Energy

Let's Do Something—Anything

The trouble with the new "cap and trade" bill

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Facts. Costs. Consequences.

Who cares?

We're in the middle of pretending to save the planet, baby.

If it's about helping "the environment," suspend reason and salvation is yours. As I'm sure you've heard a lot of smart and compassionate folks tell you lately, doing something—anything!—is better than doing nothing.

So the House did something. It passed a "cap and trade" bill that would ration energy, destroy productive jobs, levy the largest tax increase in United States history and, for kicks, penalize foreign trade partners who fail to engage in comparable economic suicide.

Now, assuming there are no speed-reading clairvoyants in the House, no one who voted for the 1,200-page bill—plus the 300-page amendment dropped the morning of the vote—possibly could have read it.

And any scum-sucking scoundrel who points out that "doing nothing" already includes spending billions on renewable energies and living under thousands of regulations is, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman shrewdly noted, a traitor to humankind.

Speaking of doing nothing: Though it has the potential to stagnate the economy, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, according to the Environmental Protection Agency itself, would not create any reductions in emissions by 2020. The piddling impact of the bill is documented across the ideological spectrum.

So after the House passed the bill, I, curious about the particulars, sent a query to Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), because hers was one of the votes that put the bill over the top. Markey had been on the fence regarding cap and trade, so surely, she gave the bill a thorough once-over before voting. Not surprisingly, I received no reply.

When I later caught Markey swinging at softballs on television, I realized that she probably had been too busy boning up on her talking points to take the time to slog through 1,500 pages of a radical and generational shift in energy policy.

As terrible as this bill is—and America's only hope is that a more reasonable Senate will kill it—Markey and others have mastered the art of passing environmental legislation. Throw in "green jobs" or a "new energy economy" and you are golden. What kind of insensitive monster is going to stand in the way of a windmill?

If you're really in a fighting mood, drop a line about "energy independence"—and don't we love to hear that one? But do not under any circumstances, as Markey did, stray from your script to offer this remarkably ill-informed myth: "We are now beholden," Markey claimed, "to unstable governments in the Middle East for the majority of our oil."

That's scary stuff. And it brings up an important point: Cap and trade schemes do nothing to foster energy independence, though they hold the distinct possibility of making us more "dependent" on foreign oil imports.

Having to pay for expensive carbon credits will be an incentive for many American companies to close their carbon-emitting businesses and move abroad to places less devoted to destroying themselves.

The House's cap and trade also means that any energy that does not rely on windmills or solar panels—so, nearly all energy—could become cheaper to import rather than refine here.

It is also distressing, but not surprising, to hear a politician assert that trading with foreign nations means we are beholden to them rather than explain how trade makes partners more peaceful, makes us competitive, and makes everyone more prosperous.

But even if you measure trade as Markey does, we do not import the "majority" of our oil from "unstable" "Middle Eastern" countries.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the top sources for U.S. crude oil for many years have been Canada and Mexico—with Saudi Arabia third.

Saudi Arabia is a terrible place ruled by religious fascists (whom no American president ever should hold hands with or bow to), but it is rather stable, considering.

Not that it makes any difference, mind you. Something, after all, needs to be done.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 THE DENVER POST
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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  1. Have you noticed that the only acceptable solution to global warming is to abstain from fossil fuels?

    This is like hearing that the only acceptable solution to unwanted pregnancy is abstinence from sex.

    I would not be surprised if there is a significant overlap between believers of the above ideas.

  2. Nuclear winter is the solution to AGW.

  3. Dear George Stephanopoulos,

    Next time you have Paul Krugman at your “round table,” ask him if he’s read the bill.
    Then ask him if he believes in a god.

  4. I love that sign. That is the thing most lacking in humans. The ability to determine when we are completely unproductive to the point as to be a drag on humanity. A person should, at that realization, relinquish their carbon back to gaia.

  5. brotherben,
    Are you serious?? Humans are the ultimate in carbon sequestration!!! We need to create breeding farms. That’s the only logical solution.

  6. For a site called “Reason”, you certainly engage in a lot of irrational logical fallacies. What a pile of trash. And I’m talking both about the OP and the commenters.

  7. “Are you serious?? Humans are the ultimate in carbon sequestration!!! We need to create breeding farms. That’s the only logical solution.”

    Breeding farms? Where do I sign up?

  8. “For a site called “Reason”, you certainly engage in a lot of irrational logical fallacies. What a pile of trash. And I’m talking both about the OP and the commenters.”

    If you have an actual point made that you can dispute you have not yet attempted to do so.

  9. Democrats have declared war on America.

  10. For a site called “Reason”

    DHS etc, Ray is just trying to do his part for the environment by making us all die of alcohol poisoning.

  11. For a site called “Reason”, you certainly engage in a lot of irrational logical fallacies.

    Wow, never heard that one before.

  12. Do I have to take a drink everytime someone quotes Ray, or just for the original post?

  13. Democrats have declared war on America.

    Left-wing socialists declared war on America about sixty or seventy years ago.

    The Democratic party by and large was able to stave off most of their influence until now. But yeah, the two groups have unfortunately pretty much become one and the same, so we’re in deep sh*t.

  14. For a site called “Reason”, you certainly engage in a lot of irrational logical fallacies.

    Ha, nice parody, Xeones. That was you, right? I just took a lot of codeine so I might not be that observant.

  15. > … you certainly engage in a lot of irrational logical fallacies.

    Yes, Ray, we do. It’s fun. But (I dare say) most of us *understand* when “irrational logical fallacies” are being bandied about.

  16. How did left-wing socialists take over the Democratic Party?

    Governor Pat Brown would not fit in today’s California Democratic Party.

  17. According to this, the cap and trade bill imposes a tax of at least 100 – 400% on coal, perhaps doubling the cost of electricity. How a dramatic increase in the cost of electricity is supposed to encourage the adoption of plug-in transportation is an exercise for the reader.

  18. Now is when Chad jumps in to remind us that we can completely overhaul our energy and transportation infrastructure to renewables for the low, low cost of only six trillion dollars.

  19. “irrational logical fallacies”?

    Why do you need the modifier of “irrational” when mentioning logical fallacies?

    Anyway, can you be more specific? What species fallacy are we talking about here?

  20. Now is when Chad jumps in to remind us that we can completely overhaul our energy and transportation infrastructure to renewables for the low, low cost of only six trillion dollars.

    And to tell us that we can pay for it by simply by giving up trips to Starbucks.

  21. Why I heard it only costs him five dollars a month!

  22. And to tell us that we can pay for it by simply by giving up trips to Starbucks.

    Damn, I’ve already done my share then. I never go to Starbucks. Rest of you need to hop to it.

    🙂

  23. Wait. I’ll use my taxpayer funded monthly check to buy starbucks if I want. Let the rich fix the environment.

  24. David Harsanyi is a right-wing fanatic. Have you ever noticed that the number of posts on this moronic blog approaches a fraction of the number Daily Kos gets only when some troll pushes your buttons. Idiots.

  25. After you read the comments on that thread, post your response to youtube.

  26. Cesar, Misha isn’t nearly as good as Neil.

  27. Misha = Lefiti

  28. “Now is when Chad jumps in to remind us that we can completely overhaul our energy and transportation infrastructure to renewables for the low, low cost of only six trillion dollars.”

    Yes and don’t forget about the MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES of fossil fuels.

    Because of those MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES, we are actually “paying” far more for the energy we’re using now but we’re just to dim to realize it until Chad/Wilee-coyotee-super-genious graciosly deigns to instruct us on it.

  29. Doesn’t mean shit to a tree.

  30. Yeah, I’m pretty much the deal-breaker for your side. You can’t prove that I’m not doing all kinds of harm. Even harm to your children. I’ll get you denialists! Prove me wrong!

    You can’t.

  31. It’s hard to watch, but this is what it looks like when an award-winning economist struggles to say something useful to leftists without saying some kind of economic nonsense. As a result, Krugman ends up saying very little. It’s kind of funny in a way. Clearly he’s more in his element when he’s writing those ridiculous columns.

  32. Damn you, allegedly-existing-but-unprovable ME!

    *shakes fist*

  33. “Read the comments on this thread.”

    Hi crazy loon denier,

    I think argument from authority and ad hominems are legitimate forms of debate and are logically acceptable. You sir are an ass, you are condescending and have “conservative” tendencies; therefore, you are not only wrong in anything you might say, regardless of factual validity or intellectual merit, you are also evil and a traitor to the planet.

  34. FOOLS!!! ALL FOOLS!!! This cap and trade bill will create millions of new jobs!!! Millions!

  35. “, for kicks, penalize foreign trade partners who fail to engage in comparable economic suicide.”

    Uhh, as folks have pointed out around here this kind of thing might be very pointless unless you can get other nations to go along, so this is more “crucial to the scheme” than “just for kicks.”

  36. Naga
    I think the FOOLS! beginning should be your permanent catch-phrase. But I grew up watching a lot of Super-friends…

  37. According to this, the cap and trade bill imposes a tax of at least 100 – 400% on coal, perhaps doubling the cost of electricity.

    Just wait till the senior citizens take note of this. They’ll grab their senators by the ear and give them a good talking to.

  38. Holy moly, Mssive Externalities is… GOD?

    Interesting.

  39. MNG – I think that the “for kicks” was kind of an understatement, because that’s pretty much the worst part. It would be sad if the United States chose to hamstring its own business, but to penalize consumers when they come to rely on foreign imports that substitute industries killed by the bill? So. Bad.

  40. Massive…

  41. Yes and don’t forget about the MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES of fossil fuels.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the massive externalities!

    By the way, everyone should go to weather.com right now and take a good hard look at the current national temperature map.

    It’s July 1, and our temperature in Washington D.C. is topping out today at around 83 degrees, and looking at the 10 day extended forecast, it’s highs of mid 80s and lows of upper 60s as far as the eye can see. Anyone who has lived here a while and is honest will tell you that these are below-average temps for this area at this time of year.

    The man-made global warming B.S. is right up there with the rationales given for the Iraq war as the biggest fraud in the history of the world.

  42. TAO
    I thought your beef (or one of them) with it was that it was foolish to unilaterally do this. So a provision trying to push other nations to go along seems rational to me.

  43. In “pushing” other nations, you’re causing them severe economic retardation. Meaning they aren’t going to do it.

    All you’re creating is either A) a massive black market or B) huge incentives to cheat the system.

    I am saying that it’s folly to go about this in any fashion because of the global nature of the solution required. OK, great, so now you’ve pushed manufacturing out of China. Maybe now it goes to Russia? to I dunno, Senegal or Africa or somewhere not covered by the bill?

  44. Well of course Mike, this cool summer day (I’m not far from you in MD) definitively proves global warming is a crazy myth! Since they called for all days to be very hot forever, you have falsified the theory clung to stubbornly by every major professional scientific organization out of sheer madness and spite. You need a Nobel nomination!

  45. Senegal or somewhere else in Africa…

  46. Time for a massive information (or misinformation) campaign; we need to get AARP and UAW beating on the Democratic Senators about how Cap-n-Trade is going to destroy their cushy lives.

  47. you know, MNG, for all of your talk for wanting to see Americans succeed over other countries, you sure are eager to give away the Industry Farm to other countries’ with less crazy bad schemes.

  48. You may find that manufacturers just comply, if the costs of complying are greater than they would be to go to the trouble of cheating the system and such.

    Libertarians are such funny folks sometimes when it comes to regulation. Take the drug war. On the one hand, it’s this set of horrible libertyrestricting laws. On the other hand, no one really follows these rules anyway because black markets meet supply and if we abolished the laws we would have no more drug users than we already do. It’s nuts.

  49. I’m always there even when I’m not.
    Whenever a polar bear drowns.
    Whenever heavy metals enter an aquifer.
    Whenever a request to landfill flyash is denied.
    AND
    Whenever congress is in session.
    I’ll be there.

  50. I do want to see Americans do better than other nations. Which is why I favor the provisions that will push nations to go along with us.

    I also don’t want to see the harm to humanity that is predicted if steps are not taken to better the environment. Which is why I support something (in theory) like the measure which passed.

  51. Is it some of your opinion’s that externalities don’t exist?

    Or has that matter been conclusively settled by the relevant experts in libertarians favor too?

    So in addition to all of these scientists, economists are perpetrating these socialist hoaxes too, eh?

    Hmmm…

  52. I have a cunning plan.

    * * *

    Conquer the rest of the planet and make all of the other countries “green.” We, of course, get to continue our proliferate ways as global hegemon.

    Earth is saved!

  53. “Conquer the rest of the planet and make all of the other countries “green.””

    I don’t know if you realize this but most of the super-heroes are Americans, so this will not be hard.

    We’ve got the FF, the Hulk, Superman, Spider-man…Who’s gonna fuck with us, Alpha Flight? Batroc the Leaper?

  54. No, externalities do exist. And, as evidenced here, they are perhaps developing consciousness.

  55. @ 2:10 meant they would comply if the costs of compliance was less than the effort of getting around the penalties and such

  56. “And, as evidenced here, they are perhaps developing consciousness.”

    I’m not sure I would promote what we’ve seen to “consciousness.”

  57. MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES, don’t get to cocky.

    You WILL utlimately have to answer to me.

  58. Conquer the rest of the planet and make all of the other countries “green.” We, of course, get to continue our proliferate ways as global hegemon.

    Can we nuke a couple to set an example, huh, huh, huh — remember nuclear winter is the solution to AGW.

  59. Well, I think it would be wrong to use nukes, but I suspect some of the conquerees will use them to try to stop our forces of goodness.

  60. Well, I think it would be wrong to use nukes, but I suspect some of the conquerees will use them to try to stop our forces of goodness.

    I suppose that will cool the planet well enough, but it sort of takes the fun out of conquest.

  61. I do want to see Americans do better than other nations. Which is why I favor the provisions that will push nations to go along with us.

    Why, you imperialist, you.

  62. “Conquer the rest of the planet and make all of the other countries “green.” We, of course, get to continue our proliferate ways as global hegemon.”

    But we would still have the cancer of the greenie assholes eating away our own country from within.

    A better idea would be to round up all the greenie assholes worldwide and summarily execute them all.

    Problem solved.

  63. The good news is that that sh*thead Henry Waxman apparently had to be rushed to the hospital for something yesterday.

    The bad news is that whatever he has doesn’t appear to be life-threatening. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway.

  64. Gilbert,

    No, no, no. We’re going to be an enlightened empire. We’re not going to kill them. We’re going to send them to a new place, a place I call “Greenland.” By edict, Greenland will be forever safe from fossil fuels, machinery, GM-foods, etc.

  65. “Gilbert,

    No, no, no. We’re going to be an enlightened empire. We’re not going to kill them. We’re going to send them to a new place, a place I call “Greenland.” By edict, Greenland will be forever safe from fossil fuels, machinery, GM-foods, etc.”

    I get it.

    You want to kill them too, but in a lot slower and more painfull way.

    Cool.

  66. Agreed. This is a pretty bad bill.

    It’s funny how most people on the left and right admit that a carbon tax would be a much more efficient way to reduce carbon, and you could make it revenue neutral to avoid raising overall taxes.

    You could also apply it like a VAT to goods, to avoid giving imports an advantage over domestic goods.

    Yet…

    instead of pursing the best option, we came up with a boon doogle to reward the special interests. What a surpise.

    Then again the word “tax” has become so demonized lately that you can’t use it. So all taxes must be hidden in some other form.

    Sigh…

  67. > Doesn’t mean shit to a tree.

    Henry! 😎 So there’s where *one* hippy has gone!

    ESKIMO BLUE DAY (G. Slick/P. Kantner)
    … Consider how small you are
    Compared to your scream
    The human dream
    Doesn’t mean shit to a tree

  68. “I also don’t want to see the harm to humanity that is predicted if steps are not taken to better the environment. Which is why I support something (in theory) like the measure which passed.”

    The case has not been proven that there will be great harm to humanity.

    Regarding the success of reducing CO2 with cap and trade, let’s look at Europe’s experience with it. The EU has not been able to reduce its CO2 emissions under cap and trade. Its emissions have increased. Do we really expect to be more succesful with it? Our economy will be damaged with no effect on CO2 output. I hope the Senate kills this nonsense.

  69. “Conquer the rest of the planet and make all of the other countries “green.” We, of course, get to continue our proliferate ways as global hegemon.

    Earth is saved!”

  70. “instead of pursing the best option…”

    Which would be to scrap the entire bill because there is no proven need to reduce carbon dioxide one iota to begin with and replace it with legislation the lifts any and all restrictions on exploring and drilling for oil and gas everywhere onshore and offshore.

    Drill, baby drill!

  71. “A better idea would be to round up all the greenie assholes worldwide and summarily execute them all.”

    Gilbert’s the kind of guy that on another thread would be trying to peddle the “liberals are fascists, not conservatives” line.

    Because what was evil about the fascists was not their annoying tendency to round up group x or y and summarily execute them, but those dang industry wide codes!

  72. Actually, even if global warming turns out to be false, I still think that some type of net zero carbon tax would be a good idea.

    You would be encourgaing the conservation of a radpidly depleting finite resource, and increasing the returns to labor (ie a reduction in the income tax).

    Moreover, you would be preparing our economy for the increasing in fossil fuel prices that will come no matter what in the future.

    I see that as a win/win whether climate change is real or no.

    For example, if our gas tax wasn’t so low, we wouldn’t have had the suburban sprawl that we had, and our economy wouldn’t be as adversly effected by changes in the price of oil.

    Of course you’re probably going to come back with something about that’s how people want to live, and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an unsustainable model built on the false idea that oil will remain cheap forever.

    Anyway, it’s going to be a tough adjustment for people.

  73. kroneberg – the adjustment can be handled via the price mechanism. no government “help” needed. Remember when it took government to wean us off of whale oil? Oh yeah, that never happened.

    And I am about tired of the words “sustainable/unsustainable” – no, use of energy sources isn’t, strictly speaking, ever sustainable, krone. Duh…that’s just thermodynamics speaking

    You would be encourgaing the conservation of a radpidly depleting finite resource, and increasing the returns to labor (ie a reduction in the income tax).

    please pass whatever drug you’re on. Do you really think that once government gets a taste of income, its going to relinquish some of it? Keep dreaming.

  74. “You would be encourgaing the conservation of a radpidly depleting finite resource”

    How do you know it’s “rapidly depleting”?

    There are a significant number of places in the world where the biggest constraint on oil prodcution is political – not physical.

    Also a lot of the places off our own coasts have not only been off limits to drilling, they have been off limits to testing and exploration as well for a long time. Technology has gotten a lot better at finding oil and gas in the intervening years.

  75. Kroneborg, you’re basically saying the government should oversee a massive social and economic engineering scheme. With, like all such things, the best of intentions.

    No thanks. You’d think by now we would have learned better.

  76. “Gilbert’s the kind of guy that on another thread would be trying to peddle the “liberals are fascists, not conservatives” line.”

    It’s not only a line – it’s a fact.

    I don’t see any conservatives pushing the massive expansion of government power and control that is the carbon cap and trade bill.

    Executing those who attempt to enslave you is merely self defense.

  77. Kroneborge | July 1, 2009, 3:19pm | #
    Agreed. This is a pretty bad bill.

    It’s funny how most people on the left and right admit that a carbon tax would be a much more efficient way to reduce carbon, and you could make it revenue neutral to avoid raising overall taxes.

    Actually, this is not true. The cap and the tax are economically equivalent, and there are minor advantages and disadvantages to their practical implementation. The tax IS better in my opinion, but only because of slightly less overhead, better clarity, and less difficulty for businesses and individuals to calculate the value of various projects. Overall, though, the economic impacts are largely identical.

    The problem with this bill is largely that the permits are not auctioned, but rather given away to special interests in order to buy votes. Now if a large group of libertarian-style Republicans were to come out and say “Cap and Trade is correct in principle, let’s make it work by passing a clean bill without all the special interest rent seeking”, I would give the right some respect on this issue. The reality is that they DON’T agree with cap and trade, even in principle, and are delighted by (and indeed, often behind) all the pork that keeps being added.


  78. Gilbert Martin | July 1, 2009, 1:40pm | #
    “Now is when Chad jumps in to remind us that we can completely overhaul our energy and transportation infrastructure to renewables for the low, low cost of only six trillion dollars.”

    Yes and don’t forget about the MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES of fossil fuels.

    Because of those MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES, we are actually “paying” far more for the energy we’re using now but we’re just to dim to realize it until Chad/Wilee-coyotee-super-genious graciosly deigns to instruct us on it.

    Sorry, I was busy today. Were you trying to be ironic?

    But hey, we can always keep up the status quo, all at the low, low price of selling our country to the Saudis, watching our unprepared economy come to screaching halt when oil production, and especially exports, begin to rapidly decline, killing a few tens of thousands a year with air pollution, defacing thousands of square miles of pristine boreal forest and Appalachian mountaintops, frying much of the southern and western plains, flooding a good part of Florida and Louisiana, and wiping out a tenth of the species on earth.

    Clearly, the loss of a couple of grand per year in income for your family would be far more devastating. Just think, with that much money lost, you might have to give up buying your new Hummer until next year.

  79. “Now if a large group of libertarian-style Republicans were to come out and say “Cap and Trade is correct in principle, let’s make it work by passing a clean bill without all the special interest rent seeking”

    It’s not right in principle because it will be costly to the economy and it hasn’t been proven that AGW will have disastrous conseqences.

  80. “I would give the right some respect on this issue.”

    LOL

    I’m sure thy’re all staying up nights worrying about how to gain your respect.

  81. “But hey, we can always keep up the status quo, all at the low, low price of selling our country to the Saudis, watching our unprepared economy come to screaching halt when oil production, and especially exports, begin to rapidly decline”

    Read Gilbert’s comment above. There need be no rapid decline of fossil fuels.

    “killing a few tens of thousands a year with air pollution”

    Reference needed.

    “defacing thousands of square miles of pristine boreal forest and Appalachian mountaintops”

    Versus defacing all that land with unsightly looking windmills.

    “frying much of the southern and western plains, flooding a good part of Florida and Louisiana, and wiping out a tenth of the species on earth.”

    All unproven.

    “Clearly, the loss of a couple of grand per year in income for your family would be far more devastating. Just think, with that much money lost, you might have to give up buying your new Hummer until next year.”

    There will also be a large net loss in jobs.

  82. bookworm | July 1, 2009, 4:28pm | #

    It’s not right in principle because it will be costly to the economy and it hasn’t been proven that AGW will have disastrous conseqences.

    First, I would disagree with your line about the economy. It is wrong, because you forgot to include the words “as we measure it”. The problem is that our normal measure of economy, the GDP, includes bad things (eg, The Broken Windows fallacy) as positives, and fails to include bad things such as resource consumption or environmental destruction, which are also negatives. It also completely fails to measure pro-sumption (production for your own personal consumption, like cooking your down dinner). So it winds up with being a very inaccurate measurement of the state of our society. Cap and Trade will make the economy LOOK smaller, not because our society would be worse off, but because more of these negatives would become incorporated within the GDP measurement.

    The second problem I have with your statement is that you seem to think that something MUST be “disasterous” before one should act to prevent it. This is not true. Rational people act in advance to prevent things that are merely annoying, pretty bad, potentially very bad but unlikely, or any other way of expressing the idea of “undesirable” you can think of. If AGW is going to be “probably bad”, we should act to prevent it. If it is going to be “possibly disasterous”, then we should act to prevent it. If BOTH of these cases are true, which they are, we should act even more strongly.

  83. Mark 1:52pm:

    It’s hard to watch, but this is what it looks like when an award-winning economist struggles to say something useful to leftists without saying some kind of economic nonsense. As a result, Krugman ends up saying very little. It’s kind of funny in a way. Clearly he’s more in his element when he’s writing those ridiculous columns.

    Dude, I just got around to watching a little bit of this and Krugman points out the myth (and a depressing myth it is) that A. we already have a “single payer” system for health care in Medicare and also B. that the Federal Government already pays for 60ish% of all treatment in the US right now… and that it’s not at all a private system…

    He says all this not even 4 minutes into the video!!

    I keep trying to understand why people who are so dissatisfied with the current state of health care in the US don’t recognize the simple fact that their dissatisfaction is directly proportional to the amount of government involvement.

    Incidentally, I keep failing in my quest for comprehension.

  84. Jesus fuck what is wrong with you people? What do libertarianism and science denial have to do with each other?

    “Largest tax in U.S. history” is bullshit. Where’d you get that idea? GOP talking points memo? Cuz that’s where it’s from. That is certainly always a source of sound, rational policy analysis.

    I’m interested to know what libertarians think we should do about global warming. But you guys don’t have to bother because you’re deep into flat earth territory on this issue, inexplicably to me. As Chad said above, our current energy situation is hardly a cheap or free one.

    So that you guys go out of your way to believe fringe bullshit generously provided by GOP memos and pro-oil think tanks makes no sense to me, unless you’re just worried that global warming is one issue where there is no real libertarian solution, and you’re just scared to admit it so you wrap yourself up in the warm blankie of science denial.

    I can hardly imagine a more immoral stance to take than to willfully deceive yourself about established science–on a reality that will affect all humans everywhere–for the sake of ideology or whatever the hell. Politicians who peddle this bullshit are the worst–their names should be alongside the worst mass murderers when history judges them, assuming there’s anyone left to do it. That you guys, under the banner of freedom, take those same politicians’ talking points and believe them as facts in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence just makes you ignorant tools of evil men.

  85. “all at the low, low price of selling our country to the Saudis, watching our unprepared economy come to screaching halt when oil production, and especially exports, begin to rapidly decline, killing a few tens of thousands a year with air pollution,….”

    Blah, blah, blah.

    Chad, in order to conserve valuable posting space on the blog, in the future just use the abbreviation ME for your usual spiel whiich we’ve all heard many times before.

    Unless you’re going to throw something funny in at the end such as “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”

  86. Tony, Chad has the troll job covered in here today.

    You can take the rest of the day off.

  87. bookworm | July 1, 2009, 4:39pm | #

    Read Gilbert’s comment above. There need be no rapid decline of fossil fuels.

    I am specifically speaking of oil, which is the hardest to replace. The big fields are declining 7% per year. Deep water and small fields are declining 15%. We are depleting more than three times as fast as we are finding, and haven’t been able to increase production for five years despite very large prices increases. Just to replace the depletion of current fields, we would need to find a new Saudi Arabia every 22 months.
    I’ll take math and chemistry over “Gilbert’s comments” any day.

    We hit Peak Oil in July 2008. Be prepared. I am serious.

    “killing a few tens of thousands a year with air pollution”

    You can google “air pollution deaths” and find all the data you want. “tens of thousands per year” actually is just in the US. Actually, just coal pollution in the US runs around 20,000 premature deaths per year.

    Versus defacing all that land with unsightly looking windmills.

    Yes, because a farm with a few wind generators in it is at all comparibly ugly to a giant patch of wasteland where there was once a beautiful forest. You really are digging deep to find crap, aren’t you?

    “frying much of the southern and western plains, flooding a good part of Florida and Louisiana, and wiping out a tenth of the species on earth.”

    All unproven.

    I don’t think you know what proof means. Unless something changes, it is only a question of when with respect to the flooding and southwestern droughts. There was an article recently in Environmental Science and Technology which calculated 1C = 10% of all species lost, so I was actually being pretty conservative. Welcome to the Sixth Great Extinction.

    There will also be a large net loss in jobs.

    Not if you believe that markets are at all close to efficient. Able and willing workers are an asset that markets would not leave un-exploited indefinitely. C&T will cause economic shifts, and some people will get lost temporarily as they adjust, but that happens all the time. De-carbonizing our economy will actually cause it to be more stable and therefore reduce unemployment. Remember, four out of the last five recessions were triggered by oil shocks.

  88. Tony | July 1, 2009, 4:50pm | #

    I can hardly imagine a more immoral stance to take than to willfully deceive yourself about established science–on a reality that will affect all humans everywhere–for the sake of ideology or whatever the hell. Politicians who peddle this bullshit are the worst–their names should be alongside the worst mass murderers when history judges them, assuming there’s anyone left to do it. That you guys, under the banner of freedom, take those same politicians’ talking points and believe them as facts in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence just makes you ignorant tools of evil men.

    I just finished reading “Bury my Heart and Wounded Knee”, and I kept thinking how the denialists are so much like those that all but exterminated the last tribes of Native Americans for the west. The transparency of the raw greed hidden behind their phoney arguments and propaganda is almost identical. You are right, history will remember the denalists no better than we remember the murders who “conquered” the west.

  89. Yeah Gilbert how dare we “troll” with our fact-based opinions that are connected to reality. We’ll have none of that here at Reason thank you very much! Ignorant fuck.

  90. OMG… Chad AND Tony, together at last… When’s the big day guys? Send out your invitations yet?

  91. Tony, we aren’t going to pay you any overtime for trolling on Chad’s watch.

  92. “I’ll take math and chemistry over “Gilbert’s comments” any day.”

    Get back to us if you ever happen to run across somebody who is an actual authority on either one.

  93. > “Largest tax in U.S. history” is bullshit.

    OK then, Tony, what *is* the largest?

  94. Rich,

    I dunno, maybe it was the time Democrats talked about letting the Bush tax cuts expire, which is the last time the GOP trotted out the “largest tax increase in history” talking point.

    Or could be the 1954 income tax, or the social security tax. Who cares. Why do you guys take meaningless GOP talking points as facts (when convenient)?

  95. Aww noo no… Gilbert, Chad just told me the other day that he used to teach “college level” math.

    Plus he’s a scientist, or so I’ve heard. He’s an uber-authority.

  96. I really hate that “talking points” argument. Of course they’re talking points. It’s what they’re talking about. Just because the GOP takes a side on things, and talks about them, that makes them automatically wrong? What happens when we take the same side of an argument as the Democrats? Are we parroting the Democrat talking points then? I doubt you’d see it that way.

    If you’d take off your Democrat-colored sunglasses for once Tony, you’d see that the world isn’t just made up of right-wing and truth.

    But then again, I’m a victim of the right wing propaganda, so anything I just said is meaningless, isn’t it?

  97. Just because the GOP takes a side on things, and talks about them, that makes them automatically wrong?

    Generally. Can you name something they’ve been right about?

    Republicans don’t believe in science when it’s inconvenient. They’ve demonstrated that amply. If Democrats understand and appreciate science and use it in their policy proposals, that’s not just another side of the argument. That’s being rational, and bully for them.

    The Republicans say “this is the largest tax increase in U.S. history” every time the Democrats come out with a budget. It’s not reality and it doesn’t mean anything. When talking points align with truth, good for them. When they distort it and you use it as a fact to pursue an agenda, well you’re being dumb.

  98. So distortion of facts to support an argument is solely the domain of the Republicans? Democrats never resort to that sort of shenanigans?

  99. But hey, we can always keep up the status quo, all at the low, low price of selling our country to the Saudis,

    Actually, our two biggest sources of imported oil are Canada and Mexico. The biggest barrier to reducing dependence on foreign oil are environmental regulations.

    watching our unprepared economy come to screaching halt when oil production, and especially exports, begin to rapidly decline,

    Speculative. And the history of speculation that we will abruptly run out of any natural resource gives little reason to believe this is true. You might look up a certain wager made by Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon sometime.

    killing a few tens of thousands a year with air pollution,

    [citation needed], but, sure. Just make sure to offset the externalities caused by whatever will replace carbon fuels.

    defacing thousands of square miles of pristine boreal forest and Appalachian mountaintops

    What boreal forest is being defaced? What, for that matter, is the total footprint of all open-face coal mines in the US? Betcha its not thousands of square miles.

    frying much of the southern and western plains, flooding a good part of Florida and Louisiana, and wiping out a tenth of the species on earth.

    Speculative, based on modeling of certain unproven yet assumed feedback loops, not supported by any data.

  100. Woah… Tony, you think Democrats give a shit about science??

    HAHhahahahahaha…. Man, that’s awesome. I love you guys.

    If I can be serious for two seconds (it’s so hard for me with Chad and Tony around, but I’ll try). The Democrats completely ignore science on Nuclear Power, I doubt you’ll get a Dem to admit that the ANWR pipeline was a boon to the local Caribou population, and you sure as hell won’t find one who’s willing to deal with the mounds of empirical evidence in economics that point towards the success of free markets, but i suppose you don’t consider that “science”. A CA democratic assemblyman said just the other day that the couple billion dollar tax-increase the state is imposing on crude-oil won’t be passed on to any end-consumers.

    You people (D)s, honestly believe that taxing “corporations” isn’t a tax on every individual who uses that company’s products. If that isn’t at least in essence anti-science, I’m not sure what qualifies.

    If you aren’t stuck with this weird democratic view of the field where consensus is more important than non-contradictory logic and real-world (as opposed to laboratory/model-created) evidence, then Dems are pitifully far behind the curve.

    That said… Of course the (R)s are unquestionably worse on these issues, but both the idiot parties suck a goat’s ass when it comes to dealing with any facts and logic.

    BUT, Tony… occasionally one “side” or the other gets something right.

  101. You can argue about “when” peak oil, peak coal etc will occur, but never the less, they will occur. (note peak oil doesn’t mean that we run out of oil tomorrow, it just means that supply (especially cheap supply) can no longer keep up with demand).

    And the price mechanism is telling us they will occur sooner rather than later.

    Also, with a carbon tax, (or cap and trade to a lesser extent) the government is overseeing the transformation, the market is. The government is just providing signals to the market.

    One very interesting paper on this can be found here. Note it’s an actual economic paper, and not just an op-ed.

    http://www.sociology.northwestern.edu/faculty/prasad/Taxation_3_25_08

  102. Krone…

    Government’s cannot provide accurate signals to the market. If they are attempting to do so, then you cannot continue to say that the transformation is being overseen by “the market”. Government & market are two separate entities. One relies on dispersed information carried through price signals based on the voluntary transactions of millions of people around the world – in other words, it is “bottom-up”… And the other relies on a few people using various degrees of force to pressure and coerce the bulk of humanity to make a decision sponsored by an oligarchy and it, by definition, “top-down”.

    These are conflicting methods of dealing with issues – so while you’re right, government can “provide signals” to the market, you are wrong in then assuming that that A. those signals will be remotely accurate or reflect the true state of scarcity related to a wide spectrum of goods, services & raw materials… and B. that the “market” is then responsible for the results.

    It’s exactly that line of thinking that leads most people to think the “free market” has failed in the case of the housing, financial & health care industries when it was precisely the government tampering and sending bad signals into the market that are the actual problem.

  103. R C Dean | July 1, 2009, 6:13pm | #

    What boreal forest is being defaced? What, for that matter, is the total footprint of all open-face coal mines in the US? Betcha its not thousands of square miles.

    Dear God! Do you not know that most the Canadian “oil” we receive comes from the tar sands in Alberta? With an area of 54000 sq miles, and 20% of that with shallow deposits best collected by open pit mining, thousands of square miles of devasation result. National Geographic just did a nice peice on this mess. It is definitely a contender for the least environmentally-friendly project on earth. It actually drastically amplifies carbon emissions compared to regular oil because so much natural gas is burned in order to boil the tar out of the sand. And we won’t even get into the massive lakes full of toxic water that are being built all over the place up there, with no long term solution.

    And you may want to re-think your opinion of Mexican oil. Their production is falling like a rock and their demand increasing. They will be a net importer before long.

  104. Wow… umm… Chad……….. hate to break it to you buddy… but RC Dean wasn’t talking about “oil”, as you could have determined by accurately reading the word: “coal”

    You know… the word which you copy & pasted, then promptly ignored to make a tangential point.

  105. Also… I love that he additionally said, “in the US” and you immediately start talking about Canada.

    …You are some of the best comic relief, dude.

  106. Incidentally… I got curious, so I decided to take up RC’s implicit challenge.

    Here are some of my findings:

    1. The McMurray Formation, within the Canadian Athabasca Oil-Sands region you were referring to is where the main strip mines are. From what I can gather, the total area being mined seems to be 32 square miles. It’s possible that I’ve only found data on one company, but since there are only 4 mines operating in that part of Canada, I’m going to bet that if I’m wrong about 32 square miles as the total, then the real total cannot possibly be over 120 square miles being strip mined.

    And… To RC’s real question:

    2.Wiki tells me that the United States has a whopping grand total of FIVE open-pit mines…

    They are:

    Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana – 320 acres

    Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine near Hibbing, Minnesota – 4,480 acres

    Bingham Canyon Mine near Salt Lake City – 1,900 acres

    Lavender Pit near Bisbee, Arizona – 300 acres

    and

    El Chino Mine near Silver City, New Mexico – weighing in at a whopping 9,000 acres! (El Chino is apparently one of the largest in the world, and very close to shutting down permanently it turns out.)

    All combined, the total surface area being covered by these mines is at most… WAIT FOR IT…

    25 SQUARE MILES

    Notably, this means that it would take 40 times that amount of area being strip-mined in the United States to break 1000 square miles, so I think I can afford a rather wide margin of error…

    Chad, I hate to break it to you for the bazillionth time, but you are full of shit.

  107. Oh by the way… none of those are Coal mines.

    If you want to talk Mountain-Top Removal coal mining, that’s another issue but still doesn’t manage to break a few thousand Sq. Miles in the entire United States…

  108. “Aww noo no… Gilbert, Chad just told me the other day that he used to teach “college level” math.

    Plus he’s a scientist, or so I’ve heard. He’s an uber-authority.”

    Yes indeed.

    Just like this guy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MaJbJgZEp8

  109. “Actually, our two biggest sources of imported oil are Canada and Mexico. The biggest barrier to reducing dependence on foreign oil are environmental regulations.”

    Indeed so.

    There’s lots more oil to be had offshore, in ANWAR, in tar sands in Canada and in oil shale in the Western U.S.

    Also we can make synthetic gasoline out of coal. We’ve got plenty of that. We could build a bunch of new nuclear power plants to replace coal fired ones and then we would have even more spare coal available to make gasoline out of.

    And make all those nuclear power plants be the the breeder reactor type. They can produce more fuel than they use and it can be reprocessed and used over and over again. Now that’s REAL renewable energy!

    Also we can stop the pussyfooting around and start storintg all that nucleear waste at Yucca Mountain where it belongs. There is no physical reason why it shouldn’t be stored there – only a political bullshit one. Tell those whiny crybabies in Nevada to suck it up.

    They were perfectly happy to take all the economic benefit of the government spending tons of taxpayers money to build the place but when it comes time for the taxpayers to get what they paid for, they pitched a hissy fit about it.

  110. Sean W. Malone | July 1, 2009, 8:54pm | #

    I’m going to bet that if I’m wrong about 32 square miles as the total, then the real total cannot possibly be over 120 square miles being strip mined

    Sean, I am talking about what we will do, not what we have already done. Massive investments are being made up there, and will last for decades. Wikipedia puts the area that is consistent with strip mining at over 10,000 sq miles. Please tell me, at how many should we quit? And of course, that isn’t counting how much devastation these things cause all around them. There are areas of Alberta that have worse air pollution than Mexico city, and they are also having serious water issues as well. Never mind the lakes of toxic water, either…

    There’s lots more oil to be had offshore, in ANWAR

    That buys us a year.

    in tar sands in Canada

    Buys us a couple more years, is environmentally destructive in the extreme, and is highly expensive.

    and in oil shale in the Western U.S

    A few more years, and several times worse than tar sands in every way.

    Also we can make synthetic gasoline out of coal.

    Similar to tar sands. Expensive and filthy.

    We could build a bunch of new nuclear power plants to replace coal fired ones

    Fine. Go ahead and try to build one without subsidy.

  111. cutting though the crap…

    Which of you have actually read the bill?

    …and where can I find it?

  112. > The Republicans say “this is the largest tax increase in U.S. history” every time the Democrats come out with a budget. It’s not reality and it doesn’t mean anything.

    Does “it” refer to “a budget”?

    Seriously, I really am trying to understand your “tax increase” point. Maybe we just have to agree to wait and see what future 1040s result in.

  113. Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana – 320 acres

    Berkeley Pit is now abandoned and filling with highly acidic water, presumably filled with the salts of various metals.

    I wonder how much of these metals could be extracted if Atlantic-Richfield simply had a few anodes and cathodes suspended into the lake and various locations and let electrolysis begin.

    Just a little mental exercise I’ve engaged in, from time to time.

  114. I fell ill already. Thanks Rich.

  115. I wonder how much of these metals could be extracted if Atlantic-Richfield simply had a few anodes and cathodes suspended into the lake and various locations and let electrolysis begin.

    I doubt it would be profitable.

  116. “That buys us a year.”
    “Buys us a couple more years”
    “A few more years”

    Citations needed. You’re talking out your ass again Chad.

  117. Silentz | July 2, 2009, 12:10am | #
    “That buys us a year.”
    “Buys us a couple more years”
    “A few more years”

    Citations needed. You’re talking out your ass again Chad.

    If you had any clue about how much oil is being pumped, how much oil is in ANWR, how fast we could extract that oil, and how fast current oil fields are currently declining and how fast they will be declining, you wouldn’t be asking such stupid questions. Get informed. I am not going to google what you could google on your own.

    ANWR would increase world oil supplies by about one percent….in a world where oil supplies will be almost certainly be declining by several percent per year by the time ANWR. The same is true of the continental shelf.

    Yes, we should drill ANWR. But don’t pretend for a second that the oil there is going to do anything but delay the inevitable by year or so.

  118. Seriously, I really am trying to understand your “tax increase” point. Maybe we just have to agree to wait and see what future 1040s result in.

    By the way, I think the bill isn’t nearly strong enough, which Harsanyi says somewhere in the middle of a bunch of tired GOP-style extortionate fear tactics about what the most profitable businesses in history will do (to Americans) if we raise their expenses by a single cent.

    Anyway, I’m just pointing out that the Republicans said “this is the largest increase in taxes in U.S. history” when Democrats proposed letting Bush’s tax cuts expire (and what a great job they did for the economy!). This is despite the fact that the original cuts expired by themselves (to hide the massive deficits they’d cause in the future). It’s a stupid bit of vintage GOP talking points they’ve recycled for the climate change bill because they’re stupid and they have no ideas except that any tax, no matter what the circumstances, is a bad thing. While we need some taxes, they can never be raised, only reduced. Not even to stabilize a radically damaged global environment. Don’t worry, magic will fix it!

  119. Chad, you don’t google what you could google for yourself. When people ask you to back up your bullshit claims, you never do – and we ask you to because you spend so much time pulling “facts” right out of your idiotic ass.

    Tony – I’m talkin’ to you too…
    /evil eye>

    As many have pointed out around here in the past, tax cuts without spending cuts is nothing more than a political shell-game, one which Bush didn’t even play all that well. The republicans have done diddly squat to lower anyone’s taxes as you pointed out by noting the massive deficits they covered up. We aren’t Republicans here though. But the fact is we have a drastically better global environment than we had 80 years ago, and it’s thanks to improved technology and global prosperity. You can’t tax your way into prosperity, and pushing less efficient technologies over more efficient one’s is a piss-poor way to “save” the environment.

    My advice: Take a drive through the countryside every once in a while… The air is clean (in fact even my neighborhood in LA smells like flowers year round) and the land and water is easily 99.9% non-polluted. Get out… Go camping, bring a tent and a water bottle and enjoy nature for once.

    Jesus… I have lived in 3 of the the largest cities in the United States and not once have choked on toxic fumes when I’ve stepped outside my house. Relax.

  120. “Citations needed. You’re talking out your ass again Chad.”

    That’s all he’s capable of doing.

  121. “Fine. Go ahead and try to build one without subsidy.”

    Ha!

    You don’t even remotely resemble any sort of authority on what does and doesn’t constitute a “subsidy”.

  122. Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 4:29am | #
    Chad, you don’t google what you could google for yourself. When people ask you to back up your bullshit claims, you never do – and we ask you to because you spend so much time pulling “facts” right out of your idiotic ass.

    I get tired of searching for simple facts such as “The world uses about 85 million barrels of oil per a day, the US a quarter of that”. If you are arguing with me, and you did not already know this, you are simply so mis-informed that your opinion is worth a rat’s ass.

    No, I am not going to provide a link to trivial things that any informed person should know. The sun rises in the east. Grass is green. Oil supply is flat despite high prices and massive investment.

  123. Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 4:29am | #

    Jesus… I have lived in 3 of the the largest cities in the United States and not once have choked on toxic fumes when I’ve stepped outside my house. Relax.

    Tell that to the tens of thousands of Americans who DO choke on the fumes each year. Oh wait, you can’t, because it really doesn’t work that way and you can’t tell which particular heart attacks or cases of lung disease or cancer were caused by pollution.

    Sorry, but I will take peer-reviewed data over your personal anecdote anyday. And btw, LA stinks. You have simply become accustomed to it as the smog fried your sense of smell.

  124. OF FFS CHAD… you DON’T HAVE “peer-reviewed” data!!

    IF you did, then A. you would actually present it once in a while, instead of making up shit that suits your purpose, and B. you wouldn’t contradict yourself by saying things like:

    “you can’t tell which particular heart attacks or cases of lung disease or cancer were caused by pollution.”

    It’s hard for me to imagine a person who is so stupid as to not get the irony of claiming that he’s got access to peer-reviewed data on information that is impossible to know or not researched in the same post!

    You’ve got to be kidding Chad…

    If you’ve got the fucking data, then CITE IT.

    I did just a few posts ago and it makes you look like a right twit. You claimed that thousands of square miles of “devastation” result from the Canadian strip mining and the actual area doesn’t even break 100 square miles!

    You sir, are a useless, oxymoronic waste of space.

    (PS. I also lived in Nebraska for 15 years, and have been camping in CO, WY, MN, and been to most states in the US – and 17 foreign countries… My anecdotes trump your non-existent “peer-reviewed” date pretty hard, buddy.)

  125. Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 11:10am | #
    OF FFS CHAD… you DON’T HAVE “peer-reviewed” data!!

    Again, are you smart enough to type “air pollution deaths” into google? Or go to the wiki site on air pollution? Apparently not.

    I WILL NOT CITE INFORMATION THAT CAN BE FOUND BY A KINDERGARTNER.

    Ten seconds of research on your part would confirm the gist of numbers I put up, with data from agencies such as WHO and the EPA. Is this too much for you?

    Now, when I cite some unusual or difficult to find data, then, yes I will link it.

    Do you think that I don’t understand that you are simply trying to waste time, because all the evidence is against you?

  126. Michael Ejercito | July 2, 2009, 12:05am

    Yes, but it might help clean it up, which is something A-R is going to have to face up to eventually.

    And whatever revenue it brought in might offset what’s likely to be a huge bill.

    But, actually, I assume that it’s likely not practical or workable. If it was someone at the mining companies would have already though of it.

    After all, it’s not like I’m a giant-brained super-genius like Chad. It must be wonderful to know it all.

  127. Hi Sean,

    With things like externalities it is actually up the government to provide the signal to the market because the market can’t provide the signal to itself. By definition that’s what makes it an externality.

    You are correct that the signal will almost certainly be wrong to some degree. The question then becomes is will the wrong signal provide enough value that it’s still better than no signal at all?

    Ofte times no, but some times yet. A great example would be government intervening to provide signals to reduce things like acid rain.

    You are correct that government tampering had a lot to do with our current financial crisis, but a lot of it to was because government didn’t properly define the rules of the game either. IE the way incentives were allowed to be strucutred encourged bad behavior.

    Also with something like housing, what’s the exernality, that government was trying to correct?

    Finally, even though government is poor at it, the market is even worse at long term planning. The market doesn’t care about events 50-100 years out because of discoutning, but people (and thus the government does).

    IMHO, the government should be able to have a longer time horizon and thus get things like dam, roads etc built that private enterprise often wouldn’t.

  128. “You are correct that government tampering had a lot to do with our current financial crisis, but a lot of it to was because government didn’t properly define the rules of the game either.”

    No a lot of it was because the government mistakenly thinks that part of it’s jobs is trying to engineer specific economic outcomes for specific groups of people.

    Just as increasing home ownership rates.

  129. That should be “Such as increasing home owhership rates.”

  130. “If you’ve got the fucking data, then CITE IT.”

    LOL

    Don’t hold your breath.

    He DOESN’T have data on anything.

  131. Krone, the market does a vastly superior job of long-term planning, because as a part the price mechanism the market reallocates resources for short vs. long-term projects.

    The “people” don’t give a shit about long-term planning on their own and have no way of knowing how to tell which resources are scarce and need to be conserved or which need to stop being used – but the combined power of everyone living on the planet trading with each other and a few easy-to-understand principles provides a way in which, without anyone ever saying anything, we all stop using something that’s becoming hard to get. A great example was Tin.

    Prices go up, and we switch to something that is less scarce or more efficient.

    Government has no incentive to plan long-term… In case you haven’t noticed… The events of this year should serve as a perfect reminder. Obama is spending trillions of dollars on projects that will have negligible (I actually believe, very *negative*) economic effect – but which benefit Democrat friendly special-interest groups… And leaving the tab for our grandchildren. Is that the “long-term planning” you’re referring to?

    And Chad: I DID look up the last piece of idiocy you spouted – remember? And you were wrong by a magnitude of 10… Yet again, you overlook your own contradictory statements, and pretend that you’re an authority on something that you’ve proven time and time again to be one of the most ignorant people to ever grace this website.

  132. Sean W. Malone | July 1, 2009, 4:47pm | #

    I’m going to post this again in case someone missed it. The guy looks extremely uncomfortable, like he’s watching his words in case he says something he knows to be false, from his work in economics. At no point does he defend the market’s role in the health care market. He says standard talking points about how much other countries spend on health care, without qualifying those statements with facts that he knows to be true, including a) Other countries free-ride off American medical advancements, b) Countries with single-payer and rationing have health outcomes and decision-making that many Americans would find “undesirable”, and c) There is no guarantee that more government involvement in health care would cause health care spending to fall in line with other countries, and in fact this seems rather unlikely.

    Thankfully, Charlie Rose doesn’t call bullshit on any of the shallow points Krugman makes, and the interview proceeds awkwardly forward.

  133. Btw, Krone:

    The signal for long-term investment is an increase in savings.

    Thus, just as a side-note, when you have a government pushing as hard as they possibly can for people to forego savings, and spend-spend-SPEND(!), what you have is government specifically trying to negate the very thing that would cause people to reallocate capital for long term projects and instead allocate capital for immediate consumption.

    Can’t have it both ways really…

  134. Let’s play a little game. I will chose the phrase “air pollution deaths per year”, type it in to Google, chose the first link, and let you know what I find. Without looking, I am betting it confirms my claim that tens of thousands of Americans and/or hundreds of thousands world-wide are killed by air pollution every year.

    So here goes! What do we find?

    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2006/2006-10-06-01.asp

    The title? “World Health Experts Warn Air Pollution Kills Two Million a Year”.

    Game, set, match. I win. Grovel before me and appologize profusely for wasting everyones’ time.

  135. I can’t believe that I said “market’s role in the health care market”. Let me flesh that out a bit.

    At no point does he defend the market’s initial and continuing role for bringing about medical innovation, and the huge availability of medical treatment, in the absence of any central control.

  136. Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 12:17pm | #
    Krone, the market does a vastly superior job of long-term planning, because as a part the price mechanism the market reallocates resources for short vs. long-term projects.

    Yes, I am sure that our great great grandchildren will be so deeply thankful that we ran up trillions in debt to buy crap from China that lasts an average of a few months, McMansions that will have to be torn down when no one can afford to live 30 miles from work, and SUVs long ago sent to the scrap yard.

    There are actually very few things we can leave future generations. We are spending precious little on such things, and rapidly depleting any natural resources they might wish to have.

  137. Thanks for posting that earlier/now Mark, I couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes of it before wanting to punch Krugman in the neck.

  138. Chad… you are a fucking genius, you know that?

    Who borrowed that money from China again? Was it… The US Treasury perhaps?

    You remember what I just said about how saving is the price-signal for long-term investment? You know what the savings rate in the US is? Know what the deficit & debt nationally are?

    Thank you for so clearly making my point… again.

  139. Perhaps, Chad… you might consider that an endless glut of money that anyone can borrow for absurdly low interest rates (who controls those again?), encourages people to spend on things that only last a year because they will have even more money next year to replace it with the next “new thing”.

    The Treasury borrowed the money from China while the Fed printed more and held interest rates down. Banks distributed that massive increase in cash through the system as they are wont to do…

    But to the average citizen, what they saw was a boatload of cash being offered for virtually 0% interest (for 9 months!) and the opportunity to buy whatever they wanted – savings be damned.

    You see what I’m saying Krone?

  140. agreed that higher interst rates act as a signal for saving.

    disagreed that the investment will go towards truly long term projects.

    The process of discounting makes any business investment past 30 years or so practically worthless in terms of net present value. But from a societal standpoint that’s not necessairly true.

    I do think NPV is very useful, AND should still be used for government projects, but I don’t think it should be the only critera.

    Also, as noted in my first post, I’m not in any way saying that our current policies are good ones.

    But…

    I would say that there are certain policies that if implemented could have long term benefits both environemtanlly, AND economically.

  141. Ok, well maybe we should define our terms a little better. Long-term in economics (and if you think about it in reality) is more along the lines of 20-30 years. It’s not 100-200 years.

    But do you honestly believe that it’s remotely possible to plan for 100 years?

    Changes in communication technologies alone over the last 50 years have rendered the world a universe away from where anyone would have predicted in 1959… much less 1909.

    Having some humility to realize that you have no way of knowing what technology, nature, science and humanity is going to look like in 100 years is part of the point too. Anyone who pretends that they do know the future would spend their time better reading palms and tarot cards.

    Is there some magic crystal ball that government uses to predict life 200 years from now that lets them plan long-term? Is there any evidence at all for governments around the world even remotely thinking about anything but the next election cycle? Surely our meddling in international affairs has proven brilliant, as has our rabidly printing money since 1973…

  142. You are right, there is always going to be some uncertaity, but IMHO, that doesn’t mean we can’t take actions.

    Building things like the hoover dam, or the national highway system certainly didn’t payoff during the short term, but I think were well worth it long term.

    I think similiar reasoning can be applied to fossil fuels. We don’t know what the future holds, but it’s reasonable to believe that as we use up finite resources they will become more expensive, therefore we should have programs in place that can provide the technology that can move us away from that.

    The gas shock last summer was a perfect example. I would estimate (based on a considerable amount of time studying fossil fuels for investment purposes) that there is 80-90% chance that oil will hit $150 again within 10 years, and better than 50% chance that it will hit it in 5. And 30 years out our economy is going to be in real trouble if it’s still based on oil to the same extent it is now.

    Shouldn’t we be thinking about stuff like this, and taking reasonable steps to protect our economy?

    Again I’m not saying Obama etc is taking the righg steps, but I think the market overall is not paying enough attention to it either.

  143. The gas shock last summer was a perfect example. I would estimate (based on a considerable amount of time studying fossil fuels for investment purposes) that there is 80-90% chance that oil will hit $150 again within 10 years, and better than 50% chance that it will hit it in 5. And 30 years out our economy is going to be in real trouble if it’s still based on oil to the same extent it is now.

    The reason our economy is based on oil is because of cost and convenience.

    When the cost and convenience advantage for oil disappears, we switch to something else. That is how markets work.

  144. Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 12:36pm | #

    The Treasury borrowed the money from China…

    Everybody borrowed money from China, Sean, and not just in the last few years. I think you over-estimate the influence of the Fed in this matter. The markets control rates to a much larger extent that you are willing to admit. Like always, libertarians always find a way to blame the nearest government department every time the markets blow up.

    Sean W. Malone | July 2, 2009, 1:26pm | #
    Ok, well maybe we should define our terms a little better. Long-term in economics (and if you think about it in reality) is more along the lines of 20-30 years. It’s not 100-200 years.

    Thank you for pointing out the problem. We SHOULD be thinking for the long haul. We rarely think past the next election. Corporations put little effort or faith in anything beyond ten years, so they aren’t a solution, either.

    Think about it. What can you do today to benefit the lives of people alive in 2209? What can you leave them that they might use or want? You can leave information. You can leave nature and natural resources. You can leave a few select, very durable goods and core infrastructure. You can leave art. If you really think about, there aren’t many things on the list, and in some cases, we aren’t accumulating things on the list but rather depleting them.

    When we blast off the top of a mountain in West Virginia, we are harming every generation for millions of years. We are giving them almost nothing in return. That is about a big of a sin as I can imagine.

  145. The economy can protect itself if left alone enough to function properly. It’s an extremely complex system of competing values and trade-offs – risk and over-reaching greed should be balanced against fear of loss, failure shouldn’t be rewarded, and we can’t be subsidizing (and thus distorting the price-signal) gas companies or so-called “green” energy companies. When that happens, the actual cost-effective and efficient projects are very likely to be passed over for the political favorable ones. Chad challenged anyone to privately build a nuclear power plant… I would in a heartbeat, were I an energy investor if the regulatory climate allowed me to. It’s clearly proven to be safer, less accident prone, and multiple times more efficient than anything else going right now, but it’s impossible to be allowed to build virtually anywhere. It meets all my requirements for power: overall cheaper than alternatives, more efficient, containable & storable waste (unlike carbon spewing into the air from coal plants it only has water vapor), and as a result a single plant can power a much greater area. Plus it’s damn cool and futuristic.

    I maintain that absent government support through subsidies, military protection and the various automobile industry & fossil fuel industry friendly laws and social engineering schemes over the years, (and fear mongering of useful idiot hippies)that we wouldn’t even be talking about CO2 or carbon or strip-mining for shale-oil.

    Point is, energy isn’t a market problem, it’s a government problem.

  146. Kroneborge | July 2, 2009, 1:58pm | #

    The gas shock last summer was a perfect example. I would estimate (based on a considerable amount of time studying fossil fuels for investment purposes) that there is 80-90% chance that oil will hit $150 again within 10 years, and better than 50% chance that it will hit it in 5. And 30 years out our economy is going to be in real trouble if it’s still based on oil to the same extent it is now.

    You are decidely optimitic. I wouldn’t be surprised to see $150 by 2011, and I don’t even want to guess at the number in 2019. We should be planning everything with the assumption of $150.

    The process of discounting makes any business investment past 30 years or so practically worthless in terms of net present value. But from a societal standpoint that’s not necessairly true.

    Agreed. The problem with NPV and any cost-benefit system that uses discounting is that it just doesn’t make sense over long time periods, especially intergenerationally.

    The reason for this is that the discount rate is an individual phenemenon, not a social one. I discount my future cash flows for fundamentally two reasons. The first is that I might not collect, either because I pass away or the borrower defaults. The second is that I expect to be richer in the future than I am now, making the future cash flow worth less to me. Also, part of the discount rate is simply irrational. We are wired to discount the future, whether it makes sense or not.

    At an intergenerational societal level, these reasons for discounting don’t make as much sense. Our children WILL be around, and because we are talking about many borrowers, the risk of large-scale default is low. So the only remaining reason to discount is to have the belief that our kids and grandkids are going to be so filthy stinking rich that an inflation-adjusted dollar in their pocket is worth less than one in ours.

    I don’t think that even passes the smell test.

  147. When we blast off the top of a mountain in West Virginia, we are harming every generation for millions of years.

    You mean in terms of depleted resources or spoiling the view for those well-off enough to go out to the mountain for a hike? Because I’m sure future generations will have plenty of resources and plenty of places to hike.

    We should be planning everything with the assumption of $150.
    You pulled that number out of your ass. The only reason prices were that high before was due to bubble economics (borrowing cheap and cornering the market, plus fears about the dollar). If they get that high again it will be for the same reason, especially if there is a glut of dollars. There is a world clearing price for oil and I seriously doubt it’s more than double the price now. What’s more, even if that were the case, the market would do a far better job of allocating resources than the government could on its best day.

  148. I couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes of it before wanting to punch Krugman in the neck.

    Can you make anything of his eye movements? Typically when someone looks off to the left, he is making something up, possibly not truthful. When he looks to the right, he is remembering something, and is likely telling the truth. I see lots of eye movements to the right, remembering, then stuttering, then he looks to the left for some bullshit, then answers the question much more easily.

  149. That’s usually how it goes Mark – Krugman stutters a lot when he’s trying to remember stuff. I imagine that that’s partially due to his lack of practice recalling true things.

  150. mark | July 2, 2009, 5:32pm | #

    You mean in terms of depleted resources

    Not really. If we don’t burn them in the next couple of generations, we never will. It’s only our children and grandchildren that we are screwing by not saving enough for them without providing a good way for them to survive without.

    or spoiling the view for those well-off enough to go out to the mountain for a hike?

    Ummm, hiking is one of the cheapest hobbies there is, and often is less expensive than your day-to-day life.

    Because I’m sure future generations will have plenty of resources and plenty of places to hike.

    I am interested in your spontaneous coal-generation theory. Can I subscribe to your service?

    You pulled that number out of your ass. The only reason prices were that high before was due to bubble economics

    Ahh, so you ADMIT that the market failed. Great. You just conceded everything to me.

    Thanks for playing.

    Or do you want to recant and claim that it was supply and demand that caused the price spike, in which case, you must admit that prices will again skyrocket as demand is going nowhere but up in the long term, and supplies physically cannot increase substantially.

    the market would do a far better job of allocating resources than the government could on its best day.

    As evidenced by our society borrowing trillions from the Chinese and Saudis in order to buy McManions, SUVs, and cheap Chinese crap. Clearly, that was a brilliant example of resource allocation.

  151. I explained what I meant by “bubble economics”: borrowing cheap and cornering the market, plus fears about the dollar

    Government “stimulus” and Federal Reserve pumping led to self-interested traders borrowing easy money and parking it in commodities. If the gov. didn’t mess with the market for money, you can bet that the market for oil would be much more stable.

    And as for resource depletion, we have hundreds of years of fossil fuel resources, and the economy will transition to new (even undiscovered) power sources as needed. There is no need for government intervention in energy, unless you’re worried about OPEC, which you shouldn’t be. OPEC fell apart in the 90’s and has little chance of coming together again. AND guess what, those gas lines in the 70’s were caused by price controls!

    Your comments about cheap Chinese crap are lame. People have every right to spend their money on what they see fit, political decrees notwithstanding. Don’t blame the laws of supply and demand, like a fool. Isn’t it obvious from history that the market is actually pretty freaking great at allocating resources EXCEPT when the government gets involved?

  152. And as for resource depletion, we have hundreds of years of fossil fuel resources

    Apparently you missed the news. When EIA actually did real research into the coal reserves (rather than SWAG), they dropped their estimates from 200+ years to 132 years.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/infosheets/coalreserves.html

    That is, of course, at current consumption rates. It drops like a rock once you start figuring in Chinese and Indian consumption, coal-to-fuel schemes, etc. And of course, there is the question of whether the atmosphere and oceans can handle all that carbon…

    Isn’t it obvious from history that the market is actually pretty freaking great at allocating resources EXCEPT when the government gets involved?

    Ummm, how can something be “obvious” when it has never been tested? The government is involved in everything! Indeed, libertarians NEED the government to be involved in everything, so that you can always have a scape-goat for every market blow-up.

  153. Chad, it’s been shown a thousand fucking times… At this point it’s about the most disingenuous thing to pretend that it hasn’t.

    I’m going to go ahead and cite: The entire history of the world.

    Just do yourself a favor of a comparative study of East, vs. West Berlin… Let me know how it goes. No…. Better yet, I don’t even care. You apparently don’t have the mindpower to do it anyway, but really… that’s just embarrassing. It shows a basic lack of pattern-recognition ability that should be a baseline for any functioning human-being.

    Your conception of “testing” is wrongheaded thinking anyway – a laboratory experiment does dickall to explain the behavior of thousands of people living in the real world with real concerns. Taking a step back and thinking logically about human behavior and diligently reviewing history will do you much better. The conclusions you make will be based on *real* information, instead of fictitious and overly simplified modeling.

    And ya know… We don’t need a damn thing as a “scape goat”. It’s quite obvious why there was a bubble economy. You can’t pump trillions of dollars into the economy and hold interest rates far below any market clearing level while simultaneously using government to push banks into lower lending standards and not get *exactly* what happened in the last few years…

    AGAIN… It is why the Austrian school economists predicted all of this shit accurately and your boy Krugman actually recommended the bubble and is now back-pedaling like your drunk momma on a stationary bicycle.

    The thing that’s amusing about it is that it’s actually remarkably easy to understand if you’re not a complete moron partisan hack.

  154. Sean W. Malone | July 3, 2009, 1:01am | #

    I’m going to go ahead and cite: The entire history of the world.

    Sean, I agree. An economy that is 90% or more government is bad, but even then, this has not been demonstrated many times, and never in a truly honest experiment, because such governments have have always been totalitarian. The world has never seen a 90%+ governemnt-run economy in a democracy, so we have no idea what would happen.

    We have, however, seen ~60% government-run economies in democracies, and guess what – they work just fine. The simplistic “evidence” does not suggest that “government is bad” but that rather “too much or too little government is bad”.

    AGAIN… It is why the Austrian school economists predicted all of this shit accurately and your boy Krugman actually recommended the bubble and is now back-pedaling like your drunk momma on a stationary bicycle.

    I predicted it too, Sean. I guess I am just as smart the Austrians. Again, you are exhibiting a childish, selective reading of the facts. You are so partisan that there is no getting through to you.

    Here are some nice notes from a lecture on Austrian economics. Note that this professor points out that Austrians are constantly predicting busts….which makes it pretty easy to get it right when one happens.

    http://blog.mises.org/archives/002409.asp

    Please show me peer-reviewed statistical evidence that members of this school of thought are better at predicting market changes, and then explain why they are not all multi-billionaires by now.

    And note the difference from yesterday. When I ask for a citation, I ask for something that, if it even exists, isn’t trivially easy to find.

  155. Ugh… Chad… A few things, then I have to shift focus again.

    1. When the policies don’t change, then the Austrian’s keep noting the end results. Side note: We’ve experienced 3 bubbles in 10 years, tech, financial and housing – if you really want to get picky, one might say we’ve experienced 2 financial bubbles in that time, so 4 total in 10 years. My knowledge of the Austrian position has been that for the most part they have all called the specifics of what the bubbles were about and what they have been caused by. You can find Lew Rockwell, Peter Schiff and other stalking about the tech bubble in the late 90s, the financials in 2001-2002, and of course, all the recent stuff – generally very easily.

    2. The difference with the Austrians, is that their ultimate premise is based around the Hayekian idea that knowledge is necessarily limited and that it is a mistake to think that certainty of prediction is even possible. Too much can change. This is, again, what surrounds their critique of econometrics. If you realize that each individual human is its own variable in a “model” there’s no way those models have any hope of working ever – and they don’t, unsurprisingly. Further, if you ever listen to Peter Schiff, people try to get him to make specific predictions about “when” this or that will happen, and he usually says something to the effect of, “I don’t know, there’s still hope the government may do X or Y, and we might change course, or ___, or ___ could happen and change this“, etc.

    The point is that the general principles are easy to see if you know what you’re looking for, and the results of policy are often relatively easy to tell – but you’re asking for specifics where none are possible in such a dynamic system. I don’t expect you to totally get this because you believe that the AGW debate can also be certain based on similarly over-simplified modeling.

    Frankly, it’s just bad science. Soooo… point is, the prediction thing is to some degree a straw-man either way.

    That said I spoke to Jeffrey Tucker about this a minute ago and while he didn’t think a comprehensive comparative study is even possible “by school” since most economists are post-modern eclectics and don’t belong to a “school” per se, he did point me to a Mark Thornton article about this topic… to quote Thornton:

    “Others are sanguine about the prospects for prediction, like the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, but do not reject the idea of forecasts and predictions altogether. They merely restrict themselves to hypothetical and qualitative prediction. Foremost among this group is the Austrian school of economists, who reject the notion of fixed relations between human-controlled variables, or even that data can be used to “test” a theory. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises rejected the general notion of forecasting and claims that economics can only provide qualitative predictions about particular polices:”

    and…

    3. “Why they aren’t all multi-billionaires by now”

    See above.

    Forecasting is A. not a big part of the Austrian tradition, for good reason, because, B. they recognize that the variables in play are ever-changing and insanely complex and don’t have the hubris to think they can simply lump a whole population into one or two variables and have that reflect reality.

    That said, sometimes I think I’d like to see a long-term (say 100 year long) comparative study of Austrian predictions vs. other “schools” simply to shut people like you up.

    Also… The Laffer Curve starts well below 90% buddy.

  156. Also… The Laffer Curve starts well below 90% buddy.

    What’s funny is that Chad wasn’t even talking about taxes, he meant spending, and some amount of state control of production. Whether his penchant for planning extends into people’s personal lives is an open question.

    Anyone who thinks the state should be involved in setting prices or production schedules is a poor student of history.

  157. It’s not “cap and trade,” it’s CRAP and RAID.

  158. Sean, I want specifics – statitistics showing that these people are better at predicting the ups and downs of the economy than anyone else. If they can’t, you have no evidence supporting their theory. Pointing out that perma-bears predicited the recession is like pointing out the sun rose in the east.

    Also… The Laffer Curve starts well below 90% buddy.

    About 70-80% or so.

    If you disagree, ask yourself a simple question: How high would your taxes have to go before you quit your job and chose to live on the dole. The number most people pick is about where the peak of the Laffer curve is. If you said 40%, you are full of crap.

  159. Just a note on the Laffer curve, Sean.

    I am only discussing the case of broad-based taxes like income taxes. A narrow tax DOES have a Laffer curve, which is why they should be avoided.

    If, for example, New York City were to implement a 50% income tax on people who make more than $10,000,000 per year, it’s revenues may very well go down, as many of those people would simply move to the next city. However, note that there is no lost production here…the economy is essentially unaffected.

    With a broad tax like federal income taxes, however, there is little of this type of effect. Few people flee the country to avoid taxes. This effect IS a good argument for tax synchronization, though.

  160. Obviously, we should take as much money as possible from the most productive members of society, but not so much that they complain about it. Then, we must spend that money on goods and services for people who cannot afford them, because, well, who needs reasons? And finally, if any outcome of the taxing and/or spending is different than expected, blame it on the market, specifically “greed”.

  161. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  162. thanks for this useful post

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