Getting your priorities straight
Posted by aogMonday, 05 April 2010 at 16:40 TrackBack Ping URL

It has been clear to me for a long time what is at the heart of the AGW propaganda effort — increased control by the Tranzis. Now James Lovelock has declared that we might need to suspend democracy in order to deal with AGW.

What statements like this make me wonder, by what authority will these changes by implemented once voting rights are suspended? The “scientific community”? Who ever can get the best propaganda out via Old Media? It’s a typical and, to me, highly annoying tactic to disparage a current system while being evasive about what would replace it. It’s not surprising, however, because it is on that point that almost all such schemes founder.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Barry Meislin Tuesday, 06 April 2010 at 06:20

OK, all you smart fellers out there.

What, just what might the American equivalent of the burning of the Reichstag be?

Gasp!.… But no.…

But yes. There are some things that must be considered, imagined, talked about, planned for. Just in case. I don’t put anything past this administration and its power-crazed czar-tocracy.

(Would that, prior to 9/11, some grand congerie of law enforcement types, ex-cons, theologians, soldiers, novelists and magicians had banged heads together.…)

David Cohen Tuesday, 06 April 2010 at 17:10

Is it absolutely necessary that we reenact every single trope of BDS?

(This is a rhetorical question, because apparently it is absolutely necessary.)

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 06 April 2010 at 19:41

Given how much of BDS was projection, I don’t find the recapitulation too surprising.

Barry Meislin Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 01:46

You see, if Israel must be saved from itself, then it’s only a matter of time before America must as well.…

(And if Obama isn’t the man to do it, then who?.…)

Peter Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 06:57

Lovelock: “I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,”

I wonder what the Founders would have said if someone had told them future generations would see them as a transitional species.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 10:02

I think that’s great news. It means that it doesn’t matter what we do, we can’t handle the situation. We’ll get lucky, or we won’t. Very Calvinist, so — party time!

erp Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 10:29

Sure party time now that it’s spring, but what about next November when the snows come and you haven’t harvested and saved for winter?

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 11:43

What winter? Global warming, dude! Plus, once the Tea Party goes down due to its kookiness and embrace of racists, the Democratic Party will provide free food for everyone, just like they’ve done with health care insurance! If only I had a mortgage they could pay off too…

erp Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 13:13

You entitlement people want everything.

David Cohen Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 18:39

LOL

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 07 April 2010 at 21:39

I was moderately surprised — but only moderately, I don’t expect consistency from those guys — to see Allahpundit throw Hayek under the truck.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 08 April 2010 at 07:23

Why? Allahpundit is generally considered a squish at best by much of the conservatives who read Hot Air. But I would have to see an actual link as I read the website regularly and have not seen anything that matches your description.

Harry Eagar Friday, 09 April 2010 at 09:00

Having just read (at Skipper’s urging) ‘Road,’ and thus having it fresh in mind, I note that he differs from Hayek about democracy in wartime.

Hayek was willing to absorb all the stuff he thought antifreedom for the duration.

I don’t read Hot Air often, so perhaps I am wrong, but so far I have never ever seen any of its authors deviate from the party line. They are more stalinist than the stalinists that way.

erp Friday, 09 April 2010 at 10:40

Harry, why would HotAir bloggers, or anyone else, deviate from right (literally and figuratively) thinking?

… and BTW, there is no party line on the right.

The term, party line, is a reference to directives from communist party officials to all its operatives to insure they all speak with one voice. As a tool, it’s been amazingly effective and is still use by the left even as we speak.

Limbaugh frequently does riffs using the many voices of the leftwing (sorry for the redundancy) media saying the exact word or phrase with the exact same intonation. The one I like best was when W was nominated the first time and the media were up in arms because he lacked gravitas. It’s a great word and Rush used it to great advantage.

Hey Skipper Friday, 09 April 2010 at 11:34
Having just read (at Skipper’s urging) ‘Road,’ and thus having it fresh in mind …

Having just read your review, with which I pretty much disagree, I will have to re-read “Road” to see whether those disagreements are on firm ground.

BTW — regardless of any disagreements, you do write excellent book reviews. Having tried it a couple times, you make it look a great deal easier than it really is.

——————-

The complete absence of geo-engineering from Warmenism is proves one of these statements:

1. Warmenists do not take their own claims seriously. No society with a political establishment more than notionally accountable to its constituents will ever impose the draconian measures Warmenists say are essential.

2. Warmenists do take their claims seriously, and realize the only way to attain them is to eliminate political accountability.

I’m going with two. Thanks to the intertubes, though, I don’t think they stand a chance in hell. It would be an entirely different matter if we had to rely on organs like the NYT or the McClatchey News Service for “information”.

Harry Eagar Friday, 09 April 2010 at 13:16

My problem with geoengineering is that we don’t know nearly enough to expect a definite outcome, which at bottom is also my problem with warmenism.

It sure would be nice if someone had measured temperatures everywhere over the past 2,000 or 3,000 years, but it didn’t happen. Until somebody can tell me definitively if — and if so, how much — the conversion of so much of the Americas, Africa and Australia to seasonal agriculture and ranching since 1800 has affected climate, I ain’t going to sign up for any global cloud-seeding schemes, using Orgone generators or anything else.

My brother, the engineering professor says, you never have all the information you want, being a good engineer is knowing when to go ahead anyway.

