Homelessness: The New Low-Carbon Lifestyle?

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A nifty new study by some Massachusetts Institute of Technology students finds that even the average American homeless person uses about double the amount of greenhouse gas emitting energy than is the world average. Below are some of their conclusions:

…none of the life styles studied here ever resulted in an energy requirement below 120GJ (in 1997). This includes the life style of a five year old child, a homeless person and a Buddhist monk. While 120GJ is about one third the American average in 1997 (350GJ) [gigajoules], it is almost double the global average energy use in that year (64 GJ).

Furthermore, such a level, we believe, is not obtainable for the average American on a voluntary basis. Which brings us to our second point … the magnitude of possible reductions in energy use for people in the United States by voluntary changes in spending patterns appears limited…

When we explored large but tolerable changes in a given life style in the middle range of expenditures i.e., $30k, we found that only relatively small improvements were possible, on the order of 30%….

…many people don't want to make these changes. A detailed look at several middle income life styles found that a 50% reduction in energy use would require dramatic changes which we believe would be unacceptable to most people. Of course, what is acceptable or not, is debatable,….

Whole MIT study here.

Addendum: For more analysis along these lines see AEI scholar Steven Hayward's recent Wall Street Journal op/ed on "The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change." One excerpt:

Begin with the current inventory of carbon dioxide emissions – CO2 being the principal greenhouse gas generated almost entirely by energy use. According to the Department of Energy's most recent data on greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006 the U.S. emitted 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or just under 20 tons per capita. An 80% reduction in these emissions from 1990 levels means that the U.S. cannot emit more than about one billion metric tons of CO2 in 2050.

Were man-made carbon dioxide emissions in this country ever that low? The answer is probably yes – from historical energy data it is possible to estimate that the U.S. last emitted one billion metric tons around 1910. But in 1910, the U.S. had 92 million people, and per capita income, in current dollars, was about $6,000.

Whole op/ed here.

And lest anyone think that I'm saying that these levels of carbon emissions can't be technologically achieved, I'm not. However, I do think that we need to clearly see what is at stake not only for the climate but also for human economic well-being.

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  1. Damn!! And I was just getting ready to tell all the eco types to give up their lifestyles and become freegans…

  2. I’d be willing to do a lot to reduce energy usage, but not because it’s good for the environment as much as it’s good for my wallet.

    What exactly is the value in reaching the world avearage? Wouldn’t that include a lot of people with very low living standards?

  3. 30% is small? It would seem to me that 30% total reduction of energy expenditure would be fairly significant.

  4. Elemenope: I agree that 30% is big too, but I think the article’s point is that it must be in the range of 80 to 90 percent reduction.

  5. Tecnological advancement is a threat to economic well-being?

  6. You mean I can’t just change a lightbulb?
    This is inconvenient.

  7. Tecnological advancement is a threat to economic well-being?

    Only if its adaptation is imposed by force.

  8. Cardboard boxes, due their lack of cathedral ceilings, are comparatively easy to heat.

  9. joe: Broken windows economics again?

    I am NOT saying that decarbonization doesn’t have to be done, just that it will cost a lot and humanity will forego many other economic opportunities to improve people’s welfare to achieve it.

  10. P Brooks –
    They actually operate as their own fuel πŸ™‚

  11. Advancing technological progress is not the replacement of a broken window, as the replacement product is not the same as that which it replaces. By definition, it provides and creates greater value than the earlier technology. The Broken Windows example is based on replacing a window pane with another identical window pane.

    Nice try, though.

  12. Over at TAP, there’s an interesting counterexample put forward re: Sweden’s Carbon Tax.

    I can’t say I’m very knowledgeable on the subject, so could someone better versed try to address it? Robust economic growth and high energy taxes seem like a pipe dream, but it seems like their argument is that the tax acts as an incentive for growth of less energy intensive market sectors.

  13. Mike P,

    Only if its adaptation is imposed by force.

    The elimination of lead from gasoline was achieved by force. Was that a threat to our well-being? At the time, Lee Iococca predicted it would be, and that there would be no automobile manufacturing industry in the United States by 1975 if the ban was adopted.

    One constant in environmental politics is the massive overestimation of the cost of environmental advancement. Remember when eliminating acid rain precursors was going to be so expensive that a robust market in credits would develop? As it turned out, once the goals were adopted, private industry was able to produce technological advancements and disseminate them at such relatively low cost that the credits became almost worthless in a very short period of time.

  14. So joe,

    If you replaced the broken window with a better, more technologically advanced window, then it is good to get your window broken?

  15. Tecnological advancement is a threat to economic well-being?

    Ya joe that is exactly what he said…he also said he eats babies and owns slaves.

  16. So, about those lethargic homless, how about putting them to work pulling rickshaws as suggested by the Great Larry David!?!? He evn drives one of those electric roller skates all over LA.

    The carbon wasting homeless could be doing a bigger part to reduce carbon emissions. They might even earn enough to buy some of my carbon credits.

  17. Haven’t read the study, but I think an issue here is that there is an underlying assumption that the lifestyle changes required to reduce your carbon footprint result in a qualitatively degraded lifestyle.

    That has not been my experience and doesn’t seem to be a requirement based on the efforts of people who have been working on this issue for decades.

    http://www.rmi.org/

    Has a nice demonstration project.
    Details in Natural Capitalism http://www.natcap.org/

  18. A homeless person uses more energy than the rest of the world? Is this counting the neergy used to keep subways warm which would have been used anyway? Are they undercounting energy use in other countries Not everyone else in the world is a KUNG! bushman

  19. (suspending joe rule, against my better judgement)

    The elimination of lead from gasoline was achieved by force. Was that a threat to our well-being?

    Yes, if you owned a vehicle without hardened valve seats. The lack of lead lubricating the valve train destroyed the heads prematurely.

    This has been mentioned to you by others in the past, but your broken record just keeps skipping back to the same old saw.

  20. It is sad how this issue often turns into a battle between the two branches of ecodoom pessimists*

    I tend to think that humans are pretty good at overcoming challenges.

    *Ecological doomists vs. Economic doomists.

  21. The elimination of lead from gasoline was achieved by force

    I think I’ve heard you use that same example before…

    Anyway, I don’t think removing lead is quite relevant here. We’re talking about reducing emissions of something that is emitted by almost everything we do – not just one sector of the economy.

  22. If you replaced the broken window with a better, more technologically advanced window, then it is good to get your window broken?

    Define “good.” Are we talking about economic value only, or incorporating other values?

    Then, define “good for whom.” To draw out this metaphor, we would have to assume that the old-fashioned window was producing significant negative externalities on the neighborhood.

  23. The paper implies

    1) we should have as many children as possible and make as many of them homeleess as possible. This increase would not really increase the national overhead, but would reduce the per person energy expenditure.

    2) The government stipend per person is really causing problems. If we dropped protecting the free world and the US empire it would lower our per person energy usage and also most likely increase the rate of death in other countries, making their usage per person increase.

    Hey, enviromentalism is fun!

  24. Guy,

    OK, you identified one cost associated with the elimination of leaded gasoline. I note you don’t take this tact when looking at the Iraq War.

    Now, I’m going to ask the question again. Was the elimination of leaded gasoline a net loss for our well-being?

  25. Haven’t read the study, but I think an issue here is that there is an underlying assumption that the lifestyle changes required to reduce your carbon footprint result in a qualitatively degraded lifestyle.

    Well, I think that meaningful reductions in your carbon footprint (on the order we are told are necessary to reshape our climate) require either (a) massive technological changes (carbon-free electricity, petro-less transport) and/or (b) massive lifestyle changes that most would regard as being a lower standard of living.

    I’m sure there are all kinds of symbolic things you can do (eat local, change lightbulbs, etc.), but as we are learning, they are either (a) meaningless in the climate-engineering scheme of things and/or (b) counterproductive.

