be recycled to an extent, and it depends upon the type of battery as well.  Steel block engines have been recycled for over a century.

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 Not really a world of difference, except that it's easier to reduce pollution from electric cars.


Only in the immediate area, not overall.  That is, unless you live in France, where 80% of the baseload power grid is fission nuclear.  In the US, widespread adoption of electric vehicles would tax the grid as it is, and spur the contruction of more coal fired plants.  I've worked in coal plants, nat gas peaking plants, and nuke plants.  I'll never voluntarily return to a coal plant, but wouldn't think twice about living within 10 miles of a modern American nuke plant, but we won't get nuke plants, we would get more coal plants.  You're electric vehicle burns coal, as delayed and distant that combustion may be.  And don't even bother to bring up solar power or wind power to run the American private vehicle fleet.  That doesn't even come close to being realistic.

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Are electric cars slow? Compared to what? They are on par with regular cars.


Not off of the line, but max speed is an issue or max range is an issue.  It's a design trade off.  Falls back to that energy density issue again.

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 The range could be solved and I know of a few ideas currently undergoing testing on how to charge electric cars during operation, which would also help with refuelling times.


I presume that you mean one of the various versions of the inductive highway lane concept.  Sure, that works but it's incrediblely inefficient, and there is no way to solve that inefficiency without making the electric cars incompatible with the roads we have everywhere else or making all of the other cars incompatible with driving on an inductive lane, or both.  It's a band-aid solution to the limited range issue that would require a massive investment into new highway infrastructure, and who is going to pay for all of that?

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That too is an engineering problem and can be solved fairly easy. I saw a TED talk about replaceable battery packs. Go look for it. It's interesting.


Yeah, I've seen it.  The one where they talk about leasing the battery pack to the owner of the car.  This is because the battery will not last as long as an average car, which is only about 7-9 years.  Imagine if you had to completely rebuild your engine every two years, how well would that vehicle compete in an open market?

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I too see issues with green tech, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying. I had something similar to Revopower when I was young. Small two-stroke engine attached to the hub of a normal bike. Worked like a charm.

There's plenty to be done with our current reactors. They can be much more efficient than today. And fusion is still 20 years off.

Why shouldn't I have a say in things that affect me?

Sure, you have a say.  You're saying right here.  What you don't have is a vote in the matter as it pertains to the rights of others.  Get used to that.

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That's not creating an equal playing field. That's maintaining the status quo where the privileged have access to better everything and underprivileged are still screwed.


Reality is a bitch, but that doesn't mean that is because of something "the Rich" have done to you, personally or as a member of some class/group.  The privileged are so privileged as a direct consequence of not being screwed.  The underprivileged are not so underprivileged because "the Man" is trying to keep them down, but as a consequence of being screwed for other reasons.  Not everything that goes wrong is someone else's fault.

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 Children with parents who won't or can't provide for them will be at a disadvantage, and most will never catch up.

So what?  I can't do anything about that, it's just the way the world is.  If you feel called to do something, become a teacher.  My kids are homeschooled.  They are both the only kids for whom I am responsible and the only kids for whom I can do anything to help.  I'm doing my part, are you?

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- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 16, 2011, 02:59:37 PM
 #444

There's an old truth saying that the longer you wait the more expensive and hard things will be to change.
Ironic, since the truth is the reverse.

Only if you ignore the cost of the obsolete infrastructure you spend money on and the cost of decommissioning it, in addition to the cost of the new infrastructure.

Yeah, I've seen it.  The one where they talk about leasing the battery pack to the owner of the car.  This is because the battery will not last as long as an average car, which is only about 7-9 years.  Imagine if you had to completely rebuild your engine every two years, how well would that vehicle compete in an open market?

toyoto warranties the prius' battery for 8 years/100k miles.  do you really think they would do that if they didn't think it would last at least that long?

one of the local taxi companies jumped on the original prius as soon as it came out here back in 2001.  the batteries are still going strong.

