Oct 30 2012

Carbon Tax?

Kal @ 15:24

Taxes

by Bill Becker

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

That observation by Charles Darwin has interesting implications in these last weeks of the presidential election campaign. It suggests that both candidates may be missing what’s most important to keeping America safe, strong and competitive in the years ahead.

Jobs, education, tax reform and energy security all are important, of course. But the key to America’s success will be our willingness to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century.

One of those realities is that economic development as we have practiced it, and as it is now being replicated around the world, is rapidly pushing us toward several critical ecological boundaries and has already exceeded others. These boundaries are important not only because they threaten some species and some regions of the world; they’re important because exceeding them is an existential threat to continued peace and prosperity. These are not the relatively isolated and repairable environmental problems of the past. They involve global systems that support life, including the oceans, soils and freshwater resources. They also include the atmosphere’s ability to absorb man-made pollution without destabilizing the climate. The most available way to manage that risk is to reduce and eventually stop burning oil and coal to fuel economic development.

….

A central question in this election is whether we will be the architects of our future or its victims, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. The United States and its economy are not exempt from the fundamental laws of evolution. We must adapt if we wish to remain the fittest and the strongest of nations.

Tags:

Category: Politics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Oct 14 2012

Are we in Phase Three of the American Civil War?

Kal @ 18:08

David Brin thinks so.

We are in Phase Three of the American Civil War, and nothing less than militant anger will live up to our ancestors who rose up against very similar kinds of madness (with similar geographic roots) in their day, standing up to save their nation and civilization, not from political opponents but from a madness that had taken over their neighbors. And yes, I might be exaggerating! I admit that - despite clear-eyed view of mountains of evidence supporting the "war" analogy, including the direct manipulation of "red" masses by multiple foreign billionaires, many of then based in the country that attacked us on 9/11. I respond by offering tests that pose Popperian/falsifiable questions: like daring folks to name one Bushite major endeavor that did not lead to monumental harm to either the American republic, its citizens or its indispensable world Pax.

Tags:

Category: Politics

Oct 10 2012

Is man-made capital a substitute for nature’s capital?

Kal @ 19:15

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and was one of the main proponents of his supply-side economics. I thought those policies were totally ridiculous at the time and paid him very little mind. For the past couple of weeks I have been reading his blog, PaulCraigRoberts.org. He has strong opinions and he knows a lot about economics. At least some of what he says is spot on. On Friday, 5 May he published the text of an interview by World Affairs Monthly. He talks about the evil of offshoring jobs and suggests something that could be done to alleviate it. Good stuff.

He then goes on to talk about the limits of growth, a topic rarely discussed by mainstream economists.

A more fundamental problem than economists’ ingrained misconceptions about jobs offshoring and free trade is the Solow-Stiglitz production function that is the basis of modern economics. The Solow-Stiglitz production function assumes that man-made capital is a perfect substitute for nature’s capital. This assumption means that there are no ecological limits to economic growth. When we run out of natural capital, man-made capital simply takes its place.

As Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen demonstrates conclusively, this assumption, which is the basis of modern economics, is “a conjuring trick.” Man-made capital and natural capital are complements, not substitutes. Production transforms resources into useful products and into waste products. Natural resources are what are transformed, and labor and man-made capital are agents of transformation.

What is happening in today’s world is that nature’s capital is being exhausted, both the resources and the waste sinks–the places that the waste products from production can be deposited. The air, soil, water, and oceans themselves are being polluted by the waste products of economic activities. As these “external costs” from pollution are not included in costs of producing GDP, economists have no way of knowing if an increase in GDP is worth more than its cost….

There is a lot more food for thought in the interview. Give it a read.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Employment | Politics | Steady-State Economics