  26. Reinmoose,

    That’s a much better point – actually looking at the cost and benefits to determine if such a policy is a net good.

    It’s certain that, at some margin, some environmental-enhancing action has costs that outweigh the benefit.

    I was just refuting Mike P’s argument that the costs must always outweigh the benefit – that there can never be a coercive law against pollution or other environmental harms that is a net economic gain.

  27. As was mentioned in an article yesterday, eating less meat (especially red meat) would have a sizable impact on GHG emissions. Why people go out of their way to spend tens of thousands of dollars to ditch their old, perfectly functioning car (break a window?) on a new hybrid so it can be better for the environment when they can simply adjust their diet a little is beyond me.

  28. Tecnological advancement is a threat to economic well-being?

    That seems a bit dishonest. What good is a comparison between our production rates and the global average, when it’s a lack of technology that depresses their production rates? Good for the third world and their low pollution, but the greenies can keep their mud hut mentality.

    One constant in environmental politics is the massive overestimation of the cost of environmental advancement.

    This might be a meaningful observation, except that another constant in environmental politics is the massive overestimation of the cost of eschewing “environmental advancement”.

    The elimination of lead from gasoline was achieved by force. Was that a threat to our well-being?

    Not as much as Iacocca predicted, but that didn’t make the elimination necessary.

  29. I don’t drive a car, so I’ll take an extra helping of meat, please.

  30. rst,

    That whole stupid leaded gas issue was to lower the lead levels in the blood of children in the inner cities. How gasoline had anyuthing to do with the leaded paint chips they were ingesting (then the most common source of lead in children) is beyond me.

    The real issue was the Left had to have a reason to mess with western industry and they succeeded, just like they are with this phony climate change nonsense.

    Destroying the engines of perfectly good cars was just fine with them, as it is with certain ultra-Lefties on this board.

  31. Rhywun,

    I don’t drive a car, so I’ll take an extra helping of meat, please.

    Whale or veal? Should have some of both soon.

  32. RC Dean,

    Well, I think that meaningful reductions in your carbon footprint (on the order we are told are necessary to reshape our climate) require either (a) massive technological changes (carbon-free electricity, petro-less transport) and/or (b) massive lifestyle changes that most would regard as being a lower standard of living.

    Or significant implementation of both strategies used hand-in-hand to maximize impact resulting in an improvement in quality of life.

    Pessimist are pessimist no matter the subject.

  33. Guy,

    We weep for the pains of the hot-rodders everywhere. Their pain is our pain.

    Damned commies and their plots.

  34. I was just refuting Mike P’s argument that the costs must always outweigh the benefit – that there can never be a coercive law against pollution or other environmental harms that is a net economic gain.

    joe, you are the one who made a sweeping unqualified aphorism. When people respond that the sweeping aphorism is generally false, don’t come back with feigned shock that no one is considering particulars.

  35. NM,

    We weep for the pains of the hot-rodders everywhere. Their pain is our pain.

    Destroying the engines of station wagons and sedans, owned by poor famalies of 4 or more, is certainly not a hotrodding issue. Actually, the rodders have been using hardened heads for quite a while.

    Glad to see “liberal compassion” is in the same bin it has always been.

  36. Threatening economic ruin as an incentive for technological advancement (advance or we will tax you to death and forbid you from using energy) seems a bit risky especially when there are already strong incentives built into the market to encourage conservation of resources.

  37. I tend to think that humans are pretty good at overcoming challenges

    We are. See: The “Threat” of Global Warming

  38. “Furthermore, such a level, we believe, is not obtainable for the average American on a voluntary basis. Which brings us to our second point … the magnitude of possible reductions in energy use for people in the United States by voluntary changes in spending patterns appears limited…”

    Well if you can’t or won’t do it “voluntarily”, then I guess someone will just have to make you do it then won’t they? That is what the whole thing is about. A certain type of person just can’t help but be drawn to the idea of condeming people into unrelenting poverty “for their own good”. Since Marxism really isn’t much of an option for optaining this goal anymore, global warming makes a wonderful substitute.

  39. Was the elimination of leaded gasoline a net loss for our well-being?

    Yes.

  40. Define “good.” Are we talking about economic value only, or incorporating other values?

    Then, define “good for whom.” To draw out this metaphor, we would have to assume that the old-fashioned window was producing significant negative externalities on the neighborhood.

    Yeah, I guess breaking the window is good for people who don’t like your windows and think it’s their right to break them to make you “improve.”

    Look joe, some of us, including Bailey I think, are okay with a carbon tax. In the metaphor then, with such a tax you can then decide whether the now higher expense of the old window makes it worth replacing or not. Having others break it to get you to change is not cool and not efficient. Applying this to your other examples, well with the way technology is improving, you’d probably replace your windows before long anyway. But it’s nicer (talk about “other values”!) and more economically efficient to let people change ’em on their own chosen time.

  41. joe,

    that there can never be a coercive law against pollution or other environmental harms that is a net economic gain.

    If following the law leads to a net economic gain (and it is possible for that law to exist) then there is no need for the law. Eventually, some entrepreneur will notice the potential gain and will make a sweet profit off of it. Im guessing that entrepreneur will be you, since you keep pointing out these situations. Way to go! Save the world and make a profit! Good job!

  42. Its the responsibility of the individual window owner to decide when it makes economic sense to upgrade windows.

    (This applies to Vista too)

  43. You’re all SOOOO in love with the market, aren’t you? You worship it so much, why don’t you marry it?! If the market will solve problems, why do we need laws to make sure that people get paid a living wage, and provided health care? Huh?!

  44. But seriously, I heard a woman being interviewed on my local NPR affiliate the other day and she seriously said that we were not having supply issues with gasoline… and then she went on to justify this assertion by saying “you don’t see people lining up at gas stations.”
    Seriously

  45. “But seriously, I heard a woman being interviewed on my local NPR affiliate the other day and she seriously said that we were not having supply issues with gasoline… and then she went on to justify this assertion by saying “you don’t see people lining up at gas stations.”
    Seriously”

    And if the government mandated $0.50 a gallon gasoline prices, that women would be on NPR saying any shortages that resulted were the result of hoarders.

  46. Guy,

    Yes, I know.
    Your concern is for the poor…families non-the-less.

    Never thought I see you make the “it’s for the children” argument.

  47. You’re all SOOOO in love with the market, aren’t you? You worship it so much, why don’t you marry it?!

    We just decided to shack-up, but if you want to send a housewarming gift a few lumps of coal and fresh whale blubber will be great! Thank you.

  48. NM,

    As a counter to your elietist nonsense, fine. It was something that created economic hardship on a bunch of people who sure did not need that sort of help from the government.

    Not that you care about that as long as it is the government doing it “for the good of society”.

  49. Mike P,

    joe, you are the one who made a sweeping unqualified aphorism. Actually, no, I questioned Bailey for making one.

    fyodor,

    Yeah, I guess breaking the window is good for people who don’t like your windows and think it’s their right to break them to make you “improve.” You mean like people who think it is good to stop others from polluting their land, and think it is their right to use force to stop such trespasses? You know, like libertarians say is an appropriate legal regime for addressing environmental concerns?

    Yes, I think I have the right to stop people from harming me and my property. I even think I have the right to have the government take my side when they do so. Believe it or not, this is actually somewhat short of a Marxist nightmare.

    If you want to make an efficiency argument about carbon taxes being better than, say, emissions limits or alternative energy mandates, have at it, but such a tax is just as much of a use of force as those other strategies, and the anti-coercion pose really has no place in arguing between them.

  50. If following the law leads to a net economic gain (and it is possible for that law to exist) then there is no need for the law.

    To be fair, there are examples of laws that do lead to net economic gain yet are in fact needed because they handle a public goods problem.

    Provided global warming is real and global warming will impose costs on humanity, a CO2 tax or cap is exactly such an example.

  51. robc,

    If following the law leads to a net economic gain (and it is possible for that law to exist) then there is no need for the law. Doesn’t account for externalities, which the entirety of the problem of global warming. No, it is not clear that those who can externalize their costs will have a profit motive to do that which produces a net economic gain across society.

    Its the responsibility of the individual window owner to decide when it makes economic sense to upgrade windows. Even when his “window” is harming others?

  52. All of the low carbon footprint countries seem to have two things in common, povery and no need to keep themselves warm. How much of the typical US citizen’s carbon foot print is due to heating/cooling?

  53. Poverty that is..

  54. Let me go on record as being anti-carbon tax and pro-freedom.

    I wonder if these need to go through that anti-freedom, Socialistic licensing nonsense in DC and VA like other for-hire transport?

  55. Shh, Guy!

    We’re supposed to pretend that we just have questions about science, and that it’s the OTHER SIDE who are using global warming politics as a front for their political agenda.

    And then you come right out and say that you don’t believe in global warming because of socialism?

    Thanks. Thanks a lot.

  56. Even when his “window” is harming others?

    Thats what the courts are for.

    Now, thats for true harm. If his window is just ugly and causing your property values to be lowered, tough luck. If his window is leaking mercury onto your property, sue the hell out of him.

  57. Yes, I think I have the right to stop people from harming me and my property.

    You don’t seem to have read my whole post and you’re moving the goalposts. This started when you asked facetiously if technological advance was bad. I sure as hell didn’t say that polluting others’ property was okay and in fact…

    If you want to make an efficiency argument about carbon taxes being better than, say, emissions limits or alternative energy mandates, have at it

    Albeit in the form of a metaphor, that’s exactly what I did.

    such a tax is just as much of a use of force as those other strategies, and the anti-coercion pose really has no place in arguing between them

    Allowing people to make their own choices based on the costs their choices are perceived (yes, it’s imperfect) to inflict on others would allow more freedom of choice and, in the vast majority of cases, be more efficient than top-down decision making. And if the tax is tied to actual harm done to others’ rights, it’s not coercive to address that anymore than it is to address theft and vandalism.

    Anyway, if I seem to be addressing a large pallette of issues than originally, that’s because you widened the discussion. I was just addressing the logic of your first two posts, firstly ridiculing, out of context, the supposed resistance to new technology, and then denying your logic had anything to do with the broken window fallacy.

  58. And then you come right out and say that you don’t believe in global warming because of socialism?

    Oh no, I don’t believe in anthropological climate change for a whole host of reasons and Socialism has nothing to do with it.

    However, the Socialists are using this fake issue to further their objective of making everybody equally miserable, if that helps.

    Now, about that rickshaw project, for the good of the downtrodden . . .

  59. Thats what the courts are for.

    But the courts are COERCIVE!!!1!!eleven!!

    Like I said, the principled “coercion” argument is meaningless in this debate.

    Do you actually believe, robc, that the government should not be able to regulate the dripping of mercury onto your neighbor’s property?

  60. Commie-keyphrase Alert!

    motive to do that which produces a net economic gain across society

  61. That whole stupid leaded gas issue was to lower the lead levels in the blood of children in the inner cities.

    Even that’s a lark. Here in Boston our homes are full of lead, but flu and meningitis deaths are more common than lead poisoning. Our Commonwealth Nannies are even forcing a family to spend upwards of $90k to delead their home because a test of their child showed high lead levels. The levels however came from a toy necklace, and the test was performed months before the family even moved into the house.

    But hey who cares about needlessly devastating the economic situation of a family when you have arbitrary law to inappropriately enforce?

    The real issue was the Left had to have a reason to mess with western industry and they succeeded, just like they are with this phony climate change nonsense.

    I disagree, I think they’re guided by a benevolent and completely misguided desire to protect me from the things that scare them. This doesn’t make it any better, but I doubt they’re just trying to cause problems. They’re trying to build what they foolishly believe to be a just society.

  62. joe, you are the one who made a sweeping unqualified aphorism.

    Actually, no, I questioned Bailey for making one.

    No. You sarcastically removed Bailey’s qualification, then harangued people who tried to put the qualification back.

  63. rst,

    But hey who cares about needlessly devastating the economic situation of a family when you have arbitrary law to inappropriately enforce?

    That seems to be the view of Neu Mejican. Check his misguided hatred of hotrodders hiding his hatred of private property.

    I disagree, I think they’re guided by a benevolent and completely misguided desire to protect me from the things that scare them.

    Don’t let the useful idiot disguise fool you.

  64. fyoror,

    I sure as hell didn’t say that polluting others’ property was okay and in fact…

    What you did, by describing the argument againist GHG pollution as “people not liking your window,” was to characterize that opposition as if it was aesthetic, and not based on concern about those “windows” causing actual harm. So I introduced that element to clear things up.

    And if the tax is tied to actual harm done to others’ rights, it’s not coercive to address that anymore than it is to address theft and vandalism. Now we’re into semantics, but ok.

    and then denying your logic had anything to do with the broken window fallacy. Which you still haven’t done, as your comments about coercion have nothing to do with the broken window fallacy, which is about efficiency and the creation/destruction of value.

  65. joe: Do you seriously not understand that you’ve committed the broken window fallacy in this case? Wow. Enough said.

  66. joe,

    Do you actually believe, robc, that the government should not be able to regulate the dripping of mercury onto your neighbor’s property?

    Regulate in what sense? If the regulation makes it a civil violation, it is unneeded, I can already sue in civil court. Punative damages can handle the case of a persistent or malicious dumper. Dont need any special regulative fines.

    Criminal? In some cases it might make sense to make dumping a criminal offense. That doesnt necessarily protect me (directly), that just sends the dumper to jail or probation or whatever.

    Where the regulations actually offer benefit is the dumping into “public” areas, water, air, etc. For water, the easiest solution is to sell the waterways, then see above. Air is always the tricky one. At that point, the answer is to look to Coase.

  67. But the courts are COERCIVE!!!1!!eleven!!

    Like I said, the principled “coercion” argument is meaningless in this debate.

    joe, joe, joe,

    Coercion is perfectly fine when someone fucks with you or your property!

  68. joe,

    Coasian bargaining also handles your externalities issue from one of your previous responses to me.

  69. Ron,

    It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. seems to work on more than one level in this thread.

  70. You can stop linking to the definition of the broken window fallacy, Ron.

    If you, or anyone else, would like to refute my observation that the broken window fallacy is about the replacement of like with like, resulting in a net loss, rather than the replacement of inferior products with superior ones, have at it.

  71. Since carbon taxes have been mentioned in this thread I will declare the following:

    Coase >>>> Pigou

    Discuss.

  72. What you did, by describing the argument againist GHG pollution as “people not liking your window,” was to characterize that opposition as if it was aesthetic, and not based on concern about those “windows” causing actual harm. So I introduced that element to clear things up.

    Sigh. Okay, here’s a good real life example. Environmentalists HATE SUV’s with a passion. (I know, I socialize among them.) But someone who drives a car that gets twice as good mileage as the SUV but drives it three times as much pollutes more than the SUV driver! So do we make the SUV illegal, because that’s an evil, disgusting lifestyle, or do we address the actual harm being done? Yes, there are people who would change others’ choices based on their perceptions that they’re not living right, and technology mandates would open the door to that kind of arbitrary judgementalism. Address the actual harm being done only, and that kind of judgementalism is limited (to biases in the application).

  73. The application of the broken window fallacy here is that, even if you would install a new high tech window were your present window broken, that is not in and of itself reason to break your present window.

  74. Guy,

    That seems to be the view of Neu Mejican. Check his misguided hatred of hotrodders hiding his hatred of private property.

    You confuse my making fun of your “communists using issues to harm western industry” comments with my position on the larger issue…

    I was making fun of YOU…the hot-rodder.
    I felt YOUR pain…the hot-rodder.

    Of course all your comments on these boards are strictly statements of principle.

  75. So all this talk of “technological advancement”…forgive me, I’m not so enlightened as city planners and the like…what does “technological advancement” matter? Is it that we’re in the mindset that global average emission rates are so low because Somalian refugees leave their SUVs in their garages, tailgate with clean-burnin’ propane (and propane accessories), and only eat veal once every few days?

    Or is there this feeling that “technological advancement” should make it possible to have a footprint that mimics that of nations without access to even the basic technologies that pervade our daily lives?

  76. Ecodoomists are annoying, whatever flavor.

  77. the replacement of inferior products with superior ones, have at it.

    Have you been sent to Earth to define “superior” for us?

  78. “Even that’s a lark. Here in Boston our homes are full of lead, but flu and meningitis deaths are more common than lead poisoning. Our Commonwealth Nannies are even forcing a family to spend upwards of $90k to delead their home because a test of their child showed high lead levels. The levels however came from a toy necklace, and the test was performed months before the family even moved into the house.”

    But leaded gasoline put the stuff in the air where you breathed it. Lead paint doesn’t effect you unless you have a habit of eating the paint chips. The lead levels in people’s blood was much higher before unleaded gas than now. Taking lead out of gas is a real environmental success story.

  79. robc,

    That doesnt necessarily protect me (directly), that just sends the dumper to jail or probation or whatever.

    Don’t you think the disincentive this creates protects you?

    fyodor,

    Coercion is perfectly fine when someone fucks with you or your property! And some believe that coercion can appropriately be used to address other concerns. Those who support a carbon tax, for example.

  80. joe,

    Don’t you think the disincentive this creates protects you?

    Of course, just indirectly. Hence my use of the word “directly”. Just because its parenthetical doesnt mean you shouldnt read it.

  81. You can stop linking to the definition of the broken window fallacy, Ron.

    If you, or anyone else, would like to refute my observation that the broken window fallacy is about the replacement of like with like, resulting in a net loss, rather than the replacement of inferior products with superior ones, have at it.

    For once, I agree with joe: No matter how many times you post a link to the Broken Window thing, it will still go over his head…

  82. As a public service, I would like to take a moment to appeal to all concerned with the issue of Global Warming to attend the Democrat National Convention in Denver this year.

    Make sure you carry signs that express your grievences to the Party that cares.

    If you are not being heard, wear something to get people’s attention and perhaps walk on stilts, or sit on the sholders of a tall person.

    Carry flags of red and gold. Bold colors show up better on the televisions of the world.

    Remember, the whole world will be watching and Denver is famous for BEEF! The Democrats did not select Denver by accident. Be a star for Global Warming! Make sure you tell Denver about the beef issue!

    This has been a philanthropic service announcement from the Montag Rickshaw and Full Employment Enterprise. Free veal meals for every 100 trips completed by any employee.

  83. fyodor,

    But the issue of GHG pollution and anthropegnic global warming isn’t, in any way, aesthetic. Introducing the aesthetic comment as you did wasn’t relelvant – we were talking about what to do about an actual problem.

    Mike P,

    “not a reason to,” in your comment, is a statement about ethics and non-economic values. The broken windows metaphor is about the destruction of net value. It’s an economic, not a moral, one. If the new, high-tech window actually does increase value or prevent some destruction of value, then replacing old windows with new could, in fact, be a net economic gain.

  84. Correction:

    Montag Rickshaw and Full Employment Partnership in Spirit Enterprise

  85. joe,

    And some believe that coercion can appropriately be used to address other concerns.

    Obviously. This is the primary thing, we, as libertarins, are fighting against: The use of coercion outside self/property. You are on a libertarian website, its kinda one of our core principles and all.

    Before we go breaking it, you need to prove that our premise is wrong. Needless to say, proving a premise wrong is very difficult.

    Those who support a carbon tax, for example.

    And I think they need to defend using a pigovian solution instead of a coasean one. (One day I will actually succeed in getting a Coase v Pigou flame war started, Im 0 fer life, so far)

  86. Mike P,

    The question seems to be, is your current window broken? Is there something which requires its replacement?

    The fact that the draft created by the broken window – the cost associated with having a broken window – is externalized in this case (GHG emitters impose this “draft” on others more than themselves) does not unbreak the window.

  87. The idea that you have to force people to do things that are for their own benefit still doesn’t sit well with me.
    Can’t we just make something obnoxiously popular that actually works? You know, unlike Hybrids?

  88. by “works” i mean “reduces pollution meaningfully”

  89. “not a reason to,” in your comment, is a statement about ethics and non-economic values…. If the new, high-tech window actually does increase value or prevent some destruction of value, then replacing old windows with new could, in fact, be a net economic gain.

    Of course it could. That’s why I inserted “in and of itself” between “not” and “reason to”

  90. robc,

    I saw “indirectly.” I also saw that you used the fact that the protection was “indirect” to argue against the regulation’s effectiveness, so I demonstrated that the indirect protection could still be effective.

  91. This is the primary thing, we, as libertarins, are fighting against: The use of coercion outside self/property.

    Yes, so much so that you allow your concern about this to interfere with your understanding of the economic dimension. For example, being so enthused about the coercion problem of breaking windows as to misunderstand the economic logic of the broken windows fallacy.

    Hint to Taktix: “breaking peole’s stuff is all bad and stuff” is not, in fact, the insight provided by the Broken Windows metaphor.

  92. joe,

    I wasnt arguing against its effectiveness. I, in fact, said that it makes sense in some cases.

    To paraphrase you, try reading what I write, not the robc in your mind.

  93. joe: I keep linking to it in the hope that you will read it and understand it. Others in the thread have tried to explain it to you, but here goes again.

    I break your single glazed window (which does not need replacing) and a new regulation requires you to replace it with a new improved more expensive doubled glazed window. So now you have paid not only to replace the broken window, you’ve had to pay more for it.

    Now let’s just leave out the “breaking” part and instead a new regulation requires you to remove you single glazed window and replace with a new improved and more expensive double glazed window.

    Just to be clear, I am NOT against corporations or anyone else losing money because someone else came up with a better competing product, e.g., tapes vs.DVDs, incandescent bulbs and LEDs, SUVs v. hybrids, whatever. Such improvements add value to an economy.

    It may be necessary for us to abandon trillions of dollars in carbon energy infrastructure in order to protect the climate, but let’s not pretend that it will be costless to do so. Which then gets us to the point of cost/benefit analysis which we will save for another time.

  94. Reinmoose,

    I don’t support efforts to reduce carbon emissions for the benefit of those who emit it.

    (This is where Guy Montag observes that humans breath, and thinks he’s made an important point).

    In fact, by talking about externalities and pollution, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that this is about stopping people from harming others, not themselves.

  95. joe,

    Yes, so much so that you allow your concern about this to interfere with your understanding of the economic dimension. For example, being so enthused about the coercion problem of breaking windows as to misunderstand the economic logic of the broken windows fallacy.

    I understand the economic dimension just fine. I just dont give a flying fuck. Maximizing liberty is my concern, 99% of the time.

    Speaking of understanding economics, any reason you havent commented on my suggestion of coasean bargaining as a solution to the externality problem. I go all pragmatic for once and you ignore it.

  96. Mike P,

    Of course it could. That’s why I inserted “in and of itself” between “not” and “reason to”

    Gotcha.

    I’ve just been talking about the economic effects.

  97. Well, I think that meaningful reductions in your carbon footprint (on the order we are told are necessary to reshape our climate) require either (a) massive technological changes (carbon-free electricity, petro-less transport) and/or (b) massive lifestyle changes that most would regard as being a lower standard of living.

    Or significant implementation of both strategies used hand-in-hand to maximize impact resulting in an improvement in quality of life.

    I’m unimpressed, NM. This facile formula rather ignores that strategy (b) requires a lifestyle that most people would not prefer. If they preferred it, they’d be living it now, no? So you have to mandate some significant reduction in people’s (perceived) quality of life to make meaningful reductions in carbon footprints using strategy (b).

    As to strategy (a), massive technological advance can definitely improve quality of life. However, technological advancements that improve quality of life generally don’t have to be forced by the government, as they tend to be profitable. It helps if government gets out of the way of these advances, of course. Is that what you are thinking? Government should reduce capital gains taxes to encourage investment in new technology, ease zoning/environmental restrictions, etc.? If so, I’m wit’cha.

  98. But we can create good, green-collar jobs! JOBS!
    WE can do it!

  99. Thanks ever so much for explaining something I already understand, Ron. My, the “yoo need to take Ekon 101” sneer sure is effective the third time.

    As I’ve explained with varying degrees of patience already, I understand the Broken Windows fallacy just fine, thanks, and the disagreement here is about your assumed “which does not need replacing” proposition.

    In fact, I think the window needs replacing, and the externalization of the “draft” created by its broken condition does not unbreak it.

    I’m arguing that the window is broken.

    I’m arguing that the window is broken.

    Want me to write that a few more times?

    I’m arguing that the window is broken.

    I’m arguing that the window is broken.

    Quick, explain to me again how replacing a broken window costs money, because my lack of understanding of that point is, totally, the basis of the disagreement here.

    Hey, did I mention that I’m arguing that the window is broken?

  100. I’ve just been talking about the economic effects.

    Say your window leaks like a sieve, but you were okay with that when it cost only $100 per month to heat your home. If the price of heating oil has risen and it now costs to $200 per month to heat your home, then it may become worthwhile to break your window and replace it with a new high tech window.

    But if even at $200/month it is still is not worthwhile to replace it, it is an economic loss for someone to come break it and force you to.

  101. I tend to think that humans are pretty good at overcoming challenges.

    Humans are even better at creating unnecssary challenges.

  102. joe,

    The window is not broken. It’s just emitting CO2.

    If you want to suggest a tax on CO2 emission and let people decide when a new window would be economical, feel free.

    Please don’t mangle the broken window fallacy while you’re at it.

  103. Hint to Taktix: “breaking peole’s[sic] stuff is all bad and stuff” is not, in fact, the insight provided by the Broken Windows metaphor.

    joe,

    Would you mind letting me first open my mouth before you jamb words in it?

    The idea is that replacing something taken or lost is not equal to creating something. It is always a net loss, because the cost of replacement could have gone to simple upgrading or increased production.

    Based on your posts over the years, I don’t expect you to understand how capital flow works, but at least don’t argue something you don’t know.

    It’s no convincing anyone, but simply betraying you ignorance…

  104. However, technological advancements that improve quality of life generally don’t have to be forced by the government, as they tend to be profitable.

    Not if they improve Group X’s quality of life by internalizing the externalized costs of Group Y’s actions, and can only be implemented by Group Y.

  105. joe,

    The owner of the window says it isnt broken. Who should I believe?

    Obviously, if the “broken” window has some external cost to you, it makes sense for you to offer some money to the owner to help/convince him buy the new and improved window. Why, there may even be a economic theorem to explain this.

  106. joe,

    Not if they improve Group X’s quality of life by internalizing the externalized costs of Group Y’s actions, and can only be implemented by Group Y.

    Then clearly X should pay Y to implement it. Once again, there may already be an economic theory that explains this.

  107. Mike P,

    Imagine a scenario where you can force someone else to pay that $100/month.

    The fact that you are externalizing your costs onto him does NOT mean that forcing you to replace the window is not worth it. It might impose a cost on you, but if that cost is less than $100/month, forcing you to replace it is a net economic gain, even if it is a gross cost to you personally.

  108. I’m arguing that the window is broken.

    What? We don’t have an energy sector? Or cars? Or meat?

    What?

  109. RC Dean,

    (b) requires a lifestyle that most people would not prefer.

    Of course my formula was rejecting the underlying premise that people would not prefer the changed lifestyle.

    There is a difference between a perception that change is going to be negative, and the reality of that change.

    The assumption that lifestyle changes are negative is the assumption that I reject as uninformed.

    If they preferred it, they’d be living it now, no?

    Only if you assume that they are informed about the different choices, have been exposed to their effects, and rationally chosen their current lifestyle based on an exhaustive search of the options.

    Are you assuming that people do things in a manner even close to this?

    Talk about facile.

  110. A link to help joe understand the flaw in his 2:31 post. Or, if not the flaw, the solution.

  111. robc,

    The owner of the window says it isnt broken. Who should I believe? Objective parties in a position to determine the truth.

    If the homeowner has figured out a way to make someone else pay the additional heating costs from the broken window, he has every reason in the world to deny that it needs to be replaced..

    I don’t think that it is up to those who have been harmed by others’ behavior to make it worth their while to stop harming them – but, once again, we’re off of economics.

  112. Reinmoose,

    We have those sectors. They’re just broken.

  113. But the issue of GHG pollution and anthropegnic global warming isn’t, in any way, aesthetic.

    But when you pick and choose for others, by force of law, how they must alter what they do, it can easily become aesthetic, or put another way, arbitrary, such as with my example of the evil SUV’s.

  114. because the cost of replacement could have gone to simple upgrading

    Which is, I believe, what joe is arguing should be done…no?

    I must admit that I haven’t been following the broken window or not debate too closely here…maybe I missed something.

  115. Maximizing liberty is my concern, 99% of the time.

    Then let’s make it 100% and you invest in my rickshaw enterprise! Deal?

  116. robc,

    If it is cheaper for me to dump my industrial waste at George’s Bank rather than to contain and process it, why should the fishermen be responsible for covering my costs?

  117. fyodor,

    But when you pick and choose for others, by force of law, how they must alter what they do, it can easily become aesthetic, or put another way, arbitrary, such as with my example of the evil SUV’s.

    A fine warning, and one that anyone formulating policy would be wise to keep in mind. A good argument for carbon taxes over micromanaging car design, for example.

  118. I must admit that I haven’t been following the broken window or not debate too closely here…maybe I missed something.

    He is using a sneeky argument to get everybody to replace their windows with government windows, broken or not.

  119. If it is cheaper for me to dump my industrial waste at George’s Bank rather than to contain and process it, why should the fishermen be responsible for covering my costs?

    It depends who has the property rights to George’s Bank. If you do, then of course its the fishermen’s responsibility. If you dont, then you will either get sued by them or you will pay them to let you dump. Or, if they want to much, it isnt cheaper to dump than process anymore and you will start processing instead.

  120. joe,

    The reason to handle it that way, btw, is that it maximizes economic efficiency, and hasnt that been the point you have been pushing.

  121. Taktix,

    Yup, I just need to take Ekon 101. That’s totally why most of my statements about economics over the years differ from yours, and look more like Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman – because disagreeing with market fundamentalism means you don’t understand teh demand kurve.

    The idea is that replacing something taken or lost is not equal to creating something. What about replacing something that broke on its own? If a window needs replacing, it is ecomically best to replace it. That is needs replacing this case because it is raising your neighbor’s heating bills, rather than your own, changes the economics of your own self-interest, but does not change the overall economic impact of leaving a broken window vs. replacing it.

    It is always a net loss, because the cost of replacement could have gone to simple upgrading or increased production. Were there no windows being broken by global warming, then any money spent addressing the problem would be wasted. If global warming was fictional, then money spent on reducing carbon emissions would, indeed, represent a pointless diversion from more productive investments, and the people supporting actions to reduce global warming would be doing the equivalent of breaking windows. This is the disagreement – whether the windows are broken.

    Where Bailey went wrong in bringing up the broken window fallacy was in his assumption that the only benefits to replacing carbon-intensive technology with better technology accrues to the purveyors of that new technology – that it is the replacement of a window with a window.

  122. Real world coasean bargaining situation:

    Next to my house is a small empty lot. They owners of it havent mowed it yet this spring, its starting to look bad. Although they are probably in violation of some local ordinance (no HoA), Im a property rights absolutist (mostly, see below). Thus, Im not going to call the city on them. Instead, this afternoon, after mowing my lawn Im going to mow theirs.

    I know they wont consider me trespassing (technically, I probably will be, this was the see below point) since the previous owner of my house used to mow it on occassion too.

    Thus, I am offering them a service in exchange for them keeping their lot looking relatively nice. Sure, its implicit bargaining, not explicit, but its still an example of Coasean bargaining.

  123. robc,

    It depends who has the property rights to George’s Bank. George’s bank, like the earth’s atmosphere, is a commons.

    While it is possible in theory to privatize George’s Bank, that can’t be done with the atmosphere.

  124. The reason to handle it that way, btw, is that it maximizes economic efficiency, and hasnt that been the point you have been pushing.

    I have to question whether the ability to dump without cost to the dumper is going to incentivize dumping to the degree that the fishermen would end up paying more to deal with waste than the dumper would pay, because there is no profit motive for the dumper to reduce overall dumping costs.

  125. robc,

    ‘Terror’s tha product he push
    Well I’m a truth addict, oh shit I gotta headrush’

    Perhaps Rage will join back up before the big piece and love gathering in Denver?

  126. We have those sectors. They’re just broken.

    The world is broken, man. And it’s our responsibility to fix it, man.

  127. Haven’t read the study, but I think an issue here is that there is an underlying assumption that the lifestyle changes required to reduce your carbon footprint result in a qualitatively degraded lifestyle.

    That has not been my experience and doesn’t seem to be a requirement based on the efforts of people who have been working on this issue for decades.

    Neu Mejican — that has not been my experience either. I found that by simply turning down the A/C a notch in my Hummer while leaving it idling all day in the parking lot, so that the six-pack on the passenger’s seat can stay cooler, resulted in slightly lower fuel consumption due to the air compressor not working so hard. Admittedly, that first beer I chugged before I hit the road was marginally less crisply cool as previously, but we all must do our bit for the environment, no?

  128. joe,

    I dont know how far down you read in the link I sent, but Friedman specifically discussed the case of pollution in LA. And yes, the atmosphere is a tougher case. Which is what I said well above, in the same post that you were picking on directly/indirectly.

    In both cases (if George’s Bank remains a commons), the answer is to pass laws that minimize transactional costs.

  129. Objective parties in a position to determine the truth.

    Might as well ask your fairy godmother.

  130. joe,

    I have to question whether the ability to dump without cost to the dumper is going to incentivize dumping to the degree that the fishermen would end up paying more to deal with waste than the dumper would pay, because there is no profit motive for the dumper to reduce overall dumping costs.

    Huh, Im not sure I follow that sentence. I lot going on there.

  131. Where Bailey went wrong in bringing up the broken window fallacy was in his assumption that the only benefits to replacing carbon-intensive technology with better technology accrues to the purveyors of that new technology – that it is the replacement of a window with a window.

    Huh?

    The windows (fossil fuel energy sources) in question are humanity’s windows (fossil fuel energy sources), and the new technology windows (non fossil fuel energy sources) are what humanity can choose to convert to.

    If the benefit to humanity of converting old windows (fossil fuel energy sources) with new technology windows (non fossil fuel energy sources) are greater than the costs, then it should be done. If not, then it shouldn’t be done. If somewhere in between — which it most likely is — then some graded cost (a carbon tax) might be added to the old windows (fossil fuel energy sources) to convert the most marginal to new technology windows (non fossil fuel energy sources).

    What the hell does that have to do with “the only benefits to replacing carbon-intensive technology with better technology accrues to the purveyors of that new technology.”

  132. robc,

    Seriously, maybe if you get a calf to eat the grass you could have some nice tender beef in short order.

    More seriously, the AGWs have invented a form of “pollution”, which happens to be a non-toxic gas when they talk about CO2, and are using that fake construct to force everybody into compliance on a “pollution of the commons” issue.

    It is a trojan horse. A false argument.

    The same way the anti-smokers argue that tobacco smoke is a pollutant that will kill everybody, even innocent passersby ten stories below your condo.

  133. And, joe, if your goal is to get me to remove “accepting global warming and carbon taxes for the sake of argument” from my comments, mission accomplished.

  134. and look more like Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman

    I’m sorry.. oh, wait, your ARGUMENTS look more like Paul Krugman… well then I’m still sorry.

    BTW, isn’t there another law that takes care of “my ideas look a lot like this really smart person’s, so therefore you can’t call me stupid” in argumentation? If not, can we call it Krugman’s law? Or joe’s law? (take note of the lowercase “j”)

  135. The last paragraph of my link above applies to well to not post here.


    There is at least one more thing worth saying about “The Problem of Social Cost.” Economists, then and (to some degree) now, tend to jump from the observation that the market produces an inefficient result in some situation to the conclusion that the government ought to intervene to fix the problem. Part of what Coase showed was that, for some problems, there is no legal rule, no form of regulation, that will generate a fully efficient solution. He thus anticipated public choice economists, such as James Buchanan (another Nobel winner), in arguing that the real choice was not between an inefficient market and an efficient government solution but rather among a variety of inefficient alternatives, private and governmental. In Coase’s words: “All solutions have costs and there is no reason to suppose that government regulation is called for simply because the problem is not well handled by the market or the firm.”

  136. Can we get that last sentence engraved in large neon letters on the walls of congress? Let me repeat:

    All solutions have costs and there is no reason to suppose that government regulation is called for simply because the problem is not well handled by the market or the firm.

  137. robc,

    If there is no cost to the industry to dump on George’s Bank, they have no motive to reduce the total amount that needs to be dumped.

    Because of this, it is not obvious to me that allowing the people who can control how much waste is produced to force others to pay the cost of its disposal will actually result in lower overall waste disposal costs.

  138. robc,

    Ask him if it is an issue to dump clean sand on that sand bar. Sand that washed onto your property from that sand bar.

    How about putting uranium back into the mine where it came from, at the same concentration and radiation emissions rates it had when it was mined.

    Now you have the equivelant of putting CO2 back into the air where it came from.

  139. Only if you assume that they are informed about the different choices, have been exposed to their effects, and rationally chosen their current lifestyle based on an exhaustive search of the options.

    Ah, so NM is falling back on the old neo-Marxian/Marcusian “false consciousness”.

    You’re not really enjoying your big house, your appliances, your two cars, your vacation in Europe.

    Feel free to persuade people to give up their current lifestyle, NM, if that’s all you’re talking about. Just don’t expect all your education and persuasion are going to convince people to sacrifice all of the material advancements made since the turn of the century, because that’s what they’ll have to give up to achieve meaningful reductions in carbon footprints.

    If they don’t give up their modern lifestyle voluntarily, then you are looking at either (a) mandates or (b) technological revolution, yes?

  140. Mike P,

    In the classic Broken Windows allegory, the only people who benefit from the act of replacing the windows are the glaziers. The economy as a whole gains nothing from the process – the window was there before, and a window is there after.

    This is different from the replacement of coal plants with wind turbines, as we are not simply replacing 100 mW of power production with 100 mW of power production. We are also achieving the economic gain of eliminating the global warming costs.

    For this reason – because there is already a cost being imposed – the proper analogy is not to breaking windows in order to produce work for the glaziers, but to replacing windows that are already broken. The fact that the cost of having the window broken accrues (mostly) to someone other than the homeowner doesn’t change the overall economic impact.

  141. joe,

    Okay, more clear. And that makes sense. Probably the best reason to sell off property rights to the Bank and get it out of the commons.

    Or, just require them to pay full damage for their dumping or to buy the rights to dump from the fishermen(effectively, ban dumping).

    That is one of the solutions suggested in the link for air pollution. To quote,

    There are a variety of ways in which such problems may sometimes be solved, but none that can always be expected to work. The problem becomes harder the larger the number of people involved. With many millions of people living in southern California, it is hard to imagine any plausible way in which they could voluntarily raise the money to pay all pollutors to reduce their pollution.

    This is one example of the sort of problem referred to under the general label of “transaction costs.” Another would occur if we reversed the assumptions, making pollution (and timber) the efficient outcome but giving the landowners the right to be pollution free. If there were one landowner the steel mill could buy from him the right to pollute. With a hundred, the mill must buy permission from all of them. Any one has an incentive to be a holdout–to refuse his permission in the hope of getting paid off with a large fraction of the money the mill will save from not having to control its pollution. If too many landowners try that approach the negotiations will break down, and the parties will never get to the efficient outcome.

    Seen from this perspective, one way of stating Coase’s insight is that the problem is not really due to externalities at all, but to transaction costs. If there were externalities but no transaction costs there would be no problem, since the parties would always bargain to the efficient solution. When we observe externality problems (or other forms of market failure) in the real world, we should ask not merely where the problem comes from, but what the transaction costs are that prevent it from being bargained out of existence.

  142. the AGWs have invented a form of “pollution”, which happens to be a non-toxic gas

    100 degree water is non-toxic, too. It is still pollution, if dumped into a stream inhabited by creatures not used to living in 100 degree water.

    Pollution does not have to be toxic.

  143. My dad met Paul Ehrlich earlier this week at the Raleigh, NC science museam. I wrote him back that the man was the Al Gore of his day.

    I seriously believe that the whole GW thing is a scam that the governments are using to furthur subjugate their populations.

    I can’t belive that people take the forcasts seriously. The recent cooling trend was unexpected and they were allowed to rework the models. I think the only criteria for an approved climate model is the continued forcasting of drastic future temp increases.

  144. Haven’t read the study, but I think an issue here is that there is an underlying assumption that the lifestyle changes required to reduce your carbon footprint result in a qualitatively degraded lifestyle.

    Assuming a carbon driven economy (that is, no technological revolution), I think this assumption is pretty safe. Look at the footprint for a freakin’ homeless person, for cryin’ out loud.

  145. joe,

    Because of this, it is not obvious to me that allowing the people who can control how much waste is produced to force others to pay the cost of its disposal will actually result in lower overall waste disposal costs.

    Sometimes the most efficient solution is that nothing changes, we are already there.

  146. “Global warming costs” are contrived.

    A broken window is, obviously broken. You have not made the case that this window is in fact broken. You think it’s broken, but you also think there are “objective” bodies who aren’t motivated by personal gain and who can tell me with certainty that yes, my window is broken.

    When you stand to benefit more than the glazier, then you’ve got a reason to be less than honest — or at best presumptuous — about the condition of the window. This seems to be the case with policy shills.

    And if you replace coal plants with wind turbines, to get an even trade of 100MW for 100MW requires a land area that dwarfs that of the coal plant. That’s a lot of dead birds.

  147. In the classic Broken Windows allegory, the only people who benefit from the act of replacing the windows are the glaziers.

    Why in heaven’s name are you focusing on the freaking glazier? That is not the point of the broken windows fallacy at all. In fact focusing on the glazier is the very root of the fallacy!

    The fallacy is the claim that the economy benefits from the broken window because you can show someone doing a job that would not otherwise have been done. But the person and his job are not the point. The point is the opportunity cost to the rest of the economy that you can’t show because of the wealth that had to go toward the new window.

    The economy as a whole gains nothing from the process – the window was there before, and a window is there after.

    Sigh… joe, the economy is out one window. That is a loss to the economy — not merely the lack of a gain.

  148. RC Dean,

    Assuming a carbon driven economy (that is, no technological revolution), I think this assumption is pretty safe

    Do you think that working in a building that requires 1/2 the energy of a convention building, because it is well-lit with natural light, stays cooler in the summer because of ventilation and shading, and stays wamer in the winter because of solar gain, would represent am improvement or a reduction in one’s quality of life?

    What about the planting of several thousand shade trees, which reduces the heat island effect in an city in the summer, allowing property owners to use less energy for cooling? Do you think this would represent a gain or a loss in the quality of life of those property owners, and the people who come and go in that city?

  149. Why in heaven’s name are you focusing on the freaking glazier?

    I’m not. I’m describing the allegory, and pointing out who benefits, to demonstrate the difference between a broken windows situation and costs associated with reducing global warming.

    Sigh… joe, the economy is out one window. That is a loss to the economy — not merely the lack of a gain. Yes, as opposed to costs associated with reducing global warming, which produce not just a loss, but by reducing global warming, create a gain that can exceed or balance that loss out.

    Read the whole comment, please. You’re explaining things to me I explained myself.

  150. There is no way a fair person reading that comment could come to the conclusion that I need the broken windows allegory explained, Mike P.

    You didn’t make a single point I don’t already know, or that is relevant to my argument at all.

  151. BTW, 150 posts in, and nobody can take exception to my argument that global warming, not global warming policy, is breaking windows.

    Except those who deny global warming.

    Should I take that as agreement from the non-deniers?

  152. RC Dean,

    Ah, so NM is falling back on the old neo-Marxian/Marcusian “false consciousness”.

    You’re not really enjoying your big house, your appliances, your two cars, your vacation in Europe.

    That seems a pretty disingenuous interpretation of my point.

    Who said anything about “not enjoying?”

    It’s like the old mom-vs-child eat-your-vegetables argument…how can you know that you don’t like asparagus if you’ve never tried it?

    Young RC: “But Mom, if I liked Asparagus, I would have been eating it all along.”

    Really doesn’t have anything to do with how much RC likes chocolate cake.

    Assuming a carbon driven economy (that is, no technological revolution), I think this assumption is pretty safe. Look at the footprint for a freakin’ homeless person, for cryin’ out loud.

    No tech revolution seems like an even more difficult assumption to work with given the experience of the last 30 years. Most gains in energy supply have come from increased efficiency… not exploration but more efficient exploitation.

  153. You didn’t make a single point I don’t already know, or that is relevant to my argument at all.

    Fair enough. I forgot that you consider the window already broken — even though it is presently providing 70% of the electricity in the US.

  154. Objective parties in a position to determine the truth.

    Ho-lee shit.

    If one can’t see the absurdity in such a statement, one is beyond hope.

  155. BTW, 150 posts in, and nobody can take exception to my argument that global warming, not global warming policy, is breaking windows.

    Except those who deny global warming.

    Should I take that as agreement from the non-deniers?

    This must be how the consensus was made.

    Oh you didn’t disagree with me at the proper time therefore you agree with me.

    By the way joe…did you happen to notice that recent natural weather patterns just swamped any signal that could point to AGW?

  156. even though it is presently providing 70% of the electricity in the US.

    And I can see through a broken window just as well as through a fixed one. That it provides that service doesn’t mean it wasn’t broken.

    In this tortured analogy as I’m using it, the window is broken if it is imposing a cost it would not impose were it to be fixed. Higher heating costs, global warming costs.

    Hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t introduce the analogy into the discussion.

  157. Ron Bailey,

    I agree with you on almost everything, other than CO2 as a pollutant in the concentrations produced by humans, especially since it is being reintroduced to the atmosphere through a natural process.

  158. If one can’t see the absurdity in such a statement, one is beyond hope.

    I guess I’m one of those hopeless people who believes that the scientific method is capable of producing knowledge about the objective state of the world.

    By the way joe…did you happen to notice that recent natural weather patterns just swamped any signal that could point to AGW? In noticed that a natural variation is predicted to cause a short-term trend which makes the established upward curve less smooth. Just as a similar period did in the 40s. I also noticed that nobody who studies the atmosphere for a living, including the fringe who as skeptical of the long-term warming trend, believe that noise refutes the existence of that trend.

    This really is the level of understanding abong deniers like joshua corning, isn’t it? “Look January was cold. Pwned, socialists!” Whatever.

  159. What a shame, that not all of us pray at the Holy Church of Anthropogenic Disaster with its ecumenical staff of Objective Parties in a Position to Determine the Truth.

    You may not have introduced the analogy of the broken window, but you still are waving your hand when you claim that it’s broken.

  160. Window Salesman: These windows are guaranteed for 50 years and will pay for themsleves in reduced heating and cooling costs in just 12 years.

    Customer: I’m 85 years old. Go sell them to the next owner of the house.

  161. In this tortured useful analogy as I’m using I tortured it, …

    Fixed.

  162. I guess I’m one of those hopeless people who believes that the scientific method is capable of producing knowledge about the objective state of the world.

    No. What the process can characterize is only slightly relevant to policy. You’re hopeless because you think humanity is capable of recognizing and communicating an objective state of the world.

  163. Yes, rst, looking to researchers using observation and experimentation to test hypotheses is a “church” which we “pray” to.

    How do you figure our the answer to scentific question? Limbaugh?

    This is what is always comes down to with deniers. “Science? Why, that’s like religion!”

    Whatever.

  164. I see nobody is serious about helping the environment and the homelss here, but me.

  165. You’re hopeless because you think humanity is capable of recognizing and communicating an objective state of the world.

    I have Critical Studies professors who used to say shit like that.

    At a certain point, it occured to me that that just wanted to make shit up that they found politically useful, and not worry about whether it was true.

  166. All of the low carbon footprint countries seem to have two things in common, povery and no need to keep themselves warm.

    They also have no running water, poor sanitation, and very high infant death rates that are convenienty ingored in life expectancy calculations.

  167. They also have no running water, poor sanitation, and very high infant death rates that are convenienty ingored in life expectancy calculations.

    Fits right into the first law of envirowacko: All life is sacred, except human.

  168. Taking lead out of gas is a real environmental success story.

    Expect for the part where it increaed CO2 emissions.

  169. Interesting article that fits right in here, this on the scorge of plastic grocery bags and the sort of folk who use them.

  170. Expect for the part where it increaed CO2 emissions.

    That is only “bad” for the enviros if you don’t take into account that it was their next boogieman.

  171. Hai hai guyz whatz goin on

    Oh, I see.

  172. and nobody can take exception to my argument that global warming, not global warming policy, is breaking windows.

    I can. My house is 53 years old and it still has the original windows. They ain’t broken, they open and close just fine, I can see out of ’em, and they block 99.2% of the air from coming in and out of them when they are closed.

    YOU make the absurd claim that my windows ARE in fact broken merely because they don’t block 99.99% of the air.

    No wonder people hate you.

  173. YOU make the absurd claim that my windows ARE in fact broken merely because they don’t block 99.99% of the air.

    Uhhhhhhh….no.

  174. Uhhhhhhh….no.

    Well, thanks for not clearing it up, then.

  175. I realize that I just posted on the organic food thread a point which might be worth considering in this discussion…particularly in regards to RC Dean’s “if it is better they would already being doing it point…”

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/126276.html#976613

  176. OK, to make it perfectly clear:

    The broken windows allegory doesn’t apply, for two reasons.

    1. The allegory assumes that the windows are, at the beginning of the thought experiment, unbroken. Another way to express this is that the windows are not imposing costs (danger of broken glass, thread of housebreaks, rising heating bills) that a functioning window would not impose.

    In the case at hand, the energy infrastructure in this country already is broken. It’s imposing large costs on us by way of global warming.

    2. The allegory assumes that the homeowner bears the cost of having unbroken windows. In the case at hand, power companies, car companies, oil companies, and building owners are all externalizing their (our) costs of having a broken window to others.

    3. The allegory assumes that the replacement window will be the same as the broken one, so the homeowner gains nothing from the transaction.

    In the case at hand, the replacement of century-old dirt-burning technology and building technology with cleaner energy sources and better buildings would cause additional value (beyond even the elimination of the “broken window/global warming” costs) to come into being or be saved.

  177. RC Dean,

    If they don’t give up their modern lifestyle voluntarily, then you are looking at either (a) mandates or (b) technological revolution, yes?

    b is a given.

    a may not be necessary…how’s about “incentives”

    [ducks anticipating reaction from the gallery]

  178. Three reasons.

  179. Earlier in the thread, joe claims to make statements about economics like “Nobel Prize winner” Paul Krugman. Krugman has never won the Nobel Prize.

  180. Not YET! πŸ˜‰

    My bad.

  181. In the case at hand, the energy infrastructure in this country already is broken. It’s imposing large costs on us by way of global warming.

    Only if you accept that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that is causing the earth to grow rapidly warmer, when the earth is in fact starting to cool off … again … like it did from the 40s to the 70s … due to natural fluctuations in solar output, etc.

    In the case at hand, the replacement of century-old dirt-burning technology and building technology with cleaner energy sources and better buildings would cause additional value (beyond even the elimination of the “broken window/global warming” costs) to come into being or be saved.

    Forcing people via legislation to tear down power plants prior to the end of the plant’s economically useful life to pander to a shaky theory that is starting to be discredited, and forcing investment into more expensive power plants that produce the same amount of power — a huge broken window.

  182. Of course. If you think there is no global warming, then there is no value in reducing it.

  183. If you think there is no global warming, then there is no value in reducing it.

    I could think there is more BENEFIT to global warming than COST, so therefore I could deduce that global warming adds value whereas global cooling reduces value. Which means gimme more global warming, please.

  184. Another amazing thing about the globalwarmingonoids is their hell-bent desire to keep all of the fresh water locked up in the icecaps and glaciers, preserving deserts and all the rest of keeping useful land locked up, to the extent of the fiction that many square miles of coastal land will be submerged when the ice melts.

    IF their worst fears were realized, which is nonsense, but IF, then the deserts would bloome and all of that fresh water in the icecaps would be raining down around the globe.

    They sound like the “preserve fresh water” people, who seem to think fresh water falls once and it is never recirculated to the clouds.

  185. At a certain point, it occured to me that that just wanted to make shit up that they found politically useful, and not worry about whether it was true.

    Bullshit, you didn’t find enlightenment, you just made a choice.

    The earth has been showing the same warming trend for a long time. Anthropogenic global warming is yet a bit more sensationalist.

    Sensationalism is unfortunately the bread and butter of policy shills, so I’m going to have to swallow green horseshit anyway. But at least spare us this “it’s imposing large costs on us by way of global warming” routine when you haven’t even proven there’s a problem.

    Well-heeled manic street preachers.

  186. Guy,

    You can expect my offer to be arriving for your enterprise, Montag Rickshaw and Full Employment Partnership in Spirit Enterprise. I have determined that you have created considerable value through your hard philanthropic work.

    can you believe the effort the deniers are putting into destroying our earth? it is truly sick that these people are so anti-intellectual. watch this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzSzItt6h-s

  187. They sound like the “preserve fresh water” people, who seem to think fresh water falls once and it is never recirculated to the clouds.

    Water, like income, is not distributed correctly.

  188. The broken windows allegory doesn’t apply, for two reasons.

    1…
    2…
    3…

    Three reasons

    No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition

  189. Water, like income, is not distributed correctly.

    I think Sam Kenison had it closer to right…

    The people are not distributed correctly

    πŸ˜‰

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