Don’t go putting ideas into their heads, Skipper.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 09 April 2010 at 13:45

That’s why I have favored geo-engineering that’s reversible, such as aerostat mirrors or better, Sol-Earth L1 mirrors. Unlike mechanisms such as aerosols, if it’s too it’s easy to turn the thermostat back up. It’s not so much about getting it exactly right the first time, it’s about being able to correct when you (inevitably) make a mistake.

erp Friday, 09 April 2010 at 15:11

What point in the past do you guys think is the optimum? What if there were a way to track all the climate data fervid minds would like from the past 3,000 or 5,000 years? What then? The earth has been continually changing throughout eternity without our help and we humans either coped or died.

Would you guys like to pick a year and freeze it? Preferably when you were about 22 years old? All things seemed possible then, even climate control.

Harry, vegetation and animal life have been growing and waning with the seasons well before it was controlled by evil corporations. You can’t believe that cultivating corn in rows or breeding animals instead the hit or miss method in nature makes a bit of difference in the vast cosmic plan?

Thomas Jackson Friday, 09 April 2010 at 23:27

The eco nuts are all watermelons. Green on the outside and red inside.

Harry Eagar Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 08:45

The albedo of a farmed environment is far different from the natural cover it replaced in vast areas. Grazing is less so, unless forest was removed to create grassland. In general, forests create clouds, at least at higher elevations, so removing forest changes rainfall.

No question at all these steps have local effects. Multiplying them to continental dimensions must also have effects.

Just what the net is, nobody can say, but it probably is not nothing.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 12:05

What point … is the optimum?

After mulling it over, 5 degrees F warmer on average, with twice the atmospheric carbon dioxide, seems ideal climate-wise. Unfortunately, if we got there we’d incur GARGANTUAN expense in moving or protecting all of the world’s enormous coastal cities.

All things seemed possible then, even climate control.

Climate control is, of course, possible. Just not by us, not right now. But it could be soon - AOG’s space mirrors/awnings lack only the will to fund them.

You can’t believe that cultivating corn in rows or breeding animals instead the hit or miss method in nature makes a bit of difference in the vast cosmic plan?

Of course it does. Among other things, it makes modern human life, including modern numbers of humans, possible at all - and, it makes the ecosystem more fragile and prone to collapse, so far luckily only regionally. So yer gotcher good and yer bad.

The “vast cosmic plan” appears to be “do whatever you want”. If that were not so, then Norman Borlaug would never have succeeded.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 16:14

The real problem with geo-engineering is, who controls the thermostat? The technical difficulties and expense are trivial compared to answering that question.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 12 April 2010 at 04:51

Tranzies, prolly.

Back in ‘97, if the world’s major gov’ts had thought that the perceived problem could be solved with $200 billion worth of space construction, with no further economically-stifling action needed, then they probably could have come to an agreement to go through with it, and established some sort of “Global Climate Council” to oversee it.

And frankly, I would have welcomed then, and would continue to so do now, such an initiative. It doesn’t really matter whether or not the project eventually cost $200 billion or (more likely) $1.2 trillion, or whether or not it addressed an actual problem - the experience gained by humanity by actually doing such a project would be immensely useful on other, more valuable projects.

Bret Monday, 12 April 2010 at 11:42

Rough wrote: “…the experience gained by humanity by actually doing such a project would be immensely useful…

It would also, in my opinion, be substantially LESS useful than the experience gained by the $1.2 trillion expended in a multitude of other efforts (e.g. private efforts), so still not anywhere near worth doing.

cjm Monday, 12 April 2010 at 15:37

geo-engineering is just too difficult for us, using today’s science. that is a technique best used on one of the uninhabited planets.

all we need is lots of nuke plants, so we can ride out whatever climate change comes along.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at 04:37

It would also, in my opinion, be substantially LESS useful than the experience gained by the $1.2 trillion expended in a multitude of other efforts (e.g. private efforts), so still not anywhere near worth doing.

Your assessment might have more relevance if private organizations had spent even one single dollar on high-orbit space construction, much less anything approaching a trillion dollars.

Would your way be better? Yes. But since there is ZERO chance of it occurring, promoting private industry in this instance is EXACTLY as useful as wishing for unicorns and fairies to build us some cool space gear.

Since it’s the gov’t way or no way, the gov’t way is the infinitely better choice, and well worth doing.

Plus, it would have been essentially free, since we’re going to borrow and spend every last dollar that we can anyhow, so there’s nothing saved by not doing it; and we aren’t going to pay back the loans anyhow, so…

Right now what private interests are doing in the space arena is duplicating abilities that the gov’t has had since the mid-60s, with no concrete plans to do what has not been done before. Inspiring. (With the sterling exception of the Planetary Society, of course, which is attempting to break new ground, but their budget is more suited to an independent film than an actual space-faring organization.)

Bret Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at 10:03

The experience gained in non high-orbit space construction would be more valuable than the experience gained in high-orbit space construction, in my opinion.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at 10:27

AVRRA;

if private organizations had spent even one single dollar on high-orbit space construction

You mean like this? I think that the activity in private space activity over the last decade, particularly the last 5 years, shows that Bret is right. Had NASA even gone the way of early mail delivery, which helped bootstrap commercial aviation, we would be much further ahead in that regard.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 02:14

You mean like this?

Nope. Bigelow is doing some exciting things in space technology, but saying that the solid and visionary millions spent by them is somehow contributing to human knowledge about constructing complex projects in space is precisely analogous to asserting that people can gain experience in constructing hi-rise buildings by researching construction materials. The latter is helpful in doing the former, but it in no way replaces or substitutes for the former.

N.B. that to date, although they have plans to do something about it, Bigelow hasn’t yet gotten into the spaceflight biz. If they are successful in constructing a privately-owned space station, which based on their launch record so far is a long, long-shot, THE ONLY WAY to get to that station would be to hitch a ride on a gov’t buggy. No private spaceflight company can yet get persons there. (One might point to private Russian/Ukrainian spaceflight co’s, but they’re simply using up gov’t-surplus space gear, not designing or building their own. Once all of the old rockets are used, game over.)

What they’ve actually accomplished, regardless of what they dream, is to advance space habitat tech. Wonderful! And to pay somebody else to launch a few satellites for them. Yawn.

Odds are that Bigelow ends up being a gov’t supplier of awesome space shelter, and nothing more.

Had NASA even gone the way of early mail delivery, which helped bootstrap commercial aviation, we would be much further ahead in that regard.

Sure, that would have been swell. But they didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for SpaceShipOne, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow, Sea Launch, SpaceX, et al. It’s exciting and romantic. But all of those companies operate at the margins. Someday, maybe, one of those or a similar company might grow up to be a real space-faring organization. But for now, NONE OF THEM have the capability to match even the Chinese space agency. Maybe if they worked together…

Virgin Galactic plans to be a space-tourist thrill ride, but they can’t get their customers to Bigelow’s space hotel, should it ever be built.

Yeah, the recent explosion of private space questing among millionaires who were weaned on a diet of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith and countless wonderful others is euphoria-inducing, but let’s not get carried away about what they’ve actually accomplished, or have the potential to do over the next decade.

Until someone comes up with a private vessel that can get a crew to LEO, we don’t have a Daimler, Diesel, Ford, Fulton, Watt or Wright Bro. among ‘em.

The experience gained in non high-orbit space construction would be more valuable than the experience gained in high-orbit space construction, in my opinion.

By all means, let’s do a couple hundred billion worth of LEO construction annually. I’ll even pay for a Boomer to retire, if they’d just let that happen…

Otherwise, it’s the Bret life for me: Sea, sun, sand, pizza and herb. Sleep under an overturned longboat and work one day a week.

erp Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 10:11

Rough, I was also brought up on Asimov et al. and would like to live long enough for more space stuff, but how can that happen when we spend gazillions on entitlements for the freeloaders. Yesterday, I overheard two twenty-something girls working at the supermarket complaining on how boring work is and how they’re ready “to live on the state!” Exact quote.

This is what we have wrought, not space travel.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 11:43

They sure musta been young, because I know 8,000,000 “seasoned” people who’d love to have those girls’ jobs.

As AOG and Bret were saying, it didn’t have to be this way. We could have decided to make space our domain…

Maybe it was the Cold War and the Military-Industrial Complex that caused decisions to be made as they were… Space-based military assets are a force-multiplier, but that means that there must be secrecy surrounding a lot of the hardware in orbit… No place to have a gaggle of shoestring-budget, starry-eyed civilian strivers and idealists flitting around…

If so, it’d be ironic that the Cold War both ignited the Space Race, and kept it from blossoming.

Bret Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 13:03

Rough wrote: “…I know 8,000,000 “seasoned” people who’d love to have those girls’ jobs.

I think that it’s far from clear how many of the unemployed are in a terrible hurry to go back to work. Certainly some.

Unfortunately, what I see developing is that while millions of unskilled and inexperienced people would like to have someone employ them, many of those who do the employing are being discouraged by the business and tax climate and are retiring early, deciding not to expand, downsizing or even closing down. My guess is that recoveries from recessions are going to be increasingly jobless anyway as more technology becomes available, but under the current set of rulers the joblessness will be greatly exacerbated.

erp Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 13:33

Rough, Carter decimated NASA and it never really recovered because when it got funded again, it got politicized and we had to do the touchy feely stuff with our “counterparts,” the Soviets and pure research just for the h*ll of it went out the window.

Bret, my point about the supermarket girls wasn’t so much that many others would like their jobs, but that they have bought into the idea that an alternate lifestyle is to sponge off the state for the next fifty or sixty years. I’d be surprised if they had the foggiest idea where the “state” gets their funding or that it is their responsibiity as a citizen to contribute to the common weal.

Bret Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 14:08

erp, I got your point and absolutely agree.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 19:50

I think that it’s far from clear how many of the unemployed are in a terrible hurry to go back to work. Certainly some.

Really? You truly believe that most unemployed people prefer to be broke and facing an uncertain future?!?

What shaped your thinking on that issue?

State unemployment payments are only 40% - 60% of previous base pay, don’t address lost benefits at all, and not everybody is covered by the system.

I do agree that a very significant percentage of unemployed people wouldn’t accept work as a supermarket cashier… But that’s not the same as “in no hurry to find employment”.

erp Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 21:09

Rough, there’s something very basically wrong, when you can casually state that unemployed people wouldn’t accept a job as a supermarket cashier!

This is what’s most disturbing to me. It’s not beneath a significant percentage of unemployed people to mooch off me and the rest of the tax payers, but supermarket cashier is beneath their station in life.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 22:13

Well, as Bret mentioned, there are a lot of unskilled, semiskilled, or entry-level people who’d do that job.

But, most people aren’t any of those things. If you’re a middle-aged person with a college degree and a couple decades of experience as an executive, or you have a skill or trade that you’ve been working at for years, you’re going to want to find something comparable, or at least in your field - not a part-time, minimum-wage, entry-level McJob.

Plus, how would that look on your résumé? “2000 - 2008: Vice President of Operations, BigCorp. 2009: Unemployed. Jan. 2010 - Present: Part-time stockboy at Cheapo’s Fine Eats.” Sure, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, but when there are a hundred other qualified people competing for the same few jobs, it’s a strike against you.

Give people enough time to receive multiple severe beatings from the reality stick, and desperation will set in and almost everyone who’s more than a few years from retirement will capitulate and take anything.

But we’re not there yet. (Although eventually we will be.)

As for “mooching off the taxpayers”… Everyone who became unemployed over the past few years was paying taxes too. Most paid taxes specifically earmarked for unemployment relief, most paid general Federal & state income taxes, and all paid FICA taxes that wound up being Federal general fund dollars. What’s the point of paying taxes if you can’t expect any relief when you need it? Unemployment benefits aren’t welfare; and if they are, then pension payments are too. So under that paradigm, retired people would be “mooching off the taxpayers”.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 22:22

That last point, by the way, is why there’s going to be a Hellish inter-generational political struggle over retirement benefits, and the Boomers are eventually gonna lose - but the collateral damage will scorch the entire economy, with the damage particularly intense among the Millennial or Y generation.

Bret Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 23:38

Rough asks: “You truly believe that most unemployed people prefer to be broke and facing an uncertain future?!?

I hardly know how to begin to answer your question:

1. I didn’t write anything about “most” unemployed people. I wrote, “it’s far from clear how many of the unemployed are in a terrible hurry to go back to work. Certainly some.” Nothing about “most” anywhere as far as I can tell.

2. Everybody has “an uncertain future.” The only question is to what degree their future is uncertain.

3. Obviously, the unemployed who are truly “broke” are more likely to be in a “terrible hurry” to find a job than those who aren’t broke. However, with unemployment insurance, only those who have been living a hand-to-mouth existence and have too many unalterable financial obligations will be “broke”. Everyone else will be able to subsist on insurance payments, savings, and other income sources for a while.

4. I’ve never been unintentionally unemployed (so I’ve never collected unemployment insurance). However, friends and family who have been unemployed have never been in a terrible hurry to find another job. They weren’t broke either, but I suppose they were facing a higher degree of uncertainty in their futures. Therefore, at least some people aren’t in a terrible hurry to end their unemployment situation.

5. You pointed out that “most people” aren’t going to just take any old job - they “want to find something comparable”. Doesn’t the fact that they’re willing to wait to find the right job shows that they’re not in a terrible hurry? In other words, that they’d prefer “to be broke” and/or at least “facing an uncertain future” rather than take the wrong (non-comparable) job?

6. I can’t find the link at the moment, but it turns out that an amazing fraction of people happen to find jobs just after their unemployment insurance payments run out. They didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry.

Anyway, I guess the short answer to your question is “no” but mostly because the question makes no sense to me. The combination of “most”, “prefer”, and “broke” doesn’t work for me.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 16 April 2010 at 04:33

1. Using the phrasing “it’s far from clear - some” inherently implies that the behavior applies to a minority. Therefore a majority - “most” - must be doing something other than being “in a terrible hurry to go back to work.”

2. A truism. Contextually, it’s obvious that I meant “facing a future that features a far higher degree of uncertainty than the baseline amount of uncertainty with which we all live on a daily basis.” But that’s both verbose and pedantic, so I used a common idiom instead.

3. The middle sentence describes 90% of all Americans, from all income levels and walks of life, according to e.g. The Millionaire Next Door [Chap. 1].1 Hell’s Bells, if your unemployment benefits are 40% of your previous income, for instance, for most Americans that covers only their rent/mortgage + utilities. There’s still food, gas, various insurance premiums (and your COBRA payments may be double what you were previously paying for health ins.), child expenses, job-hunting expenses…

But if by “broke” you mean “can’t afford food”2, then I agree with you.

4. & 5. Answers my question.

6. That may be true of garden-variety recessions, but is most definitely not true in depressions. 5MM people have been unemployed for more than a year; if Congress hadn’t kept inventing and re-funding various unemployment benefits programs, they’d all have left the unemployment insurance rolls WITHOUT having found a job, amazingly or not. Currently in the U.S., there are five job-seekers for every listed employment opportunity - even if we gave every job-seeker Hobson’s choice, that still leaves 80% of the unemployed without a job.

Even recognizing that not all jobs are listed, (my wife, for instance, finds her employees through networking and has never posted even a single help-wanted ad, ever), it seems reasonable to assume that job listings compose at least half of all available jobs - after all, large businesses need to advertise openings, as they have a lot of jobs to fill, and there are also legal requirements to list certain types of job openings - so if we use that working assumption, then that still leaves over half of all current job-seekers waiting for someone to die or retire…

1 Here’s the Google backdoor for those who aren’t/prefer not to register w/the NYT. First link under the “shopping results” block.

2 A good definition by historic and global standards, I concede. But not what one finds in common usage in advanced nations during the 21st century.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 16 April 2010 at 04:58

For many, being jobless can seem never-ending | by Don Lee | LAT

[All emph. add.] But there is widespread agreement that, for whatever reasons, long periods of unemployment tend to make it tougher to get reemployed. And even after getting hired, such workers will probably experience a sharp and lasting hit to their incomes.

In one prominent study, Columbia University economist Till von Wachter examined the pay history of workers who lost their jobs during the early 1980s recession. Using Social Security earnings records, Von Wachter and co-researchers found that these previously stable workers who lost their jobs but found new ones later were earning 20% less a decade later than other workers who weren’t let go during that period. For the laid-off group, the income losses didn’t fade away completely even 20 years later.

Jim Sullivan, a Philadelphia-area resident, had his best earnings ever in 2008. He made $140,000 as director of operations for a small landscape supply firm. But sales plunged last year, and in June he was one of a dozen employees laid off. “I’ve sent out probably in excess of 3,000 resumes and had a grand total of two telephone interviews,” said the 52-year-old, whose longest bout of unemployment before was three weeks in the early 1980s soon after college.

erp Friday, 16 April 2010 at 09:43

Rough, as a potential employer, I’d look upon a resume with a stint at a McJob much more favorably than one with a long dry spell of mooching.

BTW2 - does your wife know that by law all jobs must be posted — networking is a no-no.

Harry Eagar Friday, 16 April 2010 at 10:15

Many employers (most, in my personal experience) will NOT hire an applicant for a job paying siginificantly less or requiring lesser skills than the job that person once had.

It does not matter how desperate the applicant is to get back to work.

Bret Friday, 16 April 2010 at 10:18

Rough quotes: “…these previously stable workers who lost their jobs but found new ones later were earning 20% less a decade later than other workers who weren’t let go…

I’m surprised it’s only 20%.

In a downturn, you let your worst employees go, not your best. It isn’t even vaguely surprising that this filtering effect would predict who would make substantially more in the future.

That study is meaningless (as presented by you).

Bret Friday, 16 April 2010 at 10:27

erp wrote: “…networking is a no-no.

Not true, at least for small businesses.

Just last night I heard a talk from a “recruitment specialist” who claimed that 80% of all jobs in the future would be filled via networking.

Hey Skipper Friday, 16 April 2010 at 10:53

so if we use that working assumption, then that still leaves over half of all current job-seekers waiting for someone to die or retire…

The lump of labor fallacy, on stilts.

erp Friday, 16 April 2010 at 11:04

Bret, I’m appalled! What’s with the EEOC and their multi-million dollar budget we tax payers fund to assure that every wo/man jack/jill of us has an equal shot at every opportunity. Are you saying it’s a farce?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 16 April 2010 at 13:02

BTW2 - does your wife know that…

She wrote a book about HR procedures, policies and techniques that employers can use to avoid running afoul of labor laws, so…

The lump of labor fallacy, on stilts.

Indeed? What do you suggest that all of the surplus labor do, while they’re waiting for society’s heroes to figure out something profitable for to employ them? As Mr. Eagar likes to point out, we have to eat every day, not “in the long run.”

Additionally, it’s rather ironic that you’d label an analysis of current economic conditions as a “lump of labor fallacy,” since that case requires the conceptualization of work available to labor as static or fixed, which allows the wise and learned observer to pontificate that surplus labor actually leads to increased economic activity, which is a pleasant theory, much like the theory that MBS’s are “as safe as Treasuries.”

However, actual conditions in the real world are NOT that the supply of work is growing, nor that it’s fixed, but that the amount of available productive work is DECLINING. So diagnosing “lump of labor” is not only a misapplication, but in fact it’s the exact opposite of the current situation.

Bret Friday, 16 April 2010 at 14:12

Rough wrote: “…actual conditions in the real world are NOT that the supply of work is growing, nor that it’s fixed…

That’d be because the supply of work in the world is essentially infinite. Who doesn’t want a bigger house, better car, nicer landscape, faster smart-phone, robot butler (I can see at least 20 billion man-years required for robot butlers alone), etc. It’s probably not declining either though.

Rough wrote: “…while they’re waiting for society’s heroes…

Well, they could become some of society’s heroes and employ themselves and others, if that’s what you mean by a hero of society (what dialect of English do you speak? I have a heck of a time deciphering your writing). They won’t though, because they’d rather sit around and let someone else take the risks of employing them which brings us to the real problem: uncertainty due to the current financial climate coupled with the perceived increased likelihood of increasing government taxes and regulation are making existing and potential employers leery of hiring people and investing in expansion (or startups) that would make employment opportunities available.

There’s no lack of work. Rather, there’s a lack of incentives for people to organize to perform the work. These are much different things. In other words, that lump of labor is discouraged from transforming itself into something that can perform any work.

Harry Eagar Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 08:04

I don’t think you can asset that as a general rule. There are too many stories from small business operators saying they either would hire and expand if only they could get credit facilities. And there are also many who are closing and chasing away their labor who say they could have ridden through if they could have gotten credit (although I would want to see their books before believing that).

We know for certain that in the ‘30s, many solvent businesses closed because they could not collect or convert their receivables. That’s what Kindleberger was about.

As far as I can tell, that is not as important a problem today, but only because of that nasty government intervention.

While everybody perhaps wants a bigger house (not me, but I do need to replace the siding on the weather side soon), not everybody wants a second-home condo in Miami. If everyone did, then many could be satisfied without the input of much more labor. Just a few real estate professionals, since the condos are there.

It also is not obvious that desires like tourism are infinitely extensible. People who have income often get it by working, and they cannot vacation 52 weeks a year.

At some point you run into the insight of that unknown 18th century genius who observed that some economies (for a while) “maintain a precarious existence by taking in each other’s washing.”

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 09:59

That’d be because the supply of work in the world is essentially infinite. … It’s probably not declining either though.

With specific regard to the referenced “lump o’ labor fallacy”, “work” is defined as “effort for which lucre is paid”, as opposed to simply any productive activity e.g. subsistence farming or arts & crafts.

Using that definition, the supply thereof is without question contracting - despite the Federal gov’t borrowing and spending an extra two trillion dollars.

…they’d rather sit around and let someone else take the risks of employing them…

Since that’s always been true of the vast majority of humans, it’s no shock that it’s still true today.

…which brings us to the real problem: uncertainty due to the current financial climate [is discouraging VCs from] hiring people and investing in expansion (or startups) that would make employment opportunities available. … [T]here’s a lack of incentives for people to organize to perform the work.

As Mr. Eagar addresses, that’s no surprise in a deleveraging economy. It’s easy to start a small business when you’re getting unsolicited offers to borrow tens of thousands of dollars - most households were receiving over a hundred credit-card and HELOC offers a year, a few years ago.

It’s a whole ‘nother ballpark when you have to finance everything out of current savings and cashflow.

That “lack of incentives” is going to be a prominent feature of the global economy for at least the next few years; modern-day Japan shows us that it could also be a feature for decades.

(what dialect of English do you speak? I have a heck of a time deciphering your writing).

I’m not a foreign agitprop and disinformation agent!!! Whyever would you think of such?!?

Really, it is to laugh, ha-ha! I was born and up-grown in the good ol’ US of the A.

erp Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 15:51

Rough, I think the problem isn’t lack of capital or credit, but a lack of confidence in Obama’s government. Why would anyone risk a venture when there’s no surety that the government won’t change the rules capriciously. The smart money is no doubt taking a wait-and-see attitude hoping for a 180 in congress in November and new business and citizen friendly administration in 2012.

Bret Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 00:12

Harry Eagar wrote: “…if only they could get credit…

One of the reasons they (and me for that matter) can’t get credit is because of “uncertainty due to the current financial climate”. Some of that uncertainty is due to nobody knowing what the government is going to do next.

Harry Eagar quotes: “maintain a precarious existence by taking in each other’s washing.

After everybody’s survival needs are met, there’s pretty much nothing except providing non-essential goods and services for each other for which the metaphor is “taking in each other’s washing.” Since people want more and better goods and services all-of-the time, there’s no limit to the amount of work that can be done and paid for.

Without the hurdles of government regulation, it’s unbelievably trivial to find something that someone else will pay you for. For example, my ten-year-old recently started a pseudo-business. It would be a real business except for government regulation.

She likes to bake and bakes banana bread and delivers it to certain neighbors houses, warm and fresh on Saturday mornings as “gifts”. Certain neighbors happen to give her cash “gifts” from time to time. That the neighbors who give her cash gifts happen to be the same ones she gives banana bread gifts to is purely coincidence, because if it weren’t purely coincidence, many laws would be broken by this otherwise innocent and beneficial activity, and some meddling bureaucrat would probably shut her down. She pays for the ingredients of the banana bread, which leaves her a modest net income, but not terrible for a ten-year old putting in just a few hours per week.

She came up with the idea and executed it with almost no help from anybody else. If a ten-year-old can do it, certainly everybody else in the world could if it weren’t for impediments thrown in the way by the government.

Bret Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 00:20

Rough wrote: “That “lack of incentives” is going to be a prominent feature of the global economy for at least the next few years;

Not necessarily global, but thanks to our government, it will be like that here.

erp Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 08:32

What a nice story. I wish you were our neighbor because we love banana bread, but are far too lazy to make it ourselves. Good luck to your young venture capitalist.

Harry Eagar Monday, 19 April 2010 at 14:27

Imaginary uncertainty is, well, imaginary.

If there is a generic kind of problem with US venturers, it is overcertainty, not lack of certainty.

Besides, I thought uncertainty and the risk of losing everything was a feature, not a bug, in the Smithian worldview.

Bret Monday, 19 April 2010 at 17:07

No, Harry. If you think you’re uncertain, then, by definition you are uncertain.

The risk of losing what you bet is a feature, except when you’re in cahoots with the government and you’re too big to fail.

That’s why when uncertainty increases, which implies increased risk, business owners not in cahoots with the government pull back, don’t invest, and don’t hire.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 08:42

I think the problem isn’t lack of capital or credit, but a lack of confidence in Obama’s government.

I have no doubt that the latter is a factor, but clearly the former is a much bigger problem:

Remarks by Fed Governor Elizabeth A. Duke at the International Economic Development Council’s Federal Economic Development Forum, Alexandria, Virginia | April 19, 2010:

[All emph. add.] Despite the best efforts of bankers and regulators, small businesses are still finding it difficult to obtain credit. A recent study conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that only about half of the small employers who attempted to borrow in 2009 received all the credit they wanted. Nearly one-quarter received no credit at all. A similar study in 2005 found nearly 90 percent of small employers had most or all their credit needs met, and only 8 percent obtained no credit. Even though conditions in financial markets have continued to improve this year, access to credit remains restricted for many smaller businesses.

Bret Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 10:28

Rough wrote: “I have no doubt that the latter is a factor…

The latter is the cause of the former.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 11:00

Really. The Obama admin. is responsible for the collapse of one of history’s greatest manias, skyrocketing unemployment, individuals reaching their credit limit, and banks being constrained from lending due to deteriorating balance sheets?! Fascinating.

Any additional uncertainty introduced by the Obama admin. exacerbates an already bad situation, but it’s ludicrous to believe that credit is unavailable solely due to political factors.

Bret Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 12:08

The past is the past. The lack of confidence in the government, specifically the future policies, regulations, and taxation of said government, is severely impeding the recovery of credit in my opinion.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 13:01

I agree with that part.

But, what caused the implosion of available credit, such that it needs to “recover”? Obama’s policies may or may not be keeping credit from growing much, but the elements that caused it to crater predate him, so therefore the lack of available credit can’t be ascribed to political factors.

It’s a deflationary balance-sheet depression environment. That’s inherently anti-credit.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 11:45

Actually, uncertainty is not usually a reason not to invest. History shows us that. I could think of some much more recent examples, but how about the rush to invest in Hitler’s eastern empire while the war was still on?

It’s hard to imagine a more uncertain business environment than that, but there was no lack of plungers.

Again, we have Reader’s Digest economics: something is asserted to be a fact, because it sounds like a fact to the boys down at the barbershop, but nobody stops to ask, well, is it a fact?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 28 May 2010 at 20:37

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout - Amy Klamper | Space News Staff Writer | SPACE.com | Thu May 27

WASHINGTON — The inaugural test launch of a new commercial rocket has slipped from May 28 to no earlier than June 2, according to its builder Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). […]

The first Falcon 9 rocket will carry a qualification version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which is designed to carry cargo, and potentially humans into orbit and the International Space Station. Under a $1.6 billion NASA contract awarded in 2008, Dragon and Falcon 9 are set to begin delivering cargo to the space station beginning in 2011.

If’n it can’t reach the ISS, then it’s strictly amateur hour, which is my criticism of most private space-related efforts.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 28 May 2010 at 21:09

So you would have mocked the Wright brothers as well?

Still, I fail to grasp your point — the article states directly that it is designed to carry cargo to the ISS, so what do yo umean by “can’t reach the ISS”?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 28 May 2010 at 22:41

If the Wright Bros. were concurrent with, say, Charles Lindbergh, then yes, I would mock them.

Equivocating private space-related efforts with the pioneering Wright Bros. is incorrect. We can already “fly” better using gov’t vehicles than ANYTHING actually produced or near production privately - you’d just like to see it done without taxpayer monies. Although, as you point out upthread, without gov’t military and postal contracts, aviation would have languished as well.

If private organizations were to successfully mount a Moon, Mars, or even L-3 expedition, then comparing them to the Wright Bros. would be reasonable.

As it stands now, the most successful private space-flight organization that doesn’t have a gov’t contract is Virgin Galactic, which is close to offering short tourist trips to the edge of space, 300,000 feet up. While that’s cool, and thrilling, it’s also ultimately just a big carnival amusement ride, not a harbinger of private enterprise taking over from the gov’t in space-related matters.

So yeah, if any private space effort doesn’t have high Earth orbit plans or better, then they’re essentially hobbyists.

Still, I fail to grasp your point … what do you mean by “can’t reach the ISS”?

Restated, I meant that “my criticism of most private space-related efforts [is that they] can’t reach the ISS, [so therefore they are] strictly amateur hour.” I see that my use of a universal “it” could easily be confused with a reference to the specific “it” in the quoted piece.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 29 May 2010 at 07:55

Define “better”. I define better as significantly lower kilogram to orbit costs. That you define “better” as pure prestige projects demonstrates that you don’t understand what private space efforts are attempting.

P.S. Perhaps I should have used Ford instead of the Wright brothers.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Saturday, 29 May 2010 at 10:28

Yes, Ford or Watt would be a better comparison, I think.

Defining an expedition to Mars or the development of a Lagrangian point as “pure prestige projects”, especially if accomplished by private persons or organizations, is such absurdity that I will assume that you wrote such out of a momentary excess of hyperbolic argumentativeness.

And I’m glad that you wrote this: “I define better as significantly lower kilogram to orbit costs,” because I believe that it puts into sharp focus where your desire to believe, a star-struck optimistic boosterism, causes a bit of blindness to reality.

I too would define that as “better”. But, what private organization is ACTUALLY DOING SUCH???

Not Bigelow Aerospace. They have way-cool space gear, but no ability, nor credible plans, to place that gear into space as a private venture, and routinely travel to and from it.

Not Virgin Galactic. They have the potential to do it, but no plans to so do. For now they are content to be the world’s biggest and baddest roller-coaster. For all I know, that’s exactly the right way to bootstrap: Make a grip of cash, demonstrate the relative safety of common-person space flight, work the kinks out of the technology. But it’s not currently “significantly lower kilogram to orbit costs”.

So… Who?

I’d love to see multiple robust private efforts in this sector, with maybe some folks building better rockets, others launch loops or space elevators…

But that’s not what’s happening.

Actually, why don’t you just tell me what private space efforts are attempting? I don’t understand.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 29 May 2010 at 16:25

No, I fail to see what an expedition to Mars or a colony at at Lagrangian achieves except prestige.

I think there are several organizations look at reducing cost to orbit, if by no other means that avoiding hundreds of billions in sunk costs that need to be amortized. Note that the Space Shuttle cost between $500M and $800M per flight and I don’t think that actual counts research amortization. You could fit almost the entire private space flight investments in that number.

I think Virgin Galatic is building technology to reduce costs to orbit. Your comment was not in the present tense, not the past. I would count (not exclusively) Falcon. And Armadillo. And Sea Launch. And XCOR.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Sunday, 30 May 2010 at 07:35

Virgin Galactic is building technology that might lead to reduced costs to orbit, but their current technology isn’t designed to reach orbit.

The entire amount of investment in private space flight has indeed been less than, say, the cost of four Shuttle flights, but that’s proportionate, as NONE of the private organizations has the ability to, nor are they even attempting to, match the capabilities of the Shuttle.

Which has been my point all along: The gov’t can and is sending ships to the New World, while private persons and groups are still exploring littoral waters on reed rafts. Someday the latter may supplant the former, but to claim that private groups are capable of replacing gov’t action RIGHT NOW, in this sphere of activity, is a fantasy.

So, if there’s anyone interested in exploring and exploiting our solar system within the next thirty years, it makes sense to expand the gov’t program. As I wrote earlier.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 31 May 2010 at 16:48

If what you’d like to see is continued massive gov’t funding for non-military space exploration & exploitation, but with less money going to NASA, and more going as grants and contracts to Armadillo, Scaled Composites, SpaceX et al., then I’m on board.

It’s an excellent idea to harness non-conventional thinking and wild-eyed passion, and IMO NASA hasn’t done enough of that, doing instead traditional bureaucratic stuff like feather-bedding, empire building and turf protecting.

But NASA still is the only American organization that can do the really worthwhile stuff. At least, it’s the only American organization that overtly does impressive stuff that they publicize.

But although I enjoy jawboning these subjects, the hard truth is that it’s going to be a bleak generation for space enthusiasts, (absent some groundbreaking space-related news and/or abilities), as by 2015 I am confident that non-military space-related budgets are going to have been slashed by at least 75%, in real terms. So if private space interests are capable of shining, now’s their time.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 02 June 2010 at 14:08

as NONE of the private organizations has the ability to, nor are they even attempting to, match the capabilities of the Shuttle.

You’re shifting goalposts again. I thought we were discussing launch costs, not absolute capabilities.

The gov’t can and is sending ships to the New World,

No, it’s not. It’s gradually losing its ability to travel in space. NASA can’t even get to the moon anymore. The Shuttle fleet is about to permanently grounded and NASA hasn’t even finished planning a replacement after thirty years.

private groups are capable of replacing gov’t action RIGHT NOW

Shifting again. Not something I wrote or even implied, and not something I much care about either. Of course, at the rate NASA’s capabilities are fading, that line is likely to cross sooner than you think.

if there’s anyone interested in exploring and exploiting our solar system within the next thirty years, it makes sense to expand the gov’t program

I don’t think that’s clear, but leave that — the question, again, isn’t exploring the solar system but reducing launch costs. I am fine with NASA doing exploration. Where they got off track was doing transportation. Not the same thing. If you want transporation, especially affordable transportation, you want to cut NASA funding and missions so as to not crowd out private development. Think back on the history of air transportation, as you do here —

If what you’d like to see is continued massive gov’t funding for non-military space exploration & exploitation, but with less money going to NASA, and more going as grants and contracts to Armadillo, Scaled Composites, SpaceX et al., then I’m on board.

— except that I don’t much care for grants. Contracts, with payment on delivery, that’s good.

But NASA still is the only American organization that can do the really worthwhile stuff.

I simply don’t believe that. I think NASA has become a sclerotic bureaucracy that is not longer institutionally capable of operating at any reasonable level of performance. You may disagree but you should not presume that my arguments are congruent with such a presumption.

I think it’s going to be a bleak decade or two for private interests because of NASA and it’s institutional desire to strangle competitors. Therefore the less funding and power NASA has, the better for space development.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 02 June 2010 at 15:33

The critique of “goalpost shifting” is unwarranted. The space-related conversation in this thread started when I endorsed taxpayer-paid boondoggles in high Earth orbit, to which Bret objected.

That I agree with you that cheaper-cost-to-orbit is a worthy objective doesn’t mean that I renounce my previous thoughts. High Earth orbit, or the Moon and Mars, is where humans NEED to be working to advance our ability to exploit the solar system, and indeed, to survive as a species.

You and Bret seem to feel that we should concentrate on LEO, but we are already extremely proficient at putting satellites in orbit, and what else are you going to do in LEO?

Additionally, if anything outside of LEO is a vanity project, then why endorse Sol-Earth L1 mirrors?

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 02 June 2010 at 16:53

All of that is dependent on launch costs. That is actually more important for the longer range projects you endorse than for LEO related work.

I didn’t endorse those mirrors, but merely pointed out that

  1. They’re a better solution than non-reversible geo-engineering
  2. if your goal was cooling the Earth, they would (even with current launch costs) be cheaper than controlling CO2 emissions on Earth.
Annoying Old Guy Friday, 04 June 2010 at 17:26

I’d love to see multiple robust private efforts in this sector, with maybe some folks building better rockets

Like this?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 04 June 2010 at 23:58

Yeah, like that. I linked to an earlier story about that planned launch upthread, one week ago.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 02:22

Re: The employment/unemployment part of this thread:

The Undeserving Unemployed | by Nancy Folbre - New York Times:

Long-term unemployment, a jobless period of six months or longer, has reached a historic high. In March 2010 more than 44 percent of the unemployed fell into this category. […]

Evidence suggests that individuals do prolong their job search when they receive unemployment benefits, partly because they are looking for the best possible job. But the magnitude of this effect is likely to be small.

A recent study by Rob Valletta and Katherine Kuang, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, compared lengths of unemployment among those eligible for unemployment insurance with those who were not eligible. Their statistical analysis suggests that extended benefits accounted for only four-tenths of 1 percentage point of the nearly 6 percentage point increase in the national unemployment rate over the last few years.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 05:49

Our Universe is 150 Billion Years Old

A team of the British, American, and Hungarian astronomers have reported that the universe is crossed by at least 13 ‘Great Walls’, apparent rivers of galaxies 100Mpc long in the surveyed domain of seven billion light years. They found galaxies clustered into bands spaced about 600 million light years apart that stretch across about one-fourth of the diameter of the universe, or about seven billion light years. This huge shell and void pattern would have required nearly 150 billion years to form, based on their speed of movement, if produced by the standard Big Bang cosmology.

Discovery of the Great Walls of galaxies and filamentary clumping of galactic mater has greatly upset the traditional notion that galactic matter should be uniformly distributed. If the universe began with a Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, the awesome size of these large-scale structures is baffling because there is apparently not sufficient time available for such massive objects to form and to become organized.

Source: journalofcosmology

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