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

May 3 2012

Waco is Wacky

Kal @ 16:47

From Booman Tribune today.

But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."

The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.

At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.

Tags:

Category: Politics | Morals

May 3 2012

Clip Art for Sale

Kal @ 16:34

There is a new source for Clip Art, prices are reasonable.

http://www.clipartforholidays.com/ClipArt/Illustrations.aspx. Not everyone needs Clip Art, but if you do this is a good place to find it. Mother's day is almost here; do you need to make a card?

Tags:

Category: Economics | Stock Images

Jan 21 2011

Has collapse already arrived?

Kal @ 12:32

 

Lots of food for thought in the latest post from John Michael Greer, The Onset of Catabolic Collapse.

Empires are expensive:

That America is a prime candidate for catabolic collapse seems tolerably clear at this point, though I’m sure plenty of people can find reasons to argue with that assessment. It’s considered impolite to talk about America’s empire nowadays, but the US troops currently garrisoned in 140 countries around the world are not there for their health, after all, and it requires a breathtaking suspension of disbelief to insist that this global military presence has nothing to do with the fact that the 5% of our species that live in this country use around a quarter of the world’s total energy production and around a third of its raw materials and industrial products. The United States has an empire, then, and it’s become an extraordinarily expensive empire to maintain; the fact that the US spends as much money on its military annually as all the other nations on Earth put together is only one measure of the maintenance cost involved.

More...

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Resource Depletion | Economics

Nov 27 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Kal @ 12:11

We had thanksgiving this year with friends in Fremont, CA. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, but it was cold, probably the temp was in the low 60s.

Several of the folks at this gathering, including the hostess, are from Russia. Several more, specifically my family, are from Ecuador. A few of us are from the Midwest: Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

The table was beautiful.

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The star of the show was Dasha’s new little friend:

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Another interesting thing was the ghostly image on Dasha’s car. I wonder how that happened?

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Here are a few of the people at the party.

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Tags:

Category: Friends

Oct 7 2010

Back Yard Sea Level – Your back yard

Kal @ 11:54

Click to view full size

Information is Beautiful puts some things in perspective. Sea rise due to Global Warming, for instance.

Two meters higher wipes out Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and St. Petersburg. Large parts of San Francisco and Manhatton are also submerged.

That is a lot of nice Real Estate that will be going to waste.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Population | Politics | Sustainability

Oct 7 2010

Numbers can be interesting

Kal @ 11:28

Click to view full size

Information is Beautiful puts some things in perspective.

The big block in the upper right is the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The small rose bar in the bottom row is US Foreign aid payments.

Tags:

Category: Economics

Oct 4 2010

Physics Trumps Money

Kal @ 10:31

George Mobus  writing in Question Everything - When what is happening in your world doesn't make sense, when it doesn't conform to your beliefs about how things should work, it's time to ask hard questions.

Work, Exergy, the Economy, Money, and Wealth -- A Sort-Of Tutorial

This is something of a tutorial on the relationship between energy and the economy. I have been dismayed by how often people express their lack of knowledge about that relationship. Such expressions come in the form of beliefs that money is what drives the economy. Or the belief that human desire to accumulate monetary wealth is the motive force for economic growth. Indeed I doubt that most people ever think of physics when they think of the economy. But the reality is that the economy is very much a physical process that requires energy to continue operating. All of the money in the world will not suffice to maintain the motivation of the wheels of industry unless it can be used to exchange for energy flow. Here is a guide to how the real wealth of nations is created and a more concise look at the nature of energy flow needed to do so.

More...

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability