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The power of power: Electricity, Wealth, and the Community of Nations

By _Quinn in Op-Ed
Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:34:30 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

This piece was motivated by two things. First, California's power crisis; and second, an absurd contention I've seen again and again about the disproportionate pollution of the United States, usually in the context of setting a bad example.


I'll start with the second, which is usually argued along the lines of "The United States," (as of 1999 and rounding up) "with 5% of the world's population, produces 25%" -- according to my calculations, it's actually closer to 22% -- "of the world's pollution." Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? We need to cut pollution by a factor of five! Well... according to World Bank statistics, the United States' GDP was $8.7 trillion, out of a total of $30 trillion, or about 29% of the world economy. So the US is actually polluting less than its share of the economy would make acceptable.

Now compare this to China, which, with 20% of the population, is only producing 3.5% of the world economy. Taking CO2 emissions as representative, the US produces 1.6 times as much pollution as China does -- but China emits 926 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to produce a single percentage of the gross world product, (producing 13.8% of the total world pollution in the process) whereas the US emits only 178 million metric tons: the United States is a little over five times more efficient than China. (Pollution statics are of 1995, also from the World Bank.) Is it any wonder the enviromentalists have been looking at China closely? Consider if China's share of the world economy became proportional to its size (that is, about six times larger). A linear projection shows world pollution doubling as a result. Now, I'm almost certain a linear projection is wrong, but I'm not sure which way: the US has half as much industry (proportional to the total economy) as China, but but over twice the service sector, and a tenth of the agriculture. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any hard data on how to assign pollution to sectors. If one assumes that industry is responsible for all of the pollution, then a China with its proportional (by population) share of the world economy will increase world pollution by 42%.

India, however, has 997 million people (16.6%), and produces about 1.5% of both the gross Terran product and the gross Terran pollution. It's right on its enviromental efficiency target; increasing to its proportional (by population) share of the world economy would world pollution by 13%.).

Now it's time to pick on Denmark. With 0.086% of the world population, Denmark produces 0.23% of the world pollution and 0.603% of the world economy -- about 90.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per percent of the terran domestic product, about twice as efficient as the US, with an almost identical distribution of the agricultural, industry, and service sectors. Sweden is even more efficient (pollution per percentile world domestic product), but the World Bank does not have its sector distribution data.

Finally, Japan; with 2.1% of the world population producing 16% of the gross terran product and 4.9% of the pollution, Japan produces 72 million metric tons of CO2 per GDP percentile -- about 45% less than the US -- despite having approximately 10% more of its economy in manufacturing.


So how does this relate to the California power crisis? Quite simply, California has been more concerned with not building another polluting power plant than with ensuring that it had adequate supplies of electricity. Since I rather doubt that Japan's industrial process is fully three times less polluting than the US's, I look to lifestyle differnces to explain the gap. Japan is much more densely populated, which decreases pollution from transportation; because of the crowding, they tend to buy smaller things, which are less enviromentally demanding (typically) to transport than larger things. I know less about Denmark, but my impression is that most Americans would not be comfortable living there, and have an emotional attachment to their low taxes. California's economy is being hurt by its enviromentalism (and botched deregulation, but that's another issue). Which leads me to wealth.

Electrical power is necessary for the health of a modern (technological, service-dominated) economy. The US has the largest (and many would argue, the strongest) economy in the world. This enables two things: first, absolute military superiority. The US has used its big stick pretty frequently recently, and that gives it a certain extra edge at the negotiating table. What's more important, though, is the raw size of the US economy; an individual country like Sweden couldn't hope to materially affect it. Thus, the EU and the Euro; the Europeans are sick of American influence and power -- American bullying, to be blunt. Historically, threatening America with a trade war was unthinkable; with so little of America's economy in the import/export sector, even if imports and exports were cut off completely, a trade war wouldn't irrevocably damage the American economy, whereas for a country in Europe, which had much larger import/export sectors, it would be 'life-threatening' -- and the US would be likely to be far more able to close your borders (by force or diplomacy) than you would close the American borders.

Interestingly enough, according to the 1995 World Bank statistics, the US economy actually depended more on imports/exports (about 20%, total) then Japan (about 18% total). (This, combined with Japan's economic strength, is what allowed the situation with automobile trade fester for so long.) It's still much less Denmark (about 60%, total, though I have no data on how much of the EU's collective import/export activity remains inside the EU), and China (45%).

Back to the point, though -- electrical power : wealth/economic power : the community of nations. What does this say about the potential for future global agreements on pollution? As you might expect, it depends greatly on what the US (29%), Japan (16%), and Germany (7%) / the EU ( ?? ) decide to do. If the US doesn't agree to enviromental accords, the remaining coalition loses the biggest stick, and most of its chance at affecting about a quarter of the world's pollution. In the future, much of the effect of the coalition will depend on how well it can coerce developing countries -- like China. If Japan and the EU form a strong coalition, they could probably bully China as well as the US could -- but doesn't.

In conclusion, I think the stategy that would work best is to get the United States into a coalition at almost any cost to enviromental progress. Right now, there's relatively little a country can do to reduce the pollution from power generation and industrial applications, so my suggestion would be to fund efforts in commercializing alternative power sources, especially selling it cheaply to developing nations, perhaps in exchange for becoming signatories to the enviromental body (or another, more stringent one, enabled by the new technology). Other important technological improvements include (especially for the US) hybrid-propulsion vehicles and more efficient air conditions/heaters/homes.

The 'right' solution, though, is not primarily technological; it will come from using new technologies to introduce behavioral change. (For instance, a breakthrough in excavation technology would make expanding the subway system much more likely; a breakthrough development in tracklaying might allow bullet trains to replace some of the long-haul trucking; and so on.) Incremental advances in technology have already produced pollution-lessening behavior, in the form of telecommuting. A breakthrough in tele-immersive meetings could lead to an explosion in telecommuting.

'Better, faster, cheaper' not only describes microprocessor evolution, but what enviromentally friendly technologies must be compared to the status-quo. It will not be easy, nor quick, but I think there is hope: with sufficient prodding from people and government, automakers are already improving their hybrids much faster than their gasoline-only cars; I hope for a day when the 100-mpg family sedan isn't advertised with low-emissions as a selling point, but increased convience (fewer fillups), economy (fewer fillups, less routine maintenance/wear & tear on the engine), and looks.

Thanks for reading all the way through. :)

-_Quinn
Silver City Construction Company, Reality Maintenance Divison

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The power of power: Electricity, Wealth, and the Community of Nations | 116 comments (109 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Energy crises can be averted in green ways... (3.50 / 8) (#5)
by fink on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:01:32 PM EST

Good article as far as promoting discussion is concerned.
I don't agree with all your points - for a start, I believe that "blaming" other countries (China, India et al) hardly fixes the problem. Why should others - who can less "afford" it - fix their environmental problems while we, more affluent (effluent??), more-capable countries do not.
There are ways of generating power that do not require "black" (coal/oil/non-renewable) power, such as wind, solar, biogas and hydroelectric power, that California could be assessing to avert power problems. Once these technologies have been developed and matured, they'll then be "cheap" enough that all can use them - and effectively two problems have been solved.
Black and white - the US emit per capita the largest amount of pollution of any country on Earth. Unfortunately, Australia is up there as well.

And as an aside - this is a bit of a Scoop thing - and yes, I'll mention it over there - but surely there needs to be some way of editing an article, posted by that person, prior to it being either dumped or section/front-paged. Might stop you having to put "edit-me's" in the editorial section :)


----

Reasons for affluence (3.00 / 6) (#8)
by Khedak on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:30:48 PM EST

And don't forget that a lot of the reason for our affluence is our presence in the world market. Pollution from automated factories in Taiwan, Korea, and Mexico doesn't count on the charts this guy cites, but they feed our economy as well. Statistics out of context mean nothing, and stastics like these are in suspicious context.

[ Parent ]
GDP and foreign manufacturing (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:53:41 AM EST

Pollution from automated factories in Taiwan, Korea, and Mexico doesn't count on the charts this guy cites, but they feed our economy as well.

I'm pretty sure they're not considered part of the US GDP; some quick research seems to exclude any production not within US borders.

[ Parent ]

Read more on GDP (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by Khedak on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:28:09 PM EST

That simple definition is true, but saying that GDP is unaffected by trade and conditions in foreign nations is simply ignorant of basic economics. If we had a complete set of statistics including GDP, GNP, and foriegn contributions, we'd know for sure. In any case, my point was that simply measuring GDP vs. pollution proves nothing, and if you find a correlation based on four data points, that's statistically insignificant anyway.

[ Parent ]
Yeah. (2.83 / 6) (#9)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:11:13 AM EST

I don't agree with all your points - for a start, I believe that "blaming" other countries (China, India et al) hardly fixes the problem. Why should others - who can less "afford" it - fix their environmental problems while we, more affluent (effluent??), more-capable countries do not.
I guess one of the things I was trying to point out is that the US is not actually doing too shabbily in light of its economic importance. Right now, it's certainly true that the US is the singlest largest problem; on the other hand, the US has less room for improvement, percentagewise, than others do. The other reason for looking at countries like China is the expectation, held by many, that its economy will explode 'soon'. Quite frankly, I don't think there is a short term solution, so looking at the long-term, it seems prudent to sell developing countries 'clean' power as cheaply as we can.

As you point out, and I mentioned, we still need to develop these technologies. I suppose the meat of my suggestion, then, is to start subsidising them early and often, especially in (foreign) countries where it's important to 'get it right the first time.' Specifically, that the US, since it has so much money floating around, should take the lead here. (Not that it will, but hey... :))

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]

Economics (3.25 / 4) (#11)
by fink on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:10:29 AM EST

I guess one of the things I was trying to point out is that the US is not actually doing too shabbily in light of its economic importance.
I would have to disagree with you there, but from a slightly different angle. Because of the economic importance of the US, I believe they should be setting the example, and spending some of their money on decreasing the amount of emissions, rather than dodging the issue at summits like the Kyoto summit. Likewise to my own country (Australia), even though our economy isn't of the same calibre.
Yes, you say that yourself, in the last paragraph :)

----
[ Parent ]

Why does everyone miss it? (3.57 / 7) (#12)
by Dr Caleb on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:36:06 AM EST

I'm all for environmental power, wind, solar etc, but why does everyone miss Nuclear?

Hear me out! Woah on the flames!

Right now, with present technology nuclear technology is much more efficient than fossil types. Burning coal releases Carbon-14 into the environment, far more radiation that a good Can-Du reactor ever would.

I know, because the Oil company I used to work for in northern Alberta has 2 hydrogen reactors that it uses to produce electricity. It's recently changing operations, and doesn't use all the electricity it produces. So, to offset the cost of the Natural Gas it uses in the new operation, it sells the electricity into the grid, which in turn is sold to northern States like Washington, Oregon and California. Think! An oil company that's producing California electricty!

Now, I know it's not as clean as renewable resources, but it's cleaner than coal! More efficient and easier to handle and dispose the solid waste than the crap that a coal fired plant releases into the atmosphere.

Now flame away!


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

You're right about the polution but wrong on waste (4.20 / 5) (#15)
by DontTreadOnMe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:32:29 AM EST

Now, I know it's not as clean as renewable resources, but it's cleaner than coal! More efficient and easier to handle and dispose the solid waste than the crap that a coal fired plant releases into the atmosphere.

Leaving aside safety concerns (which, despite 3 mile island and chernobyl are IMHO exaggerated), you are wrong to dismiss the waste issue so offhandedly. I worked as a summer intern at a nuclear power station in downstate Illinois, and even the people running the plant didn't know what they were going to do about the waste. They had a large pool of water they stored the spent rods in, which could hold up to 20 years worth of the things. Whenever I asked what they would do when it filled up, given that the plant itself should have an operational life of 40-50 years, their reply was "the government will figure something out."

That is a very, very bad premise from which to start out. Yes, the energy is clean, the plants are very safe (fearmongering to the contrary), and, barring exponentially inflated construction costs to appease an erratic NRC, inexpensive. However, the waste is incredibly toxic, and will remain so for millenia. This isn't something that can be dumped into an abandoned salt mine deep underground and forgotten, it is something that must by babysat for the next several thousand years, at least.

The problem is, no civilization has ever lasted that long, and it would be the height of arrogance on our part to assume ours will. So, how do we safely manage such a dangerous substance over such a time? The answer is, quite simply, we can't. Until the waste issue is dealt with properly (breeder reactors, or whatever), nuclear power cannot be considered as harmless as you describe.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
RE:You're right about the polution but wrong on wa (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by bil on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:31:29 AM EST

I remeber hearing something when I was at university about it being possible to feed radioactive waste into particle accelerators (pressumably custom built rather then the current research types such as CERN) bombard it with neutrons (? my memory is hazy) and result in nonradioactive element such as lead and a surpless of electricity (even after taking into acount the power needed to run the accelerator). Basically "burning" nuclear waste to produce electicity, with perfectly safe waste products. It sounded to good to be true at the time, but I've heard it mentioned once or twice since, anyone have any more info??

bil

bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Transmutation of nuclear waste (4.80 / 5) (#37)
by fmackay on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:46:22 AM EST

This sounds like a reactor design proposed by Carlo Rubbia, former CERN director. It would use (abundant) thorium rather than uranium as fuel, the reactor being a subcritical assembly with the reaction being initiated by a high energy proton beam (requires ~10% of the reactor's power output to run) which induces a high neutron flux in the core. No nasty waste is produced, and you can mix existing long-lived nuclear waste in with the thorium, and transmute it to short-lived isotopes.

Try here for more info, or google for terms like "rubbia", "reactor" and "energy amplifier".

[ Parent ]
Two solutions (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by cameldrv on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:54:25 AM EST

Either reprocess the fuel and burn it in conventional reactors, thus getting over 100x the energy out of the Uranium, and hence 1/100th of the waste, or build fast breeder reactors which burn all of the medium-life isotopes away with suitable reprocessing. The long-life isotopes don't produce enough radiation to be dangerous, and the short-life ones can be contained until they are no longer present in significant concentrations.

[ Parent ]
Japan's Power (4.25 / 8) (#7)
by Devil Ducky on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:29:21 PM EST

California (and most of the United States) relies heavily on coal power plants. While Japan uses hydro-electric power. Most of Europe IIRC uses nuclear (but don't quote me on that).

We all know about the miracle of Hoover Dam providing electricity to Las Vegas, Las Angeles, and other "Las" cities but actual majority of electricy in LA comes from other sources (stats, stats where'd I put those stats). Coal produces huge amounts of pollution (not just CO2), to the point that many mid-western states are not allowed to build new coal power plants (acid rain in the east and north). It was in fear of this pollution that California avoided building new plants, that and (I heard this somewhere, anyone want to substantiate?) a standing law forbidding new nuclear plants in CA.

Deregulation just hurt this situation, before power companies were restricted on the prices they could charge to send electricity to California, now it's a free market where the demand is high and the supply is limited. It doesn't take an Economics major to figure that one out (does it take an Econ major to figure anything out?).

Pennsylvania (where I live, unfortunately) was also deregulated, but here there is excess power. In fact there is a brand new nuclear power plant that is only running at about 5% capacity. With the exceptions of government agencies trying to save power periodically (save money) the only problem has been the sur-charges to pay for an unused nuclear plant.


Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
Japan's power - small correction. (4.25 / 4) (#13)
by driptray on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:15:54 AM EST

California (and most of the United States) relies heavily on coal power plants. While Japan uses hydro-electric power. Most of Europe IIRC uses nuclear (but don't quote me on that)

Japan actually uses coal, hydro and nuclear. Can't remember the exact proportions, but each of the three methods was above 20%.

Less than 18 months ago there was a nuclear accident at a power plant only a 2 hour drive from where I live. Two workers at the plant died from the radiation. The official story is that there was no danger to anybody outside the plant.

.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
News (2.50 / 2) (#32)
by Devil Ducky on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:24:17 AM EST

I saw that story on the news. Though no one in town may have been "hurt" I would still be wondering about that radiation.

To all of the nay-sayers, this type of thing is actually quite common. Nuclear plants around the world are leaking, melting-down, etc and you're never told about it. None of these are a large as Three-Mile-Island, or Chernobyl (sp?).A close relative was telling me about how they got a couple of days off from work at a plant because of such things.

Take that as you would anyway.

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
Arrgh! (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by Morn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:02:35 PM EST

To all of the nay-sayers, this type of thing is actually quite common. Nuclear plants around the world are leaking, melting-down, etc and you're never told about it.
Hrm - leaking maybe, but if plants are in meltdown and no-one's noticed outside the industry, I'm starting to run now :-)

[ Parent ]
I definitely hop so. (2.00 / 1) (#89)
by Quark on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:24:13 AM EST

Sounds like a very good idea if each of those three produced more than 20% of the total power, otherwise I'd be very curious where the missing 40% power output would come from....

Sorry, couldn't resist :-)

So much bandwidth, so little time...
[ Parent ]
California Power (4.00 / 3) (#21)
by PresJPolk on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 07:32:45 AM EST

California gets power from more than just coal.

Governor Jerry Brown in the early 80s was rabid about trying to expland Natural Gas, Solar, and Wind power generation. Not too far from where I live, there are large expanses of windmils generating power.

Additionally, Southern California gets power from the Hoover Dam, and the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

<digression>Ah, nuclear power. If only we had more.</digression>

Anyway, California isn't all coal.

[ Parent ]
Sim City 2000 (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by Devil Ducky on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:27:40 AM EST

As you may know if you've ever played a Sim City game, windmills don't provide a lot of electricity. They can be used for an additional boost where ever you happen to have space lying around. :)

How I played SC2K was to build long mountain with water on it, and build tons of hydro plants, but in 3K the hydro plants were gone, I was very dismayed to say the least.

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
Conservation, clean energy (3.77 / 9) (#16)
by Philipp on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:47:59 AM EST

Somewhere hidden in your statistics is the point that compared to other first world countries, the US has a horrible pollution/GDP or pollution/capita ratio.

There is so much the US could do to lower its pollution and waste of resources. I live here in California, and the wind blows through my door and there is nothing I can do about it, since it has permanently installed that way. And yes, occasionally I do have to heat my place. The utter lack of any kind of insulation (but endless air-conditioning) around here is ridiculous. And don't start me on gigantic refrigerators and SUVs. The lack of population density you are alluding to is man made: There is no need to build a city like Los Angeles that spans 100 miles north-south and east-west.

This needs to be address both by raising public awareness, and incentives/penalties by the government. Considering the current political climate, though, I am deeply sceptical that any of this will happen. The industry lobby that is religiously against any kind of regulations is just too strong. It doesn't help that now a oil cowboy sits in the Whitehouse. I am afraid that the shit has to hit the fan, before anybody wakes up here.

I wrote an artcle a while back about wind energy, and there is a lot of hope that this clean source of energy becomes as cheap as any. Still, there is so much more there could be done about conservation.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

Pollution/capita vs. pollution/GDP (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:20:53 AM EST

Somewhere hidden in your statistics is the point that compared to other first world countries, the US has a horrible pollution/GDP or pollution/capita ratio.

Actually, it is asserted that, although the US has a horrible pollution/capita ratio, it has a good (below the world average) pollution/GDP ratio, by virtue of its enormous GDP.

One post above, though, asserts that foreign manufacturing by US companies is counted as US GDP but foreign pollution.

I wonder what exactly goes into a GDP (or a pollution estimate, for that matter)...

[ Parent ]

GDP/GNP (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by krlynch on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:03:33 PM EST

One post above, though, asserts that foreign manufacturing by US companies is counted as US GDP but foreign pollution.

I'm not an economist, but I'm pretty sure that this is wrong...if I remember correctly:

  • GDP: the value of all goods and services produced within the borders of a country.
  • GNP: the value of all goods and services produced by the citizens and companies of a country.
So the GDP/pollution analysis is more appropriate than the GNP/pollution analysis if the pollution is being measured geographically. In either case, I believe that the GDP/GNP ratio for the US is closer to 1 than for most large industrialized nations, so it really doesn't matter much, even if my definitions are wrong :-)

[ Parent ]
US as domestic manufacturer? (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:04:59 PM EST

I believe that the GDP/GNP ratio for the US is closer to 1 than for most large industrialized nations

In other words, the US does a greater proportion of domestic manufacturing than most other industial nations?

[ Parent ]

Pollution measurement (3.55 / 9) (#17)
by jesterzog on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:31:34 AM EST

I have a couple of main points:

Can anyone clarify the types of pollution that are being talked about? I'm pretty sure it's what's generally accepted as generic pollution, such as air and water and so on. But this is quite important.

Different types of pollution can be measured in different ways, and this could really skew the statistics. For example with light pollution, light that looks twice as bright is actually emmitting four times (or is it eight or sixteen?) times as much light energy.

I'm aware that light pollution isn't very relevant in the article's context, but it's an easy-to-explain example. If different countries and continents are producing different types of pollution - all of which is being included in the overall count, is there really a fair way to compare them? How do you compare the amount of excess CO2 in the air with the amount of raw sewage dumped in someone's river?

The other way to look at all of this is to ask: How does the rest of the world benefit from the USA's strong economy? I'm sure there are a variety of angles to argue that the rest of the world does benefit, but it could also be argued that most other countries are sacrificing their economy and population in exchange for less than proportionally average pollution.

So the US may be polluting less than it's share of the economy, but it's also hogging more of the economy than it's share of the population. If it cut down on pollution, the economy would shrink, and other countries' economies would (likely) grow to fill in the gap... possibly producing more pollution on the generic scale in the process.


jesterzog Fight the light


Hogging toil? (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:37:28 AM EST

The statistics given here showing a disproportionate US share are for production, not for consumption. (See above for caveats; the accuracy in spirit of those numbers is in question. I also wonder what picture the consumption statistics, not given, paint.)

[ Parent ]
who grows? (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:18:42 AM EST

So the US may be polluting less than it's share of the economy, but it's also hogging more of the economy than it's share of the population. If it cut down on pollution, the economy would shrink, and other countries' economies would (likely) grow to fill in the gap... possibly producing more pollution on the generic scale in the process.
Depends on whose economy picks up the slack. If (say) China's did, there would be greater worldwide pollution, based on current pollution/production ratios. If Denmark or Sweden picked up the slack, there'd be less. And generally, I think, the idea is to grow the other economies 'cleanly' rather than shrink the US's.

As I mentioned in the article, I'm taking the World Bank's statistics on carbon dioxide pollution as representative of all pollution. (Someone who knows about the enviroment just fell out of their chair in the audience. Could you help him up? Thanks.)