Food shortages, as a result from climate change, isn't a credible threat.  Far more likely is the rapid expansion of agriculture for the above noted reasons.

only up to a point.  past a certain degree of warming (+3 degrees, IIRC), the losses overtake the gains, mostly because much of the land the growing zone expands into is utterly useless for farming.  permafrost just turns into a marshy mess and you're not growing anything on barren rock regardless of how warm it gets.

They contain huge amounts of poisons that would contanimate any area that a major accident occurred.  

These aren't lead-acid or nickel-cadmium.

NiMH batteries contain nickel (obviously), cobalt, magnesium ,or aluminum. and various rare earths (lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and praseodymium), which aren't particularly toxic.

You're electric vehicle burns coal, as delayed and distant that combustion may be.  And don't even bother to bring up solar power or wind power to run the American private vehicle fleet.  That doesn't even come close to being realistic.

It would still be an improvement due to efficiency of scale.  a car-size IC engine is about 25% efficient, at best.  combined cycle coal will do 50%+.

it's also nicer for general pollution outside of CO2, as it's loads easier and cheaper to scrub the hell out of the emissions of a handful of big plants than to try to scrub tens of thousands of itty bitty engines.
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December 16, 2011, 06:51:46 PM
 #445

So if you design a new car, and you find a flaw in the design, would it be cheaper to fix it at the design stage, or after you've set up a production line, done all your tooling, trained your staff, ordered all components and started rolling out cars?
Exactly. So the longer you wait to start building the car, the greater the chances that the flaws will be found at the design stage.

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I agree with your assertion that a prosperous economy does a world of good for research, but basic research? Assuming we're talking about the same things here I'd say that's not something done by most companies. Companies does applied research, and they're damn good at it. Basic research is just a money sink to them and something most often done with taxpayers money. Solar is a good example.  Now they're beginning to become efficient and many companies are investing in researching it, because of the research done over the last 30 years or so, mainly funded by taxpayers. Does that mean that the research done over the last 30 years have been wasted? Or that they've provided a foundation that companies can build on?
Well sure, why pay for something if you can get the government to pay for it? The problem is that the government faces the same problem choosing priorities for basic research. But however you slice it, and whoever funds basic research, the more prosperous we are, the more basic research there can be.

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When it comes to the children then. I thought the race was on to find the next Einstein/Beethoven, not to provide a comfortable life for your children. Perhaps one of the snotty children of that poor family over there have the potential, but don't get the chance to proper education because of their socio-economic status. While we all like to think that our children are geniuses, the likelihood of that being true is slim. So you need a broad search scope, meaning that you'd want to give the largest amount of people possible the chance to test their potential. Not just the ones lucky enough to have good parents.
You're again operating on the assumption that you can create some test to find the winners. You can't. The information to do that doesn't exist. If you created such a program, you likely would have passed right over Einstein. (I'll admit, you probably would have caught Beethoven.)

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December 16, 2011, 08:33:51 PM
 #446

Yeah, I've seen it.  The one where they talk about leasing the battery pack to the owner of the car.  This is because the battery will not last as long as an average car, which is only about 7-9 years.  Imagine if you had to completely rebuild your engine every two years, how well would that vehicle compete in an open market?

toyoto warranties the prius' battery for 8 years/100k miles.  do you really think they would do that if they didn't think it would last at least that long?

one of the local taxi companies jumped on the original prius as soon as it came out here back in 2001.  the batteries are still going strong.

The Prius isn't an electric car, it's a hybrid.  The use case, for the batteries, are different.  An electric car can expect to deep cycle it's battery bank daily, a hybrid generally doesn't deep cycle it's batteries except in relatively rare events.

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Food shortages, as a result from climate change, isn't a credible threat.  Far more likely is the rapid expansion of agriculture for the above noted reasons.

only up to a point.  past a certain degree of warming (+3 degrees, IIRC), the losses overtake the gains, mostly because much of the land the growing zone expands into is utterly useless for farming.  permafrost just turns into a marshy mess and you're not growing anything on barren rock regardless of how warm it gets.


Taht is based upon a great number of assumptions, as far as the 3 degrees rule is concerned.  That's even assumeing that it's possible to even get there.  And I've literally grown tomatos in a bucket on an apartment deck without great human effort.  With the right knowlege and investments, there are many ways to grow food.
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They contain huge amounts of poisons that would contanimate any area that a major accident occurred.  

These aren't lead-acid or nickel-cadmium.

NiMH batteries contain nickel (obviously), cobalt, magnesium ,or aluminum. and various rare earths (lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and praseodymium), which aren't particularly toxic.

MiMH batteries are less toxic than others, but as a hydride, it's still toxic if released directly into the environment. 
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You're electric vehicle burns coal, as delayed and distant that combustion may be.  And don't even bother to bring up solar power or wind power to run the American private vehicle fleet.  That doesn't even come close to being realistic.

It would still be an improvement due to efficiency of scale.  a car-size IC engine is about 25% efficient, at best.  combined cycle coal will do 50%+.

A modern common rail desial is about 50% efficient, and can burn vegetable oil directly.  There has existed a desial engine design that was nearly 50% efficent for 100 years, ist's just very heavy relative to it's power output.  They are still made in India, called Listeroids after the origianl design, as Lister CS.  SOme of those have ran continuously and outlived their original owners.

That's not even considering the total efficentcy of using coal to charge car batteries, because the coal plant might be 50%, which is pretty good, but then the transmission can be as low as 90%, the charging and discagiing cycles can be as low as 75% for a new battery, and less for an older one, and the transmission system (mostly the electric motor) are usually about 90-95% to the wheels.  That estimate of ICE efficenies in cars is already to the wheels.
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it's also nicer for general pollution outside of CO2, as it's loads easier and cheaper to scrub the hell out of the emissions of a handful of big plants than to try to scrub tens of thousands of itty bitty engines.

This is a fair point, but does that make up for it all?  I doubt it.

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December 17, 2011, 03:10:10 PM
 #447

@OP seriously, though, a libertarian society would address global warming like this:

http://inhabitat.com/german-village-produces-321-more-energy-than-it-needs/

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German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs!



[...] The village’s green initiative first started in 1997 when the village council decided that it should build new industries, keep initiatives local, bring in new revenue, and create no debt. Over the past 14 years, the community has equipped nine new community buildings with solar panels, built four biogas digesters (with a fifth in construction now) and installed seven windmills with two more on the way. In the village itself, 190 private households have solar panels while the district also benefits from three small hydro power plants, ecological flood control, and a natural waste water system. [...]


Surely that calculation may be a bit naive (it would have to be analyzed deeper as they are surely not completely self-sustaining, they probably import machinery, cars etc which may not have been produced with a good eco balance), but what counts is the incentive.

Humans per se seem to be good, they care for this planet, and decentral communities have good intentions. It is first and foremost the psychopathy of big corporations and the military-industrial centralization that brings forward global warming imo.

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December 17, 2011, 07:47:57 PM
 #448

‘Carbon dioxide has zero effect on global warming’ http://rt.com/news/carbon-canada-effect-kyoto-773/

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December 17, 2011, 10:32:39 PM
 #449

@OP seriously, though, a libertarian society would address global warming like this:

http://inhabitat.com/german-village-produces-321-more-energy-than-it-needs/


While I applaud the effort and the result, you are aware of the fact that this village is the result of heavy government subsidies, right?

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December 17, 2011, 11:07:57 PM
 #450


While I applaud the effort and the result, you are aware of the fact that this village is the result of heavy government subsidies, right?

While our government subsidizes things like solar panels a little bit (and we all know that such interventions are questionable as the market would probably find the equilibrium at the same price), my point is that it is doable, profitable, and efficient, so where there is no government, there will be inverstors.

And I also want to point out that it is that little village alone that took the initiative. I believe in a libertarian society residential communities will be comparable to those small villages of today.

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December 18, 2011, 01:04:24 AM
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While I applaud the effort and the result, you are aware of the fact that this village is the result of heavy government subsidies, right?

While our government subsidizes things like solar panels a little bit (and we all know that such interventions are questionable as the market would probably find the equilibrium at the same price), my point is that it is doable, profitable, and efficient, so where there is no government, there will be inverstors.

And I also want to point out that it is that little village alone that took the initiative. I believe in a libertarian society residential communities will be comparable to those small villages of today.

Have a look at how the power is being sold back to the grid. Especially the pricing.

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December 18, 2011, 05:33:45 AM
 #452

Have a look at how the power is being sold back to the grid. Especially the pricing.
For some reason, the majority of governments seem to think they need to royally screw up electricity pricing and destroy the market for innovation in power delivery. All logic says that the more electricity I draw, the less I should pay per watt (because it costs less to provide the power to me), but my State government forces the pricing to go the other way to compel me to conserve even where conservation is counter-productive and inefficient.

It places other comically silly perverse incentives on me as well, I could go on for many paragraphs. By pushing prices artificially low for the majority of users, they actually disincentivize conservation. It is completely ass backwards. And when the weather is extreme, my prices actually go *down* (on the logic that I "need" more electricity), incentivizing me to shift my demand specifically to the times when it's the most expensive to service.

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December 18, 2011, 10:21:58 PM
 #453

A libertarian/Ron Paul society should support a gas tax.  If there is a specfic amount of CO2 in the air you want, just increase the tax until you reach that goal.   The money raised from the tax can be deleted.
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December 19, 2011, 07:34:52 AM
 #454

A libertarian/Ron Paul society should support a gas tax.  If there is a specfic amount of CO2 in the air you want, just increase the tax until you reach that goal.   The money raised from the tax can be deleted.
You won't find many Libertarians who think that the government would be competent to engineer the economy and the climate in that way. In your view, what is mechanism Libertarians would accept for how the government should decide how much CO2 there should be in the air? And, of course, unless you imagine one world government, you still have the problem of the conflicting self-interests of various nations (whether Libertarian or otherwise).

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December 19, 2011, 09:24:34 AM
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Have a look at how the power is being sold back to the grid. Especially the pricing.
For some reason, the majority of governments seem to think they need to royally screw up electricity pricing and destroy the market for innovation in power delivery. All logic says that the more electricity I draw, the less I should pay per watt (because it costs less to provide the power to me), but my State government forces the pricing to go the other way to compel me to conserve even where conservation is counter-productive and inefficient.

It places other comically silly perverse incentives on me as well, I could go on for many paragraphs. By pushing prices artificially low for the majority of users, they actually disincentivize conservation. It is completely ass backwards. And when the weather is extreme, my prices actually go *down* (on the logic that I "need" more electricity), incentivizing me to shift my demand specifically to the times when it's the most expensive to service.

Do you still live under the delusion that what you pay and what cost the company have are somehow connected? Here a private company raised their prices because people were using their service, when according to you logic prices should go down. The only connection there is, is when their cost is higher than what they can charge.

What I find interesting about the German village discussed is that the Government have actually set a price that the power companies have to buy power back to. Without that law there would be no buyback and no incentives to produce power for small communities. The government is acting as an enabler here, promoting innovation and change.

Not what people would call libertarian I guess. Let's see a way a libertarian could address global warming, this one wasn't it.

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December 19, 2011, 11:17:23 AM
 #456

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Do you still live under the delusion that what you pay and what cost the company have are somehow connected?
Not in the electric power industry.

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Here a private company raised their prices because people were using their service, when according to you logic prices should go down. The only connection there is, is when their cost is higher than what they can charge.
That's not quite what I said. The price to an individual customer should go down as their usage goes up. But higher total usage across all customers will cause prices to rise. It's the same with any other product. If you want to buy 10 Volvos, you can probably negotiate a rock bottom price. But if everyone wants a Volvo, they're all going to pay more.

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What I find interesting about the German village discussed is that the Government have actually set a price that the power companies have to buy power back to. Without that law there would be no buyback and no incentives to produce power for small communities. The government is acting as an enabler here, promoting innovation and change.
Right, but it's promoting inefficient innovation and change. It's not clear that producing power that costs more than people are willing to pay for it is beneficial. Meanwhile, the resources that went to producing this miniscule amount of unprofitable power can't go to other things.

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Not what people would call libertarian I guess. Let's see a way a libertarian could address global warming, this one wasn't it.
The right way to deal with global warming is to become so smart and rich that we forget it ever even was an issue. This is the same way the human race has solved every problem it's ever solved.