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]

Denmark uncomfortable? (4.77 / 9) (#18)
by nickwkg on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:27:51 AM EST

"I know less about Denmark, but my impression is that most Americans would not be comfortable living there"

Try telling that to the people who did this survey...
www.mcsweeneys.net/links/press99/happiness.html

Pretty happy in Denmark (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by Dion on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:49:42 AM EST

... yep, most people here are pretty happy, but I can't for the life of me figure out why when I take a peek at my taxes:)

However, this country is trying to better itself wrt. pollution, at the moment around 10% of the electricity comes from windpower, so it's no suprise that the two largest windturbine companies are danish:)

In any case, looking at the GNP vs. pollution is wrong, it doesn't matter how much you produce, it only matters how many people you support.



[ Parent ]
Production and support (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:26:26 AM EST

In any case, looking at the GNP vs. pollution is wrong, it doesn't matter how much you produce, it only matters how many people you support.

Unless you export surplus productivity, supporting foreigners as well. As I understand it, one of the fondest goals of the business-oriented US's economic policy is selling in bulk to foreign markets.

[ Parent ]

happiness? (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:27:03 AM EST

In any case, looking at the GNP vs. pollution is wrong, it doesn't matter how much you produce, it only matters how many people you support.
I was implicitly taking the economists' view that the economy satisfies consumer desires, and as such, more of it is a good thing. On the other hand, that poll that was linked elsewhere (hey, why can't trusted users rate at one over the max as well as one under? :)) indicated that more happiness comes from family and friends than goods. So your point is worth thinking about.

_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]

Individual power consumption (4.61 / 26) (#24)
by Sundiata on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:26:27 AM EST

As somebody who recently moved from America to a European country, I'd like to throw my two cents into the fray. Here goes.

Americans waste profound amounts of energy.

It goes beyond the standard "bigger" arguments, too. Yes, part of it is the fact that Americans drive really, really big cars over easily walkable distances every day. Part of that is that they live in bigger homes, which require more energy to heat and cool. Part of it is that Americans generally travel greater distances more regularly than their European counterparts.

But part of it, a part that I never saw before I moved here, is that Americans don't even think about the electricity flowing out of socket. Here, if I forget to turn my light off at work, my office mate does it for me (and drops the gentle reminder the next day that I'd forgotten.) Hallways in buildings aren't lit 24/7; they have time-delay switches which turn on the lights for 30 seconds at a time. People walk distances of 10-15 minutes instead of hopping over in cars. People don't leave TVs or radios on all night to provide background noise or to keep the pets occupied while they're away. People don't leave their computers on overnight. People turn the lights out when they leave a room. People put on a sweater instead of cranking the thermostat a couple degrees higher.

Americans use more than twice as much power than individuals in other industrialized nations; a great deal of this is simply waste stemming from a genuine lack of apprication for the value (and cost) of energy in the US. Funding alternative power sources is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it would be far, far better to introduce a true sense of energy conservation before providing fat new power sources.

Just as a test, consider this: If you're at home, do a quick tour of your house/apartment. How many lights/appliances are running that you're not using at the moment? How many rooms are lit with nobody in them?

A solution to America's power crisis that does not include conservation awareness is doomed from the start. If today's Americans are presented with a cheap and abundant new source of energy, they'll become even less power-conscious than they already are; this would not be a step in the right direction, no matter how cheap and abundant the power source may be.

information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.
--Brand

Who uses the power? (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:31:21 AM EST

I wonder how much power, comparatively, is used by individuals and by industry?

[ Parent ]
Very true (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by Ben Ritchie on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:01:14 AM EST

People walk distances of 10-15 minutes instead of hopping over in cars.

My wife's family lives in a town north of Chicago, and in many parts of the town you cannot walk anywhere. There are no pavements, no crossings, no lights, and walking on the road would be almost suicidal. The very idea of walking anywhere seems to be so alien that when the town was built (late 60's, early 70's, I think) nobody seems to have thought of even making it possible. As a result you end up having to drive to get from one side of the street to the other. While it is easy to put the unwillingless to walk down to lazyness, it seems to me that it is a result of a culture that has gradually forgotten that you do not have to use the car.

[ Parent ]
Why not install sidewalks (2.00 / 2) (#84)
by Gorgonzola on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 08:15:12 AM EST

What's wrong with correcting this afterwards, like constructing sidewalks?
--
A page a day keeps ignorance of our cultural past away, or you can do your bit for collaborative media even if you haven't anything new or insightful to say.

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by cameldrv on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:34:26 AM EST

I don't think it's quite accurate to say that the USA has a power crisis at this point. California is having big problems, but the rest of the country is doing ok. Now, I agree that with present methods of generation (mostly fossil), we need to conserve energy because fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere. However, I don't really see the point of your last comment, that no matter how cheap and abundant a power source gets, we still have a problem. If we were to develop a technology that provided free electric power with no environmental consequences, what would be the point in conserving? What would we be conserving? I don't really see the point of austerity for austerity's sake.

[ Parent ]
Who needs conservation awareness? (4.87 / 8) (#47)
by roystgnr on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:04:10 PM EST

A solution to America's power crisis that does not include conservation awareness is doomed from the start.

Are you aware of how expensive it is to produce the industrial diamonds embedded in oil drill bits? Do you know the number of programmers required to write and audit the software running a natural gas turbine? Could you tell me, to the nearest order of magnitude, what the market price per foot is on a copper power transmission line?

I could answer one of those questions; I suspect many people in the power industry would only get two out of three correct off the top of their heads.

My point is, why should a power consumer have to know the answer to any of those things? And if they don't know how much research is required for oil drilling, how many programmer man-hours are consumed by a power plant, or how plentiful or scarce our copper resources are, what makes pollution such a special cost component of electricty production, that I should worry about it in particular?

There are a hundred products sitting around this room that I made the decision to purchase. Fortunately, the market economy presented me with an aggregate cost for each of those, measured relative to my salary, and thus made my use/do not use decision tractable. If I had to worry about the hidden costs of each of the 100 materials and manufacturing processes that went into each product, I couldn't possibly make an informed decision.

Power should be the same way. I am not polluting any more than I am wasting steel when I turn on my lamp; I am simply requesting electricity from the power company. It is up to them to decide how that electricity is best produced, to account for the costs to produce it, and to present me with a price per kilowatt hour that makes those costs worth it to them. Then, if the electricity is worth that price to me, I use it. Nice, well-defined interfaces like that make accurate decision making possible.

The problem is only that the power company does not have to pay for all of the costs it generates. Perhaps if the smokestacks were outputting to the factory ventilation ducts, power plants would be a lot more concerned about what they put into the air, but as it is, pollution controls are too often in the form of a cap on pollution that is freely produceable, not a fine per ton of CO2 produced. The power plant gets to steal air quality from everyone and sell the result to me; needless to say I can't be expected to make a good economic decision about government-supported fenced goods.

If we really want pollution to be reined in, the optimal solution is to make people pay for all the costs, including the pollution, involved in the things they consume. Pick your pollutant, set a fair tax on it, and use the receipts to lower income taxes or pay for environmental research and cleanup, at your preference. If the global consequences of that pollutant turn out to be worse than initially expected, raise the tax. If the reverse happens, lower it. The alternative, of course, is to magically improve human nature for each one of billions of people, who then become "conservation aware". Or write a new book of regulations. That latter solution is what will be done, of course. The cynic in me realizes that taxes just bring in money, whereas regulations bring in power.

If today's Americans are presented with a cheap and abundant new source of energy, they'll become even less power-conscious than they already are; this would not be a step in the right direction, no matter how cheap and abundant the power source may be.

It wouldn't? Assuming "cheap" really refers to all the costs involved in producing that power, it sounds great to me. My idea of the good life involves getting as much enjoyment as I can (and, unfortunately, technophile that I am, much of that enjoyment takes amps) at as little cost as possible. I do not think a life of artificially imposed austerity is a step in the right direction; however reducing those costs would be.

[ Parent ]

Speak of the devil (4.00 / 2) (#50)
by roystgnr on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:22:40 PM EST

From the three least rational sentences of my post:

Or write a new book of regulations. That latter solution is what will be done, of course. The cynic in me realizes that taxes just bring in money, whereas regulations bring in power.

From the Associated Press, quoted in an off-topic thread on sci.space.policy:

---

SACRAMENTO, Calif., 1:42 a.m. EST February 2, 2001 -- California police departments could soon have a new kind of scofflaw to chase -- someone who doesn't turn off the lights when he goes home.

Beginning next month, all the state's retailers must substantially reduce outdoor lighting during nonbusiness hours or face fines of $1,000 a day, according to an order issued Thursday by Gov. Gray Davis.

The lights-off edict, which takes effect March 15, is part of a $404 million statewide conservation program that Davis touted Thursday as "the most aggressive in America."

It would also set aside $75 million in financial incentives for consumers who upgrade to energy-efficient appliances and $95 million for businesses that install energy-saving equipment and lighting. Funding would also be provided to work on ways to cut consumption during peak periods and to increase state government's energy efficiency.

---

Comment from an s.s.p. regular: Gee, did these guys ever hear of this concept called "pricing"?

[ Parent ]

Eat all of the food, energy and resources you can! (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by mugwump on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:30:12 PM EST

It wouldn't? Assuming "cheap" really refers to all the costs involved in producing that power, it sounds great to me. My idea of the good life involves getting as much enjoyment as I can (and, unfortunately, technophile that I am, much of that enjoyment takes amps) at as little cost as possible. I do not think a life of artificially imposed austerity is a step in the right direction; however reducing those costs would be.

This is called Gluttony; look it up sometime.

In short, it is not the quantity but the quality of life that matters.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
It depends on how ascetic you are. (3.33 / 3) (#55)
by weirdling on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:24:53 PM EST

Here in the US, we only pass on the real costs of power generation. Of course, if taxes on electrical generation went up, we'd pass that on, too. I leave lights on. I leave two computers on 24/7. I have several electrical appliances, clock/radio phone/answering machine, that are absolutely essential and must be left on 24/7. It simply doesn't cost too much more than not doing so, and that is the baseline for most Americans.
Now, so long as there isn't a valid reason to change, we won't. Europe is insisting on change because it might help and there might be a problem. Even the most ardent greenie has to admit that they haven't proven anything; they're making huge assumptions and chicken-little like predictions that include famine, plague, natural disasters, and possibly the entire four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Not a shred of this is provable. Scientists admittedly don't understand if the problem is CO2, methane, or any one of a bunch of other gases, if these greenhouse gases actually trap heat, or if it is a question of too few trees or too much fossil fuels. This whole thing is rather absurd, and I grow weary of being accused of not caring about the environment when the people who are accusing me are doing so on very shaky grounds. I don't care about bad science and I don't care to live an ascetic existence. Call me a glutton if you will.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Greenhouse effect not provable? Who needs proof? (5.00 / 2) (#86)
by mugwump on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:03:49 AM EST

Not a shred of this is provable. Scientists admittedly don't understand if the problem is CO2, methane, or any one of a bunch of other gases, if these greenhouse gases actually trap heat, or if it is a question of too few trees or too much fossil fuels.

What is there about it that fails reasoning?

You consume more meat (the last time I was in a restaurant in NY, I was appalled that I could not order a steak smaller than about 400g), more meat means more cows, which means more felled forests and methane.

You burn more petrol, which releases more CO2 into the air

You use more electricity, the generation of which floods valleys, burns yet more fossil fuel etc. Releasing more CO2 and/or Methane.

We know the absorption spectrums of these gases, and hence we can model the net effect of their increased presence in the environment. What is predicted is increased temperatures (and, hence, altered climate bands).

Not only that, effects of global warming have already been identified; 8 out of the 10 hottest years in the last 140 years were after 1990, and 1998 was the hottest on record. Or what about the icecaps being observed to be melting? Or the sea rising around the Nile delta?

I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say. Are you saying that all of the scientists in the world are wrong? Possible, but unlikely. Are you saying there is something intrinsic to the model that is wrong? Or are you just saying that the system is so complex that we can't possibly prove anything?

Sure, it's all speculation, but if you can't offer a better counter-argument or alternative reason for the huge effects we've been observing to the environment than "you have no way of proving it", then that makes your argument somewhat empty.

It sounds to me that you are merely denying any responsibility for the environment, because that is the official sanctioned word from the President. Which is treading on everyone else in the world, taking from others for ones own benefit. If I was running a country, America deciding not to reduce its own usage of resources at everyone else's expense, to me - would constitute an act of war.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
Fine. (none / 0) (#106)
by weirdling on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:44:01 PM EST

Of course, you'd immediately seize the moral high ground and accuse me of refusing responsibility. Thank you very much for making one of my points for me.
Now, as to the points you make: the *northern* icecaps are melting; the southern icecaps are growing and have been for as long as the northern ones have been melting.
We've been coming out of an ice-age for 10,000 years now, according to the best estimates. It would follow, without too much brain-pain that the temperatures would rise.
Carbon dioxide does absorb energy; so does methane. The question is a matter of if they do so in the upper atmosphere in sufficient amounts to create global warming.
Global-warming theorists have spent their entire lives concentrating on cauasality; no study has been done as to the effects of greater tree planting, which must needs remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Further, the actual amount of so-called greenhouse gases released by your average volcano is not well understood.
The problem really is one of bad science and the mentality, 'if people don't need it, we can outlaw it', which is decidedly *not* and American ideal. That's why pilgrims left Europe in droves to go to a land where people didn't care if you wanted a 72-ounce steak for dinner. You can have your way of existence, I'll keep mine.
As to an act of war, that's exactly why I do not trust Europeans to run the world. You'd remove my freedoms on a hunch, as even the most ardent supporter of global warming must admit it can't be proved, and immediately wanders off into arguments of preponderance of evidence and how things must be done. Well, the same idea outlawed guns in Europe for the most part, and England has seen robbery go up 63% since. Good idea, that...
Anyway, I firmly support the notion of a large military to protect those freedoms we still have and you are happy to give up. Go ahead and give them up; I don't care. Just don't expect us to without a very good reason.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
America brainwashes the world... (none / 0) (#114)
by mugwump on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 12:08:25 PM EST

The problem really is one of bad science and the mentality, 'if people don't need it, we can outlaw it', which is decidedly *not* and American ideal. That's why pilgrims left Europe in droves to go to a land where people didn't care if you wanted a 72-ounce steak for dinner. You can have your way of existence, I'll keep mine.

No, I can't. There are several things which are being outlawed in this world by the United States of America's control of trade agreements.

Why is it that I can't just go down to a shop and buy a packet of spliffs? Why, if there is no physiological damage to my body and a well defined method for avoiding psychological problems, may I not ingest Lysergic Acid Diethymalide 25 into my neural system? Why do I have to feel like I'm doing something terribly illegal by popping a couple of pills on the weekend?

You can have your way of existence, but since it is imposing on mine don't be surprised when I remove the obstacle to my freedom.

No, I don't like the European Governments either. But somewhere in the stand-off will be a lot of people standing disheartened with the system.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
Mmm-hmmm. (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by sec on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 07:05:45 PM EST

We know the absorption spectrums of these gases, and hence we can model the net effect of their increased presence in the environment. What is predicted is increased temperatures (and, hence, altered climate bands)

Indeed we can. In fact, it turns out that even if we burned every drop of oil, every lump of coal, every tree, and every scrap of flammable material on the planet, the resulting temperature increase due to CO2 build-up would barely be perceptible.

Here's the trick: CO2 is not a particularly effective greenhouse gas, therefore its contribution to the greenhouse effect is negligible. The vast majority of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour.

Never ones to let the facts get in the way of a good scare, the greenhouse scientists posited a positive feedback effect whereby an increasing CO2 concentration causes the water vapour concentration to rise as well. This is what those models are based on, not just the absorption spectrum of CO2.

Unfortunately for the greenhouse scientists, there is absolutely no proof that this feedback mechanism actually exists. So yes, the models used by the greenhouse scientists are highly speculative.

I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say. Are you saying that all of the scientists in the world are wrong?

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say. Are you saying that all of the scientists in the world agree that the enhanced greenhouse effect is proven? Because, if you are, it's not true.

Sure, it's all speculation, but if you can't offer a better counter-argument or alternative reason for the huge effects we've been observing to the environment than "you have no way of proving it", then that makes your argument somewhat empty.

OK, I'll have a go:

8 out of the 10 hottest years in the last 140 years were after 1990, and 1998 was the hottest on record.

There are two factors at play here. The first thing is that the energy being radiated by the sun has increased steadily throughout the last century. Warmer sun, higher temperatures. Not that hard to understand, is it?

The other factor is that the temperature data upon which this statement was based is seriously flawed.

Or what about the icecaps being observed to be melting? All I have to say about this one is: try actually _reading_ the article.

Or the sea rising around the Nile delta?

It looks like the article puts its finger on the cause: subsidence. The article blathers at length about global warming, but makes no attempt to actually prove that global warming is in any way related to the problems there.

If I was running a country, America deciding not to reduce its own usage of resources at everyone else's expense, to me - would constitute an act of war.

Does that mean that you would go to war against the US? You'd get creamed -- and I'd have no sympathy for you whatsoever.

Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.

More than traces, I'd say.



[ Parent ]

Fine... (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by cameldrv on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 04:13:36 AM EST

Let's all get free electricity, work less hours as a result, and have more time to live a quality life.

[ Parent ]
This is a really good idea! (2.50 / 2) (#54)
by bored on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:19:32 PM EST

I think taxing pollution is a great idea but I think it should be on an exponential scale starting at 0 and quickly ramping upward to some point where it becomes completely unreasonable to be polluting. That way there is always a significant incentive for lowering the amount of pollution. The exponential scale will also magnify small changes in pollution efficiency and hopefully customers will be able to notice the price differences between power generated at a slightly cleaner plant.


This expands to other areas as well. Continuous taxes on the pollution a car is expected to produce when it is sold. A SUV that pollutes 2x as much as a little 4banger POS should have a significant tax on it that makes it cost 4x as much. That way people who buy them and never drive anyone around or haul anything have a significant penalty. This should help to discourage waste just because its the 'in' thing to do.


To a certain extent this already happens right? When I purchase a new hot water heater or air conditioner the efficiency of the device is listed and an expected yearly cost. Higher efficiency devices tend to sell well even when they cost significantly more because people calculate their savings over 10 years and discover a little more money up front will save them in the long run.


The real problem is the energy curve isn't really shifted to saving energy enough. Instead in the US we value economic growth more than saving the environment so energy is very cheap in whatever form you buy it be it electricity, gas etc. If electricity were a lot more expensive more people would be putting solar panels on their roofs and the stigma of an 'ugly' roof would go away when people could recoup the cost of a solar panel system in 2 or 3 years instead of 20 or 30.



[ Parent ]
Non-linear functions are bad (2.00 / 1) (#92)
by roystgnr on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:49:19 PM EST

I think taxing pollution is a great idea but I think it should be on an exponential scale starting at 0 and quickly ramping upward to some point where it becomes completely unreasonable to be polluting. That way there is always a significant incentive for lowering the amount of pollution.

An exponential scale based on what?

Pollution per person/company? If you gave the same exponential function to both, the biggest SUV wouldn't be noticeable, but the smallest industrial plant would be bankrupt. If you give entities different scales, how do you decide what companies get what coefficients, when the largest polluters produce a thousand times as much as the smallest?

The biggest problem with this, of course, is that Mother Nature just doesn't care. A factory that increases it's pollution from 1 unit to 2 units is doing just as much additional damage to the enviroment as one that goes from 1001 to 1002, but the latter would be punished much more for the increase on an exponential scale. The economic incentive would be to spread pollution generation around, and incidentally to incur a lot more of it.

[ Parent ]

Scale (none / 0) (#107)
by bored on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 03:55:22 PM EST

I don't have all the answers, of course!!! :> But I think something like a tax based per industry of course followed by a per/unit energy type metric. So, someone who can generate 1KW with 2000 units of pollution gets the same tax gain going to 1000 units as someone who generates 1W going from 2 units to 1. Yes, person one will save 1000x damage but that's per unit of production you get 1000x more energy production as well. When it comes to cars it could be based on distance traveled. Cars with greater gas/distance efficiency are rewarded the same way as the emission/distance cars could be. People who are operating vehicles with lower efficiencies should be encouraged to use the most efficient vehicle to get he job done. If your a trucking company the additional costs of operating the vehicle should be passed on just like they are today, heavier/bigger packages cost more to ship. The curves should be set so that its still more economical to run one big truck and pollute x units than two trucks and pollute 3/2x units.

[ Parent ]
Also known as ... (4.75 / 4) (#77)
by Jacques Chester on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:47:11 PM EST

"Equity Feedback" or "Externality Feedback".

You're right - comanies do not carry all the costs that they are responsible. Specifically, economists say that they generate "externalities", costs outside the firm. Pollution is the classic externality. The firm doesn't pay for it and it costs someone else money and time to clean it up.

The traditional response to externalities has been regulations and post-hoc solutions involving cleanup programs and such. This is not only expensive, but it offends the sensibility of many kinds of free-market preachers.

The middle ground is to use the force of law to make the market - that oh so ruthless optimiser - integrate the externalities into its formulation. Quite simply, the government estimates how much a given externality costs it, then bills whomever it sees responsible. Pollution costs money due to irreversible destruction of habitats, wildlife, plus numerous health issues. That'll be five million bucks, please remit and oblige.

The advantage of this approach is that the market does the work for you - work for which markets are well suited (ie, changing the behaviour of firms and industries). Coal, being a very dirty source of power, would become more expensive under this scheme. Either coal stations will get filters, or people will start migrating to other sources of power, which are now cheaper. Furthermore, the government might be able to cut taxes elsewhere, since sections of general revenue are self-balanced, leading to surpluses.

The downside is trying to assign blame. Some things are clear - the coal station's sulphur dioxide, for example. Some things are not. Drink driving kills an inordinate number of people. Do you bill the car company for making the car which can go so fast? Do you bill the alcohol company for cheap, powerful liqour? Do you bill the bar which sold the liqour to the deceased or injured? It can become complicated. Luckily, however, there's a broad corpus of prior work in this kind of stuff done by the insurance companies which would ease the transition.

It's not perfect, but it's probably a more rational and simpler approach than using regulations which reduce the firm's choices, cost money to implement, and tend not to be effective in any case.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]

California is not that wasteful (3.66 / 3) (#56)
by kallisti on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:26:10 PM EST

Exhibit A - energy consumption by state

The chart lists California as the 4th lowest per-capita user of electricity, as well as the 12th higest in use of renewable resources. I find it interesting that New York is number 2, most Northern states are pretty high. Note that Texas is 47th, as well as being one of the most polluted states. Its a good thing we have Shrub to tell us the proper way to handle the crisis.

[ Parent ]

Per Capita is not Appropriate (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by MrAcheson on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:13:17 PM EST

As this article pointed out, basing pollution levels on population levels is a flawed argument. Pollution should be scaled as industrialization not population. Now Texas is pretty sparsely populated for a state its size, but has a pretty hefty economy.

With all due respect, you are perpetuating the falsehood that this article was meant to refute only on the state level not the international level.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Clarification (or digging a bigger hole) (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by kallisti on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:26:59 PM EST

The link given in the comment I was replying to also used per capita to say that Americans are wasteful of energy. The poster then went on to say that energy awareness was required or any solution was "doomed from the start". My point was to indicate that, at least here, there is such a thing as energy awareness and you can see how much help that has been.

Perhaps it was misleading for me to try to refute bad statistics with bad statistics. I wasn't able to find any information on GNP (GDP, whatever...) breakdown by state so I can't say exactly how much industry California has, I suspect it is comparable to most others but have no data to back me up :(.

[ Parent ]

Environmental Controls and Power Plants (4.00 / 4) (#28)
by woofbot on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 09:58:24 AM EST

Based on everything that I've read, the lack of power plants is not really due to the pollution controls (at least not as much as you suggest). Its really a combination of factors, one of the biggest being that a lot of the power companies held off building plants in the early 90's precisely because they were waiting to see how the deregulation legislation was enacted. There is also a lot of "not in my back yard" mentality going on in California which means that even if a plant is environmentally sound, people won't let it get built unless its 50 miles from any type of civilization. This means that the expense goes up a lot because companies have to incur additional costs for transmission lines, etc.

GDP is misleading (4.11 / 9) (#31)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:19:08 AM EST

To give you an example, let's say a restaraunt in New York serves 1000 people/evening, and a restaraunt in Beijing does the same. We can imagine that it takes about the same amount of ingredients and human effort to prepare a dinner in both establishments.

Now, if a New York restaraunt charges on average $50/meal, and a Beijing restaraunt charges $5/meal - we are going to have them contributing to the US and China GDP $50000 and $5000 respectively.


Not quite. (4.25 / 4) (#36)
by cameldrv on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:42:15 AM EST

It's true that they're producing the same physical product, but they're not using the same ingredients, nor does their product have the same value. The restaraunt in NY is using land in NY which is worth much more than land in Beijing, because of its proximity to other interesting places. Land in Beijing is not as valuable, and therefore the price is less. Ultimately the value of an item is the price people are willing to pay, and they're willing to pay more here, so we have a higher GDP.


[ Parent ]
Power (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by ucblockhead on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:15:10 AM EST

And more to the point: The New York restaurant almost certainly is far better lit and uses more electric cooking equipment, and thus consumes more power.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Re: Not quite. (2.00 / 2) (#59)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:22:21 PM EST

Ultimately the value of an item is the price people are willing to pay, and they're willing to pay more here, so we have a higher GDP.

Well, but since GDP is gross you get a double-whammy: restaraunt charges more and landlord charges more, and both of these "mores" make GDP even bigger.

My original argument still stands. Cup of coffee (or tea) in Bumfsck, USA costs more than the same in Bumfsck, China. Cleaning toilets in Bumfsck, USA is singificantly more profitable (in absolute terms) than doing the same in Bumfsck, China.

[ Parent ]

Not true. (2.00 / 1) (#70)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:37:15 PM EST

A cup of coffee is probaly far more expensive in the People's Republic, since things like consumer goods are not a high-priority for the communist planners.

[ Parent ]
Re: Not True (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by one61803 on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:23:31 PM EST

Yes and no. To a Chinese, it is more expensive but to an American, a cup of Starbucks coffee costs about $0.50

As for the second part of your comment:

1. All coffee in China is imported and sold by FOREIGN companies. Most of the time, I see people drinking Nescafe although I understand Starbucks is becoming more popular.

2. The Chinese government stopped planning the consumer sector since the early 90s. That's why the Chinese economy has been booming the past decade. And as an aside, if you got enough money, you can go to China and buy all the latest American, Japanese, and European electronics for bargin prices, even the stuff that hasn't been introduced to the US yet (like getting a PS2 over the summer for example as I did).

3. The countryside is now also largely privatized and the communist government is actively trying to get rid of the state-owned heavy industries.

Just thought you like to know.

[ Parent ]
And if you eat in the Beijing restaurant... (2.66 / 6) (#40)
by marlowe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:04:58 AM EST

you'll be hungry again an hour later.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Comments (4.00 / 7) (#39)
by Anonymous 6522 on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:04:23 AM EST

My impression is that California's lack of new power plants isn't being caused by hardcore environemtalists, but people who don't want a big power plant down the block from their house.

The reason I think America would be able to stay alive econmically if its borders were closed while a European country couldn't, is because America is a collection of semi-autonomous states which are each about the size of a European country. If you closed, North Dakota's borders form the rest of the world it's economy would fall flat on it's face, same with New York, Texas, etc. If Europe banded together and formed a "United States of Europe," this country would probably be able to sustain it's own economy with closed borders too.

True... and you've got a good idea, but (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:14:48 PM EST

   it seems like they're calling it the European Union, instead. :)

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by Anonymous 6522 on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:40:08 PM EST

I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but I thought that the EU member nations are not as closely linked as the States in the US, they may even be more independant of each other than the States were under the Articles of Confederation.

[ Parent ]
It's a process (4.25 / 4) (#91)
by cameldrv on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 12:22:29 PM EST

The E.U. is slowly becoming more like a nation-state each year. When the E.U. was formed out of the E.C., Europe got a parlament capable of passing Europe-wide laws. Now most of the E.U. countries have a common currency, and they're probably going to have an army for the E.U. These are certainly major properties of a state, and I'm sure the integration will continue.

[ Parent ]
GDP as an excuse (3.69 / 13) (#41)
by tumeric on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:05:22 AM EST

We need to cut pollution by a factor of five! Well... according to World Bank statistics, the United States' GDP was $8.7 trillion, out of a total of $30 trillion, or about 29% of the world economy. So the US is actually polluting less than its share of the economy would make acceptable.

By this argument, strong economy = right to polute. As someone who has to share this planet with you, I don't find that acceptable. In fact I would say that poorer countries have the excuse that they have bigger problems to deal with.

As the remaining superpower and a world citizen the US must take a lead in going green. There seem to be too many excuses coming from the country that once put people on the moon.

Faulty logic (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by krlynch on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:50:38 AM EST

By this argument, strong economy = right to polute.

That does not at all follow logically from the article. The author clearly says that there is a need for first world countries to continue to improve their efficiency and utilization of energy, and to reduce pollution output.

The author is simply taking to task the simplistic analysis usually done by environmentalists and politicians that, somehow, population and energy utilization should be in lock step, and pointing out that these simplistic analyses UNDERSTATE the share of environmental damage currently being done by the third world. Not that they currently have a choice, mind you. I think the author is trying ot point out that a more realistic analysis helps point the way to a more productive future, in terms of where it would be best to attack the pollution production problem. And this piece clearly isn't giving the US a free pass as you suggest.

[ Parent ]

GDP again (2.66 / 3) (#48)
by tumeric on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:13:38 PM EST

The author is simply taking to task the simplistic analysis usually done by environmentalists and politicians that, somehow, population and energy utilization should be in lock step, and pointing out that these simplistic analyses UNDERSTATE the share of environmental damage currently being done by the third world.

I am shocked that people are taking the GDP as a better yardstick than population. Some people are polluting more than others. Those people are rich westerners. Its a simplistic analysis because its simple.

[ Parent ]

Well, yeah (4.66 / 3) (#61)
by rabbit on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:13:46 PM EST

The GDP in this case *is* a better yardstick than population. Polution is more related to production than it is to population - and that was that whole point.

You have to realize that most of the technology you take for granted is specifically because us 'rich westerners' can afford to not spend all of our time collecting rice patties. Science *requires* luxury. And so does art.

If you don't like it: get off the internet, get rid of your phone, your TV, and your blue jeans - so that you can say that you're not participating in the 'western hegemony'

Yes, we do pollute more per person that other nations. But consider this: we also 'produce' more cultural and scientific works 'per person' than any other nation. We should be focusing on brining everyone else *up* not on taking the US *down*

--rabbit

-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
[ Parent ]
Assuming too much (2.00 / 1) (#78)
by tumeric on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 10:43:04 PM EST

The GDP in this case *is* a better yardstick than population. Polution is more related to production than it is to population

It is in the US. That doesn't mean it has to be that way.

Yes, we do pollute more per person that other nations. But consider this: we also 'produce' more cultural and scientific works 'per person' than any other nation.

Are you saying that being scientific gives you the right to pollute?

We should be focusing on brining everyone else *up* not on taking the US *down*

Why do people assume that cutting pollution means going back to hunting bears with pieces of bone?

[ Parent ]

No energy crisis, only an energy scam (4.46 / 15) (#43)
by jwb on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:26:10 AM EST

The premise of the article is fine, except that there is no energy crisis whatsoever. Let me lay it out in a few short sentences:

On Jan 16, 2001, PG&E restructured their parent holding company, National Energy Group. They have another holding company PG&E Corporation. PG&E transferred all of their assets ($30x10^9)to NEG and PG&EC, while NEG and PG&EC transferred all of their debt to PG&E ($6.6x10^9). This was permitted by the Clinton administration's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission via a Dec 28 2000 restructuring plan.

The state of California fixes the price that power distributors can charge customers for power but not the price that generators can charge the distributor. This is equivalent to handing the generator a blank check, guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the State of California. Many of the generators are foreign concerns like Enron.

Meanwhile, PG&E actually generates fully 40% of the power they transmit. They sell it into the grid at a cost of $0.035/kWh. They then buy it from the grid at $0.40/kWh. The resulting profit is reflected on NEG's balance sheet, while the loss is accumulated by PG&E, which as you will remember has no assets.

Meanwhile, PG&E's holding companies are making record money. Profits are up 11 percent year-over-year, while NEG's earning from operations are up 42 percent year-over-year in 1999. NEG is building new generation facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, while also investing in a cross-country fiber optic telecommunications network which pigybacks on its own transmission and pipeline rights-of-way. PG&E executive salaries exceed $2x10^6 in 2000, and executives engaged in insider trading in August just before announcing PG&E's mounting debt.

So, I hope you can see that the power crisis is really just a giant scam by which PG&EC and NEG shareholders reap all of the profits, while all of the risk is assumed by the taxayers of California who must bail out PG&E or go without electricity.

If I was the governor of California (and every day I raise up thanks that I am not), I would simply let PG&E go deeper into bankrupcy, then seize all of their physical assets in a dollar-for-dollar debt bailout, then transfer ownership of all existing power generation and transmission facilities to municipal power districts, owned by the people. I might also think about enforcing the Raker Act.

botched deregulation or supply problems? (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:22:17 PM EST

   I suppose I should have done more research. I know that part of the problem is economic -- becuase of botched deregulation, nobody can afford power in California. I was /also/ under the impression that even though there was a federal order to sell California power cheaply, California was still suffering from brownouts/rolling blackouts -- that the supply is insufficient. As others have pointed out, the lack of supply (and there is one, or will be -- no new power plants in a decade, and electrial demand growing a few percent a year) may be more due to NIMBY than enviromentalism. OTOH, I would NIMBY a coal plant because I don't want to breath coal fumes all day, so...

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
Feds wouldn't allow new power plants (4.60 / 5) (#79)
by marimba on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 12:21:20 AM EST

"no new power plants in a decade . . . may be more due to NIMBY than enviromentalism."

According to a radio interview with Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and who testified before the California Legislature concerning de-regulation (they didn't listen) some environmentalists were calling for new power plants as far back as 1992, but they were shot down by the federal government as not needed.

Also, the supply margins are thin, sometimes approaching 1.5%, but the major cause, as has been stated previously, is price gouging by the wholesalers, a fact that has been largely ignored by the media. They keep presenting rate hikes and bond issues (paid for by rate hikes) as the only answer. The San Francisco Bay Gaurdian has a few articles on this, including one by Nader, and on concerning the Raker Act written in 1969. PG & E has been gouging 'Frisco for about 75 years.



[ Parent ]
Raker Act (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by jwb on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:42:14 AM EST

I just wanted to add to your excellent post that the Raker Act was signed in 1913, not 1969. PG&E has been outside the law for almost a century.

[ Parent ]
Raker Act (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by marimba on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:40:30 AM EST

Sorry. My grammar was ambiguous, or wrong. I meant the article was written in 1969.

[ Parent ]
Very interesting (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by -ryan on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:16:19 PM EST

Where did you find this information? I am very intruiged by it.

[ Parent ]
Mostly secondary sources (5.00 / 3) (#72)
by jwb on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:51:21 PM EST

I have mostly secondary source, but I can point to some valuable primary sources.

First, check out "Stealthy Deal Protects Profits of PG&E's Parents", a 2001-01-16 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are 60 articles about PG&E in the Chronicle from 2001-01.

Next, you can see all of the power generation, transmission, and marketplace numbers from the California Independent System Operator. See specifcally their market analysis reports (updated daily).

Finally, complement your news reading with more independent sources. I like the San Francisco Bay Gaurdian, the San Francisco Independent Media Center (particularly the PG&E scam special report), and Public Citizen. Don't forget PG&E's SEC filings.

[ Parent ]

5% of the people eating 29% of the food (2.57 / 7) (#49)
by mugwump on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:21:46 PM EST

Well... according to World Bank statistics, the United States' GDP was $8.7 trillion, out of a total of $30 trillion, or about 29% of the world economy. [...] Now compare this to China, which, with 20% of the population, is only producing 3.5% of the world economy.

So Americans consume more energy per person in any other country? This is why their economy is so big - people eat more; heck even the toilets have wider girths because Americans have fat asses (that was the explanation given to me when I last went there :). If Americans started only consuming what they needed rather than what they can afford, then the world's scarcity problems would be solved.

I prefer to read it as "Compare this to China, which feeds 25% of the world's population with only 3.5% of the world's food."


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
Uh... no. (4.80 / 5) (#53)
by trhurler on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:43:18 PM EST

If Americans started only consuming what they needed rather than what they can afford, then the world's scarcity problems would be solved.
Not even close. The US could probably export a lot more or produce a lot less, but the result would be a disruption of the world economy. Exporting would slash prices of food in other countries, which are typically one of the few stable prices around. Producing a lot less would have two effects: US prices would skyrocket, causing imports to become competitive and raising worldwide food costs, and a lot of people would be unemployed. The combination would probably lead to rioting and general chaos. You don't want to think about what that would do in a ripple effect to the economies of Europe, Japan, or worse yet to the "developing" regions of the world.

Not to worry, though, because it will never happen. We're not real fond of "need" as a standard here. We much prefer "affordability" and we really don't care about anyone else's opinions of that preference. I know this pisses you off immensely, but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, so I'd learn to cope if I were you.
I prefer to read it as "Compare this to China, which feeds 25% of the world's population with only 3.5% of the world's food."
Yeah. If you're willing to subsist on a bowl or two of rice a day, it is amazing what you can do. Your malnourished peasant population of a couple billion people can live in miserable squalor while your oppressive government spends exorbitant sums of money in a man on the moon missiles in silos penis envy program. Unfortunately for your way of "reading it," your average American does not regard that as a life worth living.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Affordability vs Need (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by mugwump on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 09:31:04 AM EST

We much prefer "affordability" and we really don't care about anyone else's opinions of that preference. I know this pisses you off immensely, but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, so I'd learn to cope if I were you.

It doesn't piss me off at all, it's completely understandable how people can fall into the trap of gluttony. I used to be a glutton myself. It just makes me feel sorry for you.

The nations that are not gluttons will eventually overpower you; for they are more efficient. You can argue all you like with that, but there is quite some historical precedent for things to happen that way. Let's face it; if Europe formed a superpower, America would be seriously fscked.

Yeah. If you're willing to subsist on a bowl or two of rice a day, it is amazing what you can do. Your malnourished peasant pop...

There's two extremes to everything. Perhaps you would like to compare it to, say, the NZ economy? They have a lower GDP per capita, if you visit there you will find far less fatsos than in the States, and generally a very rich quality of life.

Unfortunately for your way of "reading it," your average American does not regard that as a life worth living.

And you live in a country that doesn't even get "first world" status? I laugh at your argument.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
Arrogance (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by bnenning on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:12:01 AM EST

It doesn't piss me off at all, it's completely understandable how people can fall into the trap of gluttony. I used to be a glutton myself. It just makes me feel sorry for you.

Thank you for perfectly demonstrating the archetype of liberal arrogance and condescension. Have you considered that maybe different people have different desires, and what you prefer might not be appreciated by everyone else? And maybe it's not just because you are enlightened and we are ignorant.

if you visit there you will find far less fatsos than in the States

And thank you for demonstrating that Americans are not the only ones who make ignorant stereotypes about other countries.

The nations that are not gluttons will eventually overpower you; for they are more efficient.

Give me a break. As I pointed out in a previous post, America has twice saved your butts from the Nazis and Communists due to the strength of our gluttony-powered economy. Get back to us when you have the euro straightened out.

[ Parent ]

USA obese according to WHO (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by ptemple on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 08:11:29 AM EST

And thank you for demonstrating that Americans are not the only ones who make ignorant stereotypes about other countries.

He is not stereotyping. "In the United States population, which is among the most obese in the world, estimates of the prevalence of obesity range from approximately 20% to 50% of adults"... read here, here, etc.

Give me a break. As I pointed out in a previous post, America has twice saved your butts from the Nazis and Communists due to the strength of our gluttony-powered economy. Get back to us when you have the euro straightened out.

You have erroneously posted twice then. America has never saved the butt of the British, both times coming in with far too little far too late once the course of the war was already decided. The self-aggrandisement is amusing to us though and explains the gluttony we see over in the USA. Probably linked to a deep seated insecurity.

Phillip.

[ Parent ]

Fine... have it YOUR way... (none / 0) (#101)
by beergut on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:24:38 PM EST

... next time (and there WILL be a next time), we simply won't come to your aid at all.

Wouldn't that be a hoot?


i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Look kids! Penis envy! (none / 0) (#105)
by trhurler on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 11:30:21 AM EST

Warning to thin skinned lamers: what follows is a response to a derogatory comment or ten. It isn't warm, fuzzy, and/or friendly, but it does strive to be Right[tm]. If you can't handle this, don't read it.
It just makes me feel sorry for you.
Don't feel sorry for me. I'm thin, happy, prosperous, and MY government doesn't take 75%+ of my money in taxes.
The nations that are not gluttons will eventually overpower you; for they are more efficient.
You are equivocating between economic and gastrointestinal efficiency. In economic terms, the US is stronger than any other continent, let alone country. We fund the military forces that keep European tribalist idiots from starting another world war, in fact. You'll probably just have to live with the fact that you aren't top dog. Stings, doesn't it?
Let's face it; if Europe formed a superpower, America would be seriously fscked.
In what way? Europe's all-mighty "economy," if indeed it be such a thing at all, can't even finance its own defense or support a stable currency, much less put up any commercial or military threat to the United States. Were it not for the dollar, nobody would even be able to figure out what a euro is worth! What is the EU going to do - send a bunch of French people over to whine nasally at us?
Perhaps you would like to compare it to, say, the NZ economy?
In economic terms, I don't know much about NZ. I do know that I wouldn't be happy there. This has nothing to do with consumption habits and everything to do with the fact that my life is much better in St. Louis, MO, USA than it would ever be in NZ - but in order to comprehend that, your condescending socialist attitude will have to give way for a few moments and admit that terms like "better" and "worse" imply someone to whom they are better and worse, and that therefore a standard of value is implied, and that this standard of value may or may not be the same one you are employing.
And you live in a country that doesn't even get "first world" status?
From whom, precisely? In case you haven't noticed, without the US, there would BE no "first world" countries. Our economy props all you inefficient slacker socialist pipedream utopias up and keeps you from falling apart by supporting your huge export industries. Perhaps we ought to quit that and let you collapse so you could try to explain to us why being homeless and hungry is superior to our gluttonous US lifestyle...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Look Kids! Name calling! (none / 0) (#115)
by mugwump on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 12:20:25 PM EST

It isn't warm, fuzzy, and/or friendly, but it does strive to be Right[tm].

Silly boy. You can't be right or wrong, but you can be true and false. One is logic, the other opinion.

Don't feel sorry for me. I'm thin, happy, prosperous, and MY government doesn't take 75%+ of my money in taxes.

Er... neither do I, it's more like 35%. If I were to be starting a small company that would fall to 20%.

You are equivocating between economic and gastrointestinal efficiency.

Sure am. Go away and think laterally about why that might be. Are fat people lazier?

Were it not for the dollar, nobody would even be able to figure out what a euro is worth!

No, they'd be using the pound instead. Whose economy is entering a depression? Not mine.

<blockquote type="cite>This has nothing to do with consumption habits and everything to do with the fact that my life is much better in St. Louis, MO, USA than it would ever be in NZ - but in order to comprehend that, your condescending socialist attitude will have to give way for a few moments and admit that terms like "better" and "worse" imply someone to whom they are better and worse, and that therefore a standard of value is implied, and that this standard of value may or may not be the same one you are employing.

What are you implying? That I cannot understand how people could have differing likes and dislikes? I'm not an idiot.

All I'm saying is that consuming more than you need leads to a recognised form of illness - obesity - that is rampant in America.

In case you haven't noticed, without the US, there would BE no "first world" countries.

You're right. Perhaps we'd all be living in Peace without there being any political or social distinction between different countries in the world.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
Wrong about consumption (2.00 / 1) (#58)
by Knight on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:14:23 PM EST

The number one reason that the US economy is so strong is _because_ the US spends som much friggin' money. If the US did what you said and stopped spending money on anything but necessities, it becomes a third world nation, and the entire world economy would suffer. Luxury is the sign of a strong economy.

[ Parent ]
You want luxury? Try a freshly picked apple. (2.00 / 1) (#88)
by mugwump on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:22:44 AM EST

If the US did what you said and stopped spending money on anything but necessities, it becomes a third world nation, and the entire world economy would suffer. Luxury is the sign of a strong economy.

What utter bullshit. You can experience luxury from something as simple as a fresh orange, or watching the stars on a clear night. You don't need spending to acquire it. What's worse, if you do use money to buy it, it becomes less.

Again, we're talking about a balance - not starving people with all they physically need to nourish their body. It is important too to nourish the mind and soul, which commonly calls for the occasional luxury or indulgence. But the American culture loses this all in its Bigger/Pricier is always better mentality.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
And you know what is best for everyone? (none / 0) (#95)
by bnenning on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:46:03 AM EST

What utter bullshit. You can experience luxury from something as simple as a fresh orange, or watching the stars on a clear night. You don't need spending to acquire it. What's worse, if you do use money to buy it, it becomes less.

That is ridiculous. Perhaps your desires are such that you can fulfill them all without spending money, but that is not the case for most of us. In fact, what's that computer you're typing on? It definitely qualifies as a "luxury", and I'm guessing you paid for it. Despite your dislike of money, it is what allows each of us to make our own choices about what we value.

Regarding your contempt of American society, I would point out that while it is unquestionably not perfect, it has produced tremendous technological advances that make people's lives easier (such as your computer), and in the case of medicine saves millions of lives. Furthermore, American economic power is directly responsible for twice defeating totalitarian empires that sought world conquest in the past 100 years.

I'm not terribly concerned about somebody who buys an SUV who doesn't really need it. I'm much more concerned about well-meaning utopians who have discovered the One True Way that we should all live, because when they get into positions of power and try to enforce their vision, people lose their freedom and often their lives.

[ Parent ]

except... (3.00 / 1) (#66)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:33:58 PM EST

... even if we accept your proposal at face value, which the other comments here neatly deflate -- how do you propose to get the surplus from the US to the rest of the world? The problem is not finding the surplus -- the US government spends money to make farmers /not/ grow because it would collapse the agricultural economy if the American Midwest produced at full compacity -- it's sending all that grain to wherever it needs to go. It's insanely expensive. The best idea anyone has had (AFAIK) is building sky-scraper-size zeppelins that use solar power for propulsion, but even that (in addition to the enourmous startup costs) has ongoing maintenance and operations cost that nobody wants to pay for. That's why there's an emphasis on free trade and spreading capitalism -- the US be perfectly happy to feed <country>, if <country> could afford it.

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
We'll feed the starving, but at a price... (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by mugwump on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:13:33 AM EST

the US be perfectly happy to feed <country>, if <country> could afford it.

...and if not, then they can just fuck off and die?

Don't you think that those countries might actually be worth saving? Perhaps if the rich nations were to give support rather than greedily lending it, the countries down in the dumps might have a better chance of making things better for themselves?

Do you think that hungry countries stay that way because they are lazy? No, they are in a catch 22, that probably needs help from developed countries to sort out. I'm talking education and mindshare. How hard would it be for the UN to get everyone to chip in together and get some basic infrastructure out to the parts of the world that desperately need it?

But wait... what do you care, it doesn't enhance your life. You can still watch your television and eat prime steaks whilst sipping wine, then smoke a fat cigar afterwards without worrying about extending a hand to our fellow occupants of this earth.


Warning: this post may contain traces of bullshit.
[ Parent ]
Muggie? (none / 0) (#102)
by anonymoushero on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 04:22:57 PM EST

Hmm, mugwump in other places??

Diaries work, use 'em

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
CO2 is _NOT_ pollution (4.40 / 5) (#52)
by redelm on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:31:19 PM EST

While I like the general work of this article, I take exception to using Carbon dioxide emissions as pollution or any form of useful proxy.

This gets into the acrimonious debate on the role of CO2 in global warming. The acrimony in itself is telling. I've seen the data showing CO2 levels going up and down nicely with global temperatures. To this I have one basic response: "Correlation is NOT causality."

Furthermore, if the temperature were to go up from any event (solar, geothermal, or the bellowing of prehistoric /.ers), the CO2 levels would _have_ to rise because of decreased water solubility. Ever opened a warm soda can? Some quick calcs with an aqueous ionic equilibria program confirmed it's about the right order of magnitude.

I dunno what causes global warming. It might even be an increase in CO2 emissions! But I sure wouldn't go spending $billions or trying to change lifestyles without much better evidence than currently available.

As for CO2 as an pollution proxy, things are no better. The real nasty pollutants: particulates, SOx, NOx, O3 are highly dependant on the fules and burning technology. In general, the Third World produces much more of the nasties per ton of CO2. But the nasties tend to be a local or regional problem.

Undeniably though, Europe and Japan pollute less per capita or per GDP than N.America. The reason is simple: high population density. Less transportation costs. But I've lived there, and I doubt N.Americans would like the stress that comes from high pop'n density. How many would want to live in NYC?



research is tough... (2.00 / 1) (#64)
by _Quinn on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:25:03 PM EST

   If the World Bank had had SOx, NOx, or ozone numbers, I would have used them too, but a look around the net didn't find me that information. Sorry. :(

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
Correlation and Causality (none / 0) (#100)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:45:55 AM EST

Its true that correlation is not causality, but its also true that CO2 *is* a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. In itself that is no bad thing, it makes the planet habitable after all. Thus statistical correlation is not the only evidence on which current fears about climate change are based. This makes the supposition that CO2 levels are a major determinant of current global temperatures much more reasonable than if it were based merely on a statistical correlation

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#104)
by sec on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 02:10:27 AM EST

It's known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but it's also known that it isn't a very good one. It's well known that the amount of CO2 currently being produced by man's activities simply aren't sufficient to cause a noticable increase in global temperature. (In fact, between 90% and 99% of the total CO2 emissions are of natural origins.)

As it turns out, the major greenhouse gas is water vapour, and the theory behind the enhanced greenhouse effect states that increased CO2 emissions will somehow cause the water vapour concentrations to rise through some kind of positive feedback loop.

However, this purported positive feedback loop is in sort of a 'then a miracle happens' state. There is simply no proof of its existance. In fact, if there were a positive feedback loop, it's likely that the earth's climate would have become unstable long before humans got a chance to mess with it.

There are also deep problems with the temperature data upon which the theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect is based, and it's also known that the energy radiated by the sun has been increasing over the last century. It's entirely possible that the emperor simply has no clothes.



[ Parent ]

US polluting... (3.71 / 7) (#69)
by ponos on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:20:51 PM EST


I cannot and will not argue on the accuracy of the
data that you provide, and I trust that they are
exact.

The fact is, however, that you use pollution/dollar
indexes to show that the US economy is environmentally
friendly, where pollution/citizen would be more
appropriate.

I am quite sure (without doing any actual calculation)
that pollution/number of inhabitants would be
much lower for China or Africa or even Europe than
for the U.S. I cannot see why the >obligation< to
respect the environment is lessened by being richer
or producing more. Unless of course you can claim
that the U.S. production will benefit the poorer countries
in a direct way (which I doubt).

Let us not forget, however, that great danger comes
from the countries that are currently evolving and
cannot afford more environmentally friendly strategies
to achieve their welfare. I sincerely hope that
the U.S. and the E.U. will reduce their contribution
to world pollution, but I greatly doubt that countries
like India (just an example) will acquire an environmental
consciousness before solving major social and economical
problems. You state correctly that, to them, the U.S.
and the E.U. >should< set an example by providing
technological assistance etc.

I would like to point out, though, that U.S. have been
most cautious in accepting the latest world-wide
aggreements in pollution reduction. (I do not
have exact information, but it won't be difficult to find)
Maybe the U.S. citizens should exert some pressure
to that effect. (I am under the impression - I do not
live in the U.S. - that G.W. Bush is not particularly
"environmentally friendly". Correct me if I am mistaken)

Petros

P.S. As for the electricity crisis, I am tempted to
think that before increasing production you should
first ask how you can reduce consumption. The benefit
of electricity being provided by the state (rather
than by private companies) is that one is >encouraged<
to consume as little as possible :-)
-- Sum of Intelligence constant. Population increasing.
It would, would it? (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:05:05 PM EST

you use pollution/dollar indexes to show that the US economy is environmentally friendly, where pollution/citizen would be more appropriate.

Perhaps you should back up this point instead of just asserting it. Pollution is a by-product of production, is it not?

In other words, you suggest that the US should reduce its pollution by producing less.

Where do you live? Are you a subsistence farmer? (I didn't think so.) What are your nation's ratios of pollution to productivity, pollution to consumption, and pollution to population, relative to mine's? (And, come to think of it, production and consumption to population?) How comfortable are your country's people, on average? How long do they live?

Do you get enough to eat? Do you like the products of an advanced economy? (I assume so, since you appear to use a computer.)

[ Parent ]

Production and pollution (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by tumeric on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 04:36:16 AM EST

Perhaps you should back up this point instead of just asserting it. Pollution is a by-product of production, is it not?

Its the product of throwing away. Inefficient production produces more pollution. So does driving to the mall to get a pile of packaged goods. If you compare pollution/citizen you are not letting yourself off the hook whereas pollution/dollar does.

Where do you live? Are you a subsistence farmer? (I didn't think so.)

We all have room for improvement -- lets show it by not hiding behind GDP.

Do you like the products of an advanced economy? (I assume so, since you appear to use a computer.)

Absolutely. But I wish that the advanced economy was also greener.

[ Parent ]

Please read carefully before posting... (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by ponos on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 05:02:52 PM EST

> In other words, you suggest that the US should reduce
> its pollution by producing less

This is a most unfortunate interpretation. I said
that pollution versus population would be a more
accurate index.

Simple mathematics states that to improve this
index you can either :
a) pollute less, population being constant
b) increase the population, pollution being constant
c) both

Now, PRODUCTION does not appear in the index.
This means that IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MUCH YOU
PRODUCE (either in the positive sense, to justify
pollution, or in the negative sense, to justify
reduction of production and economical shrinkage as
a preventive measure). I just don't care how much
you produce.

The most important challenge would be to produce >more<
AND >pollute< less. One does not exclude the other.

If you can manage that, I'll be more than happy.

If you believe, however, that being rich gives you
the right to pollute more then I will disagree with
you. It is exactly by being rich and advanced in
socio-political terms that a nation can (and must)
afford the luxury of caring for the environment.
Poor nations are too busy fighting starvation,
diseases (AIDS etc) and internal struggles to care
for such issues as the "greenhouse effect" and the
"depleted ozone layer". Using a pollution/GDP ratio
shows such nations in a bad light which is out of
proportions. They simply cannot afford efficient
technology because they have more pressing problems
to attend to. (remember : buying a third computer is
not a pressing problem, eating a third meal IS)

Please be careful when reading my texts. I do not
have the time or desire to clarify such
misinterpretations.


Petros

P.S. On the other hand, I definitely agree with what
others have said, that we should all (and I am not
blaming the US in particular), try to reduce useless
consumption of energy and resources. Economic
growth is not necessary linked to pointless
spending. (and pointless spending is not directly
likned to happiness, some would add - but this
is off-topic)

All it takes is the developement of a proper
attitude and, of course, the use of proper technology. (I don't see why, for, example, the use
of ACPI or APM has harmed you in any way)

P.S.2. And, by the way, since you asked, I can tell you
that the average life expectancy in my country is
surprisingly high, even though we are not
considered rich.

Living in a clean environment might do that, I
suppose (?!).
-- Sum of Intelligence constant. Population increasing.
[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#111)
by jack doe on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 02:38:00 AM EST

I was out of town and unable to post for a while. Nobody is reading this discussion by now, but here goes anyway...

I guess all I'm really objecting to is most posters' insistence on indexing pollution only against population without ever explaining why.

If, for example, a hypothetical nation were to feed and clothe the entire world with its exported production, I think the case could be made that pollution related to this production should be "counted" to the people actually consuming the produced things.

Similarly, if a hypothetical nation were to produce nothing and to consume the entire output of the rest of the world, it could be argued that almost any pollution by it would be unacceptable.

We have here two cases where a nation has the same population and causes the same amount of pollution, yet has different moral status.

Neither the index of pollution to population nor that of pollution to production takes this effect into account.

Perhaps pollution related to production could be distinguished from pollution related to consumption, and the first counted not to those who produce the goods but instead to those who end up consuming or owning them.

I actually suspect the US would still do badly by this measure, but I won't pass judgment (or credit another's) without actual evidence - say, a grid of comparative US and worldwide production, consumption, and pollution statistics.

[ Parent ]

Rich and Poor (none / 0) (#97)
by Brandybuck on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:29:12 AM EST

I cannot see why the >obligation< to respect the environment is lessened by being richer or producing more.

Look at it the other way around: why should you get away with polluting more just because you are poor? Is their pollution somehow nobler?

[ Parent ]

Rich and Poor (none / 0) (#109)
by pete stevens on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 10:00:42 AM EST

"
Look at it the other way around: why should you get away with polluting more just because you are poor? Is their pollution somehow nobler?
"

It's not polluting more than a rich person. It's polluting the same amount as a rich person.

The argument is pollution scales with number of people, not with number of dollars.


.... the Flat Earth Society announced in 1995 that their membership was global
[ Parent ]
Amazing reasoning (4.12 / 8) (#74)
by ritesh on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:48:56 PM EST

I am amazed how many times this reasoning comes up. The idea of pollution "rights" is based on one citizen, one vote. That is when I go the polls my vote counts the same as say Ross Perot's vote. He gets one vote, I get one vote and so does Donald Trump (and not -2x10^9 votes). If you don't agree with that basic premise then you need to work on reforming the voting process which lets you vote in proportion to your productivity i.e. your income.

Similarly, the Kyoto convention discussions are based on the principle that every citizen of the world gets equal pollution rights. By that count, the residents of the developing world are polluting more than their fair share. Since, they are creating the problem they should clean it up by cutting down their emissions or finding ways to fix carbon. Buying emission rights from developing nations is useless as it is simply wealth transfer without fixing the problem. This is simply about owning up to causing the problem and taking responsibility for our actions instead of blaming peasants living in third worls shantytown for their incredibly unproductive economy. I live in the first world and enjoy its comforts and I am willing to pay up via gasoline taxes, emission taxes and so on for an energy intensive lifestyle.

Someone, else pointed out that correlation is not causality. Amen. However correlation is the first step in the scientific inquiry process. After finding a correlation, the next step is to come up a scientific theory to explain it then test it to find out if one of the variables is indeed a causal factor. The greenhouse effect (as observed in greenhouses ;) demonstrates the increasing CO2 in the earth's atmosphere leads to increasing global temperatures.

Pollution = voting? (3.50 / 2) (#75)
by jack doe on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:18:08 PM EST

By that count, the residents of the developing world are polluting more than their fair share.

Actually, as I understand it they're not (by that standard of fair); third-world industries are dirtier but also smaller, so that an average third-world resident does far less production, enjoys far less consumption, and causes somewhat less pollution than the average industrial citizen.

I am amazed how many times this reasoning comes up. The idea of pollution "rights" is based on one citizen, one vote.

One citizen, one vote is not the same thing as one citizen, one plume of nitrogen dioxide (or one citizen, one salary.) Polluting and running a national government are not the same thing (unless your views are really cynical ;)

[ Parent ]

err (3.50 / 2) (#80)
by ritesh on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:20:51 AM EST

By that count, the residents of the developing world are polluting more than their fair share. err s/devloping/developed/.

Polluting rights as discussed at Kyoto convention were based on the principle of population sizes not GDP.

[ Parent ]
Third-world countries pollute (none / 0) (#103)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 09:40:08 PM EST

They just don't use factories and smokestacks to do it.

In brazil, large portions of the amazon are contaminated by mercury. Why? Prospectors use mercury to seperate gold from ore.

In Africa, arable farmland is giving way to the Sarhara desert. Why? Farmers using primitive methods dating back to pre-Roman times are destroying the earth.

Think urban sprawl is bad in the US? Check out india. Mile upon mile of dense rural slums deface the countryside. The pollution generated by fertilizers required to feed the people make the East River in NYC look like your pool. (Except millions drink and bathe in the polluted water.)

[ Parent ]
Comparisons (4.66 / 6) (#93)
by Aztech on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 03:55:19 PM EST

So the US is actually polluting less than its share of the economy would make acceptable.
Well... comparing proportions of economic size v. pollution levels doesn't really add up, since its the quantity of people who produce the pollution that matters, not how much extra cash they have (even though cash is directly proportional to consumption)... this is what makes the per capita pollution levels scary. It also ignores the fact the country in question drives up pollution abroad disproportionately through imports.

Consider that most western countries outsource most of their manufacturing capabilities abroad, especially those goods that involve dealing with energy intensive raw materials, this puts China's pollution levels in context. This can also be illustrated by the trade deficit, and the nature of products being imported into the west, i.e. goods that are power and labour intensive to manufacture.

If they did a survey comparing pollution levels across the world dependant on who owns the polluting factories, or even if you just measure where the majority of the East's goods go (i.e. for export), then the western countries would be left looking bad again.

E.g. All the crap the Intel fabrication plant in Malaysia pumps out is counted as Malaysian pollution, even though the factory is US owned... and most of the fabs products end up in the US and Europe.

So the pollution levels abroad are just an indirect extension of our own, rather than a result of the countries domestic consumption.

Relevance of GNP/GWP to share of pollution ? (5.00 / 5) (#99)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:34:28 AM EST

The article does raise a good point, which runs something like this: since the USA provides by far the largest share of the good and services consumed by the world as a whole, it is surely entitled to produce the largest share of pollution as well. In essence I think this argument is sound, but I believe the author is using the wrong figures, and therefore tacitly making the incorrect assumption that the "world economy" is a global good from which everyone benefits equally.

Firstly, I am not really sure what a "share of pollution" is. It sounds a but like one of those fluffy statistical frauds environmentalists tend to perpetrate, but I will assume for these purposes that we're talking about atmospheric and oceanic pollution, which are more or less global and whose effects on people are almost completely unrelated to their role in producing it. It does not really make sense to talk about national shares over the world in more local forms of pollution.

Meanwhile GNP (gross national product) is the total value of the good and services sold (or purchased, it should be the same) by the citizens of one country, whereas GWP (or gross world product) is the same figure for the entire world, the only difference being that GNP has an import-export component, whereas GWP does not (we think :). It is important to note that GNP is not merely an account of production, but also on consumption.

Now, America not only has a very high GNP, it also has a very high (though lower) gross domestic product, that is the total value of goods and services both produced and consumed within the USA. The difference between the GNP and GDP represents the value of America's trade with the rest of the world.

The upshot of this is: America not only produces a great deal, it also consumes a great deal, and most of what it produces is consumed domestically. The costs of global pollution from American production, however, are spread across the whole world with no particular relation to their source (as are the costs from everyone's pollution as described above), and this includes the costs from production whose benefits fall only on Americans.

Fairness dictates that a person should only have to bear costs for things from which they also benefit. Where someone has costs imposed on them without benefit, we usually think this is grounds for compensation.

Comparing America's GNP as a share of GWP with other countries misses this point. Its unfair for other countries to have to bare the pollution costs of America's domestic production which is consumed domestically. Now, as I said at the start, I do agree with the thrust of the argument, I just think the figures are wrong. I think it would be more appropriate to use exports as a share of GWP as a measure of a country's overall entitlement to pollute the world's shared resources, as this captures the extent to which other countries are benefitting from that country's production. Thats not to say that countries should not have to make recompense for such pollution, merely that where such compensation is not being paid, countries polluting in proportion to their exports are not particularly bad.

However, we must be wary of these kinds of arguments, that make global calculations of how costs and benefits fall on countries in general, as in practice great harm could be being done to particular groups that does not show up in such figures.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
PG&E Structural Adjustment Program (none / 0) (#110)
by bjord on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 12:19:37 AM EST

There are a lot of logistical and environmental energy problems in California and in the United States, for that matter. However, the biggest problem of all with the situation here is the all-too-common structural adjustment that is happening across the world, toward complete privatization of resources that all people need. A lot of what is happening right now is geared towards financially bailing out PG&E so that they don't go into bankruptcy. As a concerned citizen living in California, I would personally *love* to see PG&E enter bankruptcy and dissolve itself. There is no reason that something like power should be distributed in a way that makes some people exceedingly rich while screwing everyday people who can barely afford their electricity and gas bills (which are now going through the roof).

The biggest scandal of all is the corporate media's collusion to mask some fundamental issues that are at play here. Even the local news in San Francisco ignores most important aspects and focuses exclusively on reporting PR and news releases by government or PG&E sources. Especially in San Francisco, the Raker Act of 1913 which is still the law today federally mandates that the hydroelectric power we get be provided to the public through a non-profit, public agency at the lowest possible price. PG&E has manipulated government processes for years to skirt around this law.

There is a large protest movement, mostly in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento, towards solving this "energy crisis" by getting rid of millionaire PG&E execs and providing public power as the law mandates.

If you want to find out what Gov Davis and PG&E and the newly-(s)elected Bush Administration plan on doing about energy policy in California, watch the corporate news. If you want to find out what the dissenting opinion has to say, check out independent media:

San Francisco Independent Media Center: Protest Coverage
San Francisco Bay Guardian: Extensive PG&E Coverage



So.. essentially: (none / 0) (#112)
by Eivind on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 03:15:54 PM EST

You're essentially saying that you're polluting a goddamn lot, but that that's ok since you're also very wealthy? It's probably true that the US of A pollutes less for each dollar value produced than does say china, but so what, how does it help the chinese that you're rich ?

There's also the little question of technological level. Which group of countries is the US more comparable to technologically: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan or China and India ?

Reality is that it's fairly astonishing that you're as bad as india about pollution verses production seeing as you're *much* more technologically advanced, something which makes it possible to produce with less waste.

twenty nine percent (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 08:25:16 PM EST

According to your figures, the U.S.A. produces twenty nine percent of the world's gross product. But what does that figure mean? Does that mean that, piling all the goods produced on the globe in one huge pile, this country produces twenty nine percent of the volume of that pile? No, it means that what all we produce, in terms of dollars, amounts to twenty nine percent of the total dollar value. More than anything else, this is because our currency is so dominant throughout the world.

There are many countries where the per capita GDP is something like $300, right? But if $300 bought there as little as it buys here in Tampa, the obvious fact is, the majority of their citizens would simply starve to death. A pound of rice sells for a lot less in, say, Cambodia than it does here. Now man does not live by dollars, he only conducts international trade using them; man lives by food and water and shelter. If you compared the product of third world countries by tons of rice or square feet of housing rather than by dollar-based exchange value, I suspect you'd conclude that the U.S.A. produces far, far less than twenty nine percent of the world's goods.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.

awwww (none / 0) (#116)
by session on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 10:27:08 AM EST

I think my favorite comment out of this entire article was "I know less about Denmark, but my impression is that most Americans would not be comfortable living there, and have an emotional attachment to their low taxes." You say that like there's something wrong with not wanting the government to steal your hard-earned money. Personally, I'm fed up with government taking a third of my paycheck in order to spend it on things like Clinton's office rent or some drug-addict welfare receiver. You, on the other hand, suggest that higher taxes are "for the common good". I think we all know about a country that tried to do things "for the common good", our good friends the USSR. Look where they are now.

Yes, I get emotional when people want to raise my taxes. The same way I get emotional when someone dings my car, takes my wallet or robs my house. It's my fucking money, go away.

side note: even with a 40 hour work week (8hours/day) and a 25% tax rate (considered "low" in almost all countries), you have to work all day monday and up until 10am on tuesday to start making money for yourself.


"I don't know, Marge. I was raised on the TV and I turned out pretty TV." --homer.

The power of power: Electricity, Wealth, and the Community of Nations | 116 comments (109 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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