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December 19, 2011, 02:12:18 PM
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Do you still live under the delusion that what you pay and what cost the company have are somehow connected?
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Not in the electric power industry.
But you think that they do in other industries?

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Here a private company raised their prices because people were using their service, when according to you logic prices should go down. The only connection there is, is when their cost is higher than what they can charge.
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That's not quite what I said. The price to an individual customer should go down as their usage goes up. But higher total usage across all customers will cause prices to rise. It's the same with any other product. If you want to buy 10 Volvos, you can probably negotiate a rock bottom price. But if everyone wants a Volvo, they're all going to pay more.
The same is true in the power industry. Large consumers get better deals. You're not a large consumer, so they charge you whatever they can.

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What I find interesting about the German village discussed is that the Government have actually set a price that the power companies have to buy power back to. Without that law there would be no buyback and no incentives to produce power for small communities. The government is acting as an enabler here, promoting innovation and change.
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Right, but it's promoting inefficient innovation and change. It's not clear that producing power that costs more than people are willing to pay for it is beneficial. Meanwhile, the resources that went to producing this miniscule amount of unprofitable power can't go to other things.
How do you know it's inefficient? The government has successfully managed to create a village that is self sufficient and given incentives to others to break free from the power companies. Yes, it's a shame that the money instead isn't in the pockets of the power companies, where it would do so much more good.  Grin

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Not what people would call libertarian I guess. Let's see a way a libertarian could address global warming, this one wasn't it.
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The right way to deal with global warming is to become so smart and rich that we forget it ever even was an issue. This is the same way the human race has solved every problem it's ever solved.
That brings us back to how we find the next Einstein/Beethoven then? How to provide education and a level playing field for all so that everybody can reach their maximum potential. Except we should only look after ourselves, unless we feel a little charitable around Christmas and donate a little to some poor fellow.

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December 19, 2011, 03:08:04 PM
 #458


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Do you still live under the delusion that what you pay and what cost the company have are somehow connected?
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Not in the electric power industry.
But you think that they do in other industries?
Yes, in less-regulated industries, they do. In a competitive industry, you would generally expect that products that cost less to provide have a lower price.

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The same is true in the power industry. Large consumers get better deals. You're not a large consumer, so they charge you whatever they can.
They charge me the price the State compels them to charge. They have no leeway.

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How do you know it's inefficient? The government has successfully managed to create a village that is self sufficient and given incentives to others to break free from the power companies. Yes, it's a shame that the money instead isn't in the pockets of the power companies, where it would do so much more good.  Grin
I know it's inefficient because if it was efficient, it wouldn't have had to be compelled. If the prices they were getting for electricity were negotiated prices rather than compelled prices, they would be operating at a loss.

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The right way to deal with global warming is to become so smart and rich that we forget it ever even was an issue. This is the same way the human race has solved every problem it's ever solved.
That brings us back to how we find the next Einstein/Beethoven then? How to provide education and a level playing field for all so that everybody can reach their maximum potential. Except we should only look after ourselves, unless we feel a little charitable around Christmas and donate a little to some poor fellow.
If you're going to do it by forced central command, taking it from one person to give it to someone else, you will almost always wind up doing the opposite of what you want to do. In general, people wind up with money because they are being productive. Forced, centralized redistribution is not the way.

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December 19, 2011, 03:51:10 PM
 #459


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Do you still live under the delusion that what you pay and what cost the company have are somehow connected?
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Not in the electric power industry.
But you think that they do in other industries?
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Yes, in less-regulated industries, they do. In a competitive industry, you would generally expect that products that cost less to provide have a lower price.
Interesting that you think that. That's not my experience. You charge what your competitors charge, more or less, depending on how you position yourself. Lower cost to provide means more profit, not lower consumer cost.

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The same is true in the power industry. Large consumers get better deals. You're not a large consumer, so they charge you whatever they can.
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They charge me the price the State compels them to charge. They have no leeway.
Your prices are set by the state? Really? Where do you live? I get to choose which company should exploit me, and they set their prices according to "free market principles" meaning that they collude to skin us all.

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How do you know it's inefficient? The government has successfully managed to create a village that is self sufficient and given incentives to others to break free from the power companies. Yes, it's a shame that the money instead isn't in the pockets of the power companies, where it would do so much more good.  Grin
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I know it's inefficient because if it was efficient, it wouldn't have had to be compelled. If the prices they were getting for electricity were negotiated prices rather than compelled prices, they would be operating at a loss.
They probably would operate at a loss if the prices weren't set by the state. That's because power companies doesn't like competition. They have no incentive to allow this, and every reason to resist it. That doesn't mean that it's inefficient, it just means that power companies like profit.

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The right way to deal with global warming is to become so smart and rich that we forget it ever even was an issue. This is the same way the human race has solved every problem it's ever solved.
That brings us back to how we find the next Einstein/Beethoven then? How to provide education and a level playing field for all so that everybody can reach their maximum potential. Except we should only look after ourselves, unless we feel a little charitable around Christmas and donate a little to some poor fellow.
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If you're going to do it by forced central command, taking it from one person to give it to someone else, you will almost always wind up doing the opposite of what you want to do. In general, people wind up with money because they are being productive. Forced, centralized redistribution is not the way.
In general people end up with money because they have money. If not forced, centralized redistribution (aka taxation) is the way, then what is?  How do you level the playing field and make everybody reach their full potential? Being born poor is having the deck stacked against you, some overcome that, but most don't.

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December 19, 2011, 04:57:04 PM
 #460

Interesting that you think that. That's not my experience. You charge what your competitors charge, more or less, depending on how you position yourself. Lower cost to provide means more profit, not lower consumer cost.
The primary reason lower cost to provide means more profit is because it enables you to sell at a lower price and therefore generate a higher volume. Unless you have a very atypical situation, costs will be roughly comparable across competitors, so a lower cost for one company to produce will mean a lower cost for their competitors as well. Every restaurant charges less for hamburger than steak because every restaurant can produce a hamburger for less than a steak. You're treating the exception as if it were the rule.

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Your prices are set by the state? Really? Where do you live? I get to choose which company should exploit me, and they set their prices according to "free market principles" meaning that they collude to skin us all.
I live in California where State law requires nonsensical electrical pricing. You can read more about it here: http://www.pge.com/myhome/myaccount/rateinfo/ and here http://www.pge.com/myhome/myaccount/charges/

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They probably would operate at a loss if the prices weren't set by the state. That's because power companies doesn't like competition. They have no incentive to allow this, and every reason to resist it. That doesn't mean that it's inefficient, it just means that power companies like profit.
It does mean it's inefficient. Power companies didn't drop from the heavens. They exist because they invested money to build and maintain transmission facilities. This investment was made only because they expected a profit from those investments.

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In general people end up with money because they have money. If not forced, centralized redistribution (aka taxation) is the way, then what is?  How do you level the playing field and make everybody reach their full potential? Being born poor is having the deck stacked against you, some overcome that, but most don't.
You seem to think that you can somehow make the right decisions if only you had the power. You *can't*. The information needed to make the right decisions simply doesn't exist in one place like that.

You need incentives because the only thing people really respond to are incentives.. If you take away the handicap of being born poor, you take away the incentive not to let your children be born into poverty. Being born without musical talent is having the deck stacked against you too, but leveling the playing field would mean giving music lessons to those with the least natural talent.

You're trying to push a ball uphill. You've stacked the deck so that all the incentives work against the direction you're trying to go. You want excellence, but then you reward excellence and mediocrity the same with a level playing field. You want to find the big rocks and push on them until they're at the top. And you insist on starting each ball at the bottom. It just won't work.

What you need to do is roll the balls downhill. Align incentives so that things go in the direction you want them to go. Fortunately, nature pretty much does this automatically so long as you stay out of its way. The main thing you have to fix is broken incentives -- essentially cheating. You don't have to make the world fair, just the system.

The solution is to become so rich and prosperous such that our problems continue to rapidly become irrelevant and forgotten, joining the shortage of whale oil and streets filled with manure.

I am an employee of Ripple